Every place has its own, unique cuisine. Others simply make a certain dish better than anywhere else. And this is even more clear in the United States. Across 50 states, each one has its own variety of specialties. However, even for picky eaters, there’s one dish from each state that it’s recommended you try. Here’s some must-eat food from each state (unless you have an allergy). Fair warning, this list isn’t exactly “vegan friendly”.
Alabama: Fried Catfish
Let’s start off with a fish dish. Among the many, many foods in Alabama, fried catfish is the one you should definitely try if you’re ever in the state. It’s a common dish along the rivers in the state, and iconic to the Yellowhammer State.
Alaska: Killer Claw Of Bering Sea Red King Crab
This one isn’t so much because of the flavor (although it is good), but for respect. The Alaskan king crab is the most dangerous thing in the ocean to fish for. So, to respect the fishermen, try one of the best versions of the king crab when it’s turned into a meal.
Arizona: Red Chile Chimichanga
The act of frying a burrito is certainly an American idea, but it’s done best in Arizona. There’s a reason why the state claims to have invented the dish. And even if that’s not true, you can’t ignore how delicious the red chile chimichanga is.
Arkansas: Chopped Beef
There’s a particularly famous restaurant in Arkansas known as McClard’s Bar-B-Q Restaurant. It’s famous for its spicy sauce, and the best dish there that can soak up this sauce is chopped beef. See if you can bring some of this sauce with you when you go home, it’s really that good. And, of course, the chopped beef is fantastic on its own too.
California: Mission Burrito
California’s a place with a lot of interesting and weird foods. It makes sense, given the size and varying climate in the state. But, the food that’s the most interesting eat is the Mission burrito. It actually won a bunch of awards when Nate Silver held it up to the standards of other burritos. In other words, this burrito has been scientifically proven to be delicious.
Colorado: Breakfast Burrito
Speaking of burritos, Colorado’s got a killer burrito too. All the other foods mentioned so far are better for lunch or dinner, so let’s talk about breakfast for a minute. A potential combination can be chorizo, rice, beans, and egg burrito smothered in green chile. While it’s called a “breakfast burrito”, this thing can also make for a great meal at any time of the day.
Connecticut: New Haven Pizza
To explain why it has this name, New Haven pizza is pizza specifically from the town of New Haven, Connecticut. The quality of the pies is actually good enough to rival the pizza in New York. Just from looking at the image, you can probably tell how appetizing it is.
Delaware: Scrapple Hash
Alright, scrapple doesn’t look particularly appetizing. It probably doesn’t sound that appetizing either, it’s made from the parts of a pig people don’t ordinarily eat. But, it wouldn’t be on this list if it wasn’t actually tasty. It’s actually sort of a traditional meal in Delaware and is often eaten during brunch.
Florida: Cuban Sandwich
There’s a lot of debate about which Cuban sandwich is the best, but it’s widely agreed that the best one is definitely in Florida. It only makes sense, as Florida is the state the Cuban was invented in. In Miami, you can get a version with ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, mustard, and mayo on fresh-baked and pressed Cuban bread.
Georgia: Comfy Chicken Biscuit
This is potentially the greatest export to ever come out from Georgia, second only to Outkast. It combines Southern food staples (gravy, biscuits, and chicken) into a singular, fantastic meal.
At this point, even those that have never been to Hawaii probably know what a malasada is. And they’re truly delicious. Not to mention, iconic. Even Pokémon put malasadas in the games based in the Alola region (based off of Hawaii), and sung their praises the entire time.
Idaho: French Fries
Someone might find it insulting that the best food you can produce is the king of sides, french fries. Well, whoever thinks that clearly hasn’t had fries from Idaho before. It is the home of the potato after all. Even the flavor of the illustrious bison burger pails in comparison to these fries.
Illinois: Italian Beef Sandwich
Such an incredible and interesting sandwich. This is one of the few meals on this list that you’ll actually have some hard decisions ahead of you if you (correctly) decide to try this meal. You can get it dipped, wet, or dry, and there’s an interesting selection of sweet and hot peppers. Or perhaps, you’ll see if you can try as many different combinations as possible while you’re in Illinois.
Indiana: Sugar Cream Pie
Now let’s check out our first desert on the list. This pie’s so sweet and delicious-looking, it looks like a cake. There’s just something so satisfying about eating this pie, it’s unexplainable.
Iowa: Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
Hog farming is serious business in Iowa, so it only makes sense that the pork and pork dishes are serious business too. While it’s a part of a sandwich, the pork tenderloin in the bread can actually be quite large.
Kansas: The Z-Man
It seems as though no other sandwich has as much food packed between two slices of bread as the Z-man does. It stacks onion rings, smoked provolone, and its signature meat on a kaiser roll.
Kentucky: Hot Brown
This is frankly the tastiest thing to ever come out of Kentucky. Open-face turkey, bacon, and Mornay sauce together form a true masterpiece.
Is it really that surprising that gumbo’s the food you should try from Louisiana. There are a lot more options when it comes to gumbo as well, and what you get will depend on the season you visit. It’s rich, and the citizens of Louisiana use whatever’s around during the season to make it.
Maine: Lobster Roll
Of course a lobster dish is the way to go when in Maine. Maine’s famous for its lobster! If you’re going to try this delicacy, make sure to go to a place that uses new shells. Fresh lobster is just sweeter to taste.
Maryland: Crab Cake
Still on crustaceans for now, Maryland is known for its own kind of animal with pincers. Albeit, this time it’s the crab. Further inland, you may be more inclined to try different meals, but at a port town, nothing’s better than the catch of the day.
Massachusetts: Fried Clam
Massachusetts is believed to be where fried clams originally got their start. It makes sense, you can’t get a better fried clam anywhere else.
Michigan: Beef Pastie
This is the most pure, Michigan food there is. A Cornish-style, hand-held pie stuffed with beef, potatoes, and love. There are a lot of places in Michigan you can get this super food too. It’s the truest and ultimate comfort food.
Minnesota: Jucy Lucy
Philadelphia has the cheesesteak. Chicago has its hot dog. And New York has its pizza. But Minnesota has jucy Lucy! A cheese-stuffed burger with so much flavor, the “i” in juicy burst. All kidding aside, this is a great meal to try while in Minnesota. Just make sure your body can handle the calories.
Mississippi: Hot Tamales
In the Delta, no other food, rolls of the tongue, into the mouth, or is even as famous as the hot tamale. The history of this corn-husked is well-documented, so everyone should know how good these are.
This is the specialty of Missouri: dry-rubbed baby backs bathed in apple and cherrywood smoke for 14 hours, then given a light glaze in tribute to the saucier versions you’ll see at neighboring joints. These are the ribs you must try if you’re ever in Missouri.
Montana: Ribeye Steak
Out of all the states, Montana’s got the most killer ribeye steak. A perfect cut of beef, perfectly grilled. You won’t get a better one in another state, especially if you go to Logan, Montana.
Nebraska: The Original Reuben
So, you may be surprised to learn that the reuben was invented in Nebraska. Specifically by the Blackstone Hotel. And while great reubens exist all over America, you have to try the original recipe made in Nebraska.
Nevada: Shrimp Cocktail
It’s really hard to pick a specific food in Nevada (and it’s clearly cheating to pick a casino buffet). So, we’re going with the cheap, yet delicious shrimp cocktail. You may get the chance to try it in some other places, but the hotels in Las Vegas really have the best version.
New Hampshire: Fried Lobster Tail
Like it’s fellow New England state, Maine, New Hampshire’s gotta-try dish is also lobster-based. Albeit, this time its fried. Even after the frying, these tails still remain juicy on the inside.
New Jersey: Pork Roll, Egg, And Cheese
There’s plenty of different food that people try when in New Jersey, but the food that all who try it will miss is the pork roll. And this version with egg and cheese is especially delicious. It can even challenge coffee as the best thing to eat after waking up.
New Mexico: Chicken Enchiladas (Christmas Style)
If it wasn’t obvious, the style name for this dish comes from its colors. It’s probably the best dish in Santa Fe, and the mixing of red and green chiles adds to the flavor.
New York: New York Style Pizza
New York is a cultural melting pot, especially in New York City, itself. But, the food that everyone associates with New York, the food that every state makes, but that New York is known for doing the best. That food is pizza. Is there really anything that needs to be said about it? It’s pizza, and plenty of other people already sing this variation’s praises.
North Carolina: Chopped Pork Sandwich
It’d be a sin to visit North Carolina and not try some pork dish. So while, you’re there, make sure to try out this sandwich. It’s basically a small mountain of chopped pork in a bun, but the way it’s cooked and the other ingredients really make it worth your while.
North Dakota: Bison Burger
North Dakota doesn’t have much of a culinary identity, so a lot of the food isn’t particularly interesting. And that’s where the bison burger comes in. If you thought beef was good, wait until you try some of this. There are also fancier versions of the meal garnished with shallot jam and aged cheddar. It still tastes as delicious as the regular version.
Ohio: Chili 5 Ways
The chili in Ohio is truly the state’s most exquisite cuisine. And the best city to get it is in Cincinnati. The best way to get it is 5 Ways: chili, onions, cheese, beans, and spaghetti. You can also get it on a hot dog, burger, fries, or really anything. You just definitely want to split it two ways after you take your first bite, let alone five.
Oklahoma: Onion Burger
The onion burger was invented in Oklahoma during the Great Depression, just because onions were cheaper than meat. The onions cook in with the burgers on the grill and the flavor is elevated tenfold.
Oregon: Tuna Mignon
The seafood of Oregon is at its best in Newport. There you can get an interesting dish called tuna mignon. It’s sort of like filet mignon, except using tuna instead of steak. And as with its visual cousin, this meal is delicious.
Pennsylvania: Roast Pork Sandwich
Sorry cheesesteak. You may be the most iconic food from Pennsylvania, but you’re not the best. That honor goes to the roast pork sandwich. Salty pork, melted sharp provolone, and spinach all combine to make a fantastic meal. Albeit, it probably won’t be super good for your cholesterol.
Rhode Island: Grilled Margherita Pizza
Turns out you don’t need an oven to make a good pizza. All you need is a grill. The act of grilling pizza began in Providence 30 years ago. The best variation, margherita, includes a three-cheese blend, San Marzano tomatoes, and scallions to add an extra tang.
South Carolina: Shrimp And Grits
South Dakota: Rancher Tips
You ever heard of chislic? It’s deep-fried beef cubes on a toothpick. And in some restaurants, a variation of this, seemingly, unappetizing dish is offered. One of these variations include tenderloin tips. Lathered in a secret marinade before being getting breaded and fried. These are rancher tips.
Tennessee: Hot Chicken
If you guessed that the reason by this food’s name and red hue is spice, you’d be correct. It’s probably the spiciest thing on this list. It’s probably the best spicy fried chicken in America. So, if you like spicy food, give this one a shot.
A brisket really just looks like a slab of meat, but seriously, you should try one while you’re in Texas. It’s probably the most quintessential Texas dish, and for good reason. Pillow-soft fat, tender meat, wrapped up in smoke. No matter how long you were waiting to try it, your taste buds will be in heaven after you finally take a bite.
Utah: Pastrami Burger
Utah is perhaps the only state where bacon isn’t the best meat-on-meat topping. And that’s all thanks to a few Greek immigrants that decided to add pastrami to their burgers instead. To put into perspective how good this was, every burger joint in the state adopted this method of making burgers after that.
Vermont: Sugar On Snow
Now let’s talk about candy! Maple syrup is a staple of Vermont, so it being hardened over sticks in a bed of sugar, it just seems to make sense. There isn’t much else to say other than try it. It’ll be like eating a popsicle made of syrup.
Virginia: Pork O Rama
Ham is the king of Virginia meats. Ham and pork dishes would be great enough on their own, but this is the Pork O Rama we’re talking about. Slow-roasted pork belly, house-made sausage, and pork belly jam are all parts of this delectable meal.
Washington: Dungeness Crab Cake
Our second crab cake on the list, but that doesn’t mean that Washington’s doesn’t have anything to add. When people aren’t trying to capture the Alaskan king crab, they’re in Seattle, trying to catch the ingredients for this. The tender texture of a Dungeness crab would be ruined by frying it, so it’s instead packed loosely with breadcrumbs before being lightly grilled.
Washington D.C.: Half-Smoke
The half-smoke is a particularly famous dish, mostly because of some politicians that have been seen eating it. But really, that just adds to the meal’s prestige. Next time you’re in D.C., try to find a joint that sells half-smoke, and make sure to grab plenty of napkins. This thing can get pretty messy.
West Virginia: Pepperoni Roll
People should really eat more pepperoni on things that aren’t pizza. Just look at what West Virginia did to it. It’s a simple meal to bake and eat, and pretty cheap too. Not to mention, tasty; yeasty white rolls stuffed with sticks of meat whose juicy oils permeate the bread when baked.
Wisconsin: Frozen Custard
Now, to cap off the list, let’s finish it with a couple of deserts. And in Wisconsin, its premiere desert is frozen custard. Though it comes in a wide variety of flavors, the best around has got to still be vanilla.
Wyoming: Pitchfork Fondue
And lastly, we’ve got pitchfork fondue. It’s a lot like regular fondue, except rather than dunking meat in cheese or chocolate with a fork, you’re using a pitchfork and dunking it in a vat of oil. You can only really eat pitchfork fondue like this during some parts of the year, but when you can get it, you won’t regret it.