Hit the Road to Try These Delicious Foods in All 50 States
A List of the One Thing You Must Eat in Every State
One of the best things about traveling around the country is discovering all the local delicacies unique to each region. From biscuits and gravy in the South to big slabs of beef in the Midwest to traditional New England clam chowder, the US is as culinarily diverse as the people who call it home.
If you’re the kind of traveler who plans your road trips around where to get the best food in the places you’re visiting, you’ll find something to love just about everywhere you go. But just in case you need a few suggestions on what to eat while traveling across the country, these are the can’t-miss treats in every state.
Alabama – Fried Green Tomatoes
Take a slightly-green tomato, coat it in a layer of cornmeal, and deep fry it to perfection. The result is a savory appetizer that is equal parts salty and tart. You’ll find this dish on menus throughout Alabama.
Alaska – Salmon
You’ll be amazed at how tasty salmon can be when it goes from the water to the grill to the plate in a matter of hours. That’s not uncommon in Alaska, where these delicious fish are large and plentiful.
Arizona – Sonoran Hot Dogs
Arizona’s spin on gourmet hot dogs, the Sonoran version is wrapped in bacon and comes topped with pinto beans, onions, tomato, mayo, mustard, and salsa. Don’t leave the state without trying one!
Arkansas – Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy
This dish combines warm, fluffy biscuits with a sweet chocolate topping to create a popular breakfast staple. The recipe uses just five ingredients—butter, cocoa, flour, sugar, and milk—but is oh-so-delicious.
California – Avocado Toast
In its most basic form, this dish consists of nothing more than lightly toasted bread, freshly mashed avocado, salt, and pepper. But add in eggs, cheese, tomatoes, garlic, onion, citrus juice, and olive oil, and the flavors elevate to another level.
Colorado – Rocky Mountain Oysters
Leave it to Colorado to turn the testicles of bulls, bison, sheep, and pigs into a local delicacy. The thinly-sliced “oysters” are breaded and deep-fried, giving them a light, crispy coating, and served with a lemon and cocktail or hot sauce.
Connecticut – White Clam Pie
When residents of Connecticut speak of “white clam pie,” they’re actually referring to a type of pizza that is popular locally. The thin-crust pie is topped with mozzarella cheese, garlic, and fresh rubberneck clams, all of which melts in your mouth.
Delaware – Blue Crab
Indigenous to Delaware Bay, blue crabs are a must-have when dining out in “the First State.” Whether you have them steamed and seasoned or in crab cakes, you’re in for a treat. And since they are available in nearly every restaurant across the state, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to indulge.
Florida – Cubano Sandwich
A savory blend of roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard, the Cubano is the signature sandwich of Southern Florida. Each of those ingredients is layered between two slices of Cuban-styled bread to create a mouthwatering combination that is heavenly.
Georgia – Peach Cobbler
With its warm, crispy crust and sweet slices of its namesake fruit, peach cobbler has reached perfection status in Georgia. Best eaten fresh from the oven—preferably with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top—this is Southern hospitality on a plate.
Hawaii – Poke
Poke is a fresh and tangy mix of raw fish—usually, ahi tuna, salmon, or octopus—sea salt, soy sauce, sesame oil, limu seaweed, Maui onions, chili peppers, and roasted kukui nuts served in a bowl. All of those tastes combine to create a heavenly salad of sorts that will leave you satisfied yet still wanting more.
Idaho – Finger Steaks
Another deep-fried delicacy, finger steaks are thinly-sliced strips of beef battered in flour and cooked to golden crispiness. Served with a variety of spicy sauces, this Idaho favorite pairs nicely with another local staple—the potato.
Illinois – Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza
With its thick, bread-like crust, and layers of cheese and meat, the deep dish pizza is a hearty meal served by the slice. A traditional Chicago-style pie has the sauce on top, creating a distinct flavor that is a gift for the tastebuds.
Indiana – Sugar Cream Pie
Sugar cream pie has been the most popular desert in Indiana since 1816, the year it officially became a state. Made from sugar, heavy cream, butter, and vanilla, the pie is simple to make and a joy to eat, contributing to its widespread appeal and availability.
Iowa – Sweet Corn
Fresh corn on the cob is a favorite across the country, but in Iowa, it is a signature dish. Freshly picked straight from the field, cooked over the grill, and slathered in butter, it is a delicious snack on its own or a satisfying side to any meal.
Kansas – Bierocks
The Kansas contribution to the American culinary tapestry is the bierock, a warm, doughy bun stuffed with beef, sausage, onions, and cabbage. That may seem like an unusual combination, but it is a tasty one.
Kentucky – Hot Brown
The Kentucky hot brown is an open-faced sandwich with layers of turkey and tomato, topped with bacon and cheesy mornay sauce served on a slice of bread. The entire concoction is broiled to crispy, gooey perfection, creating a combination of flavors that are perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Louisiana – Crawfish Boil
No visit to Louisiana is complete without enjoying a traditional crawfish boil. The tiny crustaceans are cooked and spiced in classic Cajun style and served on a platter with andouille sausage, corn, and potatoes—making it a meal to remember.
Maine – Lobster Roll
Fresh Maine lobster is a culinary experience that is tough to top, but a lobster roll might be the best way to enjoy this decadent treat. A traditional lobster roll consists of cold lobster mixed with generous amounts of mayonnaise, served on a buttered and lightly-toasted roll. Enjoy with melted butter and a splash of lemon juice.
Maryland – Crab Cakes
With an ample supply of fresh blue crabs straight from the Chesapeake Bay, is it any wonder Maryland has perfected the crab cake? Soft, warm, and crispy, these amazing fritters combine lump crab meat with ample amounts of Old Bay seasoning, bread crumbs, and garlic to create a seafood classic.
Massachusetts – Clam Chowder
Few things are better than a cup of New England chowder on a cold Massachusetts day. Thick and creamy, the soup blends fresh clams with chunks of pork and potato, along with celery, and onion, to create the signature meal not just for the state but the entire region.
Michigan – Coney Dogs
Believe it or not, the iconic coney dog was not invented on Coney Island but came from Michigan instead. The combination of a beef hot dog, all-meat chili, diced onions, and yellow mustard—served on a steamed hot dog bun—remains one of the most popular dishes across the state.
Minnesota – Hot Dish
A hot dish may be called a casserole in other parts of the country, but in Minnesota, it falls into a category all its own. A mix of vegetables, meat, and cream of mushroom soup, topped with tater tots and cheese, this is the ultimate comfort food for locals. Chances are, you’re going to love it too.
Mississippi – Biscuits and Gravy
An everyday staple across the South, biscuits and gravy are elevated to an art form in Mississippi. The breakfast meal consists of a thick sauce made from pork sausage drippings, flour, and milk, poured over fresh, flaky biscuits—a simple but satisfying pleasure.
Missouri – Toasted Ravioli
How do you make traditional ravioli even better? Deep fry it, of course! That’s the secret behind Missouri’s indulgent take on the Italian classic pasta dish. Served as a snack, appetizer, or meal, you’ll find these popular pasta pockets on the menu across the state.
Montana – Bison Burgers
Bison meat is lean, tender, and oh-so-tasty, making it an excellent substitute for a burger. Add some cheese, pickles, lettuce, onions, ketchup, mustard, and mayo, and you have Montana’s spin on an American classic. A slice or two of bacon can’t hurt either.
Nebraska – The Runza
Much like the Kansas bierock, a runza is a stuffed sandwich filled with all kinds of tasty ingredients. A traditional runza packs a rectangularly-shaped pocked of bread with seasoned beef, onions, and cabbage. Variations on that theme include adding cheese, mushrooms, peppers, and other ingredients.
Nevada – Shrimp Cocktail
Legend has it; the shrimp cocktail was invented at the Golden Gate Casino in Las Vegas in 1959 as a tasty and inexpensive option for guests. Since then, the combination of fresh shrimp and cocktail sauce has become the signature dish for “Sin City” and the rest of the state.
New Hampshire – Steamers
Steamed clams are a local favorite in New Hampshire, and for good reason. Served with melted butter and fresh lemon, the clams are large, tender, and slightly sweet. A steamer is a plate filled with the tasty shellfish served as an appetizer or an individual meal.
New Jersey – Tomato Pie
New Jersey’s unique take on pizza starts with a thin crust, a dusting of garlic, and a light layer of cheese. Next comes any additional toppings, including meat, mushrooms, and peppers. Finally, the entire pie is covered in thick sauce or a layer of fresh tomatoes, turning the traditional pizza recipe upside down.
New Mexico – Posole
A thick stew made from pork, garlic, hominy, and spicy chile peppers, posole is a traditional celebratory meal served throughout New Mexico. Often garnished with salsa, limes, or avocados, it is a culinary reflection of the influence of Mexican culture on the state.
New York – Bagels
New Yorkers say the local water makes their bagels crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, setting them apart from all others. Whether that is true or not, the bagel is an institution throughout the state, spawning dozens of varieties that are a slice of heaven on Earth when covered in cream cheese, tomatoes, and lox.
North Carolina – Barbecue Pork
In North Carolina, the locals take their barbecue very seriously, which is why it is one of the best places in the country to enjoy slow-cooked meats covered in tangy sauces. Here, the meat of choice is pork and the sauce leans toward a vinegar-based blend that includes salt, pepper, ketchup, and other spices. With a BBQ joint in just about every neighborhood, you’ll find plenty of amazing pulled pork sandwiches to sample.
North Dakota – Knoephla
Kniephla is a German soup made from chicken, potatoes, and dumplings soaked in a rich, creamy broth. Its warm and hearty flavors have made it one of the most popular foods in North Dakota, especially during the long winters. But you don’t have to go there during the colder months to enjoy this stew; it is on the menu all year round.
Ohio – Buckeye Candy
The buckeye nut—from which Ohio draws its nickname—is inedible, so the locals created a sweet treat to take its place. Made from peanut butter balls partially dipped in chocolate, buckeye candies have an uncanny resemblance to the actual nut. They also prove that chocolate and peanut butter are always a winning combination.
Oklahoma – Onion Burger
The classic cheeseburger gets a unique twist in Oklahoma, where chopped onions are mixed with the ground beef before the patty hits the grill. This gives the sandwich a unique texture and taste further enhanced with a slice of American cheese, pickles, mustard, and mayo. Throw it all on a fluffy bun and add some fries for a quintessential piece of Americana.
Oregon – Marionberry Pie
The marionberry is a distinctly Oregon fruit grown exclusively in the state. Naturally, that makes it one of the few places where you can try a slice of marionberry pie, which is equal parts sweet and tart. Since the dessert is rarely found outside of the Pacific Northwest, be sure to order a slice when traveling in the area.
Pennsylvania – Cheesesteak
You haven’t truly had a Philly cheesesteak until you’ve had one from Philadelphia. The iconic sandwich comes with thinly-sliced beef cooked on a griddle, topped with onions and cheese. That may sound like a simple list of ingredients, but the results are pure magic when combined properly.
Rhode Island – Coffee Milk
Literally the official state drink of Rhode Island, coffee milk is a mixture of coffee syrup, sugar, and milk. Available in various flavors, the beverage is usually sweet and refreshing, with a caffeinated kick for those who need a little pick-me-up. The best versions use high-quality locally-brewed coffee syrups, fresh milk, and pure cane sugar to achieve their unique flavors.
South Carolina – Boiled Peanuts
A popular snack throughout the state, boiled peanuts are a delight at any time of the day. The peanuts are left in their shell and boiled in extremely salty water for hours at a time. Some recipes call for mixing in other spices to give the peanuts an extra kick, but they are soft, tangy, and tasty even in their most traditional form.
South Dakota – Chislic
South Dakota’s answer to the shish kabab—minus the vegetables—is chislic. The snack is consists of pieces of lamb, beef, or venison cut into half-inch cubes that are then deep-fried and served on a skewer. Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, these yummy bites of meat are a can’t-miss treat.
Tennessee – Nashville Hot Chicken
Nashville hot chicken is a rite of passage for those who genuinely love spicy foods. This is fried chicken taken to the next level, with a crispy orange or red coating that should serve as a warning label for the heat that it contains. Despite its tongue-scorching spices, the chicken is delicious and comes in mild versions for the less adventurous eater.
Texas – Brisket
There are plenty of good foods to try while visiting Texas, including breakfast tacos, superb Tex-Mex, and kolaches. But, if there is one thing you shouldn’t leave the state without tasting, it’s the brisket. In Texas, barbecue is a religion, and they take their smoked meats very seriously, slow-cooking slabs of beef for hours at a time. All of that effort pays off in thin slices of brisket that practically melt in your mouth.
Utah – Pastrami Burgers
The humble cheeseburger gets in an upgrade in Utah, where the locals have added pastrami to the list of toppings. Like bacon, pastrami is a great compliment to a burger, especially when combined with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and a splash of Thousand Island dressing.
Vermont – Maple Syrup
Maple Syrup is an institution in Vermont, which produces 2 million gallons of the sugary confection. While visiting the state, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy fresh syrup, which is poured liberally over stacks of pancakes and waffles. Be sure to pick up a bottle of your own before heading home.
Virginia – Ham
More than any other place in the country, ham is a regular part of the menu in Virginia. Smoked ham is served on biscuits for breakfast, as sandwiches for lunch, and alongside classic mac and cheese for dinner. Salty and slightly sweet, a Virginia ham will leave a lasting impression long after you’ve gone home.
Washington – Razor Clams
Razor clams are a species that is native to the Pacific Northwest and find their way into a number of local recipes. Served on their own as a steamed or fried appetizer or in a thick chowder, razor clams are large and tasty. If you have the time and inclination, you can even dig them up yourself for a meal back at the campsite.
West Virginia – Pepperoni Rolls
Originally created by Italian immigrants working in local coal mines, the pepperoni roll is a fluffy bun with slices of the namesake meat baked inside. Modern updates on the recipe add mozzarella cheese, sautéed onions, peppers, and marinara sauce to the mix. As a delicious and filling meal on the go, it’s hard to beat this West Virginia favorite.
Wisconsin – Fried Cheese Curds
Wisconsin cheese curds make for a tasty snack on their own, but when deep-fried, they become something else entirely. Flakey on the outside and gooey inside, the curds are a warm, savory appetizer to share with friends or make an excellent accompaniment to a burger. Dip them in blue cheese, ranch, or other sauces to get the complete experience.
Wyoming – Elk Meat
Elk meat is frequently found on menus across Wyoming, serving as a less-fatty alternative to beef. As you travel across the state, you’ll find restaurants serving lean elk meat burgers and steaks and using it as an ingredient in chili, tacos, and other dishes. We recommend ordering an elk tenderloin, served with mashed potatoes and asparagus. Yum!
That’s our roundup of the best foods to try in every state. Now get moving! You have a lot of driving and eating to do.