The world doesn’t usually associate America with chart-topping culinary creativity. But if you look past the pizzas, burgers, pastas, and other unfortunate mascots of American cuisine, the delectable diversity in the United States is hard to match. There’s a world of palate-pleasing and culturally rewarding culinary experiences waiting to be explored in America, and in this post, we’ll introduce you to some of them. These quintessentially American classics prove that there’s much more on the table here than bland and unhealthy food. The next time you’re in the US, make sure you give these 5 dishes a try.
Ever come across the expression “as American as apple pie”? Well, the American Pie Council (which is a totally legit organization) certifies apple as the country’s favorite kind of pie. Sink your teeth into one, and you’ll know exactly why. The unassuming apple pie never fails to delight your taste buds with its buttery crust and cinnamon sugar apple filling. Over the years, plenty of pastry chefs across the US have taken the basic recipe for a spin, pairing it with everything from cheddar cheese to green chilies. But if you’re in the mood for a dessert that won’t let you down, go for a hot apple pie served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Where to try it: Practically every traditional American restaurant will have some sort of apple pie on its dessert menu.
Fisherman’s Wharf, on San Francisco’s northern waterfront, is one of the busiest tourist destinations in the US. Popular activities here include photographing the Golden Gate Bridge, touring historic ships, shopping for souvenirs, and wolfing down fresh clam chowder soup. Clam chowder can best be described as salty, creamy heaven served in an edible bowl of sourdough bread. Quahog shellfish, tender potatoes, vegetables and oodles of cream come together in this unforgettable blend, soaking the bread to a wonderful softness while leaving it crunchy on the outside.
Different parts of the US have their own takes on clam chowder. The Manhattan version introduces tomatoes into the mix, while a Florida variant spices it up with hot peppers. But the Fisherman’s Wharf clam chowder gets the most love from locals and tourists alike. Don’t leave the United States without trying it!
Where to try it: Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco.
The legendary American Barbecue (BBQ) isn’t a dish; it’s a lifestyle. The practice of smoking meats into addictive delicacies originated in the South, and well before the Civil War. For decades, American families, friends, and food enthusiasts have been gathering around barbecue pits, challenging each other to cook-offs, or just toasting a sunny day with slow-cooked meats and sweet-and-spicy sauce. Get a taste of this culture by treating yourself to an authentic American BBQ. The real thing will come with a side of baked beans, coleslaw, or fried potatoes, carefully chosen to complement the beef or pork you’re indulging in.
For the best BBQs in America, ditch the national chains and head to a local BBQ restaurant instead. And order a sampler platter that lets you try a variety of smoked and slathered barbecued meats because there’s something unique to be appreciated in each dish.
Hold on, a burger? Well, not just any burger. And definitely not the floppy, dry, soggy excuse for a proper cheeseburger that they rustle up at McDonalds. What we’re referring to is a juicy cheeseburger loaded with grilled meats, fresh vegetables, and of course, cheese. Rumor has it that the great American cheeseburger was born almost a hundred years ago out of a careless mistake, wherein a young chef tried to cover up a burned burger with a layer of cheese.
That may or may not be true, but the fact that America has some excellent cheeseburger joints is undebatable. Of course, the plethora of choices often makes it difficult to differentiate between the great and the gross. But you don’t have to turn to overpriced fine dining restaurants to find a decent cheeseburger in the US. Fast food restaurants like In-N-Out and Shake Shack, for instance, are reliable stops for better quality cheeseburgers than your typical Burger King or McDonalds.
As a West Coast operation, we’re a bit partial to In-N-Out. This hamburger fast food chain originated in Los Angeles in 1948, gradually expanding to over 300 locations in 5 western states. Tourists from around the world tend to love In-N-Out, and for more than one reason. Lip-smacking cheeseburgers aside, no other American fast food place can as yet match their excellent service and pocket-friendly prices. (Pro tip: go for an Animal Style cheeseburger, which throws in grilled onions, pickles, and extra secret sauce.)
Where to try it: Most cities in California; Las Vegas; St. George, Utah on the way back from an Antelope Canyon Tour.
Like sampling hairy crab in Suzhou, cracking open some juicy crab in America is an experience you wouldn’t want to miss. Crab may not be exclusive to America, but it tends to be particularly fresh, meaty and reasonably priced in this part of the world. Plus, a lot of coastal cities in the US are home to well-loved crab-eating traditions that you can immerse yourself in.
With a coastline spanning thousands of miles, the US is able to serve up a wide variety of crabs. The most prominent among these would be the Blue Crab, the King Crab, and the Dungeness Crab.
Where to try it: America will leave you spoilt for choice when you want to get your fill of crab. Here in Las Vegas, Hot and Juicy does a great job with crab and other seafood. The Kings Fish House chain also has a number of restaurants on the West Coast that serve delicious Blue Crab. And of course, if you find yourself in San Francisco, don’t leave without swinging by Fisherman’s Wharf for a taste of fresh Dungeness Crab.