What fabulous free food have you gotten while on the road?

And can it possibly measure up to a late-night PB&J sandwich in a New Orleans hotel?

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Photo: Rick Gayle Studio (iStock by Getty Images)

Once upon a time, through a combination of luck and algorithm (also known as priceline.com), my partner and I ended up spending part of Christmas week at Le Pavillon, a fine old hotel in New Orleans. We took some long walks, ate oysters and po’boys, greeted the statue of Ignatius Reilly, and got soaked in torrential rains. But when we got back to Le Pavillon late at night and wringing wet, we got to dry off in the lobby with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and milk.


The PB&J’s are Le Pavillon’s signature tradition, inspired by a business traveler who, one evening in 1988, requested a glass of milk at the hotel bar. This is an unusual order from an adult, particularly in New Orleans, so the bartender, who also happened to be the hotel’s general manager, asked about it. The traveler said that every night, he and his young daughter had milk and PB&J’s before bed. Charmed, the manager had the kitchen make the man a sandwich every night of his stay. Other guests saw the sandwiches and thought they would hit the spot. And thus a tradition was born: every night at 10 p.m., Le Pavillon puts out a spread of sandwiches and milk, and also cookies and hot chocolate.

We were delighted by this story and the sandwiches, and my partner, who cannot resist anything free, insisted on getting his sandwich every night we stayed there. (In retrospect, we should have grabbed some extra for the drive home, which was on Christmas Day when absolutely nothing was open in the entire state of Arkansas.)

What other charming food-related giveaways have you encountered while traveling? Who else has stopped at Wall Drug for the sole purpose of getting free ice water and a nickel cup of coffee?


Lurch of the SoCal

Courtesy food/drink in general has been getting sadly less common.

Even in hotel/motel chains. I sadly have more cases of “Wait, the continental breakfast from 7-10 is gone at 8 and only consisted of a half dozen muffins for the entire motel?” than the opposite.

The BEST I’ve had is far and away easier to figure. Worked a gig performing at a wedding for a couple with a very large budget. Like, “they had rented a couple local bed-and-breakfasts for the performers” budget. This was up in a mountain community a few hours from where I live, and there were a few traffic issues that resulted in a helldrive.

When we got to our B&B about two hours after stated checkin, we walked up to find the owner/manager out on the patio getting happily bombed on a decent chardonnay. She chatted, empathized deeply with our night, then handed each of us a full, corked bottle of wine and said “Honey, you finish these while I get you checked in”. Took our stuff, came out to have us sign the relevant paperwork for our car, and then the three of us happily got hammered for the next few hours before pouring ourselves into bed.