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18 American Cuisines And Dishes You Need To Try Before You Die

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When it comes to touring the United States, one very underrated attraction is our country’s various cuisines that reflect our rich history and diversity. Which is a shame, as tasting your way across the nation via gastronomic tourism is one of the best ways to enjoy a cross-country road trip.

If you’re planning on going on your great American road trip any time soon, here are 18 cuisines you need to try at least once before you die:

Barbecue in Texas

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Texas barbecue is a quintessential American cuisine that every food enthusiast must try. Head to cities like Austin, Dallas, or Lockhart to experience mouthwatering brisket, ribs, and sausage cooked low and slow over mesquite or oak wood.

Each region in Texas has its own unique barbecue style, from the peppery bark of Central Texas to the sweet and tangy sauce of East Texas. Don’t miss out on iconic barbecue joints like Franklin Barbecue in Austin or Kreuz Market in Lockhart for an authentic taste of Texas BBQ culture.

Creole Cuisine in New Orleans, Louisiana

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New Orleans is a culinary melting pot, and its Creole cuisine reflects the city’s diverse cultural influences. Sample classic dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, and étouffée, which blend French, African, Spanish, and Native American flavors. Explore the historic French Quarter or the vibrant neighborhoods of Tremé and Marigny to discover iconic Creole restaurants such as Commander’s Palace and Galatoire’s.

Be sure to indulge in a  or two at Café du Monde for a sweet finale to your Creole culinary adventure.

Southern Fried Chicken in Kentucky

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Kentucky is renowned for its crispy, golden-fried chicken, a dish that has become a beloved symbol of Southern comfort food. Travel to Louisville, Lexington, or Paducah to savor perfectly seasoned chicken, often served with sides like creamy mashed potatoes, coleslaw, and buttery biscuits.

Visit historic eateries like Claudia Sanders Dinner House or the original KFC location in Corbin to taste authentic Kentucky fried chicken recipes passed down through generations.

Chesapeake Bay Crab Cakes in Maryland

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Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay is famous for its sweet and succulent blue crabs, which are the star ingredient in the state’s iconic crab cakes. Head to Baltimore or Annapolis to feast on plump crab cakes made with lump crab meat, Old Bay seasoning, and just the right amount of breadcrumbs to hold them together.

Indulge in waterfront dining at restaurants like Phillips Seafood or Faidley’s Seafood in Baltimore’s historic Lexington Market for a quintessential Maryland crab cake experience.

Tex-Mex in San Antonio, Texas

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San Antonio is the perfect destination for indulging in Tex-Mex cuisine, a fusion of Texas and Mexican flavors that has become a staple of American dining. Dive into hearty dishes like enchiladas, fajitas, and chile con carne, served with plenty of melted cheese, guacamole, and salsa.

Explore the city’s lively markets and street food scene to discover authentic Tex-Mex flavors, or dine at iconic restaurants like Mi Tierra Café y Panadería for a taste of San Antonio’s rich culinary heritage.

Soul Food in Atlanta, Georgia

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Atlanta is a hub of Southern soul food, where you can savor classic dishes like fried chicken, collard greens, and macaroni and cheese infused with rich, comforting flavors. Visit historic neighborhoods like Sweet Auburn or West End to find family-owned soul food restaurants serving up generations-old recipes.

Don’t miss out on iconic eateries like Busy Bee Café or Mary Mac’s Tea Room for a taste of traditional Southern hospitality and soul-satisfying comfort food.

Cajun Cuisine in Lafayette, Louisiana

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Lafayette, located in the heart of Cajun Country, is the perfect destination for exploring authentic Cajun cuisine. Indulge in spicy gumbo, crawfish étouffée, and boudin sausage, all bursting with bold flavors and fresh Gulf Coast ingredients.

Immerse yourself in Lafayette’s vibrant food culture by attending a Cajun cooking class or dining at local institutions like Prejean’s Restaurant or Randol’s Cajun Restaurant for an unforgettable culinary experience.

Pacific Northwest Seafood in Seattle, Washington

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Seattle’s location on the shores of the Pacific Ocean makes it a paradise for seafood lovers, with fresh fish and shellfish caught daily from the nearby waters. Sample succulent Dungeness crab, plump oysters, and wild-caught salmon prepared in a variety of delicious ways.

Explore Pike Place Market to discover bustling seafood stalls and iconic eateries like The Crab Pot or Elliott’s Oyster House, where you can enjoy breathtaking views of Puget Sound while indulging in the region’s finest seafood.

New England Clam Chowder in Boston, Massachusetts

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Boston is famous for its creamy, comforting New England clam chowder, a hearty soup made with tender clams, potatoes, onions, and smoky bacon. Head to historic seafood restaurants like Union Oyster House or Legal Sea Foods to savor this classic dish served in a bread bowl for the ultimate New England dining experience.

Explore Boston’s picturesque waterfront and bustling neighborhoods to discover hidden gems and local favorites serving up authentic clam chowder recipes passed down through generations.

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza in Illinois

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Chicago is synonymous with deep dish pizza, a decadent pie with a thick, buttery crust, layers of gooey cheese, and a generous topping of chunky tomato sauce. Dive into a slice of deep dish heaven at iconic pizzerias like Lou Malnati’s, Giordano’s, or Uno Pizzeria & Grill, where you can customize your pizza with an array of mouthwatering toppings.

Check out Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods to find hidden gems and local joints serving up innovative twists on this Windy City classic.

Southwestern Cuisine in Santa Fe, New Mexico

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Santa Fe is a culinary hotspot for Southwestern cuisine, blending Native American, Spanish, and Mexican flavors into a vibrant tapestry of dishes. Sample green chile stew, blue corn enchiladas, and carne adovada, all infused with the bold flavors of the Southwest.

Explore the city’s historic plaza and bustling food markets to discover authentic eateries like The Shed or Coyote Café, where you can experience the rich culinary heritage of Santa Fe.

Hawaiian Poke in Honolulu, Hawaii

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Honolulu is the perfect destination for indulging in Hawaiian poke, a fresh and flavorful dish made with cubed raw fish, seaweed, and a variety of seasonings. Head to local markets and poke shops to sample a rainbow of poke bowls, featuring ingredients like ahi tuna, salmon, octopus, and tofu.

Don’t miss out on iconic poke spots like Ono Seafood or Da Hawaiian Poke Company for a taste of Hawaii’s vibrant culinary scene and the freshest seafood the islands have to offer.

Pennsylvania Dutch Cuisine in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

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Lancaster is the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, where you can experience the rich culinary traditions of the Amish and Mennonite communities. Indulge in hearty comfort foods like chicken pot pie, pork and sauerkraut, and creamy shoofly pie, all made from scratch with locally sourced ingredients.

Explore the scenic countryside and charming towns of Lancaster County to discover authentic Pennsylvania Dutch eateries like Miller’s Smorgasbord or Dienner’s Country Restaurant, where you can savor the flavors of generations-old recipes passed down through the years.

Pacific Island Cuisine in Honolulu, Hawaii

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Honolulu’s diverse culinary scene also includes Pacific Island cuisine, featuring dishes inspired by the flavors of Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia. Sample traditional dishes like poi, laulau, and kalua pig, all prepared with fresh, locally sourced ingredients and infused with the spirit of aloha.

Explore Honolulu’s vibrant neighborhoods and food markets to discover hidden gems and local favorites serving up authentic Pacific Island fare, or indulge in a traditional Hawaiian luau for an unforgettable culinary experience.

Gumbo in New Orleans, Louisiana

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No visit to New Orleans is complete without sampling a bowl of gumbo, a hearty stew that reflects the city’s rich culinary heritage. Made with a flavorful roux, tender meat or seafood, and a medley of vegetables and spices, gumbo is a soul-satisfying dish that warms the body and delights the senses.

Bask in the city’s historic neighborhoods and bustling markets to discover authentic gumbo joints like Dooky Chase’s Restaurant or Mother’s Restaurant, where you can savor this iconic Louisiana dish served with a side of Southern hospitality.

Alaskan Seafood in Anchorage, Alaska

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Anchorage is a seafood lover’s paradise, with an abundance of fresh fish and shellfish caught from the icy waters of the North Pacific. Sample succulent Alaskan king crab legs, wild-caught salmon, and sweet, briny oysters prepared in a variety of mouthwatering dishes.

Discover Anchorage’s vibrant food scene and bustling seafood markets to discover hidden gems and local favorites serving up the freshest seafood the Last Frontier has to offer.

New York Style Bagels in New York City, New York

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New York City is famous for its iconic New York-style bagels, a beloved breakfast staple that has become synonymous with the Big Apple. Head to bagel shops and delis throughout the city to sample these chewy, doughy delights, which are boiled and baked to perfection. Indulge in classic toppings like lox and cream cheese or explore innovative flavor combinations like everything bagel with scallion cream cheese.

Don’t miss out on iconic bagel joints like Ess-a-Bagel or Russ & Daughters for a taste of authentic New York bagel culture.

Jambalaya in New Orleans, Louisiana

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Another must-try dish in New Orleans is jambalaya, a flavorful rice dish that reflects the city’s multicultural heritage. Made with a mix of meats, seafood, and vegetables, jambalaya is a hearty and satisfying meal that is bursting with bold flavors.

Explore the city’s diverse neighborhoods and bustling food markets to discover hidden gems and local favorites serving up authentic jambalaya recipes, or indulge in a bowl at iconic eateries like Jacques-Imo’s Café or K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen for a taste of true New Orleans cuisine.

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