Pastrami Burger
Juan Cruz/istockphoto

Must-Try Signature Dishes From Cities Across America

View Slideshow
Pastrami Burger
Juan Cruz/istockphoto

Taste of the Town

Sampling local cuisine is a priority for most travelers, and there are certain foods that are so synonymous with their native cities that it ought to be illegal to visit without eating them. Eat your way through this mouthwatering list of 30 signature dishes to fill your belly with local flavor. 


Related: Bucket-List Food Experiences in Every State

Barbecue Buffalo Chicken Wings
bhofack2/istockphoto

Buffalo, New York: Buffalo Wings

Where to try them: Anchor Bar


Often the origins of our favorite foods are lost to history. That’s not the case with Buffalo wings. They were invented — blue cheese, celery, and all — in 1964 by Teressa Bellissimo of, you guessed it, Buffalo. You can still order them at the restaurant where this culinary milestone occurred.


Related: Signature Cheap Eats From Every State

Homemade Chocolate Boston Cream Pie
bhofack2/istockphoto
Homemade Cincinnati Chili Spaghetti
bhofack2/istockphoto

Cincinnati: Cincinnati Chili

Where to try it: Skyline Chili


Best enjoyed on top of spaghetti and covered in a mound of shredded cheese, Cincinnati's signature chili is jazzed up with Mediterranean spices (even cinnamon and chocolate) and has a mild, yet irresistible, flavor. 


Related: The Most Beloved Restaurant Chain in Every State

Deep Dish Pizza
rudisill/istockphoto

Chicago: Deep-Dish Pizza

Where to try it: Giordano’s 


Invented in the 1940s, this Windy City take on pizza has a crust that’s between two and three inches tall. Warning: Having more than one piece of genuine Chicago deep-dish pizza may put you in a mozzarella-induced food coma for days, but it will be worth it.

Barista make coffee cup latte art
agrobacter/istockphoto
Mission Burrito
@TripAdvisor

San Francisco: Mission Burrito

Where to try it: El Farolito


Named after the city’s Mission District, this beloved burrito stands apart for its colossal size and generous variety of scrumptious fillings. Hundreds of taquerias in the Bay Area can hook you up with the burrito of your dreams.

Pastrami Burger
Juan Cruz/istockphoto

Salt Lake City: Pastrami Burger

Where to try it: Crown Burger


The Crossroads of the West boasts a mountainous, meaty sandwich with a devoted following: the pastrami burger. That’s a cheeseburger topped with an ample amount of thinly sliced smoked beef, plus the area’s famous fry sauce.

Key Lime Pie
MSPhotographic/istockphoto

Key West, Florida: Key Lime Pie

Where to try it: Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe


An enchanting combination of condensed milk and lime juice are at the center of this signature Florida dessert. Much debate surrounds whether the pie should have a standard or graham cracker crust, or be topped with meringue or whipped cream. But really, it’s hard to go wrong.

Assortment of italian pizzas in a shop display. Female workers serving the pizzas.
Rawf8/istockphoto

New York: Thin-Crust Pizza

Where to try it: Scott’s Pizza Tours


Pizza made its American debut in New York City more than 115 years ago, and the love affair is still going strong. If you want to sample some of the city’s best slices but are overwhelmed by the options, a pizza tour could be the ticket.


Related: Best Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurants in New York

Philly Cheese Steak with Peppers in Philadelphia
Boogich/istockphoto

Philadelphia: Cheesesteak

Where to try it: Pat’s or Geno’s


The City of Brotherly Love loves its No. 1 sammy: thinly sliced meat, perfected on the griddle, placed lovingly on a roll, covered in melty cheese (usually Cheez Whiz, sometimes provolone). Gotta know the lingo if you want to order right.

Cafe Du Monde
400tmax/istockphoto

New Orleans: Beignets

Where to try it: Cafe Du Monde


Speaking of sandwiches, New Orleans po’boys are, no doubt, incredibly popular. But we’re gonna give the Big Easy’s beignets the big honor of making this list. Who can resist the allure of these perfectly pillowy, powdery sweet treats?


Related: Best Cheap or Free Things to Do in New Orleans

Detroit Style Pizza
DebbiSmirnoff/istockphoto

Detroit: Detroit-Style Pizza

Where to try it: Buddy’s Pizza


Detroit is all revved up with excitement over a recent honor: being dubbed the pizza capital of the country. Rectangular-shaped, thick-crusted, sauce-on-top-of-cheese is how they roll in the Motor City.

Fajita Dinner
RichLegg/istockphoto

Houston: Fajitas

Where to try them: The Original Ninfa’s


As one of the most diverse cities in the country, culinary treasures abound in Houston. (Visitors should definitely go for pho and sample some kolaches.) But Tex-Mex is arguably the city’s most iconic and craveable cuisine. Fajitas, sizzling platters of meat, peppers, and onion, were popularized in H-Town.

Puffy Tacos
@TripAdvisor

San Antonio: Puffy Taco

Where to try it: Ray’s Drive Inn or Henry’s Puffy Tacos


San Antonians are all puffed up about laying claim to the Alamo and the River Walk, but the puffy taco just might be their greatest claim to fame. Fresh masa dough crisping and expanding in the fryer creates the characteristic puffiness of the signature shell.

Inside-Out Cheeseburger or Juicy Lucy
dirkr/istockphoto

Minneapolis: The Juicy Lucy/Jucy Lucy

Where to try it: 5-8 Club or Matt’s Bar


The owners of two rival Minneapolis bars disagree about which one can rightfully claim the invention of this signature cheeseburger, with the cheese stuffed inside the patty itself. (They also disagree about the spelling.) As for whose version tastes better? Be their guests to find out.


Related: Legendary Restaurant Rivalries Across America

spicy nashville hot chicken sandwich with coleslaw and pickles
rez-art/istockphoto

Nashville, Tennessee: Hot Chicken

Where to try it: Prince’s Hot Chicken


Tune into something tasty: Hot chicken is hotter than ever in Music City. With a major kick in both the fried chicken’s coating and its sauce, experts recommend having a glass of milk handy to battle the burn. 


Related: The Spiciest Foods Around the World

Deviled Crab
@TripAdvisor

Tampa, Florida: Deviled Crab

Where to try it: Columbia Restaurant


Dense croquettes made with spicy crab filling are a favorite Floridian snack. The hand-held signature food was invented in Tampa’s Ybor City community, where some of the best deviled crab can still be found.

Taffy candy background.
Candice Estep/istockphoto

Atlantic City, New Jersey: Salt Water Taffy

Where to try it: James Candy Co. (Fralinger’s)


Ten out of ten dentists would not recommend a trip to Atlantic City if you’re hoping to keep your fillings in place. The city’s signature sticky, stretchy sweet is notoriously tough to chew, yet very popular.

Rhode Island Stuffie
@TripAdvisor

Providence, Rhode Island: Stuffie

Where to try it: Hemenway’s


Just what are stuffies stuffed with? Onion, celery, green pepper, and quahog, the big daddies of the clamisphere. Everything is packed into the clam shell and is baked to perfection.

Homemade Ham and Pepper Denver Omelette
bhofack2/istockphoto

Denver: Denver Omelette

Where to try it: Snooze


Eggs, peppers, onions, ham, cheese and voila, you’ve got yourself a Denver omelette. The combination of ingredients is so simple, yet such a perfect Rocky Mountain pick-me-up. Definitely try one the next time you’re in Denver, or the next time you have the ingredients and a frying pan handy.

Fresh Crabs from Maryland - peeling
Toshe_O/istockphoto

Baltimore: Blue Crabs

Where to try them: Bo Brooks Crab House


A steaming tray of blue crabs (turned red by the cooking process) is poured out onto a butcher-paper-clad picnic table. Mallets at the ready, locals and visitors alike are ready to live it up! Don’t forget the cold beer, corn on the cob, and Old Bay seasoning.

Taste of Mexican Food is delicious.
Motionshooter/istockphoto

San Diego: Carne Asada Fries

Where to try them: Lolita’s Mexican Food


Americans eat 4.5 billion pounds of French fries a year, and America’s Finest City ups the ante when it comes to betting big on the indulgence. Carne asada fries were invented in San Diego in the late 1990s, and locals and visitors have kept the party going ever since. Who wouldn’t prefer their fries piled high with steak, guacamole, cheese, sour cream, and pico de gallo?


Related: Best Hole-in-the-Wall Mexican Restaurant in Every State

Arkansas Cheese Dip
@TripAdvisor

Little Rock, Arkansas: Cheese Dip

Where to try it: Big Orange


This one will, no doubt, offend all Texans, but Arkansas has a deep-rooted love of spicy Mexican-style melted cheese. Hey, queso by any other name is still ... one of the most glorious foods on the planet.

Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
@TripAdvisor

Indianapolis: Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

Where to try it: Big Lug Canteen


Hoosiers love to pig-out on pork that’s been pounded, battered, fried, and made into a sandwich. Low-end and high-end restaurants in and around Indy proudly offer their own special versions of this iconic menu staple.

Miso flavoured soft serve ice cream (soft cream) in Nagano
nedjelly/istockphoto

Milwaukee: Frozen Custard

Where to try it: Gilles Frozen Custard


Known as the frozen custard capital of the world for its concentration of custard shops, Milwaukee is the place to go if you like your frozen desserts extra eggy and excellent. Keep it simple, or opt for a sundae or make it a shake.

Homemade Gooey Butter Cake
bhofack2/istockphoto

St. Louis: Gooey Butter Cake

Where to try it: Gooey Louie


There’s nothing fancy about this sweet, signature dessert. It’s usually served right out of the pan, topped only with powdered sugar, but, oh, that gooey goodness is a winner. Shuffle over to the Show Me State to try some. Or you could always attempt to make it yourself.

Half Smokes
@TripAdvisor

Washington: Half-Smoke

Where to try it: Ben’s Chili Bowl


It’s fine and good to grab a dirty water dog in New York or a Chicago-style hot dog, but when you want to take your signature-city-sausage game up a notch, D.C. is the place to be. Pleasantly spicy half-smokes are usually composed of half pork and half beef, made from more coarsely ground meat, and are, as the name suggests, smoked before they’re grilled.


Related: Surprising Comfort Food From Every State

Medium Rare Fillet Mignon Steak with Herb Garlic Butter
LauriPatterson/istockphoto

Des Moines, Iowa: Steak de Burgo

Where to try it: Tursi’s Latin King


In the heart of the heartland, you’ll find this uber-regional specialty that is flavorful and filling. Steak de Burgo is a beef filet topped with a sauce of garlic and Italian herbs. The origins of the name are a mystery, but its appeal is not.


Related: Where To Find Great, Cheap Steak in Every State

Homemade Beef Russian Bierocks
bhofack2/istockphoto

Lincoln, Nebraska: Runza

Where to try it: Runza


If you’re looking for a city specialty that will satisfy your craving for ground beef and cabbage baked into a pocket of bread, walk, don’t run to Lincoln, Nebraska, to try a Runza. That’s Runza with a capital “R”; it’s a trademarked name of the regional Runza fast-food chain. 

Margarita on the bar
ncognet0/istockphoto

Dallas: Frozen Margarita

Where to try it: Mariano’s Hacienda


The perfect liquid lunch for a Texas fiesta, this signature drink was invented in Big D fifty years ago. Next time you’re enjoying a frozen margarita, raise a salt-rimmed glass to its creator, Mariano Martinez.