To find good regional food on the road, Jane and Michael Stern recommend the following:

* Check the Yellow Pages for restaurants open at such "locals' " hours as 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., or ads that include the owner's name. Avoid restaurants with funny spellings of "old."

* Cafeterias are usually a good bet.

* A general store is not a bad place to ask. A tourist office is a bad place to ask.

* See where the police cars are parked at breakfast; cops eat where the best breakfast is.

* Keep your car windows rolled down and sniff, especially in barbecue country. You can smell a good barbecue pit for blocks.

* Don't go to any place with tour buses in front or that has advertisements on highway billboards.

* A place that bills itself as world famous usually has bad food.

* The pie factor is significant. Look for homemade pies, those without the evenly scored rims that denote premade crusts.

* Eating places that do not have a sign out front are usually real treasures, but obviously they are hard to find.

* Restaurants with butcher paper on the tables are promising.

* Other good signs are portioned plates, silverware wrapped in the napkins, women with hairnets--particularly really old women--doing the cooking.

* Anybody who runs a great restaurant is not a good person to ask where else to go. Professional travelers--salesmen, for example--are good sources.

* In spotting good eating places, more than in most things, there is an exception for every rule.