The United States of America is home to some of the most unique cuisine in the world; its melting pot of cultures and varied geography has lead to some truly inspired dishes that have become iconic. We searched far and wide, looking for *the* definitive dish that truly represents its respective state. The following is what we believe to be the best dish from all 50 states that you need to try.
And, for scientific purposes, we recommend you try them all!
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
Alabama: Smoked Chicken with White Sauce
There's smoked chicken, and then there's
smoked chicken. Big distinction. In Alabama, the chicken gets a bath in a creamy, mayo-based marinade, resulting in the most tender, mouthwatering poultry you've ever had. (And in Alabama, no one does it better than
Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Que
Alaska: King Crab
There really is no comparison when it comes to Alaska's seafood: fresh, flavorful, and abundant. But Alaska's King Crab -- and the variety of regional dishes it graces -- is on a whole other level entirely.
The chimichanga came about as a happy accident: in the 1950s,
El Charro Café
's founding chef, Monica Flyn, dropped a burrito in the deep fryer, creating one of the most crave-worthy dishes in history.
Arkansas: Fried Pickles
Frying takes literally anything to the next level, and in Arkansas in 1963, Bernell Austin of the Duchess Drive-In discovered the deliciousness that is deep-fried dill pickles. And in true Arkansas spirit, these fried gherkins are generally paired with a generous side of ranch dressing.
California: Avocado Toast
We can thank California for avocado toast, a now-ubiquitous menu item at any in-the-know brunch restaurant in the U.S. Smashed and topped with sea salt, chili flakes, and lemon, Californians find a way to put avocado on just about anything!
Colorado is widely regarded for its lamb, and if you visit any reputable restaurant in the state, you're sure to see it on the menu. This gamey, rich protein is a must-try in The Centennial State.
Connecticut: White Clam Pizza
New England is known for its seafood, and Connecticut's white clam pizza is easily the most unique use of the ocean's bounty. While the pie has become ubiquitous in New England,
Frank Pepe Pizzeria
in New Haven was the first to serve this now-iconic 'za.
Delaware: Vinegar Fries
Fish and chips is classic beach fare, and in Delaware, they like to kick things up a notch by dousing their fried potatoes in vinegar. Sour, salty, and downright delicious!
Until you have a Georgia peach, you really haven't experienced the true pleasure and potential of this fuzzy little fruit. You'll find peaches at virtually any Georgia farmers market or roadside stand, and this stone fruit is definitely worth stopping for.
Florida: Cuban Sandwich
These toasted little packages are absolutely delightful. The classic combo features ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard on Cuban bread, pressed into a flat, melty flavor bomb.
Hawaii: Spam Musubi
What do you get when you combine Spam and sushi? Spam Musubi! Hawaiians love their Spam (more Spam is sold in Hawaii than the rest of America per capita), and this bite-size beach snack is sold everywhere from high-end eateries to local gas stations.
Idaho: Finger Steaks
Finger steaks are an Idaho creation: these deep-fried delicacies are basically chicken fingers, but made with beef instead.
Illinois: Deep Dish Pizza
Contrary to popular belief, Illinois's iconic deep dish pizza is not something consumed on the daily; rather, this decadent, heady 'za is reserved for special occasions, and
always enjoyed with a fork and knife.
Indiana: Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
The unofficial sandwich of The Hoosier State, this behemoth contains lettuce, onion, tomato, pickles, and mayo... and a face-sized slab of breaded pork tenderloin. This Indiana staple was made famous by
in the early 1900s.
This loose meat sandwich puts the "Sloppy Joe" to shame, and has been an iconic Iowa dish since 1928 thanks to
Kansas is best-known for its barbecue; both the state's methods and seasonings are unique. Meat is slow-cooked in large smoke pits and served slathered in a sticky-sweet, tomato-based sauce that has a kick to it!
Kentucky: Hot Brown
The ultimate comfort food, in 1926 Chef Fred Schmidt at Louisville’s
put together a hot, creamy, open-faced turkey sandwich for the hotel’s late-night diners and dancers, and the result has become one of the state's most iconic dishes. The eponymous Hot Brown is basically a big, 'ole hug on a plate.
Like a donut, but somehow lighter and fluffier, the French-style beignets in Louisiana are a revelation. And Louisiana beignets hot out of the fryer? There are no words.
Maine: Lobster Roll
Maine's lobster rolls are incomparable: big, abundant cuts of fresh-caught crustacean piled high on a split-top bun that needs little more than a squeeze of lemon or drizzle of melted butter.
Maryland: Steamed Crabs
Grab a bib and mallet and don't be shy: the steamed crabs in Maryland are served by the dozen, seasoned with (what else?) Old Bay spice, then dumped directly atop tables covered in newspaper or butcher paper.
Massachusetts: Clam Chowder
Massachusetts is known for its clam chowder, with
Legal Sea Foods
the gold standard. Their award-winning recipe features Cape Cod clams, cream, and herbs, and is best enjoyed with a mountain of oyster crackers.
Michigan: Coney-Style Hot Dog
Minnesota: Jucy Lucy
A cheeseburger with cheese
inside instead of on top? Now that's a stick-to-your-ribs kind of creation that could've only come from rough and rugged Minnesota.
Gravy, fried chicken, butter, fresh peach preserves... no matter how you top 'em, the biscuits in Mississippi are absolutely the Platonic ideal of biscuits.
Missouri: Toasted Ravioli
and stuffed with cheese? We have Missouri to thank for this delightful dish.
Big game is a big deal in Montana, with elk one of the state's more noteworthy proteins. Gamey and unctuous, the best way to enjoy elk is on classic, American-style burger.
Nebraska: Tin Roof Sundae
Chocolate ice cream topped with chocolate sauce, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, warm marshmallow cream,
a sprinkle of Spanish peanuts? This is the magic of the Tin Roof Sundae, and it originated in
The Potter Sundry
Home to the City That Never Sleeps, Nevada's late-night cuisine is all next level. Nevada's nacho game is particularly strong, with pretty much any reputable dive or diner serving up a satisfying version of this snack-tastic dish.
New Hampshire: Poutine
Thanks to New Hampshire's strong French-Canadian heritage, the gravy-slathered french fry dish known as poutine is ubiquitous in the state.
New Jersey: Tomato Pie
The Garden State has a bounty of beautiful produce, and tomatoes take center stage in the eponymous New Jersey tomato pie. It's a thin-crust pizza, topped first with cheese, followed by marinara and tomatoes, for a veg-forward version of your traditional pie.
New Mexico: Frito Pie
This flavor fusion is a revelation: salty corn chips blanketed in red chile sauce and topped with beans, ground beef, cheese, and lettuce. This iconic New Mexico dish is best enjoyed with a spoon.
New York: Bagels
Fluffy, heady, and downright delicious,
authentic New York bagels get their distinct flavor and chew from minerals found in good, old, New York City tap water. Topped with cream cheese, lox, or pastrami, New York bagels are the best in the country.
North Carolina: Lexington-Style Barbecue
Not all barbecue is created equally. North Carolina's Lexington-style barbecue is comprised of a red sauce made from vinegar, tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and usually a couple "top secret" herbs and spices. And it's tradition to dip your pulled pork
into the sauce, rather than pouring it on.
North Dakota: Knoephla
Knoephla is a creamy dumpling and potato soup with German roots that's one of the most popular foods in North Dakota. It's hearty and soul-satisfying, and will keep you warm during the cold North Dakota winters! (The knoephla from
Ohio: Cincinnati Chili
Spicy and sweet (thanks to the addition of, among other things, chocolate), Cincinnati-style chili is a true Ohio iconoclast. Served with spaghetti, and topped with a mountain of shredded cheddar, Cincinnati-style chili is truly one-of-a-kind.
Oklahoma is carnivore country, and the steaks in this state are not for the faint of heart.
is *the* place to go for steak in Oklahoma.
Oregon: Marionberry Pie
Marionberries were born and bred in Oregon (literally -- the berry was created at Oregon State University by crossing two types of blackberries). And these newfangled berries make for a picture-perfect pie. In Oregon, the Willamette Valley Pie Company is king of the marionberry: they process 12 million pounds of berries per year, make three varieties of marionberry pie, and offer marionberry U-Pick in the summer. (And yes, they
Pennsylvania: Philly Cheesesteak
There's nothing more 'quintessentially Pennsylvania' than the Philly Cheesesteak. Thinly sliced and pan-fried beef, topped with Cheez Whiz, American or provolone, and crammed into a long, crusty roll -- the Philly Cheesesteak is sandwich perfection.
Rhode Island: Hot Wieners
The Rhode Island variety of the classic chili-topped hot dog is beautiful in its simplicity: small franks are steamed, placed atop a steamed bun, and topped with a spicy meat sauce, yellow mustard, diced onions and celery salt. Known in Rhode Island as "hot wieners,"
Olneyville New York System
is famous for their variation of this addictive little 'dog.
South Carolina: Shrimp and Grits
Shrimp and grits is a South Carolina staple: a happy marriage of Southern-style grits and the state's outstanding seafood bounty.
South Dakota: Bison Burger
South Dakota takes its burgers very seriously, and their bison burgers are legendary: thick, heady, toothsome, and sure to satisfy,
Tennessee: Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich
This Tennessee specialty is *not* your average chicken sandwich. This iconic Nashville number features a cut of chicken that's been marinated, fried, and coated in a generous pour of cayenne pepper, giving it its fiery-red appearance. Served atop white bread with pickle chips, it's a must-try when in Tennessee.
The brisket in Texas is second to none; slow-cooked, smoky, and fall-off-the-bone.
Utah: Fry Sauce
How do you make french fries even better? Fry sauce, that's how! (At least, if you ask any Utahn.)
There are few better ways to enjoy french fries than with a side of fry sauce. Similar to Thousand Island dressing, this condiment can be found at most fast-food joints across the state, with Utah's
laying claim to this specialty sauce's creation. (They also sell this liquid gold in 16-ounce bottles, too.)
Vermont: Apple Pie (with Cheddar Cheese)
Vermont wins at the whole "sweet and savory" thing, pairing iconic apple pie with sharp cheddar. Any Vermonter will tell you it's a meal that's suitable any time of day.
Virginia: Brunswick Stew
This hearty stew hails from Brunswick County, and was originally made with game such as rabbit and squirrel. Today's variations usually include pork or chicken, plus loads of local vegetables.
Washington's seafood is as fresh as it gets, and the coastal conditions here are particularly perfect for oysters. Fresh, cold, and with a zing of lemon, Washington's oyster game is on another level.
West Virginia: Pepperoni Rolls
West Virginia's Official State Food, the pepperoni roll was born out of necessity -- a portable, hearty lunch created by Italian immigrants working in the state's coal mines. Today, you'll find pepperoni rolls all across the state; some crafted like sandwiches, others fashioned like pizza rolls... you really can't go wrong with this crave-worthy creation.
Wisconsin: Fried Cheese Curds
In Wisconsin, cheese its its own food group. Cheese curds are one of the state's most popular delicacies... but
fried cheese curds have attained cult-like status. This deep-fried delight is a bucket list must for all serious turophiles!
Wyoming: Chicken Fried Steak
Chicken fried steak is cowboy comfort food: hearty, rustic, stick-to-your-ribs fare. In Wyoming, the gravy plays an equally crucial role in this ubiquitous dish; it's thick, peppery, and plentiful.
We have a hearty appetite here in America, and these iconic dishes from all 50 states are truly a tour de force of the regional cuisine that makes up the wonderfully unique U.S. of A.