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Meals Worth the Wheels

Isn’t it every backroad traveler’s fantasy to stumble upon a great little restaurant? In Oldenburg, Wagner’s Village Inn fills the bill. Bartender and waitress Betsy McCray claims the seasoning for their famous chicken is “just flour, coarse salt, and pepper.” Maybe the secret’s in the prep: the chicken is pan fried in lard in 14-inch skillets. “We can turn out 12 chickens every half hour,” McCray says. Wagner’s has been serving chicken, roast beef Manhattan (shredded beef and homemade gravy loaded onto white bread and served with mashed potatoes and green beans), and homemade cheesecake since 1968, closing only for Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving. 22171 Main St., Oldenburg, Indiana, (812) 934-3854

Larry’s Dawg House in Athens has been sating foot-long lovers since 1972. Weenie Wednesdays mean 99-cent hot dogs and a packed house. 410 W. Union St., Athens, Ohio, (740) 592-3819, larrysdawghouse.com

Imagine Archie and Veronica sharing a soda in a cozy booth at Koral Hamburg and Diner in Waterville, Ohio. The old-fashioned malt shop has been serving up juicy quarter-pound burgers and frosty shakes since 1926. 12 N. Third St., Waterville, Ohio, (419) 878-7007

A seafood restaurant in Indiana? No joke. There are plenty of tasty fried fish offerings at Key West Shrimp House in Madison, plus there’s a good selection of cold beer and expansive views of the Milton-Madison Bridge. 117 Ferry St., Madison, IN, (812)265-2831, keywestshrimphouse.com

The beer cheese at Halls on the River in Winchester, Kentucky, has fanatical fans, as do the massive burgers, frog legs, and shrimp and grits. It’s the closest thing to eating on the river without a boat. 1225 Athens Boonsboro Rd., Winchester, KY, (859)-527-6620

Originally published in the August 2013 issue