Photo: Little Outdoor Giants

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Gayle King takes her pizza very seriously, and she beams when talking about Buddy's in Michigan. The hefty but not too heavy slices do not disappoint.

Boudin is a spiced Cajun sausage made of rice and pork (and often onions and peppers, too). Chef Alon Shaya, who owns Israeli spot Shaya in New Orleans, fell in love with the version at The Best Stop Supermarket in Scott. "It felt like a rite of passage: When I had it, I knew I was finally becoming a Southerner...." Once you've blissed out on New Orleans' beignets and po'boys, take a tip from Toups' Meatery chef Isaac Toups and head to Vietnamese joint Tan Dinh for suon chien xa ot (lemongrass ribs): "They have an explosive garlicky flavor that's so deep and savory."

On U.S. Route 1 in Waldoboro, travelers in the know brake at the sign for Moody’s Diner. The 80-plus-year-old institution, whose walls are bedecked with old photos, has perfected the fine art of pie. Feast your eyes on strawberry rhubarb, peanut butter cream and more—but order blueberry, which makes one O staffer's pulse race: "It's not some fussy, artisanal concoction; it's simple and perfectly tart. They treat blueberries the way they should be treated."

You can find Smith Island cake—traditionally eight to 14 ultrathin layers of yellow cake caressed with fudge frosting—throughout its namesake island, but the slice at Bayside Inn Restaurant in Ewell is tough to top, especially when eaten with your legs dangling off the dock.

The roast beef sandwich at Everett truck stop Mike’s Roast Beef does the North Shore specialty proud: extra-rare meat sliced paper-thin and slathered with the traditional three-way topping (mayo, barbecue sauce, your choice of cheese).... Sam’s Bakery in Fall River is a one-room Lebanese spot known for mouthwatering meat pies. We also love the spinach pie, a triangular dough pouch stuffed with lemony fresh spinach leaves and onions.

Rejoice, labneh lovers! Thanks to the several hundred thousand Arab Americans in and around Dearborn, Middle Eastern cuisine here is among the best in the country. Al-Ameer Restaurant's Beirut hummus, for example—the chickpea puree encircles a bracing mince of tomato, parsley and jalapeño.... The squinty grin of mascot Cherry Jerry was first carved into the Cherry Hut's pie crust in 1922. The Beulah eatery goes all out for its namesake: Come for the cherry salsa–adorned burger, stay for the cherry hot fudge brownie.... Detroit-style pizza, square and cheese laden, is deep-dish made deeper—a study in crust density. And at hometown fave Buddy’s, they're as bulky and buttery as they come—our own Gayle King is a megafan.