Overrated Regional Foods From Across America

Three Overrated USA Regional Foods

Cheapism/Photography By Tonelson/istockphoto/Weijia L./Yelp/LauriPatterson/istockphoto

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Three Overrated USA Regional Foods
Cheapism/Photography By Tonelson/istockphoto/Weijia L./Yelp/LauriPatterson/istockphoto

Overrated American Regional Foods

“You’re traveling to [city]? You’ve GOT to try the [overrated regional dish]!”

No matter where in America you go, there’s likely a famous dish that people will tell you must be sampled. But must it really? Often, these dishes are a source of pride to locals, but to visitors, they often aren’t anything to write home about.

Here are a few of the most overrated regional foods in the country.

Related: 30 Strange But Surprisingly Tasty Local Foods to Try

A Metal Tray of Overcooked BBQ Meat and Sweet Potatoes, Selective Focus


From Texas to Tennessee, there are both cities and states that are fiercely proud of their grilled meats. And while some places certainly deserve the accolades, if you’re not in the know, you’ll likely end up with a plate of dried, overcooked brisket slathered in barbecue sauce.

If you’re not a meat lover and also don’t appreciate the heavy soul food favorites that often accompany the meat like mac and cheese, corn, and cooked greens, skip the barbecue on your next trip down south.

Related: 16 Barbecue Chains Across America That Are Actually Worth Trying

Sideview of a Sliced Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza, Selective Focus
Sergio Amiti/Getty Images

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

While pizza has become possibly more emblematic of America than the hot dog, not all pizzas are created equal. Take the Chicago deep dish pizza. Inches thick and sometimes stuffed with cheese, it often disappoints. Because it can be challenging to cook such a thick pie consistently, sometimes the inside is left gooey (in a raw dough way, not a delicious cheesy way), and you’re left wishing you’d just ordered Pizza Hut.

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Top-View of a Lobster Roll on Brown Wrapping Paper in a Red Basket
Sergio Amiti/Getty Images

Lobster Rolls

You can’t go to Maine without having lobster rolls crammed down your throat. What was once a seasonal and affordable treat has become an overpriced commodity. Some places sell lobster rolls for $25 without justifying the price with quality.

A Nashville Chicken Sandwich on a Black Square Plate
Photography By Tonelson/istockphoto

Nashville Chicken Sandwiches

While there’s nothing new about spicy chicken, the Nashville chicken sandwich trend needs to stop. First, frying chicken correctly is an art in and of itself, and without the right temperature oil (and fresh oil, at that), you get a greasy sandwich. And restaurants that offer this fiery sandwich try to outdo each other; a single sandwich has an abnormally large chicken breast atop it (and that’s not hormonally enhanced??) that is more than double the daily amount of calories. Add waffle fries to that and you’re asking for a heart attack.

Related: 16 of the Best Fried Chicken Sandwiches in America

Opened Can of SPAM on a White Plate With Fork and Knife


While the fact that Hawaii is made up of islands where there aren’t a lot of farms raising fresh meat for food, that’s no excuse for SPAM. And yet a visit to any Hawaiian restaurant likely has this canned meat of dubious origin on the menu. We just don’t get it.

Related: Foods Redditors Say They'd Keep Eating If They Were Rich

Tortilla Chips in Yellow Tex-Mex Cheese Dip in a Cast Iron Skillet, Selective Focus


In Texas, you’ll find a strange hybrid of Mexican-ish food they call Tex-Mex. If you’ve had actual Mexican food, you’ll be quick to spot the outliers. Nachos and cheese dip? Not Mexican. Tacos with hard corn shells? They can’t be found below the border. Even super spicy dishes aren’t common to Mexico.

Closeup of Shrimp and Cheese Grits in a White Bowl

Shrimp and Grits

While grits (or ground cornmeal cooked into a porridge) have been part of Southern tradition since the time of slavery, eating them topped with grilled or fried shrimp is a new abomination. Grits are more commonly eaten as breakfast food, topped with a healthy dollop of butter. But famous southern chefs like Paula Deen have tried to put lipstick on this pig, so to speak, by making shrimp and grits an evening meal with a hefty price tag.

Related: The Best Spot for Comfort Food in Every State

Rocky Mountain Oysters, Buckhorn Exchange, Denver
Weijia L./Yelp

Rocky Mountain Oysters

The kick people get out of Rocky Mountain oysters happens when their friends don’t know that they’re actually bull testicles. Considered gristly gamey chicken nuggets by many, they’re simply not worth ordering when visiting the northwest.

Many Types of Chislic, Urban Chislic, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Jane E./Yelp


If you visit South Dakota, skip the chislic. It’s salty cubes of meat grilled on a skewer, usually made of lamb. It can also be fried and served with soda crackers. You’ve had grilled meat before. Move on.

Red Hatch Chile Ristra Hanging With Terracotta Background, New Mexico

Green and Red Chiles

Head to New Mexico, and you’ll see the hatch chile a featured ingredient in everything from omelettes to chili to burgers. You’ll be asked if you want red or green (or Christmas, meaning you want both), and you’ll all but feel shamed if you don’t follow along. But realize: these chiles grow like crazy, so of course locals put them in everything. That doesn’t mean you have to support the craze.

Related: The Spiciest Foods Around the World

Biscuits and Gravy Topped With Bacon on a Green Plate, Selective Focus
Ronda Kimbrow Photography/Getty Images

Biscuits and Gravy

Back over to the southern part of the country. No breakfast menu is complete without biscuits and gravy, but what’s so great about making otherwise yummy crunchy biscuits soggy with bland white gravy filled with chunks of meat? Order biscuits plain or go for the eggs Benedict. Your arteries with thank you.

Certainly, there are some regional dishes that will give you a true appreciation for the local food culture, but if you feel like you “should” try something, you’re probably not going to enjoy it. Instead, find that spot that makes a great cocktail or has the best steak you’ve ever eaten. You’ll still go home with happy food memories (and without an angry stomach).

Related: Mouthwatering Fast-Food Biscuits