What is the most popular food in America? What are the top must-try American foods that you absolutely cannot miss on your trip to this amazing country? What’s the most eaten American food? Which food is America’s favorite? The answer to those questions is here! Your favorite travel bloggers have listed their top American food dishes to eat, from local American dishes to imported international fare. And in no particular order, here goes!
1. Cuban sandwich in Little Havana, Miami
One of America’s most unique neighbourhoods is Little Havana in Miami. Southern states have long been known for their Hispanic-inspired cuisine like Tex-Mex and this area of Miami is no exception. The largest Cuban population outside of Cuba reside here as a result of the ‘Wet Feet Dry Feet’ policy that allowed fleeing Cubans to reside in the USA if they could reach it.
You’ll need to brush up your high school Spanish to find the best food in Little Havana. This authentic neighbourhood serves up traditional Cuban food like empanadas and guava pastries as well as thimbles of super-strong Cuban coffee. The best dish to try is a typical Cuban sandwich comprising ham, pulled pork, Swiss-style cheese, mustard and tangy pickles. This dish is inspired those eaten on the streets of Havana but enhanced by the plentiful ingredients that often can’t be purchased in Cuba due to rationing. Eat it at Old Havana Cuban Bar & Cocina, 1442 SW 8th St.
By Rose from Where Goes Rose
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2. Impossible Burger in California
If you’re looking for an American-style burger but without the meat, you won’t find better than the Impossible Burger. First created in California by plant-based food company Impossible Foods, this is vegan burger that ‘bleeds’ when it’s cooked. Impossible Burgers are now available in outlets across the USA, so more people can try this awe-inspiring culinary creation.
To create the Impossible Burger, scientists studied meat at a molecular level and selected the specific plant proteins and nutrients needed to recreate it. Even if you’re not a vegan or vegetarian. the Impossible Burger is certainly worth a try to see if you can tell the difference. For vegans who don’t like the taste of meat, you’ll almost certainly find it too ‘meaty’. And there’s a high chance you’ll be double-checking with your server to make sure that it is in fact meat-free!
3. Hot Dog in New York
The New York City classic, hotdog, really came into its own in Germany and Austria where it has been consumed with various toppings for centuries. Both countries claim to have been the originators. From there it traveled to the U.S. via New York City.
The early 1800s was a time of massive immigration to the U.S. and Germans were one of the largest groups. Like all immigrants, Germans brought their own culinary traditions with them, especially the sausages, that had already been such a staple of the German diet.
The legend says the first sausage was called a “dachshund sausage” because of its shape resembling that dog breed. It was first sold by a German immigrant out of a hot dog card in the 1860s.
A decade later another German immigrant opened the first hot dog stand in Coney Island. His hot dog sales- by now they were sold in a bun – soared.
By 1893 entrepreneurs were pairing hot dogs with beer and promoting the duo at baseball games. There was no going back now.
But here is the clincher…In 1916, a Polish immigrant named Nathan Handwerker opened his own stand and called it Nathan’s Famous.
The Nathan’s Famous brand eventually became a franchise sold all over the United States and many countries overseas.
From humble beginnings in New York City the dog spread like wildfire across the entire United States. It began making appearances at holiday BBQs and is now a staple.
The hot dog is now ubiquitous in its original U.S.A. home, New York City. The numerous hot dog carts that dot the city do a brisk business and the true New Yorker’s answer to “whadaya want on it” should always be “mustard, kraut and onions.
By Talek from Travels With Talek
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4. S’mores, the America’s Campfire Snack
Huddled around a glowing campfire with a marshmallow on the end of a stick, s’mores are as fun to prepare as they are to eat. Made by roasting a marshmallow over a fire and setting the gooey goodness on top of a chocolate square sandwiched between two graham crackers, a s’more is a popular treat eaten around campfires throughout America.
The history of combining these three simple ingredients is a bit vague. The oldest published recipe is found in a 1927 Girl Scouts of America handbook, calling it “Some More.” The snack later became known simply as s’more.
While the s’more is delicious as is, you can always add a twist to the traditional recipe by switching some of the ingredients. Instead of graham crackers, some people smother the gooeyness between two chocolate chip cookies or salty baked crackers. Others swap out the regular chocolate bar for a peanut butter/chocolate bar, mint chocolate square, or some caramel drizzle.
However it’s created, a s’more is the perfect campfire treat. There’s even a U.S. National S’more Day celebrated annually on August 10.
If you have yet to try this sweet and sticky snack, grab some chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers then head outside. Bring plenty of ingredients because as the name suggests, it will leave you wanting some more!
5. Beignet in New Orleans
Known in Louisiana as it’s official state doughnut, the beignet was brought to New Orleans by the French in the 18th century. Originally consumed by higher society due to the high costs associated with deep frying, it eventually cascaded to the rest of the community, and it’s become one of the most beloved snacks in The Big Easy.
New Orleans Beignet (ben-yay) is simply a deep fried fritter that is coated with icing sugar, and typically served with hot coffee. It tastes just like donuts, but don’t tell the locals that! Beignets are an important part of their culture and history and they take pride in producing this excellent snack.
When you’re visiting New Orleans, you will find beignets in pretty much every pastry shop. Our recommendation though is to check out Cafe du Monde, an institution right on Decatur Street near the French Market.
Some say they serve up the best beignets in town, but we think it has the whole package. Great food, excellent cafe au laits and a lively atmosphere. Our advice is to visit during off peak hours, since they open 24 hours, as the queues will be snakingly long.
I also recommend Cafe Beignets on Bourbon, a great alternative that’s as good if not better in making these tasty little snacks. Be sure to add this to your travel itinerary!
By Shang from Zip Up & Go!
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6. Gumbo in New Orleans
Aside from music and festivals, New Orleans is also best known for its food. It has a rich culinary culture, combining the practices of the French and Spanish cooking practices.
One of the best food to eat when in New Orleans is gumbo. In fact, this soup (usually served over rice) is one of the first things that come to mind when people think about NOLA food. Gumbo is the official cuisine of Louisiana; it is named after one of its main ingredients, okra, which is known as ki ngombo or quingombo in West Africa.
While there are as many gumbo recipes as cooks, gumbo is generally classified into two varieties: Creole and Cajun. Creole gumbo is made mostly by people in New Orleans, descendants of French and Spanish settlers. Cajun gumbo is made by those in southwestern Louisiana by descendants of settlers from Acadia (Canada). Whichever type gumbo is made, there are some main ingredients that are the same: stock, meat or seafood, a thickener (either okra, filé powder, or roux), and some vegetables–usually celery, bell peppers, and onions. A lot of New Orleanean households would also add andouille sausage to enhance the flavor.
Cooking gumbo takes several hours; I always felt lucky when the friends I stayed with in New Orleans cooked gumbo while I was there. It is not an easy dish to prepare but it is so much worth it.
By Aleah from Solitary Wanderer
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7. Buckeyes (Peanut Butter Balls) in Ohio
Growing up in the mid-west of the United States – small-town Ohio – created a sense of urgency in me to get out and travel the world.
However, whenever I head home to visit my family, one of the first things I do is make a batch of Buckeyes.
And no, I don’t mean the poisonous nut that our big ten football team’s named after.
I mean the mouthwatering dessert, that’s been Ohio best-kept secret; well, that is until now.
Buckeyes take all the ingredients, many of us love, chocolate, peanut butter, sugar, butter, and vanilla, and incorporates them in a delicious delicacy.
First, you mix everything except for the chocolate, together in a large bowl. Next, roll out the mix into little balls, placing them on wax paper. Place a toothpick at the top of each one (required for dipping them later). Finally, set the tray in the freezer for a half-hour.
While waiting, melt the chocolate in a pan. Take the frozen balls and dip them in the chocolate, except for a small circle at the top. See, how it resembles the buckeye nut – that Ohio’s obsessed with.
Let them cool until the chocolate is hard. And there you go! You have a little dessert that on the outside has a chocolate crunch, but on the inside is smooth, soft, and buttery.
You can’t just eat one buckeye; in fact, I’m confident these little slices of heaven are liable for at least a couple inches of my midriff.
By Stephen from A Backpackers Tale
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8. The Hot Brown in Louisville, Kentucky
One of the most iconic things to do when visiting Louisville, Kentucky, is to eat a Hot Brown at the Brown Hotel. Chef Fred K. Schmidt created this sandwich in 1926 to feed hungry guests in the morning after their nightly dinner dance. What is precisely in this sandwich that is so famous that it is now a bucket list item for many people?
The Hot Brown is an open-faced sandwich of turkey, bacon, tomato, and Texas Toast, covered in Mornay sauce and broiled until the bread is crisp and the sauce begins to brown. The bread has the crusts removed for aesthetics and is placed in a dish and topped with turkey, halved Roma tomatoes, and the Mornay sauce; bacon is laid on top to form an X, and after being under the broiler, it’s topped with pecorino Romano, parsley, and paprika.
It is not clear what the original sandwich had in it, though. Rumors were that back in the 1920s instead of tomatoes, pimentos or peaches might have been in the recipe. And the bacon is considered to have come later as the dish looked all one color, so they added the bacon on top. However, the sandwich started; the result is amazingly delicious. And coming in at a whopping 899 calories, make sure you are hungry when you order this beast!
9. Funeral Potatoes from Utah
Funeral potatoes are a cheesy hash brown casserole, topped with buttery crunchy cornflakes. It’s the sort of crowd-pleasing warm side dish that goes very well with baked ham, oven-roasted turkey, chicken or steak. So think of potluck, Sunday dinner or holiday dinners. And then, there are a bunch of us who enjoy this as a breakfast with eggs.
In Utah, they are also known as party potatoes or gooey potatoes or cheesy hash browns. However, the reason they are called funeral potatoes is simple although sad. You see, their cultural origin is from the adherers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Traditionally they were served as a staple in the luncheons after a funeral.
To make funeral potatoes, you can start with diced potatoes from frozen hash browns or dice 10 real parboiled potatoes to small cubes. Mix sour cream, dried onions, cream of chicken soup, salt, pepper, and 8 tablespoons melted butter in a bowl. Then add the potatoes and shredded cheese. Stir everything until it’s well-mixed, and pour it into a greased 9X13 pan. Mix your corn flakes with butter in a Ziploc bag and crush them until well coated. Pour this over the potatoes and bake for 350 for 40 – 50 minutes.
10. Beer Brats in Wisconsin
If you are traveling to Wisconsin, you can’t leave without having tasted the legendary beer brats. Along with beer burgers, they are considered one of the most traditional foods to eat in Wisconsin.
Brats are a staple when in Wisconsin and there are different ways to prepare them. You can simmer brats in beer with thinly sliced onions and finish them on the grill. You don’t even need fancy seasoning mixes. The brats can be returned to the beer and onion pot to keep warm, or they can be served right away.
What do you put on a brat? Well, purist prefer to eat them pure. Other than that you can have them with mustard or onions. I particularly like them with beer simmered onions.
Preparing brats is particularly a great thing to do in Wisconsin in winter when it’s cold outside.
By Paulina from Paulina on the Road
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You might be interested in this list of what foods to eat in Africa!
11. Jucy Lucy from Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Juicy Lucy is the original cheese-stuffed hamburger. Melted cheese oozes out of the center of the patty with each bite.
While it is agreed that the burger was created in Minneapolis in the 1950s, it is still hotly debated which restaurant was the first to serve the burger. Two bars, The 5-8 Club and Matt’s Bar, both claim to be the original.
The 5-8 Club dates back to 1928, when it opened as a speakeasy during prohibition. Then in the 1950s, they began serving the Juicy Lucy. Ever since then, the 5-8 Club has been known as the home of the Juicy Lucy.
Just three miles down the street from the 5-8 Club, Matt’s Bar offers an origin story for their signature burger.
“Shortly after opening, a local customer asked for two hamburger patties with a slice of cheese in the middle. Upon biting into this new, molten hot burger, he exclaimed ‘that’s one Juicy Lucy!’ and a legend was born. Customer demand grew so quickly, we forgot to add the “i” and the “Jucy Lucy has now become a local culinary hero.”
Matt’s Bar’s advertising slogan became, “Remember, if it is spelled correctly, you are eating a shameless rip-off”
Restaurants around the state have developed their own interpretation of the Juicy Lucy. They are all delicious. You can’t go wrong with whichever option you chose!
By Danielle from Rambling Companion
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12. Clam Chowder in a sourdough brad bowl from San Francisco
Eating clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl is an iconic dish from San Francisco, but the history of chowder goes back to the 16th and 17th century in Europe. The name “chowder” was used as a general term for any type of soup or stew cooked by fishing families or sailors. Simple, cheap and made with ingredients that were to hand. Clams were rarely used in original recipes, but eel and fish was. Chowder was generally viewed as a poor man’s dish, spreading across Europe and then the USA with the first English settlers. It was in 1849 that Isidore Boudin began baking the iconic sourdough bread in San Francisco. The Boudin Bakery is San Francisco’s oldest operating business. And while bread bowls have been recorded in use since 1427, it was in San Francisco in the 1980s when Boudin paired the bowl with clam chowder to create this iconic dish. New England Style Clam Chowder contains clams, diced potatoes, onion and celery mixed into a thick milk or cream-based soup. It’s hearty, delicious and pairs perfectly with the sourdough of the bread bowl.
13. Chips & Queso in Texas
In Texas, queso is much more than just cheese, it’s an obsession. At first glance, the idea of a bowl of melted cheese may not exactly whet your appetite, but listen a Texan for just 5 minutes and you’ll be convinced.
Chips and queso are on nearly every menu across the state, each restaurant offering their own spin. The general concept is melted cheese (of ranging quality depending on the establishment or family recipe) and spices.
The most basic recipe made in most homes for potlucks or Superbowl parties is the basic Velveeta and Rotel combination. While not fancy, it’s very nostalgic and delicious (don’t knock it til you try it).
A weekend in Austin, San Antonio, or any Texas city with excellent Mexican food will offer more gourmet options. For example, Kirby Lane in Austin starts with a generous spoonful of guacamole on the bottom of the bowl, with pico de gallo and a dollop of sour cream on top. Torchy’s Tacos has a spicy version that will have you licking the bowl at their locations across the state.
Whether you melt a brick of velveeta in a crockpot or dig into a gourmet version in a fancy restaurant, there is nothing more Texan than chips and queso.
By Erin from Sol Salute
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14. Shrimp and Grits in Charleston
One of the best things about the US is the seemingly never-ending varieties of cuisines and dishes, depending on which region in the country you are visiting. If you find yourself in the Southeast, a staple dish that you must try is Shrimp and Grits. Originating in plantations in the coastal South, this dish’s history, like much of the South today, is a result of mixed cultures and influences. Shrimp and Grits became the popular dish we know now in the mid-’80s and can actually be found in restaurants across the country today. Of course, for the real deal, the best place to try this dish is in coastal towns in the South, like Charleston, South Carolina or Savannah, Georgia.
There are many variations on this dish, from spicy versions that add chorizo to cheese-forward grits to a multitude of different gravies. This dish is also considered acceptable at any time of day, from Brunch to Dinner. The common link on all these differences though is the name itself. The shrimp and grits are always the main draws of this creamy, hearty, flavorful Southern dish. Next time you visit Charleston or any other Southeastern town, for a true Southern dish, look no further than Shrimp and Grits.
By Jordan from The Solo Life
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15. Po’Boy in New Orleans
This traditional sandwich was first created by two brothers, Benny and Clovis Martin, who owned a restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana in the 1920s and ’30s. They wanted to make a sandwich with cheap but filling ingredients that would make an affordable lunchtime meal for the farmhands, dockworkers and other laborers who often stopped by their restaurant. You see, “po’ boy” is just the words “poor boy” spoken with a Louisiana accent, and this was how the Martin brothers affectionately referred to their underprivileged clientele.
Nowadays, po’ boys are still popular with the working class in New Orleans but are enjoyed by people from all walks of life, both locals and tourists alike. The only real requirement for a sandwich to be a po’ boy is that it must be served on New Orleans “French” bread. As you may have guessed, this fluffy bread with a hard, crunchy crust is quite similar to the baguettes eaten in France.
When it comes to the sandwich filling, pretty much anything goes. The most common filling is fried oysters or some other kind of fried seafood, but you can find many other varieties, including vegetarian and vegan versions of this classic New Orleans dish.
By Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan
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16. Banana Bread in Hawaii
Trying the local Banana Bread in Hawaii is an absolute must, as it is a chance to experience the local culture while enjoying a yummy dish! On top of that, it has bananas in it, it has to be healthy, right? At the very least you’ll be getting your fruit intake for the day.
Historically, banana bread became popular in Hawaii during the 1930s, when there was on over-abundance of bananas that were grown in Hawaii and not able to be exported. The bananas got overripe, and people weren’t interested in eating brown bananas, so they developed a way to use overripe bananas to make a yummy sweet bread!
Hawaiian banana bread has stuck around, and today is one of the most delicious local treats you can get. There are so many unique flavors and different takes on banana bread on each of Hawaii’s islands.
The best thing you can do is keep your eyes peeled (pun!) for a banana bread stand and stop at every stand you see. Just get one slice at each, and share a bite with whomever you are traveling with. This way, the banana bread becomes a fun tasting experience and you get to try many new and delicious flavors! Enjoy!
By Zach and Julie from Ruhls of the Road
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17. Cheesesteak in Philadelphia
Philadelphia is a great city full of passionate locals who love their local food as much as their sports teams. While there are plenty of great foods to try in the city, the most famous Philadelphia food by far is the cheesesteak. The origin of the sandwich is usually credited to the Olivieri brothers, Pat and Harry. They ran a hotdog stand in the 1930’s and decided to experiment with a new sandwich of chopped beef and onions. It quickly became popular and Pat opened his own restaurant, Pat’s King of Steaks in the Italian Market of South Philadelphia.
The sandwich is made using thin slices of rib-eye or top round steak cooked on a medium gridle with a thin coating of oil. While cooking, the slices of meat are further diced using, a flat spatula. Slices of cheese are then placed over the meat to melt and then it’s covered with a roll, scooped up with the spatula and secured in the roll. The original sandwiches were prepared without cheese.
Eventually, Pat’s began adding provolone cheese to the sandwiches and other toppings of cheese and vegetables became the standard.
All over Philadelphia you’ll find cheesesteak stands and shops.
Most locals have their favorite cheesesteak place and you can even find variation on the menus of high-end restaurants.
By Derek and Mike from Robe Trotting
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18. Pizza in California
In California, one of the world’s favorite foods turns into something else completely. Pizza stops being a casual cheesy dinner for a night at home in front of the TV, and transforms into a true culinary experience.
California-style pizza sprung to life at two restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 1980s. Chefs at Alice Waters’ renowned Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse turned pizza into a canvas for California cuisine, using it as the base for innovative flavor combinations and local, seasonal ingredients. At the same time, Chef Ed LaDou at Prego in San Francisco was experimenting with pizza as well, resulting in a partnership with Wolfgang Puck that would help bring California-style pizza to the masses.
California-style pizza doesn’t use any particular set of ingredients, but there are some trademarks that make it easily recognizable. Each pizza is an individual portion, usually in the 10” to 14” range. The crust is always relatively thin. Above all, the toppings are fresh, seasonal, and local. They’re also often high-end; expect to find things like truffles, speck, squash blossoms, agrumato, nettles, or infused honey.
While several chain restaurants serve California-style pizza around the globe, they tend to lose its spirit by definition. Creating a menu for a widespread chain makes it impossible to really take advantage of the freshest hyper-local products. If you’re not lucky enough to have an independent pizzeria serving this style near you, your best bet is to head to the local farmers’ market and pick up vibrant ingredients to make your own.
19. Key Lime Pie in Florida
One of the most iconic American treats and a specialty of the Florida Keys is Key Lime Pie. So popular in fact that it’s been designated as the “Official Pie of the State of Florida”. Some pies are baked while others are not, and some prefer graham cracker crusts while others have a pastry crust. Opinions vary as to what makes Key lime pie so special, but purists always insist on the same three ingredients — sweetened condensed milk, a graham cracker crust, and 100% pure key lime juice.
No matter the crust they all agree that only 100% key lime juice is to be used, not the juice of Persian limes, and never under any circumstances green Jello. Key lime pie should always be a shade of yellow, never green.
Key limes become more abundant as you get into south Florida, and the fresher the limes, the better the pie.
Key lime pie can be found throughout Florida but nowhere is it better than in the Florida Keys, especially in the Conch Republic, where competition for the best key lime pie in Key West can be fierce. When you visit Key West create your own tasting tour, and be prepared to maybe put on a pound or two!
By Lori from Travlinmad
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20. Fried Okra in Southern America
While okra is appreciated around the world, typical okra in America is fried up and served on a napkin to catch the grease. A quintessential southern dish, you can even find it at some drive-throughs in the south and midwest. Crunchy, salty, and with a fabulous interior texture, it’s so much more than just a fried vegetable!
Okra is originally from Africa. It’s thought to have originated in ancient Egypt and spread throughout the continent and the Middle East. It was brought over to the American south by enslaved Africans, which is why it’s tied so closely with the American southern cuisine. Other delicious options besides frying that are popular are pickling or thrown in a soup or gumbo. It’s actually a crucial ingredient in Creole gumbo as it is used to thicken the soup.
If you want to fry up your own batch, it cooks up best if you use a cast-iron skillet. It is a Southern tradition after all! To make the fry batter, dip sliced okra in egg and cover with cornmeal. Fry it to a golden brown and enjoy!
You might be interested in this list of over 50 best European streetfood!
21. Chicago Dog in Chicago
Chicago is known for its food and one of the most famous foods to eat is a Chicago-style hot dog or Chicago Dog. A Chicago-style hot dog is an all-beef hot dog served on a poppy seed bun and typically topped with yellow mustard, bright green relish, onions, sliced tomatoes, a dill pickle spear, sport peppers and celery salt. While some restaurants vary the toppings, the main thing that Chicago-style hot dogs are known for is that ketchup is absolutely not allowed. The dog is said to be “dragged through the garden” style because of the many toppings and is also called, “with the works”. The classic version is steamed or boiled but some eateries grill it over charcoal and call it a char-dog. While hot dogs were already popular in the United States, the Chicago-style variety originated during the Great Depression in the 1930s. The many toppings were filling and it was a cheap meal that working-class Chicagoans could afford. Restaurants all over the Chicago area (from hot dog stands to a few fancy restaurants) serve Chicago-style hot dogs and some places put their own unique spin on the dish.
By Patti from The Savvy Globetrotter
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22. Fried Cheese Curd in Winsconsin
Cheese curds are probably the most famous food from Wisconsin, and for good reason. They’re delicious and can be eaten fresh or fried. They are, according to Wikipedia, “the moist pieces of curdled milk eaten either alone as a snack or used in prepared dishes.” That might not sell you on them, but they are a traditional Wisconsin snack and fair food. One of the most popular ways to eat them is fried and this is how you’ll usually find them in restaurants and at fairs, but if you want to try them fresh, head to a local cheese shop (or grocery store if you can’t find them anywhere else) and try them plain or flavored.
They’re best fresh, of course, but they are also squeaky then. And a trick from the trade (working at a cheese shop for nine years) they’re actually squeaky at room temperature, but especially fresh at room temperature. You can find them in flavors like garlic, cajun, hot buffalo, ranch, and more. And if you’re in Canada, you can find them on poutine!
By Megan from Red Around The World
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23. Barbecue in Texas
Whether you’re a Texas local or simply passing through, everyone can agree on one thing: Texas Barbecue is a must!
In its simplest form, Texas Barbecue refers to the unique styles in which meat is cooked. Colloquially, the term “Texas Barbecue” typically references slow cooked, pit style barbecue from Central Texas, while other styles differ across the state.
Central Texas pit barbecue is some of the best. Much simpler than expected, meat is typically rubbed with salt and pepper and cooked long and slow over indirect wood heat. Sauce comes on the side, if needed at all. The Dallas Metroplex and Fort Worth areas have some incredible, line out the door, pit barbecue joints! Traditionally, Texas pit barbecue will be served with onions, pickles, jalapeños, and white bread. Don’t forget the beer, either!
Other Texas Barbecue style come from other geographic regions in the state. East Texas style is similar to southern barbecue, usually marinating in sweet barbecue sauce and cooked over wood, while West Texas style is similar to direct heat grilling. South Texas style is marinated in molasses like sauce.
Regardless of style, the Texan adage is true: brisket over pork, always. Texans certainly love their beef. Next time you’re in Texas, don’t miss this culinary staple.
By Tori from Tori Leigh
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How many of these must-try American foods have you eaten? And what else do you think should be on this list? Comment below and let us know.
And if you have something to add to this list, email me at [email protected] and I just might add it in!
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