We all know New York is the city to eat any cuisine from just about anywhere in the world. Here is a taste of the most iconic dishes from every state in the US without leaving the five boroughs. Finally, a guide for transplants to get a taste of home.
ALABAMA: Alabama White Wings at Blue Smoke ($12)
Those from northern Alabama might have assumed all barbecue sauce was white because of this regional specialty introduced to the world by Big Bob Gibson in Decatur. Danny Meyer’s Blue Smoke slathers the tangy mayo-based sauce on their chicken wings for a unique taste of the Heart of Dixie. 116 East 27th Street in Flatiron and 255 Vesey Street in Battery Park
Honorable Mention: Yellow Hammer at The Ainsworth – On Game Day, this Alabama-themed sports bar and restaurant offers Tuscaloosa’s signature cocktail composed of vodka, rum, pineapple, OJ, and amaretto. Grab one, scream “Rammer Jammer,” and you’ll fit right in.
ALASKA: Alaskan King Crab Legs at Cull & Pistol ($24)
Good luck finding reindeer sausage or Eskimo ice cream in this city, but you can definitely indulge on the sweet delicate meat of Alaska’s most famous export. At Cull & Pistol, they get their crab legs from the neighboring fish market, and serve them simply: cold with a side of cocktail sauce and mignonette. 75 9th Avenue in Chelsea Market, (646) 568-1223
Honorable Mention: Caribou Meat at Ottomanelli & Sons – It’s not always available, but this West Village butcher specializing in game meat can sometimes special order the wild Alaskan deer—as long as Sarah Palin doesn’t get her hands on it first.
ARIZONA: Sonoran Cheese Crisp at El Toro Blanco ($12-$18)
At first glance, you might think this was just a quesadilla missing a top or a very thin tomato sauce-less pizza, but someone from Arizona would immediately recognize this as a cheese crisp. At El Toro Blanco, shredded cheese and butter are melted on a super thin, crisp flour tortilla and then topped with strips of poblanos, crema, tomatoes, and epazote. 257 6th Avenue in the West Village, (212) 645-0193
Honorable Mention: Chihuahua Dog at Crif Dogs ($4.50) – So it’s not a true Sonoran dog—which is topped with beans and onions and jalapenos and a whole mess of other things—but it’s the closest we’ve been able to find. And anytime a hot dog is wrapped in bacon and fried, it deserves a mention.
ARKANSAS: Fried Pickles at Wilma Jean ($6)
Pickles are certainly a New York City dish, but fried pickles were introduced to this world in Atkins, Arkansas. You can find them all over the city, but nobody does their origin justice like Arkansas native Rob Newton at his southern restaurant Wilma Jean. The chef gets in touch with his roots by dredging dill pickle chips with a cornmeal batter, frying them, and serving them with the natural pairing of Ranch dressing. 345 Smith Street in Gowanus, (718) 422-0444
Honorable Mention: Cheese Dip at Mexicue ($9) – Although often credited to Texas, the processed cheese dip known as queso is a true Arkansas delicacy. You can try it here spiked with salsa verde and charred jalapeños.
A surfing fish inside a taco catching a wave (Jason Katzenstein / Gothamist)
CALIFORNIA: Fish Tacos at Tacoway Beach ($3)
You get the full experience of southern California when you come out to Tacoway Beach located inside Rockaway Beach Surf Club. After taking down one of their excellent fish tacos (composed of beer battered tilapia, cabbage slaw, and the requisite guacamole), you can make the trip down the shore a bit to catch some waves and hang with the cool kids. 3-02 Beach 87th Street in Rockaway
Honorable Mention: Acai Bowls at Dimes ($9) – All the trendy, healthful food at this popular casual spot in the LES is reminiscent of what the overly cautious movie stars and wanna-be movie stars eat in Los Angeles. Somehow they still have loads of flavor and are satisfying (for a health food).
COLORADO: Testicargots at Takashi ($12)
Odds are you would never find a Japanese restaurant quite like this in the Rocky Mountain states. Takashi specializes in all parts of the cow: heart, intestine, stomach, and testicles. While the latter might make most of us squeamish, those from Colorado know these delicacies as Rocky Mountain oysters. Instead of being battered and fried, the cow testicles here are prepared in a garlic shiso butter sauce. Rather than caviar, let’s call these cowboy escargots. 456 Hudson Street in the West Village, (212) 414-2929
Honorable Mention: Western Omelet at Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop ($8) – Also known as a Denver omelet, these eggs stuffed with ham, onions, cheese, and green peppers are not so hard to find today. They were also hugely popular with cowboys in the days of yore. Put it between two slices of bread and you have yourself a Denver sandwich.
CONNECTICUT: The Common Burger at West 3rd Common ($14)
The state that may have invented the burger itself (at Louis’ Lunch in New Haven) also has a habit of steaming the beef patties to provide an ultra-juicy specimen with lots of gooey cheese. You’ll rarely find this burger variation outside central Connecticut, but this West Village bar uses the steaming technique for its namesake cheeseburger and it’s a great way to get a taste of this unique burger style. 1 West 3rd Street in Greenwich Village, (212) 529-2059
Honorable Mention: Clam Pie at Franny’s ($20) – Ok, you can easily hop on Metro North for a real taste of New Haven pizza. But a sneak preview is available at Franny’s with juicy, plump clams on a white garlicky pizza with a hint of chilis and parsley.
DELAWARE: Scrapple at Delaware and Hudson ($12)
Yes, most people claim scrapple is iconic to Pennsylvania, popularized by the Pennsylvania Dutch. That might be true, but the dish of leftover pig scraps made into a semi-solid loaf and fried, is hugely popular in the little state of Delaware. Considering Delaware is half the name of Pennsylvania native Patti Jackson’s restaurant and she serves a great version at brunch, it’s only fitting to give this one to the Diamond State. 135 North 5th Street in Williamsburg, (718) 218-8191
Key Lim Pie at Steve’s Key Lime Pies (via Yelp)
FLORIDA: Key Lime Pie at Steve’s Key Lime Pies ($5-$28)
Who would guess that you’d actually get better key lime pie in Red Hook, Brooklyn than you would in the Florida Keys? Steve Tarpin grew up in Miami and he’s now one of only two commercial bakers in the country that use fresh squeezed key lime juice for the pies (most places use juice from concentrate). You can certainly taste the difference in his sweet and tart pies. If you squint real hard, you might convince yourself New York Bay is a beach on Key West. While you’re here, don’t miss a swingle (a frozen key lime pie on a stick dipped in chocolate). 185 Van Dyke Street in Red Hook, (718) 858-5333
Honorable Mention: Cuban Sandwich at Margon ($7) – The signature sandwich of Tampa is utter perfection. The Cuban joint Margon does a great version of the glorified ham and cheese sandwich with pickles, roast pork, and mustard.
GEORGIA: Peach Pie at Four & Twenty Blackbirds
It’s difficult to think about Georgia without thinking about the fuzzy summer fruit. So while the barbecue and Southern comfort food is prevalent in Georgia, its most iconic dish is a beautiful pie oozing with peaches. When in season, this Gowanus-based pie shop rolls out their lattice-topped peach pie, which has the surprising secret ingredient of paprika. Or you can make it yourself in their cookbook. 439 3rd Avenue in Gowanus, (718) 499-2917
Honorable Mention: Pimento Cheese and Collards Sandwich at Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter ($7) – Who’d have thought vegetarians could enjoy the meat-heavy soul food of Georgia? Spicy, spreadable pimento cheese (the caviar of the South) and collard greens make an excellent alternative to chicken and biscuits.
HAWAII: Spam Musubi at Onomea ($5)
You might be surprised to learn that pineapples and ham are not a popular pizza topping in Hawaii—real Hawaiians eat spam musubi. You can find it at supermarkets, specialty food stores, and even gas stations on the islands. At Onomea in Williamsburg, it’s a no-brainer to start with what looks like spam sushi. The preserved meat is grilled on rice and then wrapped in nori. After you’ve whet your appetite, you should move on to Kalua Pig (slow cooked pork) with cabbage or the native gutbomb, Loco Moco (a burger patty crowned with a sunnyside up egg and drenched in gravy). 84 Havemeyer Street in Williamsburg, (347) 844-9559
Honorable Mention: Poke at Sons of Thunder ($9.85) – Sons of Thunder offers three versions of Hawaii’s ceviche: ahi tuna, salmon, or tako octopus. They’re all served with rice and a choice of shoyu or spicy marinades.
IDAHO: Idaho Baked Potato at Potatopia
Until someone starts making finger steaks, we’ll have to settle for Idaho’s other obvious export: potatoes. Potatopia in Greenwich Village specializes in all things spuds. Their baked potatoes all come from the Gem State and can be smothered with everything from sour cream and cheddar to spiced beef and jalapeños. But seriously, why is nobody making seasoned fried steak nuggets? Someone needs to get on that, stat! 378 6th Avenue in Greenwich Village, (212) 260-4100
Honorable Mention: Huckleberry Pancakes at Union Square Cafe ($15) – Idaho’s state fruit gets the star treatment in this brunch special. Let’s hope they will be revived when the restaurant relocates next year.
Deep Dish Pizza at Emmett’s (via Yelp)
ILLINOIS: Deep Dish Pizza at Emmett’s ($22-$30)
It takes some cojones to open a Chicago-style pizzeria in this city. Emmett’s has disguised itself as a Greenwich Village bar, but the pizza is all Chicago. In addition to the thick, rich pie that takes at least 20 minutes to prepare, Emmett’s serves some other Windy City specialties like Italian beef and a fully dressed Chicago hot dog. 50 Macdougal Street in South Village, (917) 639-3571
Honorable Mention: Shack-cago Dog at Shake Shack – While Shake Shack started in NYC, they turned to Chicago for hot dog inspiration. The dog is “dredged through the garden” with pickle relish, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, sport peppers, celery salt, and mustard
INDIANA: Schnitzel Burger at Edi & the Wolf ($14)
It blows my mind that you can’t find a real deal pork tenderloin sandwich in this city. How is somebody not pounding a giant pork cutlet really thin, breading it, and deep-frying it? The closest you can find is a German-inspired schnitzel burger like the one at this East Village favorite. Just swap out their fancy accoutrements for some store bought lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and mustard or mayo and feel like a real Hoosier. 102 Avenue C in Alphabet City, (212) 598-1040
IOWA: Chop’t Cheese at Meat Hook Sandwich ($13)
Chop Cheese is actually a New York thing, famous in bodegas up in Harlem and the Bronx. But it’s not so far removed from Iowa’s famous loose meat sandwiches. Both feature chopped meat on bread with typical fast food toppings: cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. Somewhere between a dry sloppy joe and a crumbled burger, Hawkeyes grew up with this specialty at the Maid-Rite fast food chain and should check out Meat Hook’s refined version when available. 495 Lorimer Street in Williamsburg, (718) 302-4665
Honorable Mention: Corn on the Cob at Cafe Habana ($7.95) – The roads of Iowa are paved with corn fields and while this Cuban spot serves a very different preparation than you’ll find in the Midwest, you can taste the sweet yellow stuff all ‘ear long.
KANSAS: Burnt Ends at John Brown Smokehouse ($13.50/half pound)
The best part of the brisket is the charred, fattier points known as burnt ends. No region does this style of barbecue better than Kansas City. Out in Queens, KC native Josh Bowen smokes up burnt ends, ribs, rib tips, brisket, sausages and more to perfection. His sweet-spicy-tangy sauce brings it all home and in Kansas, there’s no place like home. 10-43 44th Drive in Long Island City, (347) 617-1120
A hot brown plays some blue grass music on a banjo (Jason Katzenstein / Gothamist)
KENTUCKY: Hot Brown at Bar Americain ($21)
Bobby Flay offers a little taste of the Bluegrass state at his Midtown restaurant. Invented at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, the open-faced behemoth known as hot brown features turkey smothered with cheesy Mornay sauce and then broiled and garnished with crisp bacon and tomatoes. Although Flay lost to the Brown Hotel in his Throwdown episode, you can still taste his well-regarded attempt. 152 W 52nd Street in Midtown West, (212) 265-9700
Honorable Mention: Mint Julep at Maysville ($12) – You could sit at the bar and sample your way through the bourbon trail, or get one of those American whiskeys mixed into the traditional drink of the Kentucky Derby.
LOUISIANA: Cajun Gumbo at Gumbo Bros. ($10)
Two Southern boys who met at LSU missed the hearty Louisiana stews so much that they decided to make it themselves. Their signature gumbo features a rich dark roux with spicy cajun chicken, smoky andouille sausage, okra, and spices. You can find them at Urban Space markets around town. This past summer, when most people thought it was too hot for gumbo, the Bros. turned to creating the Big Easy’s refreshing Sno-Balls. Mobile
Honorable Mention: Jambalaya at Great Jones Cafe ($15.95) – This Cajun standby serves their jambalaya with a side of cornbread and all the usual Creole spices and ingredients (shrimp, crawfish, andouille) you’d expect.
MAINE: Lobster Roll at Luke’s Lobster ($16)
For the best lobster, you have to go up north where the waters are cold and everybody thinks it’s pronounced “lobstah”. And that’s just where Maine native Luke Holden gets his crustaceans for the many locations of his lobster chainlet around the city. His shellfish rolls (crab and shrimp are also available) are all served on a buttered hot dog bun, smeared with a touch of mayo, and sprinkled with lemon butter. For the true experience, pair it with some homemade blueberry lemonade and a whoopie pie. Multiple Locations
Honorable Mention: Wild Blueberry Pie at Petee’s Pie Company ($30) – Just like the many diners in Vacationland, pies seem to be very common on the LES today. This new bakery features a pie that will be familiar to Mainers, utilizing the small, wild blueberries native to the northern state.
MARYLAND: Old Bay Steamed Blue Crabs at Clemente’s ($34.95)
Every Monday and Tuesday, you can get a true taste of Maryland at Clemente’s when they offer all you can eat crabs. The native blue crabs are steamed (not boiled) and seasoned with Old Bay Seasoning just like they do them in Charm City. You’ll get your hands dirty and do a little work, but the payoff is more than worth it. 3939 Emmons Avenue in Sheepshead Bay, (718) 646-7373
Honorable Mention: Crab Cakes at Brooklyn Crab (MP) – Maryland’s most famous dish has got to be crab cakes. Many try to get them right in this city, but most fail. Out in Red Hook, this Baltimore-themed crab shack does it right with fresh picked Blue crab meat.
MASSACHUSSETTS – New England Clam Chowder at Littleneck ($6/$9)
Discussions over who makes the best chowdah in Boston can get as heated as our debates about pizza. Certainly one of the most “wicked good” here in NYC is at Littleneck. The soup is creamy without being too thick and the addition of potato, pork belly, and herbs only helps to enhance the flavor of the plentiful briny clams. While it’s close to a very different waterway (the Gowanus Canal), the small seafood shack emulates the flavors of Cape Cod with its chowder, Ipswich clam rolls, and Portuguese fish stew. 288 3rd Avenue in Gowanus and 128 Franklin Street in Greenpoint
Honorable Mention: Boston Cream Pie at Conti’s Pastry Shoppe – Who would have guessed the place to get some of the best Boston cream pie is at an old time bakery in the Bronx? After all, this is the same borough that is home to Yankee Stadium.
MICHIGAN: Coney Dog at Ed & Bevs ($7.50)
Until the owners of Emily open their Detroit-style pizzeria and sandwich shop later this year, those from the Land of the Hand can get a taste of home at Berg’n. That’s where the Sussman brothers, who both hail from Detroit, are serving Greek diner food like you’d find in Motor City. You can choose from sagnaki and shawarmas, but the best choice would be the coney dog, which is a link showered with raw onions, yellow mustard, and brisket chili. 899 Bergen Street inside Berg’n in Crown Heights
Honorable Mention: Cornish Pasty at Myers of Keswick ($4.75) – Okay, this place specializes in British meat pies, but it was the Cornish miners in the 1800’s who brought these beef and root vegetable pastries to the Upper Peninsula.
MINNESOTA: Juicy Lucy at Whitmans ($12)
You can never have too much cheese with a burger. Minnesotans know this well and now thanks to Whitmans, so do the rest of this city’s carnivores. The famed juicy lucy (first created at a Minneapolis bar) is the ideal cheeseburger. Whitmans stuffs a short rib beef patty with a generous helping of pimento cheese (a variation on the typical American cheese) that melts when cooked and creates a perfect beef to cheese ratio. Just be careful of the delicious—but molten—squirt potential. 406 East 9th Street in the East Village, (212) 228-8011
Honorable Mention: Wolf Attack at Wolfnights ($6.98) – A tater tot hotdish is basically a casserole cooked with tots, beef, canned mushroom soup, rice, and veggies. This is somewhere between that and a nacho-ed version of tots.
MISSISSIPPI: Fried Catfish at Blvd Bistro ($16/$28)
Chef Carlos Swepson learned his skills in his grandmother’s kitchen in Natchez, Mississippi. Highlights from his childhood appear on the menu like shrimp and grits, fried okra, and black-eyed peas. But perhaps the dish most associated with Mississippi is the cornmeal crusted pan-fried catfish available here as a platter or a po’ boy. 239 Malcolm X Boulevard in Harlem, (212) 678-6200
Honorable Mention: Mississippi Mud Pie at Little Pie Company ($8-$30) – You can overdose on chocolate with this rich, creamy Southern specialty. This old-school pie company in Hell’s Kitchen does the Magnolia State proud with their decadent rendition.
MISSOURI: The Saint Louie at Speedy Romeo ($18)
Provel cheese is a polarizing ingredient. Even some people who grew up in the Gateway to the West can’t fully appreciate the wonders of the gooey processed cheese. But it’s a crucial ingredient to St. Louis-style pizza and the basis for Speedy Romeo’s tribute. They do Imo’s one better by adding pickled green chiles (along with pepperoni and sausage) and baking the pie in their wood oven assuring it has a crisp, but pillowy crust. 376 Classon Avenue in Clinton Hill, (718) 230-0061
Honorable Mention: Toasted Ravioli at Foley’s NY Pub & Restaurant ($8.95) – This unassuming sports bar in Koreatown is actually St. Louis-themed so you can enjoy toasted ravioli while cheering on the Cardinals and downing a Schlafly. Second Honorable Mention: Gooey Buttery Cake from Gooey & Co. – Those from Missouri have a nostalgic yearning for this treat that is just as gooey and buttery as its name suggests.
A bison burger snowboards down a slope on a nacho (Jason Katzenstein / Gothamist)
MONTANA: Bison Chili at Ted’s Montana Grill ($7/$9)
Despite it being owned by media mogul Ted Turner, this casual steakhouse evokes the feeling of a lodge in Big Sky Country. The menu is a bit all over the place, but bison meat (hailing from Montana) shows up as a burger, in meat loaf, on nachos, and in the restaurant’s signature chili. Mixed with onions, jalapeños, and cheddar, it’d be the perfect thing to warm you up after a day on the slopes—or a windy trek down 5th Avenue. 110 West 51st Street in Midtown West, (212) 245-5220
Honorable Mention: Elk Burger at Bareburger ($8.90) – Montana is all about their wild game and so is this local chain. For the elk burger, you just have to place your order—no need to shoot your own.
NEBRASKA: Piroshki at Brighton Bazaar
Nebraskans all know the fast food chain called Runza. They adopted and popularized the piroshki, a cabbage or meat pie, brought from Russia to Germany and then to the Cornhusker State. Some things have changed (spices and ingredients), but you can get the original fried piroshki at some of the city’s Eastern European restaurants or markets like this old-time Brighton Beach food shop. Not the same as Runza, but gives you an idea of where it began. 1007 Brighton Beach Avenue in Brighton Beach, (718) 769-1700
Honorable Mention: Steak at Nebraska Steakhouse – Place an order online at Omaha Steaks or try the dry-aged ones at this under-hyped Financial District spot that gives a nod to the state’s major industry.
NEVADA: Shrimp Cocktail at The Palm ($21)
You will certainly feel like a baller once you get your check at this Midtown steakhouse. It might help if you skip the main course and just slurp down some raw bar items like these chilled jumbo shrimp paired with the requisite cocktail sauce. It won’t be hard to imagine you’re in Vegas, once you step out of the restaurant and into the middle of the Times Square insanity. Multiple Locations
Honorable Mention: All You Can Eat Sushi at IchiUmi – The only gambling that happens at this Japanese buffet is whether you should go for one more California roll to make sure you get your money’s worth.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Hot Mulled Apple Cider at Friend of a Farmer ($4.50)
At this farmhouse style restaurant, they serve New Hampshire’s official beverage in a mini-pot. The fresh flavor of apples and spices is warming and soothing for a brisk fall day spent picking at an orchard or for hanging in the Union Square or Brooklyn Heights area wishing you were somewhere much more rural. 77 Irving Place and 76 Montague Street
NEW JERSEY: Taylor Ham, Egg & Cheese at American Retro Bar & Grill ($9)
This late night sports bar is so far west that it’s practically in New Jersey. No wonder they offer up The Garden State’s signature breakfast. The legendary processed pork product (actually called a “pork roll”) was created in Trenton and is the stuff of legend. Get it grilled on a hard roll with egg and cheese and make sure to pair it with a variation on another Jersey legend: disco tater tots. 714 11th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen, (212) 245-2203
Honorable Mention: Salt Water Taffy at Salty Road – Available at retailers throughout the city (and created at a commercial kitchen in Brooklyn), Salty Road will harken back to your childhood on the Jersey Shore, where these candies were first created.
NEW MEXICO: Green Chile Sopapillas at Zia Green Chile Company ($10)
Chef Nate Contach missed the one-of-a-kind Hatch green chile peppers from his home state so much that he decided to do something about it. He started the company at Smorgasburg and now New Mexicans are super stoked they can finally get a taste of home. The fried and stuffed dough known as sopapilla smothered with meat and cheese is just one popular vessel to showcase the distinct fire-roasted peppers. Smorgasburg
NEW YORK: Buffalo Wings at Bonnie’s Grill ($9/$16)
Okay, obviously New York City has a ton of iconic dishes (and we’ve already covered those in many other posts). But don’t forget there is a whole entire state out there that is not within the five boroughs. Of course, the most famous dish comes from Buffalo and that’s where the owners of Bonnie’s Grill hail from. They have mastered the classic bar grub by expertly frying the wings, tossing them with the perfect amount of sweet-spicy Buffalo sauce and serving them with celery, carrots, and blue cheese. 278 5th Avenue in Park Slope, (718) 369-9527
Honorable Mention: Manhattan Clam Chowder at Grand Central Oyster Bar ($6.45) – Very different from the New England variety, this used to be known as New York clam chowder and features tomato and spices in place of the cream.
NORTH CAROLINA: Whole Hog Barbecue at Arrogant Swine ($12)
There are two styles of North Carolina barbecue and Tyson Ho showcases them both at his homage to the Tar Heel State. This Eastern-style uses the entire pig and is doused with the unique peppery vinegar sauce and then topped with crisp skin. If you want to taste the entire spectrum of North Carolina BBQ, also order the style popular in Lexington using the shoulder meat only and a bit of ketchup in the vinegar sauce. 173 Morgan Avenue in Bushwick, (347) 328-5595
Honorable Mention: Traditional Products at Carolina Country Store – A treasure trove of goodies are on hand at this old-school Southern shop. Here you can find Pender’s liver pudding, Mrs. Campbell’s Chow Chow, and Brightleaf Bologna, among many other specialties from NC.
NORTH DAKOTA: Norwegian Food at Norwegian Seamen’s Church
Traditional Norwegian food is pretty hard to come by in New York, but not so in North Dakota where German and Norwegian immigrants have made their food ubiquitous. It’s not uncommon to attend a dinner or festival at a Scandinavian church in “Norse Dakota.” The closest you can get here is to visit the Norwegian Seamen’s Church when they offer a unique lunch buffet once a month. If you can score tickets to their annual Christmas event, you can hope (or not) that you might be able to try some lutefisk. 317 East 52nd Street, (212) 319-0370
OHIO: Skyline Chili at Edward’s ($13-$15)
On Monday nights, this Tribeca neighborhood joint turns into a haven for Cincinnati natives. Edward’s brings in classic Cincy dishes like Montgomery Inn ribs, Grater’s ice cream, and LaRosa’s Pizza. But the most iconic is probably the chili from local chain Skyline. Over spaghetti, you can get it 3-way (with cheese), 4-way (cheese with onions or beans), or 5-way (the works) or there’s always the hot dog coney version. The Greek-inspired chili is distinct because of the addition of cinnamon or chocolate. 136 West Broadway in Tribeca, (212) 233-6436
Honorable Mention: Buckeyes at Baked – Forget Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, people who grew up in the Buckeye State know that these peanut butter orbs dipped in chocolate are the real deal. And you can find them seasonally at Baked (or as a special order year-round).
OKLAHOMA: Mini B’s at Bill’s Bar & Burger ($9.50)
With all the myriad burger styles here, nobody is really doing the Oklahoma fried onion burger full on. The closest we’ve found is in this local chain’s slider versions, which have raw onions added onto one side of the patty before flipping, allowing the meat and onions to cook together. In El Reno, they’re fully pounded into the raw patty before cooking, so while the onions at Bill’s helps steam cook the meat and provides a wonderful caramelization, they’re not as incorporated as they are in Oklahoma. But they’ll certainly do. Multiple Locations
Honorable Mention: Cornmeal Crusted Fried Okra at BeeHive Oven – Biscuits are the specialty at this Williamsburg Southern haunt, but the okra fried in a cornmeal batter is just how they do it in the Sooner State
OREGON: All Green Everything at Other Half Brewing
You could walk (or bike) around most of Brooklyn at this point and pretend you were in Portlandia. But if you want a true taste of Oregon, best to head to Other Half Brewing, where native Sam Richardson is overseeing some juicy, bold hoppy IPAs just like you’d find at the overwhelming number of brewpubs in the City of Roses. Their Triple IPA is perfectly balanced with juicy, grassy hop notes and a subtle malty sweetness. But at 10.5% ABV, it’s pretty dangerous. So drink enough of these and you really will think you’re on the west coast. 195 Centre Street in Carroll Gardens, (347) 987-3527
Honorable Mention: Blackberry Pie at The Blue Stove – The authentic pie ingredient of Oregon is marionberry, which is a hybrid of two blackberry varieties. The berries are only grown fresh in the Beaver State, so we have to settle for blackberry pie when in season.
PENNSYLVANIA: Philly Cheesesteak at Phil’s Steaks ($7.75-$10.75)
With two food trucks that roam the city, Phil’s is doing the City of Brotherly Love proud with their authentic renditions. Their hoagie bread comes from Amoroso in Philly and provides a perfect cushion for the thinly sliced beef and melted cheese. As it should be, you get to choose the type of cheese (provolone, American, or the traditional Whiz) and an option of wit’ or wit’out (fried onions, that is). The truck is closed for the season, but will be back in April. Mobile
Honorable Mention: Soft Pretzels at Pelzer’s Pretzels – Even New Yorkers can admit the pretzels served at local food carts are akin to cardboard. Philly has got us beat with their yeasty, soft concoctions.
RHODE ISLAND: Johnny Cake at Lolo’s Seafood Shack ($4)
This unusual restaurant does mash-ups of New England dishes and Caribbean flavors. They’ve smartly not messed too much with the johnny cakes. The fried cornmeal flatbread is believed to have originated in the country’s smallest state. At this seafood shack—where you can also get conch fritters, a cousin to Rhode Island’s clam cakes—the johnnycakes are slightly thicker and spiked with thyme and scallions, but drizzled with honey butter, which makes everything better. 303 West 116th Street in Harlem, (929) 256-2509
Honorable Mention: Frozen Lemonade at Westville – We used to have a Del’s Lemonade truck in this city, but since its disappearance, Westville’s frozen mint lemonade will have to do.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Shrimp and Grits at The Heyward ($16)
This hip Williamsburg restaurant is named for South Carolina poet DuBose Heyward and serves a number of the hearty, low country dishes you’d find along the South Carolina coast. The most famous of these dishes is shrimp and grits, a traditional fisherman’s dish. Here the cheesy grits are spiced up with chorizo (as opposed to the usual bacon) and topped with shishito peppers. This is not the only South Carolina dish upgraded—check out their takes on Hoppin’ John and She-Crab Soup. 258 Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg, (718) 384-1990
Honorable Mention: Frogmore Stew at Live Bait ($14.95) – Also known as a Lowcountry boil, a solid rendition with shrimp, corn, potatoes, sausage, and clams can be found at this kitschy Southern-influenced dive bar.
The presidents of Mount Rushmore chowing down on some kuchen (Jason Katzenstein / Gothamist)
SOUTH DAKOTA: Kuchen at Nourish Kitchen + Table
Meaning “cake” in German, the kuchen is the official state dessert of South Dakota thanks to many of the German settlers who have populated the Mount Rushmore state. At this healthful neighborhood cafe in the West Village, they rotate the fruit toppings and cream filling of the sweet tart with the seasons. The recipe comes from owner Marissa Lippert’s grandmother and the current version features apple and cranberries with a cinnamon pastry cream and a coconut-cake crust. 95 Greenwich Avenue in the West Village, (212) 242-6115
TENNESSEE: Hot Chicken at Peaches HotHouse ($13)
Nashville natives yearn for the sweet burn of the spicy fried chicken that is the specialty of Peaches HotHouse in Bed-Stuy. The tender chicken features an impossibly crunchy browned crust and bold notes of cayenne pepper. A mat of white bread is used to soak up the juice and tame the burn. Along with the poultry, they also fry cayenne-spiked shrimp and serve a Tennessee “brown jam,” which is a sweet pork based spread. 415 Tompkins Avenue in Bed-Stuy, (718) 483-9111
Honorable Mention: Memphis Dry Rub Ribs at Daisy May’s BBQ ($15.90) – Out at the city’s westernmost BBQ joint, many regional styles are represented, including the paprika-heavy dry rub ribs famous in Bluff City.
TEXAS: Brisket at Briskettown ($14/pound)
Daniel Delaney immersed himself in Central Texas-BBQ before bringing the city a perfect rendition of the brisket heavy style. Served fatty or lean, the beef is first rubbed before being slow smoked, allowing for a beautiful peppery bark and a tender, broken down texture. Sauce is not necessary here and might just cover up the juicy, fatty, smoky notes that come alive as the meat melts in your mouth. Delaney also serves Hill Country’s other BBQ icon, Hot Guts. 359 Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, (718) 701-8909
Honorable Mention: Kolache at Brooklyn Kolache Co. ($2.25-$3.75) – We’ve decided to skip Tex Mex since we’re not crazy with any of the local options in favor of these Czech-inspired pastries with both sweet or savory fillings.
UTAH: Pastrami Burger at Smashburger ($6.69)
New York is certainly the king of pastrami (apologies to LA , Detroit, and Montreal), but it’s actually Utah that has a habit of topping their burgers with the smoked deli meat. To appeal to Brooklyn’s Jewish deli palate, Smashburger uses Swiss cheese and mustard with the pastrami. But since this fast food chain is all about customization, you could easily swap out those ingredients for the more traditional American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and a seeded bun. Multiple Locations
Honorable Mention: Jello at Metro Diner – It may be a stereotype to say Mormons love their jello, but the fact remains that Utah is the largest consumer of the gelatin. And if you don’t remember what it tastes like from childhood, this Manhattan Valley diner will remind you.
A creemee cone tans (melts) in sunglasses on a beach chair (Jason Katzenstein / Gothamist)
VERMONT: Maple Creemee at A Corner of Vermont ($3.25-$6.25)
The rest of the world calls it custard or soft serve, but in the Green Mountain State, they call them creemees, and they’re available all summer long at maple farms and roadside stands. In this corner of Park Slope, Mark Hastings offers treats made with pure maple syrup from his Vermont maple farm, like maple cotton candy and maple lemonade. And his maple-spiked creemees will bring Vermonters right back to their childhoods of enjoying a sweet cooling cone after a swim in Lake Champlain. 374 5th Avenue in Park Slope, (347) 844-9288
Honorable Mention: Seasonal and Foraged Ingredients at Northeast Kingdom – Up in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, local and seasonal eating is just the way it is. Two native Vermonters bring that hyper-local and farm-based sensibilities to urban Bushwick.
VIRGINIA: Country Ham at Momofuku Ssäm Bar
Most people think of Momofuku as the place to go for Asian specialties like steamed buns or ramen noodles, but at the Ssäm Bar, David Chang is also dedicated to showcasing American country ham, including a peanut-fed surryano made by Edwards in Surry, Virginia. It’s also served with the traditional red-eye gravy made from the pan drippings. You just need some biscuits and you could convince yourself this is your grandmother’s house in Old Dominion. 207 2nd Avenue in the East Village, (212) 254-3500
Honorable Mention: Peanut Soup at Shopsin’s ($12) – Influenced by the West African variety, colonial peanut soup is a bit creamier and less spicy. And it can be found at this unlikely diner at the Essex Street Market.
WASHINGTON: Geoduck Clam Salad at Soto ($18)
The giant, phallic-looking clam (pronounced “gooey duck”) is native to the Pacific Northwest and can be found at markets and Asian restaurants around Washington state. At the hidden underrated sushi restaurant Soto, they make some of the city’s best-composed sushi dishes, including a salad featuring cucumber, radishes, shiso leaf, and marinated bits of this delicacy. 357 Avenue of the Americas in the West Village, (212) 414-3088
Honorable Mention: Salmon Teriyaki at Glaze ($10.25) – Forget cedar planked, Seattle’s most popular cooking method is teriyaki. This fast food chain is modeled after the dozens of teriyaki joints opened by Asian immigrants beginning in the 1970’s
WEST VIRGINIA: Pepperoni Roll at Luigi’s Pizza ($4)
In West Virginia, the state dish is actually influenced by the Italians. The pepperoni roll is more popular there than it is here in New York. Variations abound, but we like the version at this under-sung old school South Slope pizzeria. And those from the Mountain State will get a little taste of home.
Honorable Mention: Slaw Dog at New York Dog House ($7) – In Astoria, this dog emporium represents many different regional weiners, including West Virginia’s iconic dog topped with chili and mayo-based cole slaw.
WISCONSIN: Fried Cheese Curds at Burnside ($5)
There’s a bit of a Midwest theme at this bar and restaurant in Williamsburg. Along with a beer braised and grilled Sheboygan brat and some Badger Statebrews (Lakefront, Steven’s, etc.), you can also try the most delicious product of America’s Dairyland: cheese curds. On their own, these squeaky curds are chewy and creamy, but when battered and fried, they reach a level of perfection Cheeseheads have understood their entire life. 506 Grand Street in Williamsburg, (347) 889-7793
Honorable Mention: Kringle at Leske’s Baker – The official pastry of Wisconsin originates from Denmark and this Nordic bakery in Bay Ridge makes a great version of the crumbly, buttery puff pastry cake.
WYOMING: House Jerky at The Cannibal ($6)
The Cannibal is a temple to meat and that’s the food of the people in the Cowboy State. Jerky was introduced to the Cowboys by the Native Americans on the Great Plains and we’re still enjoying it today. The Cannibal’s version is flavored with honey, chili, and soy sauce and it’s just as chewy and smoky as you’d expect out west. 113 E 29th Street in Midtown East, (212) 686-5480
Honorable Mention: Wild Game Festival at Henry’s End Restaurant – Every winter, this Brooklyn Heights spot finds less common proteins and showcases them. Sure, expect things like kangaroo and gator, but also Wyoming specialities like elk, wild boar, and antelope.