- The tastiest food across the country
- Alabama: fried catfish
- Alaska: king crab
- Arizona: chimichangas
- Arkansas: cheese dip
- California: baja fish tacos
- Colorado: Rocky Mountain oysters
- Connecticut: steamed burger
- Delaware: scrapple
- Florida: key lime pie
- Georgia: peach cobbler
- Hawaii: poke
- Idaho: finger steak
- Illinois: deep-dish pizza
- Indiana: sugar cream pie
- Iowa: breaded pork tenderloin
- Kansas: BBQ meats
- Kentucky: hot brown
- Louisiana: gumbo
- Maine: lobster
- Maryland: crab cakes
- Massachusetts: clam chowder
- Michigan: coney dog
- Minnesota: hotdish
- Mississippi: Mississippi mud pie
- Missouri: toasted ravioli
- Montana: huckleberry pie
- Nebraska: runza
- Nevada: shrimp cocktail
- New Hampshire: steamers
- New Jersey: pork roll
- New Mexico: green chile enchiladas
- New York: cheesecake
- North Carolina: pulled pork
- North Dakota: juneberry pie
- Ohio: buckeyes
- Oklahoma: chicken-fried steak
- Oregon: marionberry pie
- Pennsylvania: cheesesteak
- Rhode Island: stuffies
- South Carolina: shrimp and grits
- South Dakota: chislic
- Tennessee: BBQ ribs
- Texas: BBQ brisket
- Utah: funeral potatoes
- Vermont: maple syrup
- Virginia: Virginia oysters
- Washington: cedar plank salmon
- West Virginia: pepperoni roll
- Wisconsin: cheese curds
- Wyoming: prime rib
The tastiest food across the country
From chimichangas and catfish to poke and gumbo, there’s no end to the delicious regional dishes you can try across the USA. Here, we’ve picked the top dish in your state and the best spot to sample it.
Alabama: fried catfish
There’s no disputing that crispy fried catfish is Alabama’s specialty. It has long been fished from the state’s rivers and is traditionally served with hush puppies (a deep-fried cornmeal batter snack) or coleslaw. To give it a try head to Atmore, where David’s Catfish House – a friendly Southern spot that’s part of a regional franchise – has rave reviews.
Alaska: king crab
It not only takes an enormous effort to catch these huge crabs, but it’s a feat to eat them too. However, it just makes the sweet, juicy meat even more satisfying. To sample some tasty legs and claws, head to Tracy’s King Crab Shack in Juneau, where the crab is served in a bucket with melted butter and garlic rolls.
Comfort food doesn’t get much more delicious than these deep-fried burritos, known as chimichangas. The tortilla is most commonly filled with rice, cheese, beans and meat and then deep-fried. They’re also served with guacamole, sour cream and a classic salsa or chimichurri. Although several spots claim to be the home of chimichangas, there’s no better place to try them than Valle Luna – its three Phoenix-area locations are a top choice among residents.
Arkansas: cheese dip
Claimed to be invented in North Little Rock, cheese dip is so popular in Arkansas that the state holds the annual World Cheese Dip Championship and also has a cheese-dip trail. Although recipes vary, cheese dip is on the menu almost everywhere, so you can’t come here without dunking a tortilla chip in a deliciously gooey bowl. Heights Taco & Tamale Co. in Little Rock not only serves delectable cheese dip, but great tacos and tamales too.
California: baja fish tacos
There’s a plethora of inviting dishes to try in the Golden State, but there’s something quintessentially Californian about fish tacos. Tacos vary depending on where you eat them and each is a reflection of the state’s diverse heritage. Wherever you end up, make sure yours has crunchy red cabbage, fresh Pacific seafood, a squeeze of lime and a rich drizzle of crema. Oscars, a small chain in San Diego, serves up some of the best.
Colorado: Rocky Mountain oysters
Don’t be fooled by the name. Rocky Mountain oysters are not from the sea at all. In fact, they’re fried bull testicles served with spicy dipping sauces. Sure, they’re not the state’s most refined food, but they’re surprisingly moreish. The Fort, just outside Denver, is one of the top places to indulge in this peculiar delicacy.
Connecticut: steamed burger
Looking for a Connecticut classic? Try a steamed burger, a predecessor to the all-American hamburger thought to have been invented in Middletown in the 1900s. This method produces wonderfully juicy patties – just be prepared to get messy. Try the real deal at Ted’s Restaurant in Meriden, which dates back to 1959.
Scrapple (made from pork trimmings, cornmeal and flour) may have originated in Pennsylvania, but with the world’s biggest scrapple manufacturer based in Delaware, this is the place to eat it. For the quintessential combo, order a scrapple sandwich with egg and cheese at Wilson’s General Store in Georgetown.
Florida: key lime pie
As the official pie of Florida, the key lime pie celebrates the state’s famous citrus product. Named after the Florida Keys, where the pie is thought to have been invented, the zesty and tangy dish is a drawcard for locals and tourists alike. Although you’ll find it on dessert menus up and down the state, the offering at Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe is the stuff of legend.
Georgia: peach cobbler
Nobody does this dreamy combination of sweet, juicy peaches covered with a comforting blanket of batter quite like the Peach State. Popular throughout the Deep South, peach cobbler is typically served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in Georgia. Pick up a traditional peach cobbler at Mary Mac’s Tea Room in Atlanta, and savor both the caramelized edges and the gooey center.
Meaning to “slice” or “cut”, poke is one of the main dishes of native Hawaiian cuisine, where cubes of raw fish, mostly ahi tuna, are served dressed with soy sauce, sesame oil, seaweed and scallions. Its more popular incarnation, the poke bowl, has taken over the world – but Hawaii still lays claim to the best, thanks to the easy access to the freshest fish and seafood. For traditional and highly rated poke, try Maguro Brothers Hawaii in Honolulu.
Idaho: finger steak
Strips of tenderloin steak dipped in tempura-like batter and deep fried in oil make up Idaho’s must-try dish. Order finger steaks with a side of fries and don’t forget Idaho cocktail sauce. Try all this at Trudy’s Kitchen in Idaho City and you won’t leave disappointed.
Illinois: deep-dish pizza
You can’t come to Illinois without eating Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, made with a thick flour-and-cornmeal crust and layers of sauce and cheese. Classic deep-dish starts with cheese on the bottom, meat and vegetables in the middle, and a generous smothering of tomato sauce on top. You can try Lou Malnati’s satisfying signature deep-dish offerings at 60 locations across the state.
Indiana: sugar cream pie
Also known as Hoosier pie, this Indiana specialty has a buttery crust filled with rich vanilla custard. Believed to have originated in Amish or Shaker communities, it’s the perfect dessert when you’ve got nothing but eggs, flour and sugar at hand. While in the state, make time to stop at the nation’s largest sugar cream pie producer, Mrs. Wick’s Pies in Winchester. Their almost century-old recipe is a firm favorite.
Iowa: breaded pork tenderloin
Although purportedly invented in Indiana, this sandwich is popular throughout the Midwest and especially in Iowa, America’s largest pork producer. The tenderloin is pounded, breaded and fried before it’s served in a bun half its size with simple accompaniments such as tomato, lettuce and pickles. To try Iowa’s best, head to Three C’s Diner in Corning. Here the tenderloin is cut fresh daily and hand-breaded in a secret mix of flour and spices.
Kansas: BBQ meats
Kansas is a meat-loving state and there’s nothing better than getting your hands sticky with barbecue ribs, brisket and hot wings. When at Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que, opt for the iconic Z-Man sandwich. The inevitable line will be worth it once you tuck into the tender slow-smoked beef brisket, topped with provolone cheese and two crispy onion rings on a toasted kaiser roll. It’s all smothered in barbecue sauce, of course.
Kentucky: hot brown
When in Kentucky you can’t go without a hot brown sandwich. Originally created in Louisville, this open sandwich of turkey and bacon covered in Mornay sauce is baked or broiled until the bread is crisp and the sauce begins to brown. You’ll also find versions with ham and turkey, and either pimentos or tomatoes. Either way, the only place to eat it is where it was created in the 1920s: the legendary Brown Hotel.
A flavorful combination of rice, roux (butter and flour), seafood, vegetables and spices, gumbo is Louisiana’s most beloved dish. It’s important to distinguish between Cajun and Creole gumbo, though – the most obvious difference is that Creole gumbo typically has a tomato base. Located just across the street from the famous New Orleans French Market, Coop’s Place serves classic Creole seafood gumbo.
With the rocky coastal towns of Maine dependent on their fishing industries, lobster has become a symbol of the state and a staple part of the local diet. Whether you order it freshly boiled, dipped in warm butter or served in a roll with mayonnaise, lobster is the essential food to try when you visit. Order a lobster roll ‘boat’ at seasonal The Lobster Shack at Two Lights – it’ll come with coleslaw and fries and it’ll be delicious.
Maryland: crab cakes
Rich with seafood, Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay is probably best known for its outstanding blue crab. Meaty and slightly sweet, the crab meat here is eaten in many ways, but crab cakes top the list. Light on the breading, heavy on the meat, Maryland crab cakes really let the natural flavor of the crab shine (enhanced with a dash of Old Bay seasoning). Jimmy’s Famous Seafood in Baltimore is among the best places to order them.
Massachusetts: clam chowder
Creamy clam chowder is Massachusetts’ finest dish. Made with potatoes, crushed oyster crackers and chunks of local New England clam, it’s a flavorful and hearty dish to have all year long. Beginning life as a market frequented by Julia Child, Legal Sea Foods (now with various locations in the state and beyond) have been cooking up perfect chowder for decades.
Michigan: coney dog
A hot dog in a steamed bun, coated in chili sauce and topped with mustard and onions – that’s a classic Michigan coney dog. You’ll find coney dogs served across the state, but it’s the 24-hour Greek diners that cook up the best. Various vendors claim to have invented the dish but you can try some of the finest at American Coney Island in Detroit or at rival spot Lafayette Coney Island, just next door.
Looking for the epitome of comfort food? You’ll find it in Minnesota’s tater tot hotdish, which sees leftovers such as beef, green beans and corn baked with cream of mushroom soup and topped with tater tots and cheese. The Mason Jar in Eagan has consistently been recognized as one of the best places in the state to enjoy a classic hotdish.
Mississippi: Mississippi mud pie
Although there are many variations of chocolate cake around the world, the Mississippi mud pie has to be among the best. This ridiculously indulgent chocolate cake is as thick as mud, hence its distinctive name, and is made with a rich chocolate sauce on top of a crumbly chocolate crust. The Chimneys in Gulfport have perfected this delectable treat.
Missouri: toasted ravioli
This dish of breaded and deep-fried ravioli was invented in St. Louis and remains one of the city’s – and the state’s – most popular dishes. Enjoy it with pomodoro sauce and grated cheese at Charlie Gitto’s in St. Louis. The restaurant’s flagship is located in Italian-American neighborhood The Hill – and, though it has some contenders, it’s often touted as the inventor of toasted ravioli and is consistently named among the best Italian restaurants in the city.
Montana: huckleberry pie
Huckleberries are native to Montana’s high-altitude mountains and no matter where you are in Montana you can get a great slice of huckleberry pie. When the fruits are in season, you’ll find everything made with tart huckleberries, from lip balm and soap to milkshakes and pancakes. But there’s nothing better than a great pie. Head to Park Cafe in Glacier National Park to try your first, delicious slice and see some of Montana’s stunning wilderness.
Meat-filled bread pockets known as runzas are ubiquitous in Nebraska. The most common filling is ground beef with onions and cabbage, but you might also find sauerkraut and shredded cheese taking center stage. They were brought to the region in the 1800s by Volga German immigrants and a fast-food chain named after the dish is the best place to try them today.
Nevada: shrimp cocktail
Introduced to Vegas by the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino in 1959, shrimp cocktail has become synonymous with the glitz of Sin City. Since then, the Golden Gate has sold more than 30 million shrimp cocktails and the iconic appetizer can be found on menus up and down the state. Although there are no food venues at the Golden Gate anymore, you’ll find an equally old-school cocktail at the Skyline Casino in Henderson.
New Hampshire: steamers
A time-honored New England tradition, it’s the process of eating steamed clams (also known as steamers) that makes this dish so special. You’ll need two bowls – one heaped with steamers, the other for discarded shells – and a few cups of broth and hot butter for swishing and dunking. Petey’s Summertime Seafood and Bar, known for its excellent seafood dishes, is a great spot to give it a try.
New Jersey: pork roll
Whether known by the brand name Taylor Ham, or simply as a pork roll, this sandwich with cured and smoked processed pork is a New Jersey classic. Order it with egg and cheese at small NJ chain The Committed Pig (and try not to get distracted by the tempting burgers).
New Mexico: green chile enchiladas
Grown in Hatch Valley in New Mexico, the Hatch green chilies are harvested early so they retain their green color, as well as the slightly sweet and spicy, smoky flavor. They’re fantastic spooned over rolled tortillas, filled with chicken, cheese and onion. The Shed in Santa Fe is known for its green chile stew, as well as its spicy enchiladas.
New York: cheesecake
A classic New York cheesecake features a rich, creamy, vanilla-flavored topping sitting on a thin sliver of a simple biscuit base. And it’s a lot harder to get the ratio of ingredients right than you might think. Storied Junior’s in Brooklyn (the first Junior’s Cheesecake location) serves the perfect New York cheesecake. Once you’ve tried the classic, give the apple crumb, the brownie explosion or the red velvet cheesecake a go.
North Carolina: pulled pork
Barbecued pulled pork drowned in tangy vinegar sauce (Eastern-style) or a sweeter, ketchup-spiked sauce (Western-style) is a typical meal in North Carolina. The entire hog is cooked, so both white and dark meat is used, making it especially tender. Skylight Inn BBQ in Ayden serves some of the best pulled pork in the state. It’s dished up with cornbread and sides like slaw and beans.
North Dakota: juneberry pie
Several of North Dakota’s signature dishes come from German settlers, but probably their best-kept secret is juneberry pie. Juneberries, also called saskatoon berries, grow in Canada and the Upper Midwest and are smaller, denser and bluer than blueberries with a slightly nutty flavor. To try a delicious slice of the secret pie, stop by Lund’s Landing overlooking Lake Sakakawea and don’t forget the vanilla ice cream.
Ohio satisfies its sweet-lovers with buckeyes: peanut-butter-fudge pieces dipped in chocolate to resemble the nut of the Ohio buckeye tree. They’re deliciously addictive, so stop by Eagle Family Candy in Columbus to get your hands on a box of these indulgent treats.
Oklahoma: chicken-fried steak
You have to get your teeth into a chicken-fried steak in Oklahoma. This breaded piece of thin and tenderized beef steak is deep-fried and then smothered with a generous helping of white gravy. Oklahoma City’s Sunnyside Diner serves perfectly golden and crisp steak with slides like creamy mashed potatoes. There are now four locations in the region.
Oregon: marionberry pie
Oregon is renowned for its berries and one of the state’s signature dishes is the marionberry pie. Known as the cabernet of blackberries, they’re a cross between two types of blackberries predominantly grown in Oregon and have a complex flavor. The Pie Spot in Portland offers “a cupcake of pie” – an individual marionberry pie so you can skip the sharing.
Pennsylvania, and particularly Philadelphia, is the undisputed home of the cheesesteak. The classic is a crusty roll filled with super-juicy beef and topped with fried onions, green peppers and Cheez Whiz or melted provolone. Said to have been invented by Philly hot dog vendor Pat Olivieri – of Pat’s King of Steaks – in the 1930s, the cheesesteak is now ubiquitous in the city. Everyone has their favorite, but Pat’s has stood the test of time for good reason.
Rhode Island: stuffies
Although clams are popular throughout New England, these stuffed clams, or stuffies, are a Rhode Island specialty. Hard clams, breadcrumbs, butter and mirepoix (a trio of diced carrot, celery and onion) are all baked together in the clamshell. Try this dish at Aunt Carrie’s, a 100-year-old seafood shack overlooking the water in Narragansett. You’ll not be disappointed.
South Carolina: shrimp and grits
Said to have started as a fisherman’s breakfast, shrimp and grits is now a South Carolina classic. Fresh shrimp on a bed of simmered milled corn might sound simple, but it can be spiced up with everything from bacon and garlic to lemon and scallions. If you’re looking for a classic Nigel’s Good Food has two North Charleston locations and Grandma Fred’s Shrimp & Grits comes with onions, peppers and sausage.
South Dakota: chislic
At least one meal in South Dakota should consist of chislic. Cubes of lamb (traditionally) or beef are grilled or alternatively deep-fried to perfection, then salted and served slightly cooled with fries. Try yours at PAve, a popular spot in Sioux Falls.
Tennessee: BBQ ribs
Succulent pork ribs are a Tennessee staple. They can be ordered wet with a tomato-based sauce or dry with a rub of spices, and are traditionally cooked over charcoal. The Bar-B-Q Shop in Memphis cooks both versions to perfection, so you can decide on your favorite.
Texas: BBQ brisket
Gently smoked, the perfect Texan brisket is tender and juicy on the inside, with a peppery, smokey crust on the outside. There’s no need to ask for a sauce – the brisket here is so tender and flavorful you shouldn’t need any condiments. While there are many places to order great brisket in Texas, Cattleack Barbeque in Dallas is a firm favorite.
Utah: funeral potatoes
Funeral potatoes may not sound appealing, but this baked hash-brown casserole made with canned soup, cheese and crushed cornflakes is surprisingly delicious. The name derives from the fact they were traditionally made by Mormon women to serve to grieving families after a funeral. Funeral potatoes are at their best when homemade, but Hoof & Wine in Midvale does a pretty great job too.
Vermont: maple syrup
It might be a condiment rather than a dish, but you can’t come to Vermont without sampling the sweet stuff. You’ll find just about anything flavored with maple syrup, from maple-syrup ice cream to maple-syrup sauces poured over pork chops. For something a bit different, but very Vermont, try sugar on snow – a bowl of fresh snow with maple syrup drizzled on top. Get to the Wilcox Ice Cream stand in Manchester and try the maple walnut flavor.
Virginia: Virginia oysters
The oysters grown on Virginia’s shores are among the finest in the world. Small family-owned suppliers, such as Pleasure House Oysters along the Lynnhaven River (just north of Virginia Beach), produce fat and flavor-packed oysters that are shipped everywhere from New York to Baltimore. But there’s nothing like eating a freshly shucked oyster close to where it’s been harvested. Todd Jurich’s Bistro in Norfolk is the place to sample the local goods, best when served simply on the half shell with a cocktail sauce.
Washington: cedar plank salmon
The rivers in Washington teem with salmon, so it’s no surprise that cedar-planked salmon is the state’s most popular dish. Covered in a sweet honey-balsamic glaze, the salmon is cooked on a cedar plank over an open flame. SixSeven at the famed Edgewater hotel in Seattle is one of the best places to sample the delicacy. They serve it with rainbow potatoes, mushroom ragout and asparagus.
West Virginia: pepperoni roll
Historically, pepperoni rolls were eaten by coal miners, but today you’ll find modern variations of the state’s signature dish everywhere. Whatever meat-and-cheese filling you go for, you won’t be hungry after lunch. Try them at Country Club Bakery in Fairmont. This place was first opened in 1927 by Giuseppe Argiro, who swapped work in the coal mines for baking pepperoni rolls.
Wisconsin: cheese curds
You’ve got to try Wisconsin cheese curds, usually deep-fried and eaten with a dipping sauce. The best curds are the ones you eat just 12–24 hours after they’re made. Try them straight up, deep-fried or poutine-style, melted over fries with gravy. Milwaukee’s Wisconsin Cheese Mart serves great brews alongside delicious deep-fried curds.
Wyoming: prime rib
There are few menus in Wyoming that don’t feature a huge, melt-in-your-mouth slice of prime rib. You can’t go wrong with the offering at Irma Hotel in Cody. It comes served with mashed potato and farmhouse gravy.