8

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.

6

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.