125 MILES | 2 hr 31 min | by Maggie Rosenberg & Trevor Hagstrom

The trip from San Diego up to Los Angeles County is only 115 miles or so, but with treacherous Southern California gridlock, the drive could eat most of your day. Instead, why not spend the day eating? Starting in San Diego, one of the most historic morning meals in the West can be discovered with the various permutations of house ground masa and slow cooked beans at Las Cuatras Milpas. 

In the charming surf town of Carlsbad are the twin lunch temptations of beach-ready, picnic-packed sushi at Yoshino and expertly made sausages at Tip Top Meats. Around Newport Beach, you’ll need a pick-me-up: Nothing beats an American original sweet treat from frozen banana icon Sugar ‘N Spice.

At the Northern extreme of Orange County is The Pasty Kitchen, where hearty hand pies are filling and soulful. If you’re too full for these starch bombs, buy frozen pies for later.

Celebrate your ascent into L.A. County with pickled eggs and beers at Joe Jost’s, one of the last old-school drinking saloons in the state. Colorful Americana on the walls in the pool room helps to tie up the grab bag of Mexican, Japanese, German and English inspired eats from the day’s journey. It’s all American food anyway.


217 MILES | 5 hr 10 min | by Michael Stern

The only problem with a road trip along the Gulf Coast from Florida’s “Forgotten Coast” to Mobile, Alabama, is that there are far too many good things to eat. Oysters, of course, from the roadside charm of Indian Pass Raw Bar to the outlandish good cheer of Wintzell’s Oyster House. The Great Southern Cafe offers upscale seafood and “New Fashion southern cuisine” in a casual setting.  Captain Joey Patti’s Seafood Restaurant is a virtual culinary amusement park. But the trip isn’t all oysters, mullet, catfish, and crab. Must-eats include sensational ribs and Brunswick stew at JR’s Rib Shack and an unforgettable hot dog at Mobile’s oldest restaurant, the Dew Drop Inn.


28 MILES | 1 hr 19 min | by Michael Stern

It would be possible to eat nothing but delicious breakfasts all day long in Portland, Oregon; and we don’t only mean the ne plus ultra offerings of Voodoo Doughnut and Annie’s Donut Shop. The original Original Pancake House remains a beacon of the highest quality breakfasts from sunup to sundown. But this tour goes beyond the morning meal to include Pacific Northwest signature seafood at Dan & Louis Oyster Bar and/or Jake’s Famous Crawfish, then perhaps an afternoon snack on artisan hot dogs at Otto’s Sausage Kitchen and, finally, the squarest of square meals at Huber’s.


78 MILES | 2 hr 8 min | by Michael Stern

Adventurous appetites who yearn to explore Orlando beyond theme parks have a diverse world of good eats to discover. For wild and crazy sandwiches, there are Yellow Dog Eats and Toasted; and for the Havana classic, check out breezy Cuban Sandwiches to Go. For the best seafood around, visit Winter Park Fish Co., which looks like a shack but cooks like a palace. If you like soul food, there’s a bounty: at Nikki’s Place (since 1949), at Gordon’s Be Back Fish House, at Chef Eddie’s and at P&D Soul Food Kitchen. And if you’ve got time for a trip to the coast, splurge at Dixie Crossroads, which virtually invented Rock Shrimp.


63 MILES | 1 hr 38 min | by Michael Stern

Since moving to Aiken, South Carolina, I have wallowed in legendary BBQ, unsurpassed peaches, and impeccable seafood from the coast. These six restaurants are local favorites to which I return again and again. Shealy’s is BBQ’s big gun hereabouts – a massive eating hall with a cornucopia buffet. Across the river in Augusta, Perry’s Pig is a hidden gem where there’s no place to eat, but where the take-out BBQ sandwiches inspire rapture. For seafood, DeShawn’s offers the biggest crab legs around and JC’s Seafood makes a grand, classic Lowcountry boil. When it comes to dessert, the must-eat place is the Red Shed Diner, where fresh whipped cream tops ambrosial buttermilk pie. And no eating tour of the area is complete without peach ice cream at Peaches N Such, surrounded by the orchards where they’re grown.


29 MILES | 46 min | by Michael Stern

A delicious day in Knoxville must begin in the Old City at Olibea, a cutting edge cafe where the biscuits are fallapart fragile and the breakfast meat of choice is house-cured pork belly. It’s on to Litton’s for Thunder Road burgers and Italian cream cake, then sensational soul food at Chandler’s Deli, and a late-night BBQ blow-out at Sweet P’s Barbecue & Soul House.


52 MILES | 1 hr 49 min | by Michael Stern

While it is possible to eat well for days (weeks, months!) just walking around New Orleans, a car provides access to some of NOLA’s more far-flung culinary highlights. This around-the-city tour starts with the best beignets and cafe au lait at Morning Call in Metarie and ends with a legendary Italian feast at Mosca’s.


33 MILES | 54 min | by Michael Stern

For barbecue, Birmingham is hard to beat. Roadfood favorites include Miss Myra’s Pit Bar-B-Q and Bob Sykes Bar-B-Q. It also is a great breakfast city, including blue-plate classics at Fife’s and artisan pastries with fancy coffee at the Alabama Biscuit Co. As a primary distribution center for southern vegetables, “The Pittsburgh of the South” (so nicknamed for its steel industry) boasts a few cornucopia-like cafeterias with literally dozens of good side dishes, Niki’s West being our favorite (for fantastic pies and puddings, too). A great eating day in Birmingham concludes with dinner at Bessemer’s Bright Star, a grand old dining room where seafood is impeccable, steaks are mighty, and desserts are outlandish.