Only 5 will be difficult.
In no particular order …
1.) Zuppardi’s/Sallly’s/Frank Pepe’s in New Haven, CT (I find all 3 excellent with no others in their league. Modern Apizza is a slight notch down, in my opinion).
2.) Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen. Chapel Hill, NC. Fried chicken biscuit.
3.) McCabe’s Bar-B-Que. Manning, SC. Though in SC, this family run SC gem serves up a great eastern NC style ‘cue along with great SC sides. They closed last year because of family health issues, but rumor has it that they might re-open.
4.) Sea Swirl. Mystic, CT. Nobody does fried New England seafood better, … from fried cod to fried clams.
5.) Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous. Memphis, TN. My favorite ribs. Some reviews indicate that they have gone downhill some, but many of those comments complain about portion sizes. I don’t downgrade a place for portion sizes. Order more if you’re still hungry. A place like this is a treat, not a daily staple food.
A few honorable mentions:
– Tony Luke’s. Philadelphia, PA. Italian Roast Pork w/broccoli rabe.
– Mama’s Pizzeria. Bala Cynwyd, PA. Cheesesteak.
– Iggy’s Doughboys and Chowder House. Oakland Beach (Warwick) and Narragansett, RI. Baked Scrod (cod). This was an “okay” place years ago, but has become a gem in recent years.
– Cattlemen’s. Oklahoma City, OK. This place often gets edged out in surveys by Bern’s or Doe’s Eat Place, .. but it is my personal favorite for steaks.
– Grady’s. Dudley, NC. Eastern NC ‘Cue.
– B’s. Greenville, NC. Eastern NC ‘Cue.
– Casa Chimayo Restaurante. Santa Fe, NM.
– Durgin Park. Boston, MA.
– Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen. Key Largo, FL.
And for my favorite “regionally inappropriate” place (just for you, Dale) 😉 ….
Sonny’s Famous Steak Hogies. Hollywood, FL. Yes, they spell Hoagies as “Hogies”. The cheesesteaks there are on par with the best of them in Philly. Sonny’s was started by a Philadelphia baker who moved to south FL. They make their own rolls every day, and that is a huge factor in a great cheesesteak. You can get the usual on it … fried onions, a cheese sauce (Wiz), white American, etc. For you homesick Philadelphians, they even sell TastyKakes. Sorry, no Scrapple. They’ve been around since the late 1950s in the same location.