There might not be anything quite as American as food. Featured in every nook and cranny of the States, food has created an entire culture of its own. Although we have borrowed much of our beloved grub from our ancestors, certain places have become synonymous with different cuisines. Everyone has their favorite, everyone has the thing they hate, and food has managed to squeak its way into everything that we do- including travel. From fine-dining to dive-bar, we present you some iconic American staples that travelers come from across the globe to feast on, and the best places to do it.
Don’t feel like spending hours cracking and shelling and picking crab? Let someone else do the work for you and indulge in a Maryland crab cake - a patty of prime crab meat, mixed with eggs and spices, then deep fried. You’ve probably had this seafood treat a few times before, but never like they serve it up in Baltimore. Not all of the crab, unfortunately, comes from the area these days, but a few restaurants still offer fresh Chesapeake crab.
Our pick: Gertrude’s at the Baltimore Museum of Art
Few sandwiches on earth are more delicious than the lobster roll: a heaping mound of chunk lobster meat, mixed with creamy mayonnaise, green onions and spices, served atop a split-top hot dog bun. They serve them up big at Neptune Oyster, while the rolls at B & B Oysters, Ltd., Yankee Lobster Fish Market and Great Bay remain local favorites.
Our pick: Neptune’s Oyster
Photo by AgedToPerfection
Few things are more iconically Chi-town than the Chicago Dog - a traditional hot dog, topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices, pickled sport peppers and some celery salt to round it out. The dogs are steamed or boiled and then “dragged through the garden” before being served out in any of the thousands of hot dog restaurants throughout the Windy City. For classic Chicago Dogs, head to Superdawg or the Weiners Circle. And if you’re in the search for a host of foodie-centric variations, Hot Doug’s is fast becoming a city favorite.
Our pick: Gene & Jude’s (technically in the ‘burbs)
Sure, you’ve had chili a thousand times before, but never like this. Cincinnati chili is a national treasure, a sweet and savory meaty mix of beans and spices, served over a bed of spaghetti noodles, topped with cheese, onions and beans and eaten with a fork (order it “5 ways” to sound like a local). You’ll find all sorts of amazing variations on this theme throughout the city at places like Gold Star, Empress, Skyline and Dixie.
Our pick: Skyline Chili
Kansas City, MO
When it comes to fine dining, Kansas City isn’t the first place that comes to mind. But when it comes to finger-licking, sticky, succulent barbecue, it can’t be beat, with over 100 barbecue joints city-wide. As one of the classic eponymous American foods, Kansas City BBQ is cooked over a variety of wood and sauced with tomatoes and brown sugar.
Our pick: Arthur Bryant’s
With nearly 700,000 Cubans calling Miami home, it’s no surprise that Cuban cuisine is a perennially popular option here. And nothing is more popular than the classic Cuban Sandwich: ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard and occasionally salami, served up hot on amazing Cuban bread. Popular spots for this sandwich include David’s Cafe Il in South Beach, and Puerto Saguna at 7th and Collins.
Our pick: Versailles
New Orleans, LA
It’s hard to pick just one iconic New Orleans’ food. One of New Orleans’ traditional sandwiches, the Po’ boy is simple: take a length of French bread and stuff it with roast meats or fried seafood. It seems basic, but the variations on the sandwich are endless, and endlessly delicious. The bread is the key ingredient, as it has a crisp shell but fluffy interior. Ask for it dressed to get tomatoes, mayo, and lettuce. The city even hosts an annual Po’ boy Fest in November that showcases different restaurants gourmet version of the sandwich. Po’ boys can be found at restaurants, bars, convenience stores, groceries, and just about anywhere else in the Crescent City that serves anything remotely resembling food.
Our pick: Mother’s, specifically the Debris Po’Boy
New York, NY
Nothing is more “New York” than a good slice of pizza. This isn’t Domino’s style pie either - the best New York pizzas feature a thin, often chewy crust, sweet sauce and fresh (read: real) cheese. The crust is what makes it so different from many other styles of pizza, and New York pizza lore states that the minerals in the water used to make the dough give it that distinctive feature. Many restaurants also offer “Sicilian” style pizza, which is cut into squares. The first American pizzeria, Lombardi’s, was opened in NYC in 1905 a block away from its current location in Little Italy. To eat it like a local, fold the slice in half and take it on the go.
Our pick: Grimaldi’s
Photo by captain oddsocks
It’s not an original choice, but it’s impossible to pass up this Philly tradition, a magical combination of thinly sliced and diced steak served up with melted cheese or Cheese Wiz sauce and fried onions on a nice chewy roll. Pat and Henry Olivieri are given credit for this sandwich, which originally was served without cheese. The sandwich has evolved to have many variations, including chicken and different types of cheese. Nothing beats the original though, and Pat Olivieri’s restaurant, Pat’s, still serves up Philly Cheese Steaks.
Our pick: Geno’s
San Diego, CA
No food screams San Diego quite like its fish tacos. Locals take great pride in these amazing concoctions, which blend the city’s access to fresh seafood with its vibrant multi-cultural population. Many restaurants offer a choice of different kinds of fish; try the crunchy deep-fried Northern halibut, the salmon, or the succulent swordfish. As with other kinds of tacos, the toppings vary from place to place and can make or break the dish.
Our pick: Rubio’s
San Francisco, CA
If you haven’t had Dim Sum, you’re missing out. Enjoy small plates of Chinese dumplings and other tasty treats, which you grab off of carts that wheel continuously by the often oversized tables. For tourist-friendly Dim Sum, head to Yank Sing or Ton Kiang, while a more authentic experience can be had at Gold Mountain or Lichee Garden. And if you’re willing to drive, the best Dim Sum in the Bay Area can be found at Koi Palace in Daly City, just south of San Francisco.
Our pick: Gold Mountain
What is your favorite regional staple? Let us know and write a journal
on your culinary travels!
Wondering where to start? Check out our top foodie cities
and start planning your vacation today!
Posted by jhartmann13 (JJ Hartmann)