It is actually quite remarkable to think that in almost any decent sized town or city in the states you can find a very wide range of foods available to you. The most obvious being pretty much any fast food franchise. If you want your standard American fast food, you have options. Seafood, Mexican, and Italian are all in the same boat. You want it? It's only a short drive to get to them, and possibly even within walking distance. The problem with any of the fast food joints is that they aren't necessarily the greatest quality of ingredients and their cooking methods are pretty questionable when you really think about it.
That is where actual sit-down restaurants come into play. Some are still franchised and their menu is almost the same if not identical from coast to coast. That has its advantages when you are, or you're dealing with, a picky eater that only likes certain things made a certain way. Then by all means, do what works for you and your appetite. However, if you like to try new things or are in search of some of the best food from a restaurant that you can find, you have to avoid the franchises. Where you really want to go is the little local ditty that the local folk recommend. I don't think a local would ever highly recommend a franchised location unless there isn't anything else available. No, it's these local joints that are going to surprise you. Even the most "hole in the wall" diner can have the most amazing food. Even if you have no locals to ask their opinion, you can safely assume the food has to be good. This is especially true when in small towns. Their food absolutely has to be good otherwise they surely wouldn't be able to stay in business for long after the majority of the local populace has tried their food.
Another benefit of local restaurants is that they aren't being run by an overseeing corporate office. This leaves these independent joints a freedom to try new things and discover great new fusion cuisines that are literally not found anywhere else. They also have a very good reason to have good service and greater quality food. They can't afford to not be on the top of their game every day and night.
So the next time that you are traveling for business or on vacation somewhere, don't go looking for the golden arches. Rather ask the employees at the hotel where they would recommend for some great local food. They'll know where to get the good stuff that will undoubtedly be better than the franchises. Not to mention that most people have very strong feelings about the food they like and will stand by their recommendation. The only pitfall that you may encounter is a difference of personal preferences. They might love fish and you hate it. If that happens, ask someone else.
Tim Hiller is a freelance writer that grew up in a small town and knows the local joints have the quality fusion cuisine. http://www.osorioslatinfusion.com