The One Dish You Have to Try in Every U.S. State
And the best place to eat it
Some meals are basically the same no matter where you eat them (we’re looking at you, peanut butter and jelly). But when you’ve got a hankering for fry bread, fish tacos or possum pie, you have to know the right place to get it. Here’s the best dish to order when you’re visiting every state in the U.S.
Alabama: Fried Catfish
Eat this crispy delicacy alone, on a sandwich or paired with fried sides like hush puppies and onion rings.
Where to get it: Newbern’s Restaurant in Florence
Alaska: Reindeer Dog
This isn’t your average hot dog. It’s made with reindeer meat (yep) and topped with sautéed onions and chipotle sauce.
Where to get it: International House of Hot Dogs in Anchorage
Arizona: Fry Bread
A warm, toasty Native American delicacy that can be eaten plain or topped with meat, cheese and veggies.
Where to get it: Emerson Fry Bread in Phoenix
Arkansas: Possum Pie
Don’t worry, there’s no actual possum in this dessert. It’s a lasagna-like layer cake with pecans, cream cheese, chocolate and whipped cream.
Where to get it: Stoby’s Restaurant in Conway
California: Fish Tacos
Tacos with grilled fish are served all over the country, but you just haven’t lived until you’ve had 'em topped with avocado on the West Coast.
Where to get it: Oscars Mexican Seafood in San Diego
Colorado: Rocky Mountain Oysters
Nope, they’re not actually oysters. They’re bull testicles. And believe it or not, they’re wildly popular. (Yep, seriously.)
Where to get it: Buckhorn Exchange Restaurant in Denver
Connecticut: Lobster Roll
This state was the birthplace of this dreamy sandwich in the ’20s, and unlike in Maine, locals believe it’s only a lobster roll if it’s served warm and drenched in butter.
Where to get it: Lobster Landing in Clinton
OK, this stuff isn’t exactly the world’s most beautiful food. (It kind of looks like a meat brick.) But when you put it on an egg-and-cheese sandwich, it’s heaven.
Where to get it: Lucky’s Coffee Shop in Wilmington
Florida: Rock Shrimp
What’s the difference between these beauties and regular shrimp? They have a hard, spiny shell and taste sweeter—almost like lobster.
Where to get it: Dixie Crossroads Restaurant in Titusville
Georgia: Chicken and Dumplings
From a no-frills bowl to the more sophisticated take, this Southern staple is always done right.
Where to get it: JCT Kitchen and Bar in Atlanta
Before you fill up on Spam, try this traditional raw fish salad that’s gaining traction all over the country.
Where to get it: Ono Seafood in Honolulu
Idaho: Finger Steaks
Why eat regular old chicken fingers when you could eat fried beef tenderloin strips instead?
Where to get it: The Westside Drive-In in Boise
Illinois: Deep Dish Pizza
When in Chicago, this ooey, gooey delight is a must. But be warned—one slice is an entire meal.
Where to get it: Lou Malnati’s in Chicago
Indiana: Hoosier Pie
Why fill a pie with fruit when you could add more sugar and cream? It’s the Indiana way.
Where to get it: Wick’s Pies in Winchester
Iowa: Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
It’s sliced thin, fried, then topped with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, jalapeños and banana peppers. Who could ask for anything more?
Where to get it: Nick’s in Des Moines
Pronounced “beer-rock,” this savory pastry pocket stuffed with meat originated in Russia but has become big in the Midwest.
Where to get it: Deano’s Grill and Tapworks in Wichita
This hearty stew can be concocted with whatever leftover meat you have on hand, and is easily transformed into a brunch dish by adding eggs and biscuits.
Where to get it: Harvest Restaurant in Louisville
These square-shaped doughnuts dusted with powdered sugar don’t have a hole, so you get an extra bite out of the deal.
Where to get it: Café du Monde in New Orleans
Maine: Lobster Fra Diavolo
The next time you’re craving lobster, trade in the melted butter for pasta and a spicy tomato sauce.
Where to get it: Street & Co. in Portland
Maryland: Crab Cakes
They’re best when served plain and simple, with fresh crabmeat. (If it’s canned, you’re doing it wrong.)
Where to get it: The Narrows Restaurant in Grasonville
Massachusetts: Clam Chowder
This creamy seafood soup is popular all over New England...but don't you dare add tomatoes.
Where to get it: Island Creek Oyster Bar in Boston
Originally eaten by miners in the 1800s, this meat hand pie is equal parts tasty and portable.
Where to get it: Lehto’s Pasties in St. Ignace
Minnesota: Tater Tot Hotdish
Wait, there’s a land where this cheesy Tater Tot casserole is served in every restaurant? We’re moving.
Where to get it: The Mason Jar in Eagan
Mississippi: Mud Pie
Decadent and gooey, this treat has a chocolate crust and chocolate filling and is topped with chocolate sauce. It’s not pretty, but damn, it’s tasty.
Where to get it: Rusty’s Riverfront Grill in Vicksburg
Missouri: Toasted Ravioli
These little guys are what dreams are made of: Deep-fried ravioli dusted with Parmesan cheese and served with marinara dipping sauce. Mmm...
Where to get it: Mama Toscano’s Ravioli in St. Louis
Montana: Pickle Barrel Sandwich
Move over, $5 foot-longs. In Montana, this 17.5-incher is king.
Where to get it: Pickle Barrel, various locations
Nebraska: Reuben Sandwich
Get this classic in the state that invented it—you can never go wrong with corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing on rye.
Where to get it: Crescent Moon Ale House in Omaha
Nevada: Shrimp Cocktail
Before hitting the buffet, save a little room for a classic casino treat, cold shrimp dipped in cocktail sauce.
Where to get it: Golden Gate Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas
New Hampshire: Fried Clam Strips
Don’t worry, guys. Unlike Rocky Mountain oysters, these are actually fried clams.
Where to get it: Markey’s Lobster Pool in Seabrook
New Jersey: Disco Fries
You know what? Regular fries aren’t decadent enough. Let’s smother them with gravy and mozzarella.
Where to get it: Tick Tock Diner in Clifton
New Mexico: Green Chile Enchilada
Sampling the state’s famous green chiles is mandatory, and they’re famously added to burgers, burritos, tacos and our favorite, cheesy enchiladas.
Where to get it: Frontier Restaurant in Albuquerque
New York: Bagel with Lox
There’s no better place on earth to get an everything bagel toasted with a “schmear” of cream cheese, capers and lox (aka cold smoked salmon).
Where to get it: Ess-a-Bagel in Manhattan
North Carolina: Barbecue Pulled Pork
You can’t leave this state without trying its smoked meat. Eat it in sandwich form or with hush puppies and mac and cheese.
Where to get it: Midwood Smokehouse in Charlotte
North Dakota: Poutine
It originated in Canada, but it’s crept down to the states. Fries with cheese curds and gravy, you complete us.
Where to get it: Pounds in Fargo
Ohio: Skyline Chili
This favorite is smothered on hot dogs and spaghetti and topped with an extremely generous sprinkling of shredded cheese. Sign us up.
Where to get it: Skyline Chili, various locations
Oklahoma: Chicken Fried Steak
When in the Sooner state, pound your steak thin, deep-fry it and douse it with white gravy.
Where to get it: Cheever’s Cafe in Oklahoma City
Oregon: Marionberry Pie
These sweeter, juicier blackberries are grown locally, so it’s no wonder the pies have become a regional favorite.
Where to get it: Bipartisan Café in Portland
Pennsylvania: Tomato Pie
Once you’ve tried cheesesteak, sample the state’s other delicacy: square pizza topped with tomato sauce (and sometimes onion and anchovy, but not cheese).
Where to get it: Villari Bros. Bakery in Philadelphia
Rhode Island: Calamari
Here, they’re lightly breaded, panfried and served with banana peppers and a garlic-butter sauce.
Where to get it: Evelyn’s Drive-In in Tiverton
South Carolina: Shrimp and Grits
You can order this hot porridge dish in other states…but trust us, it’s not the same.
Where to get it: Hominy Grill in Charleston
South Dakota: Chislic
This snack featuring cubes of wild game or beef on a skewer originated in Russia before making its way to the states.
Where to get it: Botski’s Bar & Grill in Sioux Falls
Tennessee: Smoked Ribs
When you’re planning your last meal, you might want to swing by and give this legendary barbecue a try. (P.S. This is a half-order.)
Where to get it: Peg Leg Porker in Nashville
Naturally, the state that invented Tex-Mex has mastered the sizzling-taco-fixings-on-a-skillet game.
Where to get it: Fajitas a Go Go in Houston
Utah: French Fries with Fry Sauce
What is fry sauce, you ask? It’s a secret. (Just kidding, it’s a mixture of ketchup and mayonnaise.)
Where to get it: Chedda Burger in Salt Lake City
Vermont: Grilled Cheddar Cheese
You can get a great grilled cheese anywhere, but for the most mind-blowing sandwich of your life, get it made with Vermont cheddar.
Where to get it: Woodstock Farmers' Market in Woodstock
Virginia: Ham Biscuits
These regional treats are served on Christmas morning, New Year’s Eve and for pretty much every football game of the year.
Where to get it: Three Ships Coffee Roasters in Virginia Beach
This tomato-based fish stew originated in San Francisco, but its neighbors to the north have officially adopted it.
Where to get it: Duke's Chowder House in Seattle
Washington, D.C.: Half Smoke
It’s basically a hot dog, but bigger, spicier and with a coarser, meatier texture. (Don’t worry, you can still eat it with fries.)
Where to get it: Bold Bite Burgers in Union Station
West Virginia: Pepperoni Roll
A snack that’s exactly what it sounds like—a soft roll stuffed with sticks of pepperoni. Genius.
Where to get it: Colasessanos World Famous Pizza and Pepperoni Buns in Fairmont
Wisconsin: Cheese Curds
Those Wisconsans sure do know how to snack. Fried or plain, cheese curds are on bar and restaurant menus all over the state.
Where to get it: The Horse & Plow in Kohler
Wyoming: Bison Burger
You can order up a burger made with bison meat just as easily as a regular hamburger in this glorious state. Extra ketchup, please.
Where to get it: Liberty Burger in Jackson