One of the ignomies of business travel is suffering mediocre food. One of the pleasures of leisure travel is enjoying good food. Whether you travel for business or pleasure, you should eat well. I certainly do.
"But are there decent places to eat in towns like Topeka?" Of course there are. I can promise you that wherever you go there is good food to be eaten somewhere. The problem is finding it.
I have developed a fairly reliable method for hunting down the good places. It takes some work but it ain't hard: find three reliable sources for information on local restaurants (I will bite my tongue before I use words like "eateries") and then cross-reference them. The places that are mentioned by all of them or even by two of them and get good marks are going to be good places to eat. One source should be the local newspaper for that city. Check out what their food critic or writer is saying. Another source should be one where local people rate their restaurants like citysearch.com. The reason why you don't want to go just on citysearch reviews is that you may be going to a town where 80% of the population thinks Macaroni Grill is great Italian food. Finally your third source should be a reliable outsider review from a guidebook. I like Frommers because all of their reviews are available online at frommers.com.
If you go to a small town that is not on the radar of guidebooks (you'd be surprised at what is in Frommers) or citysearch, then ask three locals where they recommend to eat. If there are any repeats, then go to that place.
If this does not render some success, I will eat my hat.