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The great brew houses and burger joints scattered across the country are always highlighted in road trip guides. But chocolate chip cookies, those gooey symbols of all that is wholesome and right about America, always seem to get the shaft. Not today. The cookies from these eight bake shops scattered from coast to coast are worth the stop on any road trip.
Flour Bakery and Cafe (Boston, Massachusetts)
World renowned pastry chef Joanne Chang’s many different creations—from Milky Way tarts to triple chocolate mousse cake—have made her 14-year-old bakery and cafe in Boston’s South End a Beantown tourist institution alongside the Duck Boats and Fenway park. But it’s her brownie-like double chocolate chip cookies (made with silky, artisan Tcho chocolate) that truly stand out.
Levain Bakery (New York, New York)
Bite into a thick chocolate chip walnut cookie by Levain Bakery on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and there’s no way to keep your hands or face clean. Baked to molten perfection and using what seems like about a stick of butter for each cookie, these confectionery creations are shipped all over the world for $27 a four-pack, not including shipping.
Salty Tart (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
The six-year-old Salty Tart in Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis, and its top-rated pastry chef Michelle Gayer, are known for their coconut macaroons, nicknamed locally as “crack-aroons.” But the traditional melt-in-your-hand chocolate chunk cookies are just as addictive.
Smoke Daddy Rhythm and Blues Barbecue (Chicago, Illinois)
The Daddy, as it’s called, in Wicker Park has been the Windy City’s most famous barbecue joint for the past 20 years. What’s more of a secret is its dessert: the giant chocolate chip cookie, baked and served in an iron skillet, and topped with vanilla ice cream.
JD’s Chippery (University Park, Texas)
Students from Southern Methodist University in University Park outside Dallas have been flocking to this family-owned bakery for more than a quarter-century. Its traditional-tasting Toll House-style chocolate chip cookies are carefully baked in small batches during the day—not just early in the morning—to keep them super-fresh and flavorful. You can call ahead with your cookie order so you don’t go there empty-handed.
Santa Fe Cookie Company (Denver, Colorado)
The Santa Fe Cookie Company in downtown Denver doesn’t advertise or have a web site. It doesn’t even handle your money, most of the time. Payment works on the honor system—drop $1 into a plastic jug, and then drop three chocolate chip cookies into a paper bag for yourself. The cookies are worth the lines that form early and often.
Milk (Los Angeles, California)
On an evening on the town, save room for dessert at Milk, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor and bake shop—with a modern gourmet flair in Los Angeles. The Ooey Gooey Double Chocolate cookies (made with bittersweet chips) are its most famous offering but are best served with coconut ice cream and chocolate sauce as part of the Warm Ooey Gooey Chocolate Sundae.