“Comfort food” means many things to different people, and it can also look a little different depending where you travel. Whether you find it at a hole-in-the-wall diner, your favorite family restaurant or somewhere else, one thing is for sure: It’s not usually diet fare. From chicken-fried steak to pizza, cinnamon rolls to poutine, we’ve tracked down menus from coast to coast replete with some of the tastiest indulgences you’ll find anywhere.
Note: Some restaurants may still have limited service due to the coronavirus pandemic. Be sure to contact the restaurant before visiting to confirm.
If you want your fill of Southern home cooking, look no further than Martha’s Place. A buffet of rotating favorites includes main dishes like chicken and dumplings, turkey and dressing, and liver and onions; sides run the gamut from fried okra and candied yams to sweet potato soufflé and creamed corn.
Popular picks: Don’t pass up the fried chicken, and if you haven’t stuffed yourself silly, finish with the banana pudding, TripAdvisor reviewers advise.
In Alaska, seafood and comfort food are synonymous. Get your fill at Captain Pattie’s, where the traditional fare like baked salmon, fried halibut and burgers is as satisfying as the mountain and sea views right out the door. It’s only open seasonally, so be sure to come during the summer.
Popular picks: Take the chill off with a warm cup of clam chowder, and don’t miss the fresher-than-fresh crab legs, reviewers say.
If you’re looking for comfort food with a southwestern spin, Baja Café aims to please with a from-scratch menu that earns raves from regulars. Love eggs benedict? There’s a whole page to choose from, many given a local twist with ingredients like jalapeno bacon, red chile sauce or pico de gallo. Lunch can be a taco as easily as a burger, and yes, there are margaritas at the ready.
Popular picks: Reviewers can’t stop raving about the snickerdoodle pancakes; the huevos rancheros are also a crowd pleaser.
For more great restaurant guides and dining tips, please sign up for our free newsletters.
The yummy food is enough to draw folks to Stoby’s, but in Russellville, there’s an additional draw: You can sit in a real train car and watch model trains chug by while you eat. And eat you will, whether you want a thick stack of pancakes, an omelet, a burger, or the restaurant’s signature sandwich (your choice of bread, three meats, and two cheeses, plus tomato, lettuce and special dressing).
Popular picks: Don’t miss the possum pie, an Arkansas classic. (Don’t worry — it involves chocolate and whipped cream, actual possums need not apply.)
Vegetarians and vegans, rejoice: This is your comfort-food mecca. From meatless burgers to veggie omelets, kitschy ’50s-style Saturn Café has been catering to special diets for four decades with dishes that are normally off limits. Gluten-free? There are plenty of options for you, too.
Popular picks: The vegan milkshakes are tasty enough to satisfy the most ardent dairy lovers, reviewers say. Choose from vanilla, mint chip, chocolate, or strawberry.
Housed in a cute-as-a-button cottage, River and Woods is a homey destination for anyone who appreciates comfort food elevated just a bit beyond its humble origins. Examples include Idaho trout with smoked oyster mushrooms, or poutine sprinkled with green chili queso.
Popular picks: The duck wings, embellished with a dry garlic sauce, are a surprisingly tasty alternative to regular wings, reviewers say.
In a state full of great diners, longtime favorite Blue Colony is just right: It’s family-run, open 24 hours, an easy stop off the highway, and caters to all tastes with a massive menu, in-house bakery, and extensive selection of wine, beer and cocktails. Whether you want breakfast, salads or sandwiches, dinner entrees or a fat slice of cake or pie, they’ve got you covered.
Popular picks: The “to die for” French toast, made with homemade challah bread, or one of the Greek specialties like spanakopita or a gyro wrap. Take one of the enormous apple turnovers to go.
Pizza and pasta are staple comfort foods for many, especially on the East Coast. At Frederica Pizza and Pasta, in a tiny town just outside of Dover, the gang’s all here: calzones, old-school classics like veal parmigiana, pizzas of all stripes, cheesesteaks, subs, and wings.
Popular picks: Unsurprisingly, the pizza is the main crowd pleaser, but if you’re lucky, homemade cream puffs will be among the night’s dessert selections.
Don’t drive by this little roadside joint, where you’ll find the outdoor seating often crowded with locals. Your food will be served up in foil and white takeout cartons for a modest feast under the trees.
Popular picks: You can’t go wrong with a burger and onion rings or a chili dog, devotees say. The Food Network’s Guy Fieri recommends the Triple Play burger: It’s topped with mojo pork, pastrami, Swiss and American cheese, jalapenos, french-fried onion rings, tomatoes, and mustard.
This family-owned spot has been serving up Southern home cooking like fried chicken, liver, short ribs, and pot roast in an unpretentious atmosphere since 1927. It attracts a large, diverse crowd, and reviewers say it’s best to pass the wait for a table at the friendly, well-stocked bar.
Popular picks: Don’t miss the fried chicken, reviewers say — it’s the specialty of the house. Traditional sides like collard greens and fried okra also have legions of fans.
Related: Best Fried Chicken in Every State
In notoriously pricey Hawaii, Rainbow Drive-In is one of the best-known spots for tasty, humble fare at a reasonable price. This long-standing local favorite opened in 1961 slinging 50-cent chili dogs, and today it’s best known for hearty plate lunches of fish, pork and other staples served up with rice and macaroni salad or coleslaw.
Popular picks: Hawaiian comfort food is synonymous with loco moco, and it’s a stalwart on the Rainbow’s menu. You’ll get rice topped with a hamburger patty, an egg, and plenty of indulgent gravy.
This is the place to go for breakfast or lunch if you’re craving from-scratch cooking like chicken-fried steak, scrambles, burgers and BLTs in a family-friendly atmosphere. There may be a line to get in, but locals say it’s worth the wait.
Popular picks: Stop in for an Irish benedict — that’s jalapeno cornbread topped with corned beef, eggs, and hollandaise. And the massive Southern pecan rolls are a meal by themselves.
“Follow the Mother Road to Great Food!” proclaims this cheerful restaurant in tiny Dwight, southwest of Chicago. Some of the recipes have been passed down over three generations, and you’ll find favorites like steak and eggs, burgers, and liver and onions. If you’re into Route 66 history, don’t miss the restored Texaco station across the street.
Popular picks: The house specialty is broasted chicken — get it by the bucket if you’re especially hungry or feeding a crowd.
Recipes for coleslaw and coconut cream pie dating from the ’60s are still on the menu at the Steer-In, a modest time warp of a spot on Indy’s east side. Cozy up in one of the worn booths or head through the drive-thru. In a nod to changing times, there’s even online delivery.
Popular picks: Chow down on the much-lauded Hoosier tenderloin sandwich: That’s breaded or grilled fresh pork tenderloin with lettuce, tomato and mayo on a bun.
Tucked away in a tiny town northwest of Dubuque, Breitbach’s claims to be Iowa’s oldest restaurant. Opened in 1852, it’s on its sixth generation of family ownership and has been twice rebuilt after two devastating fires just 10 months apart. The menu is filled with simple family fare like pork chops, country ham, burgers, and melts.
Popular picks: The pork tenderloin sandwich has claimed statewide honors, and the homemade pies come highly recommended, too.
For four decades, Hanover Pancake House has been one of the best spots in the Sunflower State for lip-smacking breakfast favorites like chicken and waffles, cinnamon roll French toast, and mini M&M pancakes. There are also lunch staples like patty melts and pork tenderloin sandwiches. Look for the retro sign — it’s a local landmark.
Popular picks: Can’t decide whether to go sweet or savory? A pancake wrap, filled with things like eggs, cheese, sausage, and bacon means you don’t have to choose.
A perennial favorite in northern Kentucky, Greyhound Tavern has been around since 1921, when it served ice cream at the end of the line for Cincinnati street cars. Today it’s a family-friendly favorite for lunch and dinner on weekdays; on weekends, an extensive brunch menu is added to the lineup.
Popular picks: The fried chicken might be the most popular dish, but for a regional favorite, try the Hot Brown — that’s ham or turkey over toast points, smothered with béchamel, cheddar, bacon, and tomato.
This retro little Shreveport institution proudly calls itself a hole in the wall, and the eclectic ambience inside won’t disappoint. Neither will the well-reviewed food, a mix of Cajun, Southern, and old-school diner favorites. The menu is packed with catfish, crab, shrimp, burgers, and po’boys; many evenings also feature oysters on the half shell.
Popular picks: Don’t pass up the Shrimp Buster, a house specialty since 1945. You’ll get fried shrimp heaped high on buttery French bread, plus fries, coleslaw and a special sauce.
Family-run Red’s, with its iconic red-and-white awning, has been a Main Street institution in Wiscasset for more than 80 years. The menu is full of classics, from burgers, hot dogs and BLTs to local favorites like clam cakes, scallops, and shrimp baskets. There’s no inside seating, but grabbing a spot overlooking the Sheepscot River is part of the experience.
Popular picks: Plenty of places claim to have Maine’s best lobster roll; reviewers say Red’s claim is definitely legit. Follow it with a whoopie pie, another Maine classic.
Related: 55 Foods Worth Traveling For
This corner pub is hard to miss, with its bright yellow exterior and parrot-festooned sign and door. It’s so popular that reservations are highly recommended, but one look at the homey menu of burgers, wings, ribs, crab cakes, and crab soup may convince you to make the call.
Popular picks: Get the crab cakes, full stop. They’re huge, creamy, and trumpeted by many to be the best in Baltimore, or maybe even the state.
Italian comfort food isn’t in short supply in Boston’s North End, but if you just want a casual place to face-plant into some gnocchi, fettuccini, or an enormous sub, Dino’s is your spot. A corner storefront with counter service, it’s a great place for a quick bite in a neighborhood where fancier spots reign.
Popular picks: The much-lauded meatball sub is big enough to feed two or three people, but reviewers say the pasta dishes also hold their own.
For years, the family-owned Polish Village Café has provided a comforting culinary taste of home for Detroit’s Eastern European immigrants. Regulars say it’s still the place to come for authentic Polish cooking at a great price, from stuffed cabbage to potato pancakes.
Popular picks: Try any of the pierogis, reviewers say. Many also recommend the stuffed cabbage and kielbasa.
Just across the street from the Mayo Clinic, you’ll find some of Minnesota’s most comforting grub and friendly customer service at Canadian Honker. Opened in the ’80s, it’s named after the giant geese that are so ubiquitous in Rochester. The menu is equally gigantic, filled with unfussy fare like sweet rolls, omelets, breakfast burritos, open-faced sandwiches and modest steaks.
Popular picks: The dinner specialty is the Canadian walleye — you can get it five ways, including fried, seared or broiled. For dessert, don’t pass up the coconut cake.
Picture a table of your favorite Southern dishes, like ribs, catfish, okra, yams, dumplings and mac ‘n’ cheese. Now picture them spinning on that table before you, in a never-ending parade of homestyle goodness. The dream becomes a reality at The Dinner Bell, where giant lazy Susans hold a feast for the entire table, with each dish constantly replenished as it gets low.
Popular picks: Fried eggplant is a staple of each day’s menu and a perennial favorite.
Tucked away in central Missouri, Charley’s is one of those rare mom-and-pop restaurants that is a destination in itself, devotees say. Make the drive and you’ll be rewarded with a homemade all-you-can-eat buffet proudly billed as “worth the weight.” Staples include fried chicken, green beans, smoked ham and fresh, buttery rolls.
Popular picks: The real showstopper, reviewers say, is the dessert bar chock full of pies, cobblers, cakes, brownies, and cookies galore.
Every small town needs a place on Main Street where you can grab some homemade comfort food and chat up the friendly waitstaff — in Thompson Falls, that place is Minnie’s. Whether you want French toast or biscuits and gravy, hot ham and Swiss or a hearty club, they have you covered.
Popular picks: “I had the cinnamon roll and immediately proposed marriage to the cook,” raves one TripAdvisor reviewer. Bring your appetite — they’re almost as big as the dinner plates on which they’re served.
Day or night, Hi-Way Diner will be open to feed you with a menu heavy on comfort-food favorites like chicken-fried steak, meatloaf, cheesesteaks, and patty melts. Breakfast is served all day. You’ll find everyone from college students seeking a late-night haven for studying to post-bar revelers and early-morning regulars.
Popular picks: The Hot Stripper sandwich (yes, it’s a sandwich) is three chicken strips smothered with sausage gravy served open faced on grilled Texas toast.
It’s Vegas, baby, so your typical Midwest comfort food gets a Sin City spin at Hash House A Go Go. The portions are huge (think pancakes the size of a tractor steering wheel) and the libations are plentiful (BLT Mary, anyone?). If you’re skeptical, check out the accolades this place has earned, including best brunch, best Bloody Mary, and yes, best comfort food.
Popular picks: Reviewers say the towering chicken and waffles is a stunner, both in size and taste.
Sure, you have to wait for fair weather to enjoy the comfort-food goodness at Petey’s, but that just makes the menu of lobster rolls, fried crab cakes, baked scallops, and parmesan truffle fries all the more mouth-watering. They’ll even ship live lobsters anywhere — they catch them themselves.
Popular picks: Down a cup of clam chowder to start, then gobble the delectable fried clams, reviewers advise.
When your comfort-food dreams include heaping piles of pastrami and matzo ball soup, family-run Hobby’s in downtown Newark is a top choice in a state where competition among delis is stiff. But the wide-ranging menu means you can also grab a burger or hot dog, poutine, mac and cheese, and even eggplant parmesan. Devils fan? There’s a pre-game celebration before every hockey game and the Prudential Center is just a block away.
Popular picks: Yes, the pastrami on rye is every bit as good as it should be, reviewers say; the corned beef is no slouch, either.
Related: 30 Best Delis Across America
There’s plenty of room to spread out at Frontier, which seats 300 and still manages to attract a line sometimes. That may be because the food at this 40-year staple near the University of New Mexico, including regional fare and comfort-food classics, is just that good.
Popular picks: The much-loved Frontier Burrito is stuffed with beef and beans, then topped with cheese and green chile stew. Also a favorite: the gooey cinnamon rolls.
If someone tells you the king of New York City comfort food is anything other than a massive slice of thin-crust pizza, you can promptly tell them to fuhgeddaboudit. Low-key landmark Patsy’s in East Harlem is still dishing out some of the city’s best pies from its coal ovens, plus every stripe of pasta, subs, and entrees like chicken marsala.
Popular picks: Pizza, of course: Your only decision is whether you want a slice or a whole pie. And if a 16-inch pizza seems like too much of an indulgence for one, remember, it’s thin crust. You’ve got this.
Every day at family-run Casey’s is another chance to loosen that belt a notch or two thanks to endless barbecue pork, chitlins, pan-fried okra, pig feet, and too many other homestyle Southern favorites to list. The restaurant also has an extensive to-go menu, plus it caters events.
Popular picks: “I don’t even like sweet potato casserole and I could eat my weight in theirs,” raves one reviewer. Other favorites: fried chicken and all of the many cobblers.
Related: Bucket List Barbecue in Every State
Kroll’s, open since 1969, is a classic American diner with a German accent: Whether you want comfort food in the form of sauerkraut or sandwiches, they have you covered. It’s also easy on the wallet, with lunch specials like patty melts, burgers, BLTs, and biscuits and gravy available for under $6 with the purchase of a drink.
Popular picks: Affectionately called the “lumpy yellow soup,” Knoephla soup is made from a chicken and potato base, with dumplings thrown in for extra heartiness.
If you’ve ever had a hankering for a family-style meal served up in a Civil War-era classroom, head to The Schoolhouse just outside Cincinnati. The menu is scrawled on the blackboard and features stick-to-your-ribs fare like corn fritters, fried green tomatoes, meatloaf and ham. A lazy Susan on each table makes sharing easier.
Popular picks: The fried chicken is the house specialty. Follow it up with some blackberry or cherry cobbler — à la mode, of course.
This family restaurant south of Oklahoma City has been going strong for three decades. Take note: It’s only open four days a week (Wednesday through Saturday) and it doesn’t take credit cards, but devotees don’t care because of the huge lunch and dinner portions and fresh, fluffy cinnamon rolls.
Popular picks: Kendall’s is famous for its chicken-fried steak and even has a Chicken Fry Challenge: Down three plate-sized chicken-fried steaks, a double order of mashed potatoes and green beans, a biscuit, a salad, and two cinnamon rolls in one hour. You’ll get a free meal, a T-shirt and plenty of bragging rights.
Screen Door specializes in Southern comfort food with a Pacific Northwest spin — the latter meaning plenty of locally sourced produce and meats. The line can get hairy, especially during popular weekend brunch hours, but glancing at the menu of glazed hushpuppies, sweet potato waffles, gumbo, and more will tell you why.
Popular picks: Come for the chicken and waffles, stay for … more chicken and waffles. They’re that good, reviewers say. Lunch and dinner favorites include the brisket and mac and cheese.
A Lancaster County landmark, Miller’s is a must for hungry visitors to Pennsylvania Dutch country. Peruse the smorgasbord and you’ll find baked ham, chicken pot pie, baked cabbage, buttered noodles, Swedish meatballs, and plenty of homemade breads, pies, puddings, and other desserts. Don’t want to wait? You can even reserve a table online.
Popular picks: The fried chicken is a perennial crowd-pleaser, according to TripAdvisor reviewers. They also say you can’t go without downing a slice of chocolate pecan pie, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
One of Coastal Living’s “Best Seafood Dives in Rhode Island,” Flo’s Clam Shack has been battered by several hurricanes since its opening in 1936, but it remains one of the top places in the state to indulge a craving for fried seafood or a steaming bowl of “chowda.”
Popular picks: The fried clams are hard to beat. If you want to try everything, the Fisherman’s Platter offers fried clams, clam strips, calamari, shrimp, scallops, fish, and a clam cake.
Just outside of central Charleston, locals line up at the cafeteria-style Workmen’s Cafe at lunchtime for classic Lowcountry dishes including fried pork chops, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, meatloaf and biscuits. The chef, Angie Bellinger, learned everything she knows from her mother, and she makes all the food from scratch.
Popular picks: The lima beans with pork are Bellinger’s most classic dish, and the fried chicken has diners raving. Don’t forget to treat yourself to a banana pudding or peach cobbler after your meal, if you have room for dessert.
If you’re a fan of the classic diner atmosphere, Phillips Avenue Diner should be your first stop in Sioux Falls. From the shiny chrome stools to the retro booths and neon lights, it’s all here — and so is the menu of hearty favorites, including some slightly more regional fare like poutine, and cheese curds.
Popular picks: The chicken and waffles get the nod for breakfast. Phillips also boasts some of the best milkshakes in the state.
This longtime Nashville favorite has cemented its place as the home of “hot biscuits and country ham,” but the menu is packed with plenty more Southern comfort-food favorites, like country ham, barbecue, and a pimento cheese burger. Don’t be surprised if you have to wait an hour or more at peak times, though — tourists have found the spot, but locals keep coming, too.
Popular picks: The country ham, served with two eggs, red-eye gravy, the eponymous biscuits, and one other side — all of it is worth the hype, reviewers confirm. Also tantalizing taste buds: The pulled pork.
Hays City Store has a formidable comfort-food neighbor in the form of Salt Lick BBQ, one of the state’s most iconic restaurants. But if you’re looking for more than barbecue, this is a great spot to come take a load off at a picnic table under the huge oaks outside. You can get everything from Frito pie and pulled pork to fish tacos and enchiladas; later in the day, a wood-fired oven churns out pizzas. The cocktails are nothing to sneeze at, either.
Popular picks: The chicken-fried steak is the hands-down favorite, and the thickly battered onion rings also have their fair share of fans.
Angie’s bills itself as the place “where the locals eat,” and reviewers say that’s true: Everyone just keeps coming back — some several times a week — for the massive menu and friendly service. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the Kitchen Sink Challenge: You’ll be eating a 3-pound ice-cream sundae for bragging rights and a bumper sticker.
Popular picks: One of Angie’s specialties is its scones — which in Utah means giant slabs of deep-fried dough, not some dainty British pastries served with high tea. Choose from traditional, cinnamon and sugar, or cheesecake. The chicken also comes highly recommended.
This homey little gem of a breakfast and lunch joint is always warm and welcoming, and it draws large crowds, particularly on weekends. But it’s worth waiting because the food is so good and the service is spot-on, according to devotees. Menu favorites include biscuits and gravy, banana bread with maple-walnut cream cheese, fish tacos, and grilled cheese.
Popular picks: You just can’t lose with the griddle: The gingerbread pancakes and French toast are top-notch, reviewers say. Some items may not be available until the cafe reopens for indoor dining in August.
This throwback restaurant, “home of good food since 1941,” proudly ticks off the recipes on its huge menu that remain unchanged since opening: homemade buttermilk biscuits, sausage gravy, pies, fresh vegetables, meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, and corn sticks.
Popular picks: The biscuits are so good they’ve received national acclaim from “The Today Show.” Sample a couple along with the country ham, red eye gravy, eggs, grits and fried apples.
If you want your comfort food with a little bit of a high-brow twist, Seattle’s Skillet Diner in Capitol Hill is ready to wow you. For instance, the basic burger comes with bacon jam, bleu cheese and arugula on a brioche roll; fried chicken comes with a black pepper honey drizzle, roasted carrots, fingerling potatoes, arugula, mustard vinaigrette and a cornmeal waffle.
Popular picks: The Chub sandwich is a popular brunch pick: It’s bacon, brie, American cheese, egg, arugula, bacon jam, and jalapeno aioli on brioche. Need a little more protein? Add fried chicken.
Related: Best Brunch in Every State
Family-owned King Tut opened in the ’40s and still has a retro feel, from the neon sign beckoning hungry passersby to the menu filled with staples like burgers and hot dogs, and throwbacks like chicken liver and Swiss steak. It prides itself on homemade breads, buns and pies, all made on site with decades-old recipes.
Popular picks: Definitely splurge on a slice of pie, fans say. One TripAdvisor reviewer says the chocolate cream pie is “possibly the chocolate pie they would have had at the last supper.”
In Wisconsin, cheese is the star when it comes to comfort food. The Grumpy Troll brew pub offers beer mac and cheese, local cheese curds, a one-and-a-half pound pretzel with beer cheese sauce, and more. In addition to the great food, you can also enjoy their award-winning beers on tap.
Popular picks: The beer cheese soup, made with house ale and Andouille sausage, has been lauded by Travel Wisconsin.
Cowboy Café is an easy stop for those who want to fuel up on the way to or from the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. It looks every bit the part of a well-worn Western cafe, so you might be surprised to find it’s only been around since the ’90s. The indulgent menu doesn’t disappoint, with breakfast galore, burgers, patty melts, and ribs.
Popular picks: Try something with a local spin, like the buffalo burger or an omelet made with spicy elk sausage.