Roadfood Honor Roll: The 100



[Related: Jane and Michael Stern's interview about Roadfood.]


It was almost 40 years ago that we coined the term Roadfood to describe local eats around America. At the time, we felt like crusaders, trying to get people to pay attention to what we considered a neglected national treasure: regional food. My, how times have changed! We now sometimes wish people didn't pay quite so much attention to it – particularly on those occasions when we must wait in line 40 minutes to get a cheeseburger from a once-obscure diner that has been discovered by the media.

In the restaurant business, success isn't always a good thing, especially for humble places unprepared to handle it. You know the sad scenario: A quiet gem of a restaurant appears on TV. It gets so flooded with curiosity seekers that the regular customers who were a part of its personality can't get in. Business is so good, new cooks are hired. The menu is streamlined down to what the guy on TV talked about. Short cuts are taken, the dining room is expanded. No doubt about it: Some of the charming one-of-a-kind eateries we have written about over the years are now multiple-location empires and their food has gone to pot. To the degree that we have caused that, we are deeply sorry. On the other hand, some favorite places have expanded with care and intelligence; their original locations are still listed in this book, along with notes about their expansion.

For all the media brouhaha about the subject and food's seeming omnipresence in the blogosphere, the joy of traveling, Roadfood-style, hasn't changed all that much. As seen in the "Trip Reports" forum at, dedicated eaters plan their itineraries meal by dish and continue to enjoy the experience that we have enjoyed from the beginning: finding oneself in a restaurant very different from any place near home, eating food unique to the region, meeting local people – customers and staff – for whom the restaurant is part of their life, their community, their identity.

That is what Roadfood is about: finding good food, yes; of course. But to us, that food in a cultural vacuum, however good it might taste, is not very interesting. What makes it really delicious is all of its connections – connections to the people who grow it, cook it, serve it, and eat it; connections to the places that have nurtured it and given it a regional identity; connections to the history from which it arises, which in America's case is an adventure of immigration, adaptation, invention, and audacity. Just as one man's diet can give you a vivid picture of who he is, America's diet is a grand national portrait.

Roadfood Honor Roll: The 100

We urge you to visit each and every one of the 900+ restaurants in this book. We have included them because we think their food is great and the experience of eating in them is memorable. 100 are starred with an asterisk to indicate that they are, to us, extra-special. We have come to love them because we believe that each is a unique expression of something wonderful about American food and foodways. A few are relatively new, but most have stood the test of time. This is the Roadfood Honor Roll.

New England (11)

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana (New Haven, CT)
Super Duper Weenie (Fairfield, CT)
Zuppardi's Apizza (West Haven, CT)

The Clam Box (Ipswich, MA)
Hartley's Original Pork Pies (Fall River, MA)

Five Islands Lobster Co. (Georgetown, ME)
Maine Diner (Wells, ME)

Polly's Pancake Parlor (Sugar Hill, NH)

Commons Lunch (Little Compton, RI)

Blue Benn Diner (Bennington, VT)
Up for Breakfast (Manchester, VT)

Mid-Atlantic (11)

Ben's Chili Bowl (Washington, DC)

Faidley's (Baltimore, MD)

Charlie's Pool Room (Alpha, NJ)
Jimmy Buff's (West Orange, NJ)
White House (Atlantic City, NJ)

Alethea's (Williamsville, NY)
Schwabl's (West Seneca, NY)
Katz's Deli (New York, NY)
Nick Tahou (Rochester, NY)

John's Roast Pork (Philadelphia, PA)
Mama's Bala (Cynwyd, PA)

Mid-South (13)

Bon Ton Mini Mart (Henderson, KY)
Peak Bros BBQ (Waverly, KY)

Keaton's (Cleveland, NC)
Lexington Barbecue #1 (Lexington, NC)
Skylight Inn (Ayden, NC)

Arnold's (Nashville, TN)
Cozy Corner (Memphis, TN)
Prince's Hot Chicken (Nashville, TN)
Ridgewood BBQ (Bluff City, TN)

Metompkin Seafood (Mappsville, VA)
Red Truck Bakery (Warrenton, VA)
Southern Kitchen (New Market, VA)

Coleman's Fish Market (Wheeling, WV)

Deep South (18)

Niki's (West Birmingham, AL)

AQ Chicken House (Springdale, AR)
McClard's (Hot Springs, AR)

O'Steen's (St. Augustine, FL)
Saltwater Cowboys (St. Augustine, FL)
Whitey's Fish Camp (Orange Park, FL)

Mary Mac's Tea Room (Atlanta, GA)
Silver Skillet (Atlanta, GA)

Brenda's New (Iberia, LA)
Café des Amis (Breaux Bridge, LA)
Domilise's (New Orleans, LA)
Johnson's Boucaniere (Lafayette, LA)
Morning Call Coffee Stand (Metarie, LA)

Doe's Eat Place (Greenville, MS)
White Front Café (Rosedale, MS)

Bertha's Kitchen (North Charleston, SC)
Bowen's Island (Charleston, SC)
Hominy Grill (Charleston, SC)

Midwest (23)

Johnnie's (Elmwood Park, IL)
Poochie's (Skokie, IL)
Rip's (Ladd, IL)
Superdawg (Chicago, IL)

Bob's Drive-In (Le Mars, IA)
Chatterbox (Audubon, IA)

Gray Bros Cafeteria (Moorseville, IN)
Nick's Kitchen (Huntington, IN)

Cherry Hut (Beulah, MI)
Jean-Kay's (Marquette, MI)

Hell's Kitchen (Minneapolis, MN)
Lange's Café (Pipestone, MN)

Snead's (Belton, MO)
Stroud's (Kansas City, MO)
Ted Drewes (St. Louis, MO)

Al's (Barberton, OH)
Camp Washington Chili (Cincinnati, OH)
Henry's West (Jefferson, OH)

Charcoal Inn (Sheboygan, WI)
Leon's (Milwaukee, WI)
Solly's Grille (Milwaukee, WI)
Stockholm Pie Co. (Stockholm, WI)

Great Plains (3)

Hudson's Hamburgers (Coeur d'Alene, ID)

Eddie's Supper Club (Great Falls, MT)

Rosita's (Scottsbluff, NE)

Southwest (12)

El Guero Canelo (Tucson, AZ)
Pico de Gallo South (Tucson, AZ)

Woodyard BBQ (Kansas City, KS)

Bobcat Bite (Santa Fe, NM)
La Posta de Mesilla (Mesilla, NM)

Cattlemen's Cafe (Oklahoma City, OK)
Van's Pig Stand (Shawnee, OK)

Bryce's Cafeteria (Texarkana, TX)
Blue Bonnet Café (Marble Falls, TX)
Little Diner (Canutillo, TX)
Louie Mueller (BBQ Taylor, TX)
Taco Taco (San Antonio, TX)

West (9)

The Cottage (La Jolla, CA)
Du-Par's (Los Angeles, CA)
Hodad's (Ocean Beach, CA)
Swan Oyster Depot (San Francisco, CA)

Bowpicker (Astoria, OR)
South Beach Market (South Beach, OR)
Waves of Grain (Portland, OR)

Bakeman's (Seattle, WA)
Spud Fish & Chips (Kirkland, WA)

See More: 
Book Excerpts
From This Episode: 
Sedaris Family Dinners
June 26th, 2014

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