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Walker Bros. in Wilmette has been flipping flapjacks since 1960, and the apple version takes the 'cake: crispy edges, nutmeg-y center and a smothering of cinnamon-spiced, faintly tart Granny Smiths.... The Italian food (served on paper plates) at Freddy’s Pizza in Cicero is as good as any in Chicago. "Yes, the pizza's great," says Michael Stern, "but you also have to try the very citrusy lemon chicken, the baked eggplant stuffed with veal and pork and the cheesy Timballo di Pasta," a lasagna-style wedge, served with fresh, fruity tomato sauce by request.

In the self-serve line at Gray Brothers Cafeteria in Mooresville, you'll find a cornucopia of homespun mains, sides and desserts. While the German chocolate cake will call to you, hold out for sugar cream pie (a.k.a. Hoosier pie)—its supple crust cradles a divinely pure and simple blend that includes butter, sugar and cream.... Sun King Brewery in Indianapolis offers tastings of its ales, both cream and pale, along with several other brilliant brews sold only in Indiana. Various words or phrases are stamped on the bottom of the cans; a 2015 prank hatched by an especially ardent Indianapolis Colts fan who worked at the brewery sent thousands of brews into the marketplace emblazoned with TOM BRADY SUX.

BPT (breaded pork tenderloin) is a regional mainstay, and in 2003, Darrell’s Place in Hamlin—a yellow shack in a town with fewer than 300 residents—won the distinction of best in the state by the Iowa Pork Producers Association. The sandwich is an airy roll filled with double-battered crispy pork that's neither too thick nor too thin, ensuring an ideal meat-to-bread ratio and maximum juiciness. Top it with grilled onion, tomato, pickles and lettuce and you're in business. A $1.50 side of fries won't hurt, either.

Barto’s Idle Hour in Frontenac hosts polka dancing on Friday and Saturday nights, but the fried chicken dinner, which you can enjoy with coleslaw and onion rings, is an even bigger draw. Each garlicky, breaded piece is cooked to order—and trust us, the crunchy outcome is worth the wait.

Which dish has been satisfying Louisville's wee-hour tipplers since the '20s? Born at the The Brown Hotel, it's known as the hot brown: a humble open-faced turkey on white elevated by its toppings, including bacon, Roma tomato, a broiled pile of shredded cheese and Mornay sauce with Pecorino Romano and whiffs of nutmeg and pepper.