Eat Your Way to Florida

Driving south? We cover must-try dishes, from Philly cheesesteak in Pennsylvania to chicken and waffles in North Carolina.

Sandwich with pickles and ketchup

Stopping to stretch and refuel is an important part of the long drive to the sunny beaches of Florida. As well as filling the gas tank, food is an integral part of the travel experience. Why not try some signature dishes along the way?


Across Pennsylvania, the calorie blowout Philly cheesesteak is a crusty roll filled with thinly sliced beef topped with fried onions, peppers and cheese (take part in the long-running debate over which is best: Cheez Whiz, American or Provolone).


The pierogi is one of Ohio’s omnipresent comfort foods, imported by a wave of East European immigrants in the early 1900s. The crescent-shaped dumplings are filled with potato, cheese or sauerkraut and are boiled or pan-fried, then topped with melted butter and onions or sour cream.

West Virginia

Stop at a bakery for warm-from-the-oven pepperoni rolls. Locals crave the uniquely West Virginia creation, a white bread roll with pepperoni baked inside. The rolls have a long, proud history as a lunchtime comfort food popular with coal miners.


The classic Southern comfort dish of biscuits and gravy is the backbone of every Virginian breakfast menu. Don’t settle for anything less than buttery home-style biscuits doused with white gravy, served with a thick slice of Virginia cured country ham.

North Carolina

Chicken and waffles. Yes, you read that right. This filling dish is a Southern staple and a North Carolina favourite, delivering both sweet and savoury on the same plate. The soul food meal packs a salty hit of fried chicken tempered by the sugar high of maple syrup and a crispy waffle.

South Carolina

Shrimp and grits show up on most breakfast, lunch and dinner menus south of the Mason-Dixon line but the dish really shines when made with fresh South Carolina shrimp. A grits primer: it is finely ground corn cooked with milk or water that creates the perfect backdrop for shrimp and tomato-based sauce.


There’s a lot of variety on a classic “meat and three” menu. Across Georgia, traditional Southern eateries mix-and-match selections of a meat—from meatloaf to fried chicken— and a choice of three sides (standards include mac and cheese, fried okra, sweet potatoes, collards). Wash it down with Coca-Cola, invented in Atlanta as a “nerve tonic” back in 1886.


They no longer grow the small limes in the state, but what could be more of a Florida marker than a slice of Key lime pie? Purists wrangle over graham cracker or traditional crust, and meringue, whipped cream or naked. You’ll have to decide.