Beth Kracklauer has the kind of job a lot of us dream about. As food and drinks editor for The Wall Street Journal‘s Off Duty section, Kracklauer gets to travel and eat for a living, sampling some of the best dishes America has to offer.

Kracklauer grew up in Mt. Lebanon. After spending more than two decades in New York City and working as an editor at publications like Saveur and Gourmet, Kracklauer found her way back to Pittsburgh about a year ago. She’s quickly immersed herself in Pittsburgh’s blossoming food scene, covering the city’s coolest openings and helping to plan this summer’s Three Day Blow, a literary event that is “bringing together food & drink writers, editors, makers and explorers from around the country for a Pittsburgh-based conversation about regional food and drink systems.”

Though Kracklauer regularly dines at Michelin-starred restaurants, her best meal last week was a humble Pittsburgh staple scarfed in a parking lot.

I’ve been traveling a lot recently. Too much, to be honest. I did eat some incredible food along the way. In Los Angeles: blue-corn quesadillas filled with huitlacoche and squash blossoms at an Echo Park street cart; moo sadoong (“startled pig”), a ripping-hot, lemongrassy grilled-pork salad, at Night + Market in West Hollywood and again at the Silver Lake location (it was that good); a dessert called the De La Rosa at Broken Spanish downtown, brought to the table as an immaculate white orb then shattered with a spoon to reveal a riot of edible flowers inside. In New York: a perfect filet of merluza wreathed in radishes and doused tableside with a briny razor-clam chowder, at Le Bernardin. In Napa: more edible flowers, served over ice along with an assortment of beautiful pickled vegetables, at Ninebark. In San Francisco: a savory custard scattered with oysters, clams, sweet lap cheong sausage and a confetti of green garlic and fava beans, at Mister Jiu’s. It was all delicious. And too much, to be honest.

Eating for a living can feel like an endurance sport at times. (I know, I know, First World problems.) By the end of last week I was back in Pittsburgh at last, and exhausted. Friends from out of town were visiting and I wanted to feed them some of the best food this city has to offer, so naturally I headed to Pierogies Plus in McKees Rocks to pick up a few dozen. I hadn’t planned on getting anything else, but as the cashier rang up my pierogies, I heard myself asking for an order of potato dumpling haluski. “To go?” she asked. “No I’ll eat it here,” I said. I took my Styrofoam container outside and sat under the carport as a chilly rain fell all around. With each forkful of the starchy little dumplings and buttery cabbage, I was restored to myself. This wasn’t work. This was comfort and pleasure. I felt so grateful.

Looking for other Pittsburgh foodies’ best meals? Click here.

Drew Cranisky is a writer, bartender and recent graduate of Chatham University's Food Studies program. He enjoys cats, pinball and fancy burgers.