Eat Your Way Across the 50 States
From the Atlantic to the Pacific, we've identified one must-try dish from every state. The best part? You can whip up these recipes straight from your own kitchen, no suitcase or cross-country road trip required.
If you find yourself in Alabama, you may notice one or two barbecue joints around town. One in particular that has garnered plenty of attention over the past few years is Saw's BBQ. The owner, Mike Wilson, a North Carolina native and former test kitchen chef at Cooking Light, grew quite the reputation for making some amazing barbecue and has since carried that talent straight into the hearts and appetites of Birmingham's biggest barbecue fans.
Alaska is home to some of the best wild salmon that nature has to offer. As one of the most iconic centerpieces of Alaskan cuisine, salmon is often served smoked, dried, cured, or even candied. We love this recipe for grilled salmon that features a hearty, fresh salad to accompany it.
The Southwest is full of amazing restaurants, but one that stands out is Someburros in Arizona, a restaurant known for some of the best chimichangas in the state. Established in 1986, Someburros can be found in multiple cities across Arizona, which is good news for every Mexican food lover out there. The even better news is that great chimichangas can also come from your very own kitchen.
The World Cheese Dip Championship? Yes, it’s a real thing, and it’s hosted every year in Arkansas. Cheese dip has been around in the state since the 1940’s and has carved out a unique place in its culinary scene. Varying from yellow to white and orange to red, you can find it in restaurants throughout the state served with tortilla chips and sometimes French fries.
Make SoCal food truck-style fish tacos at home using fresh tilapia, avocado, cilantro and corn tortillas, and top with a creamy onion-jalapeño mixture for amazing flavor.
The Mile High City is known for their obsession with green chili. They smother it over burritos, serve it as a dip with tortilla chips, and there are even rumors of fanatics who use it as a topping for their favorite dessert! Unlike Texas Chili, Colorado-style green chili is pork-based and loaded with fresh green peppers which give the chili its distinctive hue. We’re green with envy over this hearty bowl!
New Haven, Connecticut, is known as the “Birthplace of the Hamburger.” If you’re ever in the area, stop by Louis’ Lunch and listen to the now-famous story of Louis Lassen and his first-ever hamburger as you sink your teeth into the original fast-food creation. The state itself is home to a plethora of top-notch burger joints, but if you try one at Louis’ place, your patty will come sandwiched between two pieces of buttered white toast instead of a traditional bun.
While Delaware isn’t exactly a food mecca, it definitely has its local favorites. Though the state may not have invented scrapple, a traditional mid-Atlantic breakfast staple, it’s done much to elevate its status. The running joke is, “Don’t ask what’s in it.” Comforting.
If you find yourself in Key West, visit Pepe’s Café, which boasts the fact that it’s the oldest restaurant in Key West, having been established in 1909, and also boasts one of the best Key Lime Pies in the area.
If you know the South, then you know that Georgia is known for its peaches. If you stop through Atlanta, Paschal’s is a great place to pick up some delicious soul food, and of course, some incredible peach cobbler.
Locals of this laid back state enjoy their fish wrapped in a tortilla, a tradition that began around the same time as the surfing craze of the late 20th century. Hawaiian fish tacos aren’t breaded, and are often times served with fresh toppings like mango or pineapple. Next time you find yourself on Maui’s northwest coast, look for taco stands that serve this local favorite.
More than any other food item, potatoes are iconic in Idaho, more specifically, giant potatoes that can be baked and topped with the best ingredients. In Blackfoot, Idaho, be sure to stop by the Idaho Potato Museum, which stands as a testament to the state’s most iconic food.
Hot dogs gained popularity in Chicago during the Great Depression, where a hot meal could be purchased for just a nickel. In the 60’s, the iconic Chicago restaurant Portillo’s began as a humble hot dog stand. Today, the Portillo’s Chicago dog is still a local favorite, and the restaurant itself is a great place to get your fix of authentic Chicago fare.
Word on the street is the first pork tenderloin sandwich can be traced back to Nick’s Kitchen in Huntington, Indiana. The sandwich has etched its way into Indiana’s cuisine and is typically served with French fries or onion rings.
You know you’re from Iowa when you can eat an entire ear of corn in 20 seconds flat. Welcome to the state that leads the nation in annual corn production. In fact, corn is grown in every county in the state, but we’re not complaining. We prefer ours doused in this creamy, savory topping.
Toto, we’re definitely in Kansas. It’s no doubt that barbecue rules in this state, and our Kansas City Barbecued Chicken makes for delightfully sticky-fingered eating.
If your road trip involves a detour through Louisville, be sure to visit the historic Brown Hotel. The hotel’s famous culinary claim, the “Hot Brown,” was created in 1926 as an open-faced sandwich with turkey and bacon smothered in a Mornay cheese sauce. Today, the hotel still boasts an incredible menu, but also still takes pride in their original lunch specialty.
For a killer po’ boy, stop by Mahony’s on your next journey to The Big Easy. The traditional sub-style sandwich has its roots stretching all the way back to the 1800’s. Mahony’s is a small, cozy restaurant that serves up all different kinds of authentic varieties of New Orleans’ favorite sandwich.
A trip to Maine would be remiss without a taste of the state’s amazing fresh lobster. Restaurants such as Robert’s Maine Grill serve up tasty lobster dishes like pizzas, sandwiches, salads, and of course, steamed or baked stuffed lobster.
One of the best places for award-winning crab cakes in Maryland is Phillip’s Seafood, a massive seafood institution located along Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The best news for those not in Maryland is that you can whip up your own tasty crab cakes right at home.
For some incredible chowder, it’s no surprise that New England has that special something. For an incredibly good bowl of authentic clam chowder, it should be thick and hearty, but not heavy. If you find yourself in Boston looking for a great place to snag a bowl, look no further than Legal Sea Foods for a great place to chow down.
Northern Michigan is known for growing the best, juiciest cherries in the world. The National Cherry Festival, held each July in Traverse City, has been named one of USA Today’s top ten annual festivals. We know not much can beat a classic cherry pie—but how about a personal-sized treat that no one can snatch from you?
As a state with strong Scandinavian heritage, it’s no wonder Minnesotans make a mean Swedish meatball. Ours are made with ground sirloin, grated onion, panko, dill, and other spices and are served over egg noodles with a silky-sweet red currant pan sauce.
This decadent and super-chocolatey pie got its name for resembling the thick mud on the banks of the Mississippi River. Dense and fudgy, with a s’mores marshmallow topping, we don’t mind that comparison one bit.
Supposedly originating with a botched cake recipe in the 1930s, gooey butter cake is very popular in the state of Missouri. Traditionally, the bottom layer of the cake is flat and dense and the top layer is the "gooey butter" and is made from powdered sugar and cream cheese. This slimmed-down version is less than 200 calories and 4 grams of saturated fat per luscious serving.
Out in Big Sky Country where the economy is mostly based on ranching, you can go just about anywhere and get a juicy bison dish that rivals any beef steak or burger you’ve ever had. Bison has a deeper, richer flavor that stands up well to the piney rosemary in this iconic kebab plate.
Some people assume the Reuben was created in New York City where the sandwich is very popular but the truth is that it was invented by Reuben Kulakofsky in Omaha, Nebraska, as a filling late-night snack for his poker-playing friends.
It might be a Vegas cliché, but the shrimp cocktail is one thing that Nevada has made its own. In 1959, the Golden Gate Hotel-Casino introduced it for fifty cents. It stayed fifty cents until 1991, and now costs $2.99. Since then, the Golden Gate has sold more than 30 million cocktails, always served lettuce filler-free in a tulip sundae glass.
Everyone knows seafood is a specialty and a point of pride in all New England cuisine. New Hampshire, which has massive inland lakes and a few dozen miles of Atlantic shoreline is no different and is known for the cod fish with mild flavor and flaky white flesh.
A great place for a burger in New Jersey can be found in a town called Hackensack at a local favorite called White Manna, a pint-sized burger joint that draws in big crowds for its iconic burgers and fries.
Like all good New Mexico food, these Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas are simple, earthy, and delicious. Its heat depends on the chiles so go with Anaheims if you scorch easily.
Interested in the best cheesecake New York City has to offer? Stop by places like Eileen’s Special Cheesecake in Manhattan, or Junior’s Restaurant in Brooklyn for some of the best slices of cheesecake in The Big Apple.
The marinade for this chicken was inspired by the great North Carolina pork barbecue techniques. If you find yourself in Lexington, a great barbecue joint there is called Lexington Barbecue, but is better known as "The Honey Monk."
Kuchen is a traditional German fruit or cheese-filled yeast cake that's common in North Dakota and served at any time of day. We love that this is a hearty, rustic, belly-filling pastry with nothing dainty about it. North Dakota also gets to share their love of kuchen with their favorite neighboring state, South Dakota.
In this classic confection from the Buckeye State, creamy peanut butter and chocolate combine to create an adorable replica of an Ohio tree nut.
If you’re looking for a great chicken-fried steak, you don’t have to look any further than Oklahoma City. What many describe as the state’s official meal, it’s easy to see that this country style steak is the quintessential Route 66 chicken-fry experience. Needless to say, it’s delicious and probably covered in gravy.
Portland is known for some great food. Whether you’re looking for a great burger, a variety of beers, or a hot cup of coffee, you can find what you’re looking for. But for a piping hot plate of fresh Pacific Northwest salmon, look no further than Ox, a restaurant in Portland that pays homage to the wood-fired grilling tradition of Argentina.
It’s meaty, gooey, and delightfully messy. Originating from Pat’s King of Steaks shop in Philadelphia in 1930, the shop is still going strong with their original creation of hot slices of steak, melted cheese, and a hearty bun.
Chow down on some clam chowder in true Rhode Island fashion. This Quahog Chowder is the ultimate New England food anthem for the eastern Atlantic shore. If you can’t tread for clams for obvious geographic reasons or can’t seem to find them at your local market, you can order bundles of quahog clams online for only $1.29 per pound (excluding tax & shipping). Fun fact: Quahogs are famously named the state shellfish of Rhode Island.
Charleston, SC is known for its beautiful harbor and historic architecture, but most of all, for the signature southern staple, shrimp & grits. Locals would eat this once humble dish during peak shrimp season. With its rise to the top of Southern cuisine, it’s no wonder why this lovely Lowcountry dish is now a beaming icon for Southern dining.
The folks of South Dakota take their love for German pastries to a whole new level. Kuchen, a yeast cake adorned with a variety of crunchy nuts, tart fruits, and creamy cheeses, is a pretty big deal in this state. In fact, an annual Kuchen Festival is held in honor of the official state dessert.
It may come as no surprise that Tennessee is the iconic home for world-famous Memphis BBQ. In true southern style, get down and dirty with a rack of dry rub ribs. This finger-licking good southern staple draws millions of visitors to taste a culture rich in history, music, and food that's good for the soul.
In Dallas, it’s go big or go home. With a winning combination of Tex-Mex and barbecue, there’s no question why Dallas is known for juicy, tender, melt in your mouth brisket. Braised overnight, low and slow – these carne stuffed tortillas pack some big Texas flavor.
Bear Lake, Utah is famous for its raspberries. The climate is perfect for growing these sweet berries and the nearby town of Garden City boasts the best raspberry shakes you will ever try. No trip to Bear Lake, Utah is complete without one!
Vermont’s agricultural landscape is home to rich maple forests and abundant dairy farms. With the best of both, Vermont is home to a frosty treat dubbed the "maple creemee," a swirling tower of soft-serve ice cream sweetened with maple.
One of the pride and joys of Virginia agriculture is the peanut. Virginia peanuts are famously larger and crunchier than standard peanuts and are considered more of a gourmet variety. A great way to enjoy authentic Virginia peanuts is to include them in a fantastic array of desserts and snacks to get the most out of their hearty crunch.
The state of Washington produces more than half of the country’s apples. What to do with all of those apples? Make a pie, of course! If you happen to find yourself in Seattle, stop by Pie, a place with a simple name that sells any and every kind of pie you could think of, including of course, apple pie.
Some like it cheesy, some like it relished. West Virginia likes their dog topped with yellow mustard, a meaty chili sauce, and iconically topped with sweet coleslaw. If you stop through West Virginia, be sure to find Hillbilly Hot Dogs, an establishment with over 20 different kinds of hot dogs to choose from!
Everybody knows that Wisconsin is known for its cheese, and all it takes is one bite of the macaroni and cheese from Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery in Milwaukee to understand that. We love this four-cheese macaroni topped with breadcrumbs, bacon, and pecans for a crunchy yet creamy take on this pub favorite.
In the Cowboy State, good old faithful beans and jerky are a way of life living on the frontier. With two times more cows than people and the largest bison population roaming the grasslands, there’s no debate where to get the best authentic cowboy cuisine.