cover image 500 Things to Eat Before It's Too Late: And the Very Best Places to Eat Them

500 Things to Eat Before It's Too Late: And the Very Best Places to Eat Them

Jane Stern, Michael Stern. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $19.95 (452pp) ISBN 978-0-547-05907-5

Veteran road dogs and James Beard Award-winning food journalists Jane and Michael Stern (Roadfood, Two for the Road) have what may be their best offering yet in this easy to use, consolidated guide to America's best off-the-beaten-path eateries. Along the way, the Sterns identify the best of everything crave-worthy: regional specialties like cheese steaks in Philly, southern sweets like banana pudding and key lime pie, as well as (admittedly subjective) national rankings for classics like ribs, burgers and French fries. They even scour elusive vendors like Connecticut hot dog wagons and San Francisco taco trucks. Other notable suggestions: a cool glass of the Latino rice milk beverage Horchata at Guelaguetza in L.A., the Northwest's best cup of coffee at Ristretto Roasters in Portland; and the best cherry pie in Michigan at Beulah's Cherry Hut. Homebodies can make do with a handful of recipes (including Cincinnati five way chili, and Massachusetts's Dirt Bomb, a cinnamon and sugar-rolled muffin), but the Sterns' lyrical and enthusiastic field reports, topped off with suggestions for after-meal exploring (Philadelphia's medical anomalies museum, New Orleans's Audobon Insectarium), should be enough to get any reader with a taste for mom-and-pop Americana hungry for the road.