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September 26, 2018 09:00 AM

Whether Al Roker is filming the Today show in New York City or traveling around the country on assignment, he’s always on a quest to find the best breakfast. In fact, he considers himself a breakfast aficionado, and uses the morning meal as a way to learn more about a city’s culture.

“You get a sense of a place by its breakfast,” Roker, 64, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “You get an idea of a community.”

When he travels, he always asks locals one question: “Where’s the best breakfast?” he says. “Instead of Googling, I talk to people.”

Even in his own house, breakfast is a big hit. “On Sunday, we do what I like to call the big breakfast,” says Roker of the spread that includes “your basic breakfast staples”—scrambled eggs, bacon, waffles or pancakes or avocado toast.

Below, see some of Roker’s can’t-miss eateries from around the country, his go-to orders and why he loves them.

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Courtesy Bimis Cheese Shop

Bimi’s Cheese Shop, Chatham N.Y.

At this “literal mom-and-pop cheese store,” Roker’s go-to is the breakfast sandwich, which is filled with eggs, avocado, cheddar cheese and fresh greens.

Courtesy Bartlett House

Bartlett House, Ghent, N.Y.

Roker loves the Shakshuka (made with house-made lamb sausage, eggs, tomatoes and feta) at this “off-the-beaten-path” restaurant.

Ari Michelson
  • For more on Roker, plus our 50 Food Faves, pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday.
Cranberry Cinnamon French Toast from Henrietta's Table 
Courtesy Henrietta's Table

Henrietta’s Table, Cambridge, Mass.

The farm-to-table fare at this eatery is “in a league of it’s own,” Roker says, and he raves about the the Cinnamon Cranberry French Toast.

Courtesy No Six Depot Cafe

No. Six Depot, West Stockbridge, Mass.

The reason he loves this small-batch coffee roaster and cafe is simple: “They make the perfect over-easy eggs and cold brew.”

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Roscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles
Ringo Chiu/PHOTOFORMULA

Roscoe’s House of Chicken & Waffles, Los Angeles

This acclaimed eatery has multiple locations across California, and Roker loves their classic chicken and waffles specialty. “It’s the greatest mash-up ever,” he says. “Breakfast and dinner together on a plate. Enough said.”

Good Ol' Fashioned buttermilk pancakes from Griddle Cafe
Courtesy The Griddle Cafe

The Griddle Cafe, Los Angeles

Roker is the first to admit he has a “pretty simple” palate, and that’s best shown through his go-to order at this famous breakfast joint: a stack of Good Ol’ Fashioned buttermilk pancakes that are “bigger than your head.”

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