Great Father’s Day Gift: His Favorite Regional Food

The racks of ribs from Central BBQ are the best in Memphis – or at your house. (Photo: Larry Olmsted for USA TODAY)
The racks of ribs from Central BBQ are the best in Memphis – or at your house. (Photo: Larry Olmsted for USA TODAY)

The scene: Father’s Day is fast approaching, and because Dad should not have to cook for himself, for households across the country this brings up the tricky question of where to go for dinner. This year the answer might be “nowhere.” That’s because to a much greater extent than ever before, Dad can enjoy some of America’s finest regional cuisine in the comfort of his own home – or backyard.

A side effect of the rise of online retailers in recent years has been a dramatic drop in shipping prices for companies. If you use Amazon Prime, you have experienced this, where weight doesn’t seem to matter anymore, with free shipping on everything from appliances to tires, and freight costs so low they can send a tube of toothpaste two-day express. This has trickled down into food delivery and greatly changed the playing field. There were always some specialists who would overnight fresh fruit or Maine lobster dinners, but these were very expensive to ship and more aimed at corporate gifts. Suddenly it has become reasonable for almost anyone to order specialty foods, and there are a lot more choices than ever before. These include many of the finest regional dishes in America, the kind featured every week in this column. If your Dad is an expat from virtually any corner of the United States, you can get him a taste of home, and if he’s not, you can just get him great taste.

“We work very closely with UPS and FedEx, and through our aggregation we get lower costs than our vendors can individually,” said Brad Koenig, founder and CEO of regional food specialty site, which compiles menus from famous restaurants. “We also try to use less expensive methods when they make sense. Most people don’t realize that delivery within 250 miles or so is usually next day even if you choose ground.” For example, if you live in the New York metro area, you can order from about 20 of the site’s restaurants and get renowned food the next day shipped for under $15. “Which no one has ever done in mail-order food,” says Koenig.

The food: For this Father’s Day list, I’m focusing entirely on regional specialties from eateries that have been featured here at Great American Bites, a taste of a particular place that is hard to find elsewhere. FoodyDirect has lots of good stuff in categories that have been covered here, from high-end New York deli meats to Maine lobster, but a few renowned names jump out.

I previously called Central BBQ the best barbecue restaurant in Memphis, and having just returned yet again from the smoke-centric Tennessee city, I stand by that, because their quality is great across the board, from barbecue nachos to house-made pork rinds, but especially their near-perfect racks of ribs. FoodyDirect sells an assortment of sizes of just ribs or ribs paired with pulled pork – so you can make great barbecue nachos at home. A package feeding 10-12 with three full racks of ribs, 2 pounds of pulled pork, a bottle of sauce and a bottle of dry rub for $89 is hard to beat. In half the country the shipping is just $15, and all in that comes to ten bucks a person.

If dad hails from Cincinnati, he will love some Skyline Chili, with or without the accompanying mini-hot dogs the local chain uses. And while there’s a good statistical chance dad does not come from Alaska, I’ve written here about the Last Frontier’s unparalleled quality of seafood. Fish farming is outlawed completely and the wild salmon is the best in the world, so consider the Great Alaska Seafood Company, from which FoodyDirect will ship troll-caught wild red or white king or sockeye salmon, along with enormous king crab legs.

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SOURCE: USA Today – Larry Olmsted

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