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A dish of fried pierogi on a red tablecloth with leaves
Fried pierogi from Jean Bonnet Tavern
Jean Bonnet Tavern [Photo: Facebook]

Where to Stop and Eat on the Drive From D.C. to Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh salads, fried pierogies, and sandwiches stuffed with fries can all be found on the scenic route through Maryland and Pennsylvania

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Fried pierogi from Jean Bonnet Tavern
| Jean Bonnet Tavern [Photo: Facebook]

Looking for a long-weekend road trip option? Pittsburgh is a food lovers’ paradise and a relatively easy escape for D.C.-area residents. It’s about a 4-hour drive without traffic. Visitors can take a speedy route (I-70 to I-76) or a scenic route (back roads to I-68).

Road trippers looking to save time will probably find it easiest to make a pit stop at Breezewood, the exit and interchange between I-70 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike that’s packed with the fast-food restaurants, generic chains, and grab-and-go options. But patient travelers can totally do better than Breeze (unless they’re prioritizing terrific regional potato chips). Here are some of the standout restaurants (ordered from East to West) located just a few minutes off of the direct routes between D.C. and Pittsburgh.

The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination site here.

—Additional reporting by Tim Ebner

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Clarksburg Market - Grille & Gas

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I-270 can be one of the more frustrating stretches of this drive, so for folks who get hungry early on, this Clarksburg country store, gas station, and deli provides a solid option for road trip-friendly sandwiches (the club sandwich is an excellent go-to). Pro tip — consider taking MD 355 up to Frederick once you’ve pulled over here to avoid some traffic.

Showroom

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If D.C. traffic has made getting out of the city feel impossible, drivers may find themselves forced to seek sustenance in nearby Frederick. For years this restaurant space, slightly outside of downtown Frederick with its own parking lot, housed Bryan Voltaggio’s stylish diner, Family Meal. Last year the Top Chef alum briefly rebranded it as Born & Raised. In the latest iteration, Voltaggio is cooking up comfort food dishes like a ribeye cheesesteak and meatloaf. Fried chicken, a draw of the original Family Meal, remains on the menu at Showroom. Takeout available.

A cheesesteak with two skewers of pickles on top of it
A cheesesteak from Showroom
Showroom [Photo: Facebook]

Schmankerl Stube 

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This Bavarian restaurant serves stuffed cabbage, knackwurst, wiener schnitzel, strudel, and more. not to mention German beers. Takeout is available, too.

View this post on Instagram

Some mid-week food motivation #germanfood #snitzel

A post shared by Katie Rogers (@travelartphotos) on

Krumpe’s Do-Nut Shop

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Looking for more of a snack than a meal? At Krumpe’s in Hagerstown, travelers can grab a bunch of refreshingly not-fancy doughnuts in flavors like chocolate cake and raspberry jelly. There are also eclairs and doughnut holes.

Primanti Bros.

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Diners who’d rather not “spend” one of their few meals in Pittsburgh at this iconic sandwich joint can experience the coleslaw and French fry-slathered sandwiches at an outpost in Hagerstown, the chain’s closest location to D.C.

A sandwich on whie bread stuffed with meats, cole slaw, and french fries, shown cut in half with the fillings exposed
A sandwich at Primanti Bros.
[Official]

Buddylou's Eats Drinks & Antiques

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The quirky name at this Maryland restaurant promises plenty of intrigue. It’s known for crab cakes, but the eclectic menu features everything from seared tuna to lobster rolls. Beyond the restaurant, the location has an ever-changing selection of antiques. Live music and a fun patio are other draws.

The Igloo

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Shakes, malts, flurries — they’re all on the table at this sundae-shaped, roadside ice cream stand, an attraction during warmer months.

Bad Boyz Bistro

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Bad Boyz was featured on Food Network’s Outrageous Food, and the fun menu includes dry-rubbed wings that taste like Cool Ranch Doritos. There’s even a respectable salad or two. People who finish a giant burger or survive the intensely spicy wings can win free food, a T-shirt, and glory.

Several buffalo wings with dipping sauce and a lone stick of celery on a blue plate
Wings from Bad Boyz Bistro
Bad Boyz Bistro [official site]

Frontier Tavern

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Steakhouse vibes and a wood-paneled bar room make this is a more restful, leisurely stop for travelers. People can even stay overnight at the affiliated Omni Springs resort. The menu spans from mushroom soup to steak tips, but don’t miss out on the fried pierogies for an appetizer.

A rendering of a wood-paneled dining room with a hanging candle chandelier
Frontier Tavern
Frontier Tavern [Official Site]

Jean Bonnet Tavern

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This restaurant and inn has plenty of history behind it — ask a bartender about flipping through their scrapbook of “haunted” encounters. The French dip is the must-order. Soups, onion rings, garlic wings, and assorted bar food items are safe bets, but the restaurant also has more ambitious entrees and monthly specials. The dining room area is quaint, but the tavern is more festive and often filled with chatty travelers watching sports, along with a crackling fireplace. There’s also a big patio — as well as a goat or two hanging out in a barn off the parking lot.

A cheese-covered French Dip sandwich on a pewter plate with au jus on the side
French dip sandwich from Jean Bonnet Tavern.
Missy Frederick/Eater DC

Crabby Pig

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Cumberland, Maryland, is a perfect place to stop on a more leisurely route to Pittsburgh. The Crabby Pig serves seafood staples like fried clam strips and Maryland crabs, alongside barbecue dishes and a respectable jambalaya.

Pine Grill Restaurant

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Heard of the Pittsburgh salad? Pine Grill calls its version a char-grilled chicken salad, but it still features the glorious, unlikely combination of iceberg lettuce and French fries. Customers can also find sandwiches, steak tips, pierogi, and pasta specials at this homey stop (Thursday is pasta night).

Large fried onion rings with dipping sauce in the background
Onion rings from Pine Grill
Pine Grill [official site]

Rey Azteca Mexican Restaurant

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Sometimes chips and salsa just hit the spot after a long drive. Rey Azteca has the Mexican-American classics you’d expect: fajitas, chimichangas, enchiladas, burritos, and a hefty selection of combination platters.

Red barn restaurant
The storefront of Rey Azteca
Rey Azteca [Photo: Facebook]

Summit Diner

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Come for the burgers, stay for the chicken-fried pickles and homestyle soups. This is a classic diner, with pies and prices to match, except for the fact that the hours are limited (closing time is anywhere between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. depending on the day of the week).

Joe’s Bar

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This dive bar filled with taxidermy rewards a detour along Route 30. The late owner bequeathed his extensive collection of stuffed animals to the bar, making it a one-of-a-kind destination on the road to Pittsburgh. There’s cheap beer aplenty alongside stuffed polar bears and birds. Food menu is limited to basics like hamburgers and hot dogs.

View this post on Instagram

#taxidermy #beast #Pennsylvania

A post shared by Maux (@fields_of_aphelion) on

Clarksburg Market - Grille & Gas

I-270 can be one of the more frustrating stretches of this drive, so for folks who get hungry early on, this Clarksburg country store, gas station, and deli provides a solid option for road trip-friendly sandwiches (the club sandwich is an excellent go-to). Pro tip — consider taking MD 355 up to Frederick once you’ve pulled over here to avoid some traffic.

Showroom

A cheesesteak with two skewers of pickles on top of it
A cheesesteak from Showroom
Showroom [Photo: Facebook]

If D.C. traffic has made getting out of the city feel impossible, drivers may find themselves forced to seek sustenance in nearby Frederick. For years this restaurant space, slightly outside of downtown Frederick with its own parking lot, housed Bryan Voltaggio’s stylish diner, Family Meal. Last year the Top Chef alum briefly rebranded it as Born & Raised. In the latest iteration, Voltaggio is cooking up comfort food dishes like a ribeye cheesesteak and meatloaf. Fried chicken, a draw of the original Family Meal, remains on the menu at Showroom. Takeout available.

A cheesesteak with two skewers of pickles on top of it
A cheesesteak from Showroom
Showroom [Photo: Facebook]

Schmankerl Stube 

This Bavarian restaurant serves stuffed cabbage, knackwurst, wiener schnitzel, strudel, and more. not to mention German beers. Takeout is available, too.

View this post on Instagram

Some mid-week food motivation #germanfood #snitzel

A post shared by Katie Rogers (@travelartphotos) on

Krumpe’s Do-Nut Shop

Looking for more of a snack than a meal? At Krumpe’s in Hagerstown, travelers can grab a bunch of refreshingly not-fancy doughnuts in flavors like chocolate cake and raspberry jelly. There are also eclairs and doughnut holes.

Primanti Bros.

A sandwich on whie bread stuffed with meats, cole slaw, and french fries, shown cut in half with the fillings exposed
A sandwich at Primanti Bros.
[Official]

Diners who’d rather not “spend” one of their few meals in Pittsburgh at this iconic sandwich joint can experience the coleslaw and French fry-slathered sandwiches at an outpost in Hagerstown, the chain’s closest location to D.C.

A sandwich on whie bread stuffed with meats, cole slaw, and french fries, shown cut in half with the fillings exposed
A sandwich at Primanti Bros.
[Official]

Buddylou's Eats Drinks & Antiques

The quirky name at this Maryland restaurant promises plenty of intrigue. It’s known for crab cakes, but the eclectic menu features everything from seared tuna to lobster rolls. Beyond the restaurant, the location has an ever-changing selection of antiques. Live music and a fun patio are other draws.

The Igloo

Shakes, malts, flurries — they’re all on the table at this sundae-shaped, roadside ice cream stand, an attraction during warmer months.

Bad Boyz Bistro

Several buffalo wings with dipping sauce and a lone stick of celery on a blue plate
Wings from Bad Boyz Bistro
Bad Boyz Bistro [official site]

Bad Boyz was featured on Food Network’s Outrageous Food, and the fun menu includes dry-rubbed wings that taste like Cool Ranch Doritos. There’s even a respectable salad or two. People who finish a giant burger or survive the intensely spicy wings can win free food, a T-shirt, and glory.

Several buffalo wings with dipping sauce and a lone stick of celery on a blue plate
Wings from Bad Boyz Bistro
Bad Boyz Bistro [official site]

Frontier Tavern

A rendering of a wood-paneled dining room with a hanging candle chandelier
Frontier Tavern
Frontier Tavern [Official Site]

Steakhouse vibes and a wood-paneled bar room make this is a more restful, leisurely stop for travelers. People can even stay overnight at the affiliated Omni Springs resort. The menu spans from mushroom soup to steak tips, but don’t miss out on the fried pierogies for an appetizer.

A rendering of a wood-paneled dining room with a hanging candle chandelier
Frontier Tavern
Frontier Tavern [Official Site]

Jean Bonnet Tavern

A cheese-covered French Dip sandwich on a pewter plate with au jus on the side
French dip sandwich from Jean Bonnet Tavern.
Missy Frederick/Eater DC

This restaurant and inn has plenty of history behind it — ask a bartender about flipping through their scrapbook of “haunted” encounters. The French dip is the must-order. Soups, onion rings, garlic wings, and assorted bar food items are safe bets, but the restaurant also has more ambitious entrees and monthly specials. The dining room area is quaint, but the tavern is more festive and often filled with chatty travelers watching sports, along with a crackling fireplace. There’s also a big patio — as well as a goat or two hanging out in a barn off the parking lot.

A cheese-covered French Dip sandwich on a pewter plate with au jus on the side
French dip sandwich from Jean Bonnet Tavern.
Missy Frederick/Eater DC

Crabby Pig

Cumberland, Maryland, is a perfect place to stop on a more leisurely route to Pittsburgh. The Crabby Pig serves seafood staples like fried clam strips and Maryland crabs, alongside barbecue dishes and a respectable jambalaya.

Pine Grill Restaurant

Large fried onion rings with dipping sauce in the background
Onion rings from Pine Grill
Pine Grill [official site]

Heard of the Pittsburgh salad? Pine Grill calls its version a char-grilled chicken salad, but it still features the glorious, unlikely combination of iceberg lettuce and French fries. Customers can also find sandwiches, steak tips, pierogi, and pasta specials at this homey stop (Thursday is pasta night).

Large fried onion rings with dipping sauce in the background
Onion rings from Pine Grill
Pine Grill [official site]

Rey Azteca Mexican Restaurant

Red barn restaurant
The storefront of Rey Azteca
Rey Azteca [Photo: Facebook]

Sometimes chips and salsa just hit the spot after a long drive. Rey Azteca has the Mexican-American classics you’d expect: fajitas, chimichangas, enchiladas, burritos, and a hefty selection of combination platters.

Red barn restaurant
The storefront of Rey Azteca
Rey Azteca [Photo: Facebook]

Summit Diner

Come for the burgers, stay for the chicken-fried pickles and homestyle soups. This is a classic diner, with pies and prices to match, except for the fact that the hours are limited (closing time is anywhere between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. depending on the day of the week).

Joe’s Bar

This dive bar filled with taxidermy rewards a detour along Route 30. The late owner bequeathed his extensive collection of stuffed animals to the bar, making it a one-of-a-kind destination on the road to Pittsburgh. There’s cheap beer aplenty alongside stuffed polar bears and birds. Food menu is limited to basics like hamburgers and hot dogs.

View this post on Instagram

#taxidermy #beast #Pennsylvania

A post shared by Maux (@fields_of_aphelion) on

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