Where to eat it: Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, multiple locations
Cost: Starting at $7.25
New York versus Chicago pizza is a hotly debated national topic, but you might not have heard of New Haven-style, thin-crust ‘za outside of Connecticut. One of the original creators, Pepe’s is famous for its wood-fired, charred crust (and intense family rivalry with a nephew of the founder who opened an equally popular pizza joint on the same block). Beyond “tomato pies,” a popular menu item is a white pizza with olive oil, cheese and garlic sauce that’s topped with clams.
Delaware: Vinegar French Fries
Where to eat it: Thrasher’s French Fries, multiple locations
Cost: Starting at $5.50
While technically born in Maryland, Thrasher’s fries are a staple at Delaware’s Rehoboth and Bethany beaches. French fries are the only thing on the concession menu, and the potatoes are sourced from different regions to ensure peak seasonality. They ranked No. 2 on Buzzfeed’s “Top 23 Fries to Eat Before You Die,” with the sweet and tangy apple cider vinegar the secret to their popularity.
Florida: Key Lime Pie
Where to eat it: Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe, Key West
The official pie of the Florida Keys, Key lime pie is made with Key lime juice, sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks. Every restaurant has its own style in regards to the crust, topping and even cooking methods.
ABC News named Kermit’s one of the best on the island. You can order pie by the slice, frozen or even dipped in Belgian chocolate and served on a stick.
Georgia: Peach Pie
Where to eat it: The Silver Skillet, Atlanta
In the Peach State — nicknamed for its abundance of the fuzzy fruit — farmers began growing peaches as an alternative to cotton after the Civil War.
The Silver Skillet has been featured everywhere from the silver screen to the Super Bowl. Garnering a heap of celebrity fans, their pies and cobblers have been a must-eat in Atlanta since the late 1980s. The peach cobbler is an iconic Southern dessert as much as the restaurant is a local institution.
If you prefer apple pie, here are some cheap pie recipe twists to spice things up.
Hawaii: Ahi Poke
Where to eat it: Maguro Brothers, Honolulu
Cost: Starting at $6.50
Poke translates to “to cut crosswise into pieces,” which is essentially what ahi poke is: cubes of tuna flavored with sea salt and seaweed. Locals ate it because it was easily accessible, sourced right from the ocean. Today’s bowls are more diverse with rice, sauces and various types of fish and vegetables to mix and match your own creation.
Maguro Brothers was named one of Eater’s nine best poke spots. You can order the tuna grilled or raw with shoyu onions and spicy mayo over rice.
Idaho: Finger Steaks
Where to eat it: Lindy’s Steak House, Boise
Cost: Starting at $10.25
Meat and potatoes are the cornerstones of an Idaho diet, and finger steaks are rarely found anywhere outside of the Gem State. Essentially a chicken nugget made of steak, the plate often arrives on a bed of fries with a dipping sauce. Most finger steaks are prepared in a beer batter and deep-fried, but Lindy’s is breaded and made of top sirloin, not scrap beef, which is how the dish originated in the 1950s.
Illinois: Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza
Where to eat it: Uno Pizzeria & Grill, multiple locations
Cost: Starting at $7.19
A baked pizza pie, Chicago deep-dish pizza is characterized by its thick crust and hearty fillings. Created as a happy accident when food rations were high and laborers were hungry, the thick mozzarella, dense tomato sauce and filling toppings could satisfy the appetite of hungry men returning from war. Pizzeria Uno is credited as the original inventor, sought after for its tall, buttery crust akin to a fruit pie.
Indiana: Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
Where to eat it: Nick’s Kitchen, Huntington
Nick’s Kitchen is the creator of the breaded pork sandwich. A monstrous slab of meat pounded into a patty, the pork is marinated in buttermilk, eggs, flour and breadcrumbs, deep-fried and served on a hamburger bun.
Iowa: Corn on the Cob
Where to eat it: Humphrey Sweet Corn, multiple locations
Cost: $7 per dozen
Corn has been Iowa’s leading crop for more than 150 years. The state produces more corn than most countries, thanks to its fertile growing conditions and rich soil. The best place to try it is straight from the farm, with Humphrey Sweet Corn claiming to be the sweetest in the state. Humphrey Sweet Corn sells seasonally in local parking lots from July through September.
Kansas: Kansas City Ribs
Where to eat it: Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque, Kansas City
Cost: Starting at $12.60
Kansas City barbecue can be traced back to the early 1920s, when Henry Perry began cooking slabs of meat on a pit adjacent to his barn. In the meat-packing city, the trend caught on and soon pitmasters were vying to outdo each other on flavor.
The best barbecue in K.C. is a hotly debated topic, but Arthur Bryant is known as the King of Ribs. It boasts famous customers who include former presidents and celebrities, and a reporter from The New Yorker even proclaimed it the best food in the world. Their pork ribs are served as a sandwich or by the pound with three sauce choices.
Kentucky: Kentucky Hot Browns
Where to eat it: J. Graham’s Café at The Brown Hotel, Louisville
A favorite dish of most locals, a Kentucky hot brown is an open-faced turkey sandwich topped with bacon and Mornay cheese sauce. Introduced by The Brown Hotel in the 1920s as a way to pacify hungry late-night guests, the warm sandwich has been featured everywhere from the Travel Channel to The Wall Street Journal.
Louisiana: Shrimp Gumbo
Where to eat it: Galatoire’s, New Orleans
Cost: Starting at $8.50
Louisiana is the nation’s second-largest seafood supplier, with shrimp far and away the biggest product. One of the most popular Cajun preparations is gumbo. The stew is a literal representation of Louisiana’s melting pot in a bowl. It is generally cooked with proteins from the land and sea, and vegetables and served with rice.
Galatoire’s has racked up an impressive list of accolades. Southern Living said the restaurant has “the best gumbo in New Orleans.” Their version features jumbo lump crabmeat, shrimp, oysters, shellfish stock and okra in a light roux.
Maine: Lobster Roll
Where to eat it: Red’s Eats, Wiscasset
Once considered pauper’s food, lobsters were so plentiful they were used as a cheap meal to feed the indentured servants and to fertilize the fields. Maine is the largest lobster-producing state in the country. After canning was invented, people around the country got to try lobster and the craze took hold.
The classic Maine lobster roll has a very specific preparation that differs from that in other New England states. The bread must be a freshly baked, split-top bun served buttered and grilled. The meat must be chunked. In Maine, the lobster is generally tossed in light mayo and served cold, while Connecticut purists stick to just butter. Featured by all the top food shows and publications, Red’s Eats is a landmark.
Maryland: Blue Crabs
Where to eat it: Captain James Landing, Baltimore
The official crustacean of Maryland, the blue crab has been said to have the same rich sweetness as lobster. The Chesapeake Bay is an ideal habitat for the crustacean. Typical preparations include crab soup, crab dip and the Maryland crab cake.
Built to look like a ship, Captain James Landing is a popular waterfront venue that offers all-you-can-eat steamed crabs. You can arrive by water taxi for a true sea celebration.
Massachusetts: Clam Chowder
Where to eat it: Ye Olde Union Oyster House, Boston
Cost: Starting at $6.95
New England clam chowder is known for its thick broth made from heavy milk or cream. Ingredients often include clams, potatoes and onions. Believed to have been introduced by settlers from France, Canada or Britain, the dish is now distinctly American. Popular local author Joseph Lincoln even called it, “Yankee Doodle in a Kettle.”
Ye Olde Union Oyster House is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the United States, dishing up chowder since 1836. A National Historic Landmark, their awards predate this century.
Michigan: Beef/Veggie Meat Pies
Where to eat it: Pasty Central, Kearsarge
Hand pies are as ubiquitous in Upper Michigan as pizza is in Chicago. Called a pasty (rhymes with “nasty” and not to be confused with a pastry), these practical, filling bites originated with immigrant miners who could easily pack them for work lunches. Fillings vary, but Finnish style includes carrots, while Cornish style does not.
The place to try them is Pasty Central, according to USA Today. Stuffed with beef, pork, potatoes, rutabaga, carrots, onions and spices, they’re a tasty handheld treat.
Where to eat it: Happy Joe’s, New Ulm
The unofficial comfort cuisine of Minnesota, hotdish is anything that can be cooked in a dish like a casserole (but don’t tell that to a local). The term was first used in a 1930s cookbook, but the concept is believed to have originated as a cheap way to feed families during the Great Depression. Most recipes include some form of meat, canned cream soup and vegetables. Many also include tater tots, potato chips, fried onions and even chow mein as toppings.
If you don’t want to attempt to create your own kitchen masterpiece, you can sample hotdish at Happy Joe’s. The restaurant serves the best hotdish in the area, according to viewers of the local CBS affiliate, and its recipe calls for tater tots, chicken, cream of mushroom soup and cheese.
Mississippi: Mud Pie
Where to eat it: Rowdy’s Family Restaurant, Vicksburg
A rich dessert comprised of pudding, cake, biscuits, ice cream, whipped cream, marshmallows and liqueur layered into a cookie crust, this dense chocolaty treat is named after the thick gooey mud found along the banks of the Mississippi River. While its origins are murky, take one bite and you likely won’t care.
Rowdy’s Family Restaurant is the place to indulge, according to television personality Andrew Zimmern. The family recipe has been passed on for over 100 years and is a closely guarded secret.
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Treat Yourself: The Most Extravagant Place to Brunch in Every State
Missouri: Fried Ravioli
Where to eat it: Mama’s on the Hill, St. Louis
A few restaurants in St. Louis claim to have invented toasted ravioli with a similar story: accidentally dropping a doughy noodle in a fryer. Today’s variation is more like bar food, breaded and served with dipping sauce. You can try the dish at Mama’s on the Hill, which claims to be one of the original purveyors.
Montana: Huckleberry Pie
Where to eat it: Park Cafe, St. Mary
Cost: $8 per slice
Huckleberries are one of Montana’s native berries, and their sweet taste has made them a scarce delicacy in the produce world. During peak season, you’ll see huckleberry-flavored everything from lip balm to milkshakes.
A must-eat, according to Condé Nast Traveler, Park Cafe’s huckleberry pie is “pure, unadulterated sweetness.” Most cafes use a mix of berries because huckleberries are so expensive and difficult to obtain as they grow exclusively at high elevations. Park Cafe refuses to compromise quality so the owners pay around $40 a pound for the fruit.
Nebraska: Handheld Meat Pies
Where to eat it: Runza, multiple locations
Cost: Prices vary by location but start around $4
Officially called Runza or bierock, Nebraska’s handheld buns are stuffed with peppered beef, cabbage and onions. Served warm like an elevated hot pocket, the sandwich has German and Russian roots. Runza introduced it after World War II, selling the dish for 15 cents a pop. Today, Runza has 78 franchises in Nebraska and a few in neighboring states. It’s not the cheapest fast food in America, but it is satisfying.
Nevada: Buffet Food
Where to eat it: Bacchanal Buffet, Las Vegas
Cost: Starting at $39.99
Debuting as a cowboy chuck wagon in El Rancho Vegas in 1945, that all-you-can-eat dining experience evolved into the all-American buffet we know and love today. Designed to keep gamblers inside longer, the casino lost money on the food but succeeded in getting patrons to play longer.
After Bacchanal Buffet in Caesars Palace underwent a $100 million makeover, USA Today ranked it the No. 1 buffet in Las Vegas for its insane food offerings. You can sample everything from spare ribs and wagyu beef to acai bowls and made-to-order desserts.
New Hampshire: Boiled Dinner
Where to eat it: The Wayside Inn, Bethlehem
Slow-cooked corned beef and cabbage prepared with some vegetables, the New England boiled dinner is one of the most iconic meat and potato dishes in America. Early settlers introduced it as a healthy family meal when root vegetables were ripe.
Boiled dinners are occasion meals, with very few restaurants offering it permanently on their menu. You can try it at The Wayside Inn on the 17th of every month. Included in the meal are corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, beets, turnips and a dinner roll.
New Jersey: Pork Roll Sandwich With Egg and Cheese
Where to eat it: Allenwood General Store, Allenwood
Cost: Starts at $5.75
To anyone outside of Jersey, a sandwich with a slice of ham, egg and cheese is just a breakfast sandwich. To anyone in the Garden State, it’s a “John Taylor’s ‘Original Taylor Pork Roll'” — John Taylor is the original purveyor of the meat, originally sold in a tube. No one can seem to agree on a name, though. North Jerseyans call it a “Taylor ham,” but residents in the rest of the state call it a “pork roll.”
Sliced thin, it looks a bit like Canadian bacon. The sandwich is sold at virtually every corner store, deli and supermarket in Jersey. Thrillist says one of the best to try is Allenwood General Store, a breakfast speakeasy hidden inside an old antique store.
New Mexico: Green Chile Cheeseburger
Where to eat it: Sparky’s Burgers, Barbeque & Espresso, Hatch
Cost: Starting at $9.25
Saveur calls New Mexico’s love of green chile a flat-out obsession. The chiles are sold in 20-pound steel portions during the harvest season, and you can smell the spicy aroma of roasting all around town. Green chiles are used to enhance everything from enchiladas to eggs, but burgers are one of the favorite green chile pairings.
Sparky’s is the quintessential roadside attraction, where you can get a juicy green chile burger, and if you can handle the heat for a spicier treat, a green chile lemonade or milkshake.
New York: Buffalo Wings
Where to eat it: Anchor Bar, multiple locations
Cost: Starting at $13 for 10 wings
When asked to create a late-night snack for her son’s friends, Teressa Bellissimo obliged. Deep-fried and coated in secret sauce, Teressa’s wings didn’t remain a secret for long.
You can still get the original Buffalo wings at the bar where they were born in western New York. They are prepared with a variety of sauces.
North Carolina: Pulled Pork Barbecue
Where to eat it: Lexington Barbecue, Lexington
Cost: Starting at $6.30
The Native Americans’ method of slow-roasting food above wood embers is the backbone of North Carolina barbecue, and it requires an investment of time and money. Wood cooking is more expensive than gas and requires a pitman to stay up all night manning the fire. North Carolina is the nation’s No. 2 producer of pigs, which provides easy means and access.
For real enthusiasts, North Carolina has a historic barbecue trail with more than 20 stops. 10Best named Lexington one of the best places to try pork. Shoulders are roasted nearly half a day over oak or hickory coals and topped with sauce and slaw accented by ketchup to give the meat a distinctly sweet flavor.
North Dakota: Lefse Potato Crepes
Where to eat it: Freddy’s Lefse Bakery, West Fargo
Cost: Approximately $6
Almost 38 percent of North Dakota’s population is of Scandinavian descent, and the early settlers brought their culture and cuisine across the pond.
One of those delicacies is the Norwegian dish lefse, a rolled flatbread made out of mashed potatoes. Though typically a festive meal saved for the holidays, you can order them January through October from Freddy’s or stop by their storefront.
Ohio: Buckeye Chocolates
Where to eat it: Anthony-Thomas Chocolates, multiple locations
Cost: Starting at $4.95
A chocolate peanut butter ball that resembles the nut of the buckeye tree, the tree is ubiquitous in the Ohio region. They originally were reserved as a special treat to celebrate the annual Ohio State-Michigan football game until Gail Tabor shared her secret recipe with a friend moving out of state. Little did she know it would be published in the alumni magazine, and chocolate fever took off.
The Columbus Navigator said Anthony-Thomas is one of the best places to try it. Their Columbus candy factory is open for tours, and you can watch the chocolate being made from behind glass.
Read more about other tasty items worth pairing with peanut butter.
Oklahoma: Crispy Cornmeal Okra
Where to eat it: Swadley’s World Famous Bar-B-Q, Oklahoma City
Fried okra is part of the official state meal of Oklahoma, which also includes barbecued pork, chicken-fried steak, sausage with biscuits and gravy, squash, grits and black-eyed peas. It’s a plated version of the state’s rich agricultural history.
Considered a true Southern soul food, one place to try it is Swadley’s, The Oklahoma Gazette’s pick for best barbecue. Despite being a family-run operation, the restaurant feeds a number of emergency first-responders with a dedicated catering relief team.
Oregon: Marionberry Pie
Where to eat it: Sweedeedee, Portland
Cost: $5.25 per slice
A Chehalem and Olallie blackberry hybrid invented at Oregon State University, the marionberry was created as part of a partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It’s named for Marion County in the Willamette Valley, where the field trials took place. The state grows 28 million to 33 million pounds of marionberries a year. Eater recommends the pie at Sweedeedee.
Pennsylvania: Philly Cheesesteak
Where to eat it: Pat’s King of Steaks, Philadelphia,
Cost: Starting at $11
A favorite food in America and a popular late-night takeout order, the Philly cheesesteak is one of the most iconic sandwiches in the country. It is said to have been invented by a hot dog vendor who was grilling his own lunch on the cart. One of his regulars saw the masterpiece and insisted he make him one, too. You could say the rest is history.
The traditional sandwich is prepared on a crusty hoagie with sliced ribeye and cheese (Cheez Whiz, provolone or American). Additional toppings might include sautéed onions, mushrooms or sweet peppers. You can try it at the original creator, Pat’s King of Steaks. The line moves fast. To order, you only need three words: with or without (onions) and cheese type.
Rhode Island: Frozen Lemonade
Where to eat it: Del’s, multiple locations
Cost: Starting at $3.50
Frozen lemonade is synonymous with the family behind Del’s, who brought the beverage to America. The drink was created in Italy as lemon-flavored snow, and Franco DeLucia brought his father’s recipe to the U.S.; his son created a machine to produce the lemonade consistently. Del’s sells the fruit drinks at stands, carts and via franchises. It’s a staple of the Rhode Island summer season.
South Carolina: Shrimp and Grits
Where to eat it: Hominy Grill, Charleston
Low country cuisine with West African roots, shrimp and grits was traditionally a dish prepared by emancipated slaves who settled near the coast. Typically a breakfast meal, it’s a dish that highlights the locally caught shrimp and white-corn grits cooked into a smooth creaminess.
It’s a staple on menus throughout South Carolina, and Eater recommends trying it at Hominy Grill. With a James Beard award-winning chef, the restaurant serves a version that includes scallions, mushrooms, bacon and cheese for flavor.
South Dakota: Chislic
Where to eat it: W. 12 Pourhouse and Kitchen, Sioux Falls
Cubes of skewered sheep meat grilled over an open fire, chislic comes from the same family as a shish kabob. The dish is said to have debuted in South Dakota with Russian immigrants in the late 1800s. It is most popular in the southeastern portion of the state, and there are variations on how it is prepared. Some use different meats, and then grill or fry it.
Chislic is sold at fairs and stands, but it also is a snack on many bar menus. Sioux Falls radio station KS00 recommends the basket at W. 12 Pourhouse, where it is flash fried and served with barbecue sauce or ranch for dipping.
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Tennessee: Memphis Dry Rub Ribs
Where to eat it: Leonard’s Pit Barbecue, Memphis
Cost: Starting at $13
The sweet, tangy sauce characterizes Memphis barbecue. A port town, Memphis had access to a wider range of spices than other barbecue hubs. Molasses was shipped up the Mississippi River, becoming a staple flavor.
Leonard’s began as a humble five-seat restaurant selling barbecue sandwiches for five cents. It grew into the largest drive-in restaurant of the time, with Elvis a frequent customer. More than half a century later, Leonard’s is as popular as ever and has been featured on the major foodie shows.
Where to eat it: The Original Black’s Barbecue, multiple locations
Cost: $16.99 per pound
Brisket is historically one of the cheapest cuts of beef, and with Texas being the largest cattle-producing state in the country, there is a lot of access to it.
Chosen as one of the 50 best barbecue restaurants in the world by Texas Monthly, Black’s was one of the first in the state to put brisket on the menu. The meat is partially cooked for eight hours in a wood-fired rotisserie, then moved to a cooler to rest for a few days. The chilled meat is then smoked for an additional four hours for a grand total of at least 12 hours.
Utah: Funeral Potatoes
Where to eat it: The Garage, Salt Lake City
A potato casserole generally brought to Mormon funerals, the funeral potatoes dish has a homey, comforting feel despite its ominous name. There are a number of variations, but the dish generally is made with frozen hash browns, cream of chicken soup, cream of mushroom soup, sour cream and cheese.
Food & Wine recommends trying the creamy, cheesy masterpiece at The Garage. With three variations on the menu, choose between original, veggie or fiery. It might not be as impressive as other ways to prepare potatoes, but it has become iconic.
Vermont: Cheddar Cheese Apple Pie
Where to eat it: The Apple Barn and Country Bake Shop, Bennington
Cost: $18 per pie
While most would balk at the idea of pairing an all-American food like apple pie with cheese, the New England settlers brought the idea from the motherland. Vermonters say don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.
The state even has an official law requiring that proprietors of apple pie make a “good faith effort” to serve it with ice cream, cold milk or “a slice of cheddar cheese weighing a minimum of 1/2 ounce.” One place to try it is the Apple Barn, a pick-your-own farm in southern Vermont. They bake approximately half a pound of Cabot seriously sharp cheddar into the dough of their apple pie.
Virginia: Ham Biscuits
Where to eat it: The Roanoker, Roanoke
Smithfield, Va., is synonymous with ham. Local hogs were fattened with acorns, nuts and corns and cured in a special spice blend giving them their distinct flavor. The curing technique dates back to the original Jamestown settlers as a popular way to preserve food.
With biscuits that were featured on the “Today” show, the Roanoker’s wafer sliced country ham is served with two eggs, red-eye gravy and grits or fried apples.
Washington: Cedar-Planked Salmon
Where to eat it: Ivar’s Salmon House, Seattle
Cost: Starting at $21
According to the Wild Salmon Center, Washington’s coastal rivers produce the most abundant and diverse wild Pacific salmon populations south of Canada. The preferred cooking method is on a cedar plank, which infuses the fish with the wood’s natural juices and aroma, a technique derived from Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest.
Ivar’s specializes in live-fire cooking over an open grill. The alder wood has a distinct smoky flavor that pairs well with the maple glaze of the sockeye salmon.
West Virginia: Pepperoni Roll
Where to eat it: Country Club Bakery, Fairmont
A country roll stuffed with sticks of pepperoni, pepperoni rolls originated as a snack that workers easily could take to the coal mines.
The bakery where they debuted is still in business. The pepperoni rolls at Country Club Bakery have been around since 1927, so you’re truly getting a bite of history.
Wisconsin: Bratwurst Stewed With Sauerkraut
Where to eat it: Brat House Grill, Wisconsin Dells
Cost: Starting at $6.49
Encased in tradition, the bratwurst was introduced by Wisconsin’s German settlers. A sausage made of veal, pork or beef, the brat is a step up from a hot dog.
USA Today said the Brat House Grill makes some of the best in the state, with meats that are cheesy, smoked, spicy or stuffed.
Wyoming: Chicken Fried Steak
Where to eat it: Crazy Ate Cafe & Steakhouse, Mountain View
Despite being prepared like chicken, chicken fried steak is purely unadulterated beef, which makes sense in a state driven by livestock.
Cowboy Country radio supports Only in Your State’s picks for the best chicken fried steak in Wyoming. One of those was the Crazy Ate. The all-American cuisine is made of certified Angus beef that’s tenderized, breaded and doused in gravy for a rich, hearty meal.
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