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Regional Foods not reproducible

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The best bagels are in New York.
The best Pizza (and hotdogs) are in chicago.

The best mexican food is in San Luis Obispo.

HELP... WHy is it that the local mexican 'hole in the wall' greasy spoons in San Luis, Pismo and Grover Beach have THE best Mexican food*. It is insane. Can anyone verify this? I lived in Grover Beach for two years in the early 90's and have never found food nearly as good. I live in Chicago and have access to plenty of great mexican food but not SAN LUIS mexican food. Maybe only the chopped pork (Al Pastor) is the same. Asada is totally different and i rarely find chicken done as tasty.

I remember ordering my first tostada only to get what I would have called a taco salad. MAN was i wrong. At the bottom of that crusty bowl was the tasties marinated beef imaginable. It was not to be believed. I didnt understand why anyone was going to the Taco bell a block away after tasting this stuff. Many of these places would have several types of beef and chicken all stewing in wonderful sauces. Here in chicago the Asada is mainly just steak fried with a little onion, rarely with spice and never marinating all day in juice.

Are the Mexican chefs in the central California region all from a specific state in Mexico that no one in Chicago knows about?

I dream about that food.. ah well.

*Tacos De Mexico is the only name I can remember. There were several in downtown San Luis as well.

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  1. Memphis BBQ

    Philadelphia Cheesesteak

    Philadelphia soft pretzel

    1 Reply
    1. re: Den

      Soft Pretzel for sure. Like Dunkin Donuts or Wawa coffee, it's in the water. Good thing they dont really try the pretzel anywhere else...just stick with your super pretzel and move on.

    2. New England Blueberry Pie.

      South Jersey Cheesesteaks.

      2 Replies
      1. re: hooliganyouth

        I would think a South Jersey Cheesesteak would actually be a Philadelphia cheesesteak?

        1. re: Quesera

          For some reason I just prefer the ones at the Shore. It may be atmospheric as well but I usually eat a couple every day I'm there.

      2. plenty of new yorkers will disagree about where you guys find the *best* pretzels, hot dogs and pizza, lol.

        i've never lived on the west coast, but my theory on mexican food is the further away you get from the source, the more it changes. i think alot of that has to do with product. still, i bet there's plenty of crappy mexican food out there too.

        how many cookbooks sadly confess the dish won't be authentic because you can't get the wild nettles from this particular hill in provence, or this grass-fed cheese from milk from the month of may in tuscany?

        i live in new england. that doesn't mean every bowl of clam chowder and every lobster i've ever eaten have been sublime. you still have to know where to go.

        1. What about BBQ? Here in NYC we have a few BBQ places that claim to be "authentic." Some are OK, some are horrible and one or two actually have expensive, high-tech smokers. But, c'mon, this is New York. Whada we know about smoking pork? Fugetaboutit.

          Then I went to North Carolina last year and it blew my mind! That's Barbecue! There were tiny little shacks on the side of the road that put even the best Yankee attempts to shame. I saw smokers that were nothing but 55 gallon drums cut in half.

          So, yes, there is something to the belief that regional food is hard to recreate.

          1. San Francisco sourdough bread

            (I've heard that it's something about the air, peculiar to the Bay Area, that makes it turn out better there than anywhere else. You can get decent local sourdough here in Seattle, but it's not the same.)

            1. Of course there are regional foods that don't travel well! That's part of the joy of traveling. Sometimes it's the ingredients, the people, the cooking method, the atmosphere, the climate or some elusive combination of all those things.

              For some more that don't travel well:

              Jamaican jerk -- it's hard to find allspice wood in the US
              Texas brisket
              Scrambled eggs with fresh morels
              Sonoran tortillas

              1. San Francisco sourdough bread, certainly, as another poster mentioned. Also crab louis. And red beans and rice in N.O.

                1. The Florida grouper sandwich

                  1. New Mexico green chile (although that's more of an ingredient than a type of cuisine. Anaheim chiles grown elsewhere just don't turn out nearly as good as the ones grown in southern New Mexico.)