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Food That’s Worth a Road Trip


Vanilla custard at Leon’s Frozen Custard

Milwaukee
Drive time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Head north for classic Wisconsin summertime fare in the form of thick, creamy custard at this 79-year-old stand. It’s offered in three other flavors (chocolate, butter pecan, and a daily special), but the rich vanilla is the way to go. You can get it topped with everything from hot fudge and halved pecans to malt powder. $3 for a double scoop. 3131 S. 27th St.

Sausage pizza at Wells Brothers Italian Restaurant

Racine, Wisconsin
Drive time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Chicago isn’t the only place for a great tavern-style pie; you’ll find the best example in the Midwest at this 100-year-old corner spot. Extra thin, with a cracker-crisp crust dusted with cornmeal, it’s loaded with fennel sausage. $13 for a 14-inch pizza. 2148 Mead St.

Fried lake perch at Teibel’s Family Restaurant

Schererville, Indiana
Drive time: 1 hour
At 92 years old, this vintage diner-turned-restaurant just keeps serving up plates of fried chicken, frog legs, and lake perch. You’re here for the perch — order it and you’ll get a platter loaded with lightly dusted fillets of tender fish, which come with lemon wedges and melted butter for dipping. $18.95. 1775 U.S. Route 41

Double bacon cheeseburger at Just Hamburgers

Paxton, Illinois
Drive time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Though there’s more than “just hamburgers” at this 50-year-old shack, they are the reason to go. The ones here start with small, fresh balls of beef smashed to a crisp on the griddle. Our favorite is topped with American cheese and thick, crisp locally made bacon. You may not find a better burger anywhere for the money. $3. 214 Ottawa Rd.

Three Sisters Tacos at Molino Tortilleria

Sawyer, Michigan
Drive time: 1 hour 20 minutes
At this new-school taqueria and shop, the tortillas are made the old way, with heirloom corn from nearby farms and Mexico, and they leave your fingers smelling of corn — in the best possible way. These tacos come filled with roasted garnet yams and organic refried black beans and topped with crisp pickled red onions and guacamole. $12.99 for three. 5846 Sawyer Rd.

Fried chicken at Rip’s Tavern

Ladd, Illinois
Drive time: 1 hour 55 minutes
Want to try the best fried chicken in Illinois? At Rip’s, which has been at this for 85 years, fresh birds, delivered twice a week, are brined, battered, and fried in a blend of oils. There’s nothing fancy about it — the chicken is served with french fries and a slice of bread on a paper plate — just juicy fried bird, with skin so crisp it shatters. $11 for a half chicken. 311 N. Main Ave.

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