Paul Virant

of Gaijin

Pick: The Smokehouse Market and Annie Gunn’s, Chesterfield, Missouri
Drive: 5.5 hours
Why it’s worth it: “In the 1980s, Smokehouse Market, a specialty grocery that’s been around since 1937, acquired this space next door and opened a restaurant. They have great oysters and, if you want something more casual, a burger and bratwurst. You can also get a nice piece of fish.”

Heather Bublick and D’Andre Carter

of Soul & Smoke

Pick: 17th Street BBQ, Murphysboro, Illinois
Drive: 5.5 hours
Why it’s worth it: “You can feel the legacy just walking through the door. They have a great appetizer menu, like the smoked wings and pork rinds with Magic Dust rub sprinkled on them that gives everything depth. Their sauce is so well balanced, like a cross between Carolina Gold and Memphis style.”

Tim Flores and Genie Kwon

of Kasama

Pick: Pizzeria Lola, Minneapolis
Drive: 6.5 hours 
Why it’s worth it: “This is our favorite pizza in the country, in between Neapolitan and New York style. The crust is always perfectly cooked. We get vanilla soft serve with olive oil and sea salt and two pizzas — usually one more basic like the Sweet Italian, with fennel sausage and red sauce, and one like the Hawaii Pie-O, with pineapple and bacon.”

Soo Ahn

of Adalina

Pick: Red Light Ramen, Milwaukee
Drive: 2 hours
Why it’s worth it: “I first went when this was a pop-up at chef Justin Carlisle’s Ardent; at 11 p.m. they’d turn it into a ramen shop. Now it has its own location but with the same feel: vibrant colors, amazing food, and good cocktails. I can’t stay away from the tonkotsu; every time I go, that’s what I get.”

Michael Lachowicz

of George Trois

The pick: Lake Placid Inn, Minocqua, Wisconsin
Drive: 5.5 hours
Why it’s worth it: “It looks like an odd diner, like a Wisconsin supper club. There’s nothing sophisticated about this place — just great food in a fun atmosphere. I go for breakfast and get the Weed Bed: crispy hash browns topped with eggs, cut-up sausage links, chopped bacon, a slice of American cheese, and hollandaise sauce.”