We have traveled all over the country in search of stories for our magazines and television shows. And each trip presents an opportunity to sample wonderful foods that we just can't get at home. There are so many captivating restaurants offering great meals. Here is a smattering of our favorites for the next time you're on the road. You'll find some of these spots in popular vacation areas; others are located along well-traveled routes, and still others hide far off the beaten path. None are fancy, but all are worth a stop.

West Coast

Pearl Bakery

102 Northwest 9th Avenue

Portland, Oregon


Breakfast and lunch, Monday to Sunday

You'll find this bakery-cum-cafe nestled among the small, busy streets of Portland's hip Pearl district. Pass through in the morning for a coffee or cappuccino and flaky croissant, brioche, or Danish. For lunch, pick up a tuna-salad or salami sandwich -- served on excellent bread -- and finish with an assortment of fresh-baked cookies or chocolaty brownies.


The Courtyard Restaurant at the Kennedy School

5736 Northeast 33rd Avenue

Portland, Oregon


All meals

The Black Rabbit at Edgefield

2126 Southwest Halsey Street

Troutdale, Oregon


All meals

The restaurants and pubs of this regional chain are often housed in renovated historic buildings. The Courtyard Restaurant at the Kennedy School, for instance, offers delicious breakfasts, generous salads, and burgers. For a slightly more upscale meal, try the fondue at the Black Rabbit at Edgefield, or a "poor farm platter" -- a plate of meats, cheeses, olives, and fresh-baked bread.

Tad's Chicken 'n Dumplins

1325 East Historic Columbia River Highway

Troutdale, Oregon


Dinner only, Monday to Saturday; 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday

The rustic, woodsy setting of Tad's adds to the dining experience. Order the chicken and dumplings -- a big dish of stewed white-meat chicken in gravy, and dumplings the size of your fist. Pan-fried chicken and a creamy salmon chowder are other soul-soothing offerings.

Otis Cafe

1259 Salmon River Hwy (Hwy 18)

Otis, Oregon


All meals

A sweet little eatery along the coast near Lincoln City, the Otis Cafe has something for everyone: Grown-ups will savor fresh eggs, cheese-topped hash browns, and coffee, while kids will appreciate the fluffy pancakes (bear ears and an orange-wedge smile available upon request). At lunch, try the tuna melt or generous BLT -- and the Marionberry pie should follow.

La Super-Rica Taqueria

622 North Milpas Street

Santa Barbara, California


Lunch and dinner. Closed Wednesdays

There are only a few seats at this little taco stand, but get in line with the other customers and order some tacos, posole (a chunky pork soup with hominy and chiles), or chorizo, and you'll find out why the food is worth the wait. Even the tortillas are made to order.

Neptune's Net

42505 Pacific Coast Highway

Malibu, California


Lunch and dinner

The epitome of the Malibu scene, this little seafood shack on the Pacific Coast Highway is plunked between rolling mountains and the ocean, which is visible from the picnic tables. Surfers and beach bums come in for fried scallops, shrimp, calamari, and clams. We also recommend the steamed or boiled lobsters, crabs, clams, or shrimp, with plenty of melted butter.

The Apple Pan

10801 West Pico Boulevard

Los Angeles, California


Lunch and dinner; closed Monday

Ask a meat-eating Angeleno where you can get the best burger, and chances are good he will recommend The Apple Pan, in business with a menu that has hardly changed since 1947. The only seating is at a horseshoe-shaped counter, so unless you're okay with a wait, be sure to avoid the peak lunch hour, or take your food to go. Steak burgers taste best with a dollop of mayonnaise, relish, sliced pickles, and lettuce; hickory burgers, slathered with a savory sauce, please barbecue fans. But be sure to save room for dessert: banana cream pie, with fresh banana slices and whipped cream.

Zuni Cafe

1658 Market Street

San Francisco, CA


Lunch and dinner; closed Monday

Zuni features some of the best roast chickens ever made, served in their own "modern-classic" bread salads. The oysters, gnocchi and seasonal vegetables have never wavered beneath perfection for over twenty years, and their eponymous cookbook is a must-have for every home cook's shelf.


The Captain's Restaurant

1 Pier Road

Kennebunkport, Maine


Dinner; open Memorial Day to Columbus Day

The reservations recommended at this lobster haven constitute its only formality. The menu offers lots of great choices, but get the classic lobster dinner: warm home-baked rolls with butter, salad with house dressing, and sweet Maine lobster with clarified butter and a baked potato. For dessert, look no further than a slice of warm Maine blueberry pie a la mode.

The Clam Shack

On the bridge, 2 Western Avenue

Kennebunkport, Maine

207-967-2560 or 207-967-3321

Lunch and dinner; open May to October

Although this little roadside stand at the base of the Kennebunkport Bridge does indeed make tender fried clams, the star of the menu is really the lobster roll, a sandwich of fresh, juicy chunks of meat on a soft roll, dressed with mayonnaise or melted butter. There's no indoor seating at the Clam Shack; enjoy the view of the Atlantic while you eat your roll at a picnic bench, or take it to go and use the bridge railing as a counter.

Blue Benn Diner

318 North Street

Bennington, Vermont


All meals

A leafy college town hosts this charming spot built out of an old train car and unchanged since the 1940s. Sit at the counter and order a breakfast omelet with Vermont cheddar cheese, or snuggle into one of the booths, put your favorite song on your individual mini jukebox, and wait for a plate of meatloaf just like Mom used to make. If you don't have time for a meal, grab a bag of its unbeatable doughnuts, made fresh each morning, plain or cinnamon.

Woodman's Restaurant

121 Main Street (Route 133)

Essex, Massachusetts

978-768-6451 or 800-649-1773

Lunch and dinner

Neither beachcombing nor antiquing along the North Shore of Massachusetts would be complete without a stop at Woodman's, the self-proclaimed "home of the fried clam." Carry your own tray of clams and onion rings to a picnic table, or enjoy an order of steamers served with clam broth and butter for dipping. The lobster roll and clam chowder are also delicious.

Four Seas Ice Cream

360 South Main Street

Centerville, Massachusetts


Open summer only

Although the lobster roll and the egg salad sandwich are first-rate, this tiny Cape Cod stop is most beloved for its ice cream. Made on the premises, every flavor tastes fresh and creamy, without being overly heavy. Ask for a cone with mint chip, butter crunch, or black raspberry, and enjoy it while strolling toward the beach. Other options include milk shakes (which are actually milk whipped with flavored syrup) and frappes (the ice-cream drink that most of the country knows as a milk shake).

Rawley's Drive-In

1886 Post Road

Fairfield, Connecticut


Closed Sundays

Stopping at this stand alongside Route 1 (the Boston Post Road) on a Saturday just about guarantees a wait; still, one of its hot dogs with the works is a vacation in itself. The dogs are deep-fried, then pressed on a grill for crispy-charred sides; the buns are toasted and buttered. "The works" includes bits of bacon, sauerkraut, mustard, and relish; we strongly recommend the works with double bacon.

The Flying Pig on Lexington

251 Lexington Avenue

Mount Kisco, New York


Lunch and dinner Monday to Saturday; brunch, Sunday

This adorable cafe in an old train station is Martha's favorite place to stop for lunch -- but she always has a hard time deciding between the meatloaf sandwich and the Mediterranean chopped salad. The menu lists the names of the local farms that supply the produce.

Sullivan Street Bakery

533 West 47th Street

New York City, New York


Open daily

This little storefront is filled with authentic Italian tastes and smells -- from country breads to pizzas that you can sample by the slice (allowing you to try a few different kinds, such as potato, their signature). Locals know by heart when bread comes out of the ovens, and show up promptly to pick up their loaves. At Christmastime, New Yorkers from near and far line up at Sullivan Street Bakery for their diminutive loaves of fresh panettone -- a traditional holiday sweet bread.


32 Spring Street

New York City, New York


Lunch and dinner

For genuine New York pizza, look no further than this Little Italy spot, which opened in 1897. It's a popular choice for locals and tourists alike, so get there early if you'd rather not wait in line. To taste the difference between this "pie" and any other pizza you've eaten, go for the plain -- topped with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and basil, and Romano cheese. And try the clam pie: with cheese, garlic, and hand-shucked clams.

Hoffman's Donut Shop

509 American Legion Way

Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey


6 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; closed Monday

The sweet yellow wallpaper, the knotty pine benches, and the staff's apron uniforms will take you back in time. The cakes and cake doughnuts never fail to please, although the latter sell out fast, so you'd best stop by early in the day if your heart is set on having one. For a decadent snack, try a "butterfly" -- deep-fried cinnamon dough with white vanilla icing.

Pat's King of Steaks

1237 East Passyunk Avenue

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Open 24 hours

At any hour of the day or night, Philadelphians can be seen pulling into the parking lot at this cheese-steak mecca, owned and operated by the same family since 1930. The menu offers hot dogs and fish cakes, but of course, the reason to come here is the Philly cheese steaks; these grease-laden sandwiches consist of thin steak, creamy orange cheese, and onions, and are a Philadelphia classic. Patrons can choose from the classic Cheez Whiz topping, provolone, American, or "pizza-steak." Share an order of cheese fries with your travel companions.

The Crab Claw

Route 33 West / Navy Point

Saint Michael's, Maryland


Lunch and dinner

Sit by the water at the Crab Claw, in the shade of an oversize umbrella, and order the hard-shell blue crabs. The gorgeous pile of sweet-and-spicy crustaceans dumped on your table requires just the pick and mallet provided -- and a willingness to get a little dirty. Less hands-on choices include crab cakes, softshell crab, crab soup, and crab cocktail.


Larsen's FroStop

858 East Saint George Boulevard

Saint George, Utah


Lunch and dinner; closed Fridays

A few stalwarts of this formerly large chain of drive-in restaurants are still open for business. Pull into the parking lot, and wait for the carhop to take your order. Prince-, Queen-, and King-burgers (small, medium, and large), fries, and pups (corn dogs) are all top-notch, as are the root-beer floats, banana shakes, and "fresh lime squeezes" (Sprite with lime wedges).

The Horseman's Haven

6500 Cerrillos Road

Santa Fe, New Mexico


All meals

Next to a furniture store off the main highway is a restaurant that has been favored by locals for more than 30 years for its classic American and New Mexican cooking. The burgers are delicious, but order what the Haven is famous for: its very hot green chili. (Adventurous types could try ordering the

"Level 2," a bowl of even hotter chili, but one bite just might burn your mouth for the next 24 hours.) For those who can take a spicy breakfast, try a breakfast burrito with New Mexican green hot chiles.

Pizzeria Bianco

623 East Adams Street

Phoenix, AZ


Dinner, Tuesday through Friday, closed Monday

Mad pizza genius Chris Bianco presides over his pies day in and day out with inventive yet classic combos. A true pizza pioneer, his crust remains on top and might be a single reason to visit Phoenix.

Grady's Bar-B-Q

7400 Bandera Road

San Antonio, Texas


Lunch and dinner

Grady's serves up Texas barbecue fast-food style, but their spicy and sweet sauces are more satisfying than plain old ketchup. Baby-back ribs and fried catfish are favorites; the chicken-fried steak sandwich, however, is the must-order.

The Salt Lick

18300 FM 1826

Driftwood, Texas


Lunch and dinner

The Salt Lick is low-key and rustic; even on a hot day, the screened porches keep it cool and comfortable, despite the smoking "pit" in the center of it all. At night, opt for outdoor seating under the stars. Order the brisket of beef, with plenty of sauce. Alternatives -- sausages, chicken, or ribs, for example -- are just as tasty, and many offerings are all-you-can-eat. But save room -- the pecan pie and fruit cobblers are the best ways to finish filling up.

The Mecca Restaurant

10422 Harry Hines Boulevard

Dallas, Texas


Breakfast and lunch, Monday to Sunday

The food is great, but the scene is even better at this Southern-style diner, where everybody knows everybody, and the parking lot is full of pickup trucks. Bankers and ranchers -- all wearing cowboy hats -- file in for breakfast. The homemade biscuits and gravy, grits, eggs, sausage, pancakes, and colossal buttery cinnamon rolls make this place ideal for hearty eaters -- even the short stacks stand tall.


Cozy Corner Restaurant

745 North Parkway

Memphis, Tennessee


Lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Saturday

The Tennessee barbecue served at this humble restaurant located in the center of a strip mall is some of the best in the state. The ribs, seasoned with a dry rub before cooking, are mouthwatering. And don't turn your nose up at the barbecue-bologna sandwich.

Catfish N

210 Dardanelle Dam Road

Dardanelle, Arkansas


Dinner only, Tuesday to Saturday; lunch, Sunday; weekends only November and December; closed January

Four words sum up an enthusiastic editorial assistant's review: "All you can eat!" The Catfish N cooks up homey Southern food, specializing in fried fillets of its namesake, amazing hush puppies, fried biscuits with honey, and ribs, among other treats. Skip the salad bar and head straight for the dessert bar, where the apple and peach cobblers are warm and ready to be topped with ice cream. Take advantage of the outdoor seating, right on the river.

Joe's Dreyfus Store Restaurant

2731 Maringouin Road West

Livonia, Louisiana


Lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Saturday; lunch, Sunday; closed Monday

The restaurant is in what used to be the town's general store, and the decor hasn't changed, with the exception of the added dining tables. The turkey-and-andouille gumbo is a favorite of our food editors, or you might try the turtle soup au sherry. Sample the crawfish special -- a combo of crawfish remoulade, crawfish bisque, crawfish etouffee, and crawfish tails.


2943 Perkins Road

Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Lunch and dinner

Don't tell the lady behind the counter what you want. She'll kindly direct you to a stack of pads and pens, because here, you write down what you want to order. The standard American fare (burgers and fries, chicken fingers) and Louisiana cooking (seafood po'boys and etouffee) guarantee a pleased crowd. The regulars at George's get the muffuletta, a sandwich with salami, ham, olives, Swiss and provolone cheese, drenched in an Italian dressing.

Morning Call

3325 Severn Avenue

Metairie, Louisiana


Open 24 hours

The quintessential New Orleans breakfast (or midnight snack) is a beignet, a holeless, crusty, powdered-sugar doughnut, and a cup of strong, chicory coffee. No self-respecting Louisiana beignet joint would dream of serving them any way but hot out of the fryer. Morning Call is less touristy and more out-of-the-way than the oversize beignet stops in the center of town.

Capitol Grill

1863 Mount Meigs Road

Montgomery, Alabama


All meals; closed Sunday

Lunch here is a feast. Sit at the counter, next to the local businessmen, lawyers, and construction workers, order a sweet tea (it's cold), any of the chicken dishes, the beef tips, or the liver, plus at least one side, such as turnip greens, black-eyed peas, or corn. Warm white- and cornbread accompany each meal. Don't be surprised by the appearance of pastitsio -- a savory Greek lasagna -- on Fridays.

Weaver D's Delicious Fine Foods

1016 East Broad Street

Athens, Georgia


Lunch and dinner

For a heaping platter of soul food and Southern personality, place an order with the proprietor, Weaver D. Rather than asking what you'd like, he says, firmly, "Communication!" Once you make your request, he replies, "It's automatic!" (R.E.M., an Athens-based band, named an album "Automatic for the People" after one of Weaver D's slogans.) Fried chicken, black-eyed peas, mustard and collard greens, squash casserole, and chitterlings are all some of the best around. Even normally squeamish types may surprise themselves, sucking oxtail and neck bones clean of their delicious meat.

Poogan's Porch

72 Queen Street

Charleston, South Carolina


All meals

Located in a Victorian house, this restaurant is furnished with ceiling fans and a hand-carved antique bar. Even the story behind Poogan's is charming -- Poogan was a dog left behind by the previous owners of the house; he was adopted by the restaurant owners and greeted customers on the porch for years after that. All the food is exceptional -- a down-home brunch of eggs, biscuits and gravy, and grits is all you need for the day -- although someone at the table should order the sweet-potato pancakes. For lunch and dinner, try the outstanding she-crab soup.

Havana Restaurant

6801 South Dixie Highway

West Palm Beach, Florida


Lunch and dinner; 24-hour walk-up window

"Best Cuban food in town," boasts the logo of this West Palm Beach restaurant -- and Martha and our TV crew agreed when they stopped in for a visit. Creamy, slightly sweet cafe con leche and a more bitter cafe cubano go well with any meal. Cubano sandwiches and any of the lunch specials are generously sized and simply delicious. Order as many desserts as you have room for -- the cascos de guayaba (guava pastries) and flan de caramelo (caramel custard -- with or without coconut) are real treats.


Cozy Inn

108 North 7th Street

Salina, Kansas


Lunch and dinner

The Inn is renowned across Kansas for its miniature hamburgers. Cozy cooks make fresh, tiny meatballs, then flatten them into thin discs on the same grill that has been used since 1922. Only pureed onion, salt, and pepper season the burgers, and it's all that's needed.

LaMar's Doughnuts

9926 Holmes Road

Kansas City, Missouri


LaMar's standard glazed may easily be the best doughnut you've ever tasted. "If you're taking them somewhere," warns a food editor, "buy an extra dozen for the car ride, since you won't be able to wait!"


5410 NE Oak Ridge Drive

Kansas City, Missouri


Dinner only, Monday to Thursday; lunch and dinner, Friday and Sunday; dinner, Saturday

Warning: The pan-fried chicken at Stroud's may ruin you for all other fried chicken. The skin is crispy and well seasoned, and the meat is unbelievably juicy. Sides are served family style: big bowls of mashed potatoes, green beans, and salad. Don't expect biscuits -- all meals are accompanied by fresh cinnamon rolls.

Tavern on Grand

656 Grand Avenue

St. Paul, Minnesota


Lunch and dinner

Behind the neon walleye in the window is the best place in town to eat real walleye (the holy grail for all Midwestern fishermen). Most locals prefer it in a sandwich, some think its essence is best captured when deep-fried, while others prefer the lighter, grilled version spiced with a delicate rub. We find all the ways irresistible -- as did Mikhail Gorbachev, who visited Tavern on Grand in 1990.

Essen Haus

514 East Wilson Street

Madison, Wisconsin


Dinner; closed Mondays

You don't need your passport to visit the Essen Haus, although it's such an authentic German restaurant and "trinken" hall that you'll wish you paid better attention in your German-language classes. Crispy Wiener Schnitzel, mixed-grill sausages, and hot pretzels served with spicy mustard need no translation, however, and after your lederhosen-clad waiter has brought you a few boot-shaped mugs of imported German beers, you'll find yourself stomping and singing along with the live polka band.

Kopp's Frozen Custard

7631 West Layton Avenue

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

414-282-4080 or 414-282-4312

10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

You can have a full lunch at Kopp's, but that's missing the point. The featured special flavor of frozen custard changes every day. Flavors are sometimes exotic, such as Grand Marnier blueberry crisp (which includes Grand Marnier with blueberries, coated pecans, and French pastry) and Bienenstichkuchen (almond custard with cake pieces, honey, Bavarian cream, and sliced almonds). But there's no shame in going with the strawberry, vanilla, or chocolate custards.

Saz's State House

5539 West State Street

Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Lunch and dinner; closed Mondays

Head straight to Saz's for an education in all the foods that have made Milwaukee famous: Wisconsin mozzarella sticks (mozzarella wrapped in wonton skins and fried), sour-cream-and-chive fries, "rib" (shredded barbecued pork) sandwiches, and fried cheese curds (battered and fried Wisconsin cheddar cheese).


3832 Dempster Street

Skokie, Illinois


Lunch and dinner

Just outside Chicago is a tiny restaurant in a little strip mall, where a speedy, delicious meal is just about guaranteed. Poochie's hot dogs are available two ways: boiled or broiled over charcoal until black. Both are satisfying with mustard, grilled onions, pickle relish, piccalilli (vegetable relish), pickled peppers, and celery salt.

Paul's Pub

10757 M-32 East

Johannesburg, Michigan


Lunch and dinner; Sunday breakfast

Paul's Pub has been family-owned and -operated since its birth (as only a bar) 30 years ago; today, two sisters run it and cook for the dining room. The golfers who come by day and families who come by night all love the Michigan fish fries and baked potatoes. The battered and deep-fried cod is memorable, but calorie-conscious diners can ask for "dusted perch Chet's way" -- a fillet just dusted in flour and pan-fried.


6918 Wooster Pike

Cincinnati, Ohio


Graeter's has been family-owned and -operated since 1870, and their method for making their specialty hasn't changed, earning them a place in the hearts of ice-cream lovers who pass through Cincinnati. Their "French pot" process produces small batches without whipping air in, so ice creams are dense and rich. The real stars are the flavors with chocolate chunks -- rather than dropping chocolate chips into the churning cream, Graeter's pours melted chocolate into ice cream as it swirls, causing it to freeze in huge gobs that melt in your mouth.

Great Plains

Stockyard Cafe

1018 East Griffin Drive

Bozeman, Montana


In the college town of Bozeman, there's a lot of studying going on -- except for Mondays, when there's a cattle auction at the stockyard. On that day, students and ranchers alike flock to the Stockyard Cafe for plates of fresh huevos gringos (a combination of flour tortillas, eggs, beans, hash browns, and salsa), and banana-bread french toast. Meat is a religion in the state of Montana, so it's not surprising that the most popular lunches here are the superb beef burgers and roast-pork sandwiches.

Comments (10)

Martha Stewart Member
May 18, 2010
This original list was only a small sampling of restaurants we love across America. But we've added a couple more in the cities you've requested!
Martha Stewart Member
May 18, 2010
Thanks for letting us know, guessecl! We've removed Uglesich's from the list.
Martha Stewart Member
February 28, 2010
Aha! Exactly the article I was looking for. It's always the right time for roadfood! With so many worthy stops for a taste of Americana across the country, it's wonderful to have a handful of places vetted by someone we all trust the tastebuds of - Martha! Readers, do not be deterred by the dismayed, and dyslectic comments. Anyone who reads a restaurant article from 2002 and doesn't think to confirm that it's still in business before heading out deserves to find it closed!
Martha Stewart Member
August 23, 2009
Who on earth is editing this? Uglesich's in New New Orleans has been closed for at least 3 or 4 or more YEARS!!! Not impressed.
Martha Stewart Member
August 17, 2009
Nothing from San Francisco or the Bay Area at all?! WOW!
Martha Stewart Member
August 16, 2009
Oh my goodness!!! And, how can you mention the west coast without including anything from San Diego!?!?!?
Martha Stewart Member
August 16, 2009
Oh my goodness! And how can you mention the west coast without adding something from San Diego!?!?!?!
Martha Stewart Member
August 15, 2009
And no Boston!
Martha Stewart Member
August 15, 2009
Nothing at all from Seattle? Are you kidding??? This list is about Houston?
Martha Stewart Member
August 15, 2009
Really? No Northern California restaurant? Not one? Wow! I'd say your list was incomplete in that case.