Are You Looking For A Good Place To Eat?

Getting recommendations for good places to eat is something all good foodies love to do. Jane and Michael Stern have been recommending such places for over thirty years. They have written numerous books on the subject, have a weekly spot on American Public Radio’s Splendid Table, a column in Gourmet Magazine, and an excellent website. Today I want to tell you about their newest book.

500 Things To Eat Before It’s Too Late and the Very Best Places to Eat Them

by Jane and Michael Stern

Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt Publishers, 2009

My Rating: A+

The Sterns wrote this book in order to look back over their long career in food tasting and rank the best foods that are unique to America.

The book is divided into sections of the country. The first double-page of each section has a map and a list of each state. Under the state is a list of each eatery and the town. As you turn the pages within each section you find short discussions about special foods in that area.

There are paragraphs about the places to eat a specific food, including address, phone number and websites, if available. Each section has numerous lists of the best places to find the unique foods. The book is loaded with pictures of food and the food establishments. It’s a very colorful book.

Let me give you a little sample of each section of the book and some of the lists you will find.

New England

  • 5 Best Boiled Dinners
  • Top 9 Chowders
  • 16 Great New England Ice Cream Parlors
  • 9 Best Lobster Rolls

Mid Atlantic

  • Six Best Beef on Wecks
  • 5 Top Crab Feasts
  • New Jersey’s Finest Deep-Fried Dogs
  • Nondenominational Jewish Apple Cakes


  • Top Banana Puddings
  • The Magnificent 7 Best Biscuits
  • Exemplary Sweet Tea
  • Must-Eat New Orleans Sandwiches
  • Exemplary Red-Velvet Cake


  • Ultimate Fried Chicken Dinner
  • Butteriest Butter Burgers
  • Chicago’s Best Chicken Vesuvios
  • Top 4 Cinnamon Rolls
  • 4 Essential Cincinnati Chili Parlors


  • Carne Adovada Hot List
  • Texas Chicken-Fried Steak At It’s Best
  • Southwest’s Top Chili
  • New Mexico’s Best Sopapillas
  • Best Migas


  • Fish Tacos of So. California
  • Top Sources of Huckleberry Sweets
  • Top 8 Oregon Chowders
  • Best Sourdough Bread
  • 9 Sensational West Coast Doughnuts

Within the book you will also find pages devoted to the “Best Of” on a national basis. The Sterns rank pizza, barbecue ribs, french fries, hamburgers, and pancakes. In addition to all this great information, there are recipes dotted here and there throughout the book.

Anytime someone recommends a good place to eat, a little part of me is suspicious. It’s not until I try it for myself that I know whether I agree with the recommendation. As I read this book I looked for the various places we have eaten. I was very pleased that I could agree with the Sterns on places I knew were superb. For instance, they named Stroud’s in Kansas City as the best place to eat fried chicken. They are absolutely right about that! Now I know I can trust their recommendations.

As you can see, this is part travelogue, part cookbook, a list of lists and lots of commentary. It’s food-writing at it’s best. This is a book you’ll want to take along on your next road trip or just set out for an adventure in your own neighborhood.

I found this book at the library but my plan is to buy a copy and keep it in our vehicle. It is available at Amazon.

Talking about food is a regular feature on my blog and on other blogs as well. Visit Beth Fish Reads for other bloggers who are participating in Weekend Cooking.

This entry was posted in 100+ Book Challenge, A+ Books, Book Challenges, Books, Books About Food, Food, Weekend Cooking. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Are You Looking For A Good Place To Eat?

  1. Molly says:

    Oh my gooness – I remember watching them in New York several years, no wait, maybe decades ago!

    What a trip down memory lane you just provided me!

    I am thrilled to know they have a website and I will check it out soon.

  2. This sounds like the perfect book for you and your RV! It would be so much fun to stop and explore one of the restaurants if you just happened to be close to it.

  3. Beth F says:

    This does sound perfect for you. I need to pick up a copy before our next road trip.

  4. JoAnn says:

    This book sounds perfect for people (like you!) that travel a lot. I think it would be fun to look through…

  5. Barbara says:

    When Dave and I were on the road almost constantly for his job (in the early 80s), I kept a notebook with useful info like what was at each exit on often-traveled highways, and good places to eat wherever we went. This book trumps my little notebook by far; it sounds great.

  6. Heather says:

    wouldn’t it be great to take and RV and test out a couple of states?

  7. Oh, I have wanderlust just reading this review … 🙂

  8. Bonnie says:

    This sounds like an interesting book especially for the traveler.

  9. When my hubby and I retire I want to pack this book on the motorcycle and eat our way through the US!!! What a great find!

  10. This sounds so wonderful! And I don’t think you need to be a traveler to get it, because one could use it for ideas of things to try to make. I’m off to the website!!!

  11. Just Mom says:

    Hmmm – the list for the South seems to be missing a few items – where’s the BBQ, the shrimp, the cornbread, the greens….perhaps I am a little prejudiced!

  12. Okay, back from the website, which is loaded with fantastic recipes! Including, I might add, many wonderful items I’m missing by not being in Wisconsin! Thanks so much for the link!

  13. This does sound like one worth giving shelf-room to — even in an RV! Fun combination of reference book and good reading. I’ve heard them a couple of times on the NPR show and always meant to look up their books. Thanks for the reminder.

  14. Esme says:

    I got a book last year-500 places for food and wine lovers that is fantastic.

  15. carol says:

    Sounds like a great one. I just added it to my wishlist.

  16. caite says:

    I see I am not the only one that got a case of wanderlust reading this review.
    I HAVE to see which NJ deep fried hot dog place they recommended. Dickie Dee’s in Newark is my pick!

  17. Bumbles says:

    I think “best” and “boiled dinner” are oxymorons ;0)

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