Ultimate USA Food Trip
I was wondering what everyone thought about the ultimate food trip across the country. You know foods that are truly authentic in only certain portions of the USA. Foods or restaurants that you have to try at least once in your lifetime. I'm a steakhouse fanatic so it goes without saying I would love to try the best steakhouses in every area of the country but I have added some others also. I'm from NYC so I won't put any of the NY foods or restaurants on my list. If you live or have been to these places and would like to recommend what restaurants to get these foods please do!!!! I'd be glad to share some NY hotspots as well. Anyway Here are some of mine..
Boston/New England- Lobster, Boston Cream Pie, Whoopie Pies
Philly/Pittsburgh- Cheesesteaks (Tried one at a Phillies game but don't think it was authentic),
Chicago- Steakhouses, Deep Dish Pizza (Lou Malnati's?), Hot Dogs, Pierogies, The Original Rainbow Cone, Orange Pancake Flight
Atlanta- Comfort Food, Fried Chicken, Pulled Pork, BBQ, Cobbler (Lady and Son's, Dantanna's)
Florida- Cuban Sandwich, Key Lime Pie
New Orleans- Cajun Cuisine, Po Boys, Jambalaya, Emeril's, Gumbo
Las Vegas- All of the Chef Restaurants, Bellagio Buffet/ Mirage (Emeril's restaurants, Wolfgang's restaurants, etc), Burger Bar
Texas- Steakhouses (Big Texan) , BBQ, Tex-Mex
Down South (Memphis, Kansas City, Carolinas)- BBQ, Soul Food, Brunswick Stew
California/LA- Phillipe's French Dip, Pink's Hot Dog's, Griddle Cafe Pancakes, Fish Tacos, Lawry's Prime Rib
Theres so much more but this is just a preliminary list.. go crazy!
In SF, the last good sourdough bread left is at Tadich Grill where you can also get sand dabs and one of the better versions of cioppino, IMO, the only reason for Dungeness crab.
Boudin sourdough is about as good as it currently gets outside of a restaurant. A few years ago there was better sourdough bread than Boudin, but lots of places went out of business.
In the SF Bay Area what is really worthwhile is the wine and cheese a lot of which never makes it out of the state. Also there's a lot of good fruit and veggies. The farmers markets are great. There are regional places like the artichoke fields in Castroville with a stop at The Giant Artichoke for deep-fried artichokes.
I went to college in Boston and surprisingly there isn’t that much Boston Cream pie there … or baked beans. But you can get Parker House rolls at the Parker House … at least you could at one time.
So much food is available almost anywhere. But there are little pockets in the country that have food that hasn’t moved beyond a specific area. Then there are the items that just are better in their original local or in a specific time frame.
St Louis: Gooey butter cake
Ted Drewes Frozen Custard … well frozen custard almost anywhere in the Midwest.
Pittsburg - Primanti Brothers sandwich
Rochester, NY – Garbage plate
Millburn, NJ – the local version of a Sloppy Joe
Maine: Acadian Food (ployas, shepherd pie, chicken stew, poutiness, gortons, etc)
Barberton, Ohio - Barberton Chicken
Baltimore – Sauerkraut and turkey
Louisville: Hot Brown
The above two links have other regional foods in addition to the Hot Brown and Chicken George.
A lot of places that serve Native American cuisine
- Jakes Bakery in NM Pueblo bread from wood fired hornos.
- Cuny Table Cafe, SD ... I don't care if the food is good ... the place seems worthwhile just for ambiance ... go up a gravel road to the top of a large badland mesa where there is a Home cooking sign on a brown sheet metal building that has a restaurant with two booths and a table where you can eat Indian fry bread tacos. The restaurant is run by two Indian ladies
- Fry Bread House, Az ... hand-stretched traditional made-to-order fry bread topped with chile or slatered with butter and chocolate
A little detour across the border for …
Toronto Quebec – Butter tarts, sugar pies,
Montreal – cretons, montreal bagels … some sort of meat, I forget
Then there are the better known and more familiar foods
Cleveland – Pierogi Palace – about 100 fillings
Chicago – Italian Beef, Polish Donuts
I want a lobster roll from McDonald’s in Maine (yeah, I know … but I am a connoisseur of regional fast food)
In New England the better opions are fried clams, clam cakes or fritters, blueberry desserts especially pie.
Florida - conch fritters
NY - Jewish deli and bagels. Maybe it's not what it once was but it is still a whole lot better than what the rest of the country offers
Connecticut - New Haven pizza ... and pizza in general. Connecticut is a good pizza state. CT has good hot dogs too.
Beniegts and chicory coffee at Café du Monde in New Orleans … yep, touristy … still love it and always stop when I’m in town.
A lobster right off a lobster boat in Maine. I had this in some long-forgotten spot in Maine and it was the best and most memorable lobster I had in my life.
I’d like to explore the food where large populations of a certain ethnicity have settled or once existed
NY – Tracking down if there is any Chinese Cuban left
NY - Romanian food
There are the seasonal places to visit.
New Mexican Green Chile in late August September. I’d like to roam the streets of Hatch, New Mexico inhaling the aroma of green chile and eating myself silly at all the restaurants that specialize in NM green chile dishes. I want a green chile burger from Burger King or Dairy queen)
I was working in Georgia one year at the height of peach season and have fond memories of sipping a fresh peach daiquiri under the trees at a restaurant near a river.
New England in the fall when there are apples and cider.
Oregon in the summer when the berries are in season.
Tomatoes in New Jersey during the summer.
A few years ago I was about to drive around the country and life got in the way. I had a word document of all the interesting places I wanted to try … while leaving myself open to stumbling on interesting places along the way. About that time my pc died so somewhere on a backup disc are a lot more places I had planned on visiting.
re: Bill on Capitol Hill
It might be the East Coast has a larger Bolivian population than the West Coast. SF has 2 half Bolivian restaurants and nothing in the way of markets. One has a Bolivian owner who put a few dishes on the menu of a Mexican restaurant. The other is a California-Bolivian joint where music (not Bolivian usually) is the focus rather than the food. The dishes there are limited also.
Thanks for the tip about Ethiopian in D.C.
re: Sam Fujisaka
Saltenas and silpancho are often on US menus I've seen. In SF we can also get papas y yuca la Huancaina and picante de pollo. The last two are at a joint that serve vegan, organic 'Bolivian' dishes like corn humitas and, uh, vegan coconut cream pie ... so that should give you an idea of the state of Bolivian in the Bay Area.
Actually, the humitas are new and previously not available in SF, so vegan or not, probably time to stop by again and add a new Bolivian food to those I've tried to date.
Discussion from last year on the General Board when I first tried Bolivian food, such as it is locally.
re: Sam Fujisaka
Interesting to know. This is the menu for the local Bolivian restaurant that I'd guess is the more authentic of the two. It didn't seem like much that was very different than other Latin cuisines
This sort of reminds me of Guatamalan cuisine. My SO is Gautamalan and I've known his family way over a decade, yet after having eaten with them on so many occasions, the food is really simple and nothing is very distiguisable. I still to this day couldn't really describe what Guatamalan food is.
Thank you. Those dishes on the menu are things we would eat when we went to the equivalent of a steak house. Most Bolivian food was somewhat stew-like (the picantes de xxx and the like) and usually included potatoes. Rice was a part of a lot of dishes. My first wife and I cooked for the 2 1/2years we were in Tarija, Bolivia, enjoying the great breads and cheeses.
Coming to LA does not necessitate going to Pink's or Lawry's... we have such better places... definitely come for Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, other great high end places, but please please don't waste 2 hours standing in line for a terrible dog... (and I say this even though my cousin owns the place).
i don't know where this would fall in the "map" but I think that the famous chinatowns in the US would be a great addition as well. (i am missing oakland, ca chinatown in a big way these days!)
UTAH: Scones (fried dough served with honeybutter) there is a place in Heber City that is awesome.
Kansas City is definitely known for BBQ, however I feel that we have great steaks as well. We are definitely part of the Midwest (just to be a bit picky).
My favorite BBQ is Jack's Stack. No matter where you go for BBQ in KC, because you have lots and lots and lots of BBQ choices here, you have to try burnt ends. It is our local flavor and every shack in town offers them.
My favorite steak in KC is at Plaza III. A KC tradition and one of the top 10 Steakhouses in the country. All corn-fed beef and a great wine selection.
In New Orleans, if the Central Bakery is still there, you have to try the muffaletta.
And for some comments on Montreal and Toronto, mentioned by another poster:
The "some of kind of meat" in Montreal is "smoked meat", which is related to corned beef and pastrami, but different. The best two places, IMHO, are Schwartz's (no atmosphere, limited menu, probably have to share a table), or Dunn's (more upscale, more choices on the menu, but you're going for the smoked meat, right?). No matter which you choose, make sure you order at least a "medium fat"; the lean can be very dry, and not near as tasty. And, while in Montreal, you can find many inexpensive French restaurants that serve excellent food. Other Montreal fast food favourites include hot dogs (which you will be asked "toastee or steamy" - grilled or steamed), and poutine, which is an indescribable mess of fries, fresh cheese curds, and gravy, that also tastes wonderful (just check for the nearest hospital if your arteries are in bad shape!). Finally, Montreal offers probably the best selection of cheese available in North America - there are certainly hundreds that aren't available in Toronto, just a few hours a way. It's hard to find a bad meal in Montreal!
As for Toronto, where I live, there are many fabulous restaurants, but there is no distinct "Toronto" cuisine. We have wonderful Asian (Chinese/Japanese/Viet/Thai/Malay), Italian, fusion, seafood, and steakhouses, but there's nothing that screams "Toronto". I would say we have, with the possible exception of Vancouver, the best Chinese food in North America. If that interests you, we're worth a stop over, but it's best to come between April and October - November to March can be fairly cold if you're not used to that.
I've got a tangential question on Montreal food. You say one can find inexpensive "French" restaurants, but I'm wondering what that entails in Montreal. Are these places serving modern French cuisine, bristrot dishes, or is it Quebecois food? If it is food typical of France, then is it translated differently in Quebec than it is back in France or the rest of North America?
Well, if you are going to both New Orleans and Memphis, why not somewhere between the two? I would suggest the Tamale Trail:
I'm pretty sure that this might be one of the highlights of your trip! You can stop by Doe's Eat Place in Greenville and get a steak with your tamales!
Doe's Eat Place
502 Nelson St, Greenville, MS 38701
Not a criticism, but I just wonder what information about California trickles back to the East Coast. Griddle Cafe pancakes? Pink's Hot Dogs? Never hoid of 'em.
For cities by the Pacific, think Dungeness crab, rex sole, sand dabs, halibut, king salmon and a number of other seafood delicacies.
Chinese food in S.F. is deservedly famous, but there's quite a large Vietnamese population here with delicious and overlooked restaurants.
(Chinese is my favorie cuisine in the world, and my favorite of all that is dim sum. But not all dim sum, so if you're interested post a question on CH.)
For Los Angeles, visit the San Gabriel Valley--it simply cannot be matched in terms of the breadth of Chinese restaurants. Certain other areas in North America are arguably be better in certain types of Chinese cooking, but nowhere else do you have this many restaurants from different areas of China: Cantonese, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Muslim, Taiwan, Shandong, etc.
Little Saigon in Orange County probably has the best Vietnamese food in the U.S., although some folks will argue that San Jose is comparable.