The Dor-Stop Restaurant in Pittsburgh, PA

After describing these pancakes (or, as charismatic owner Vicki calls them, “hotcakes”) to a friend upon our return to New York—richly sweet and spicy, dense but melt-in-your-mouth, stuffed with warm gooey cinnamon apples and drenched in butter, so delicious and moist that maple syrup is not a requirement but merely a bonus—she responded that she couldn’t die happy until she tried them. And let us tell you, from experience? She’s not exaggerating.


Big Al’s Diner in Cleveland, OH

We couldn’t leave Cleveland without trying just one more diner. Big Al’s is as quick and no-nonsense as they come, with sneakered waitresses shuttling back and forth between tables with pots full of steaming coffee, shouting “what can I get for ya?” over the bustle of the place. What they got for us was two of their breakfast specials, which also don’t mess around—a bread-egg-meat combo never fails to satisfy.