Our roaming correspondent Hawk Krall has been busy this year. Sussing out frybread tacos in Utah. Exploring the gas station fried chicken scene of Virginia. Hunting down the very best place to get a keema-spiced vegetarian cheesesteak in Pennsylvania. (Yes, it exists in a strip mall pizza joint in Philly, and you want one.)

On their own, each of these roadside finds is a regional specialty well worth a visit. Put them together and you have a kaleidoscopic tour of all the weird wonders of American eating, the perfect rebuttal to every time a snobby French person has said Americans don't appreciate good food. Map these places and start planning a road trip. The highway's waiting.

mrs murphys
Hawk Krall

Mrs. Murphy's, the 40-year-old shop with a cult following and amazing crullers, doesn't get much attention outside its home town of Southwick. But in a town of less than 10,000 people, the shop goes through thousands of pounds of flour a week. Why? "These doughnuts transport you to that emotional holy doughnut place at first bite." Read more »

Navajo Hogan
One of the best things to ever emerge from the deep fryerHawk Krall

"Part Native American, part Southwestern and Tex-Mex, part state fair-style deep-fried joy, frybread tacos are an oft-overlooked, sometimes controversial, and insanely delicious example of a regional American food born from cultures accidentally coming together." They're also a dish fraught with cultural baggage, as no food represents the poverty-stricken oppression of America's native peoples like frybread. But at this Salt Lake lunch spot, one Mexican-Pueblo family is reclaiming it to make something beautiful. Read more »

Scachatta pizza
Hawk Krall

You'll only find scachatta—the room-temp, thick-crust, chorizo-enhanced Sicilian-style pizza—in Florida, where Cuban and Italian bakeries and breads intermingle, often in the very same space. Bakeries selling pizza and pizza-like breads is a far-ranging but little discussed American tradition. Here's why it's worth paying attention to it. Read more »

cosmos
Hawk Krall

The sandwich triangle of North America lies between New York City, Philadelphia, and North Jersey, and Cosmo's, a barebones place where every customer looks like a Soprano's extra (the shop lies very close to many of the show's filming locations), makes some of the best Italian heros you'll find anywhere. "As with many iconic foods most associated with New York—even when those traditions are dying out there—the Italian hero thrives in Jersey." Read more »

new jersey hot dogs
Hawk Krall

New Jersey is also the center of the hot dog universe, with more fanatics, hometown heroes, and regional styles than anywhere. Here's a guide to understanding the local tubesteak culture all across the state, and a case for why the best "Texas" wieners don't come from Texas. Read more »

Mac's Country Store
Mac's County StoreHawk Krall

A middle-of-nowhere gas station and convenience store serving incredible fried chicken? But of course. Such places are, it turns out, something of a thing in the South, so much so that many have let their standards slip to coast on their newfound fame. But not at Mac's. "It's the kind of place where, if they're working on a fresh batch of chicken, they'll direct you away from the ones sitting in the warming tray so make sure you get a taste of their best work." Read more »

Philly Fusion Sandwiches
The full guide to fusion sandwiches.Hawk Krall

In the city of cheesesteak and roast pork, a new breed of hoagie is drawing on the cuisines of immigrant populations to produce some utterly unique, shockingly good meals in the most unexpected of restaurants. "Think Indian egg hoagies. Middle Eastern and Korean cheesesteaks. Puerto Rican-style Italian roast pork." Here is where to get them all. Read more »

The Pines Seafood Chowder
Hawk Krall

The Pines Seafood House, on a regional New Hampshire highway in the middle of nowhere, does some singularly spectacular seafood: lobster, clams (fresh and fried), and of course clam chowder. "I've eaten a lot of chowder in New England, but none like what they make at The Pines. It's rich, but from an inconceivable density of seafood, not cream or starch. No fishy funk of frozen or sketchy product. A judicious amount of potato. No thickeners; just pure seafood (okay, and plenty of butter that floats to the top in little droplets) like lobster, shrimp, whole-belly clams, haddock, and scallops, plus something the shack cryptically describes as 'chowder milk.' This is the kind of chowder that gets people to line up to buy it by the gallon." Read more »

Bishop's Diner
Hawk Krall

Bishop's, a train car diner originally from Swansea, MA before it was hauled over to Newport, is the epitome of the New England diner, with standout crisp-edged johnnycakes, Portuguese-inflected sausage and egg sandwiches, and tall frosty glasses of coffee milk. It's also home to what may be the most amazing meet cute we've ever heard about, a story you have to read to believe. Read more »

hot dog illo
A tale of family, war, natural calamity, and tube steaks.Hawk Krall

A report from the front lines of a decades-long Jersey/Pennsylvania family fued over the rights to Jimmy's, the name and brand beyond a century-old hot dog stand that gave the town of Easton a hot dog style to call its own. Here's what happens when good sense and good manners are thrown out the window in search of frankfurters, fame, and a squiggle of mustard. Read more »

Read More: The Best of 2016