Site Logotype

Best Traditional USA Dishes

Deep-Dish Pizza

1. Apple Pie

They say "American as apple pie" and that is for reason. Apple pie is a national institution. Many love the pecan or key lime pie but the simple combination of sugar, butter, pastry and apple slices produces an extraordinary dessert. Many spend an entire life trying to perfect it. There are many different additions such as green chilies in Pie-O-Neer, Pie Town, New Mexico. Be sure to phone ahead and talk to Kathy Knapp who is the Pie Lady of Pie Town.

2. The Hamburger

All Americans will have different opinions about where to find the best hamburger. For example on the West Coast there is the fast food In-N-Out Burger and then there is New York with the fine dining of The Spotted Pig. The Library of Congress has recognized New Haven, Connecticut as the birthplace of hamburgers. It was in 1900 and at the establishment of Louis Lunch run by Louis Lassen. Currently his great-grandson Jeff Lassen runs the restaurant but still serves the burgers that are made from five blended meets and cooked in a century old cast-iron grill.

3. Clam Chowder

One can never visit Boston without trying New England clam chowder. It's white and lumpiness doesn't make it look so good but everyone falls in love with the taste. The genius who invented the shellfish with potatoes, salted pork, heavy cream and herbs has hit the jackpot. One of the most fashionable ways to eat it is in a bread bowl at the Atlantic Fish Company. It is edible dinnerware.

4. Bagel and Lox

If you're visiting New York it may be hard to taste just one cuisine that is representative of New York. It could be and Nathan's hot dog or a pastrami from Katz's. But one must pay respect to the city's Jewish population and go with bagels and lox. Most Manhattan tables serve this combination on the weekend. New York bagels seem to be better than all others and legend attributes it to the water. One of the best places to check out is Russ and Daughters on the Lower East Side and add some caviar.

5. Deep-Dish Pizza

Chicago pizza just looks and tastes different. It is always deep which means the crust rises high and gives it plenty of space for cheese and tomato sauce. Everyone calls it a "pie". If you want to be totally authentic make sure you have your pizza with a sugar soda. One of the best places to check it out is Uno Pizzeria, which says they invented the Italian American hybrid dish in 1943.

6. Drop Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

To an American a biscuit is a flaky scone made with lard and buttermilk. In Montana where people work on horse ranches biscuits are eaten at breakfast where they are smothered with thick white gravy and bits of sausage. It is the way to start the morning when you need to do heavy-duty work. In Austin Texas you can find a musical version where Biscuits and Groovy comes with names like the Aretha Franklin.

7. Texas Barbecue

Australians love to barbecue, but the Texans live and die by it. Mesquite smoked meat and tenderizing rubs are an obsession. At football games people bring an entire outdoor range to the parking lots that can be worth up to $10,000. This pastime is called" tailgating". For the best brisket go to the Dallas Farmers Market and find Pecan Lodge.

8. Hominy Grits

Southern food is in its own world and includes things like chicken and waffles. One of the basics is hominy grits, which are corn milled into a rough powder and then boiled in butter or bacon grease. Make sure you try Blossom Restaurant in Charleston South Carolina, which serves Greechie Boy grits with shrimp and andouille sausage. Try it all with Brussels sprouts and sweetened iced tea.

9. Tacos

You will find a taqueria on every corner in Los Angeles. Since there are so many Spanish speakers you can find nachos and Michoacan style goat stews. Try El Huarache Azteca in the neighborhood of Highland Park. You will find fajitas to mole verde and flautas, which are fried crisp taquitos stuffed with chicken. Don't forget that Mexican food and Tex-Mex are very different.

10. Thanksgiving

This is not actually a food but it's a legendary date on the American culinary calendar and is always the fourth Thursday of every November. The holiday is about friends and family but is really about the turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, green bean casserole and feeling to full. This custom will probably give everyone a heart attack or diabetes but it's one of the most enjoyable feasts you will ever attend. Many restaurants serve Thanksgiving dinner but the most special case is to visit the house of friends or relatives for a festive dinner with home-cooked meals.