30 Eateries That Are Famous for One Amazing Dish
A single dish can soar over all others in popularity at a restaurant — maybe because it's just amazing, maybe because the restaurant invented it, or maybe because it's a regional specialty you can't get anywhere else. Whatever the cause, always order a restaurant's most famous dish so you can see what all the hype is about. Read on to find out which restauarants across the U.S. are woth visiting for their signature menu item.
For the best steak in the country, you must go to New York City's Peter Luger. Established in 1887, it's best known for huge porterhouse steaks that serve two or four people. The beef is USDA prime grade and dry-aged in house, cooked under a broiler until a thick crust forms, then sliced on a platter before serving.
A speciality of Louisville, Kentucky, the hot brown is an open-faced sandwich with a layer of toast, roasted turkey, bacon, and tomato topped with creamy mornay sauce and broiled. It was created in the 1920s at The Brown Hotel, where you can still get the classic dish today in its beautiful restaurant.
If there's one kind of barbecue Texas is known for, it's brisket. And the best place to get brisket right now is Franklin Barbecue in Austin. It's so good that people line up for hours just to get their mouths on some. It's open at 11 a.m. and usually closes between 2 and 3 p.m. because that's when they run out of smoked meat.
Empanadas can be filled with practically anything, and at Marini's Empanada House in Houston and Katy, Texas, there are more than 50 types to choose from, including Argentinian beef, mac and cheese, and apple with dulce de leche, cheeses, and nuts for dessert.
Fried chicken sandwiches are popular all over, but one worth waiting for is at Bakesale Betty in Oakland, California. The sandwiches are huge, the chicken is juicy, and the batter is crunchy. It's served with spicy vinaigrette-dressed slaw on a soft roll. And there are cookies and other treats for dessert, but they won't sell out of those by 2 p.m. — or sometimes earlier — each day as sure as they do with their fried chicken sandwiches.
It may sound strange to call out a restaurant for its condiments, but that's exactly what Saus in Boston is all about. Essentially a Belgian frites shop, Saus sells mostly french fries and about 20 homemade sauces, ranging from flavored creamy mayos to herb-filled avocado — which can do double duty as salad dressing.
Pel'meni are small, traditional Russian dumplings, and they're all Paul's Pel'meni in Madison, Wisconsin, sells. Choose from ground beef or potato filling, or get a mix. They're topped with melted butter, yellow curry powder, sweet chili sauce, cilantro, and sour cream, making for one of the best late-night snacks around.
The Cereal Box in Arvada, a suburb of Denver, is a cereal lover's heaven. There's an entire wall of boxes to choose from, including lots of imports from the U.K. Mix and match with all kinds of flavored milks, toppings and add-ins, or go with a creation such as the funky monkey, with Golden Grahams and Honey Smacks cereal, toffee bits, bananas, and banana milk.
San Francisco is a hot spot for burrito restaurants. One of the best is La Taqueria, where the lines are long but move fast. You won't find rice in these burritos — just heaps of meat, beans, and salsa. If you want cheese, guacamole, and sour cream, ask for a burrito to be made "super." And grab plenty of napkins. Without rice to soak them up, these burritos are juicy.
Like cereal restaurants, peanut butter and jelly eateries are becoming popular. PBJ.LA in Los Angeles puts its own twists on the classic, making all its own nut butters and jams and using them to make unusual, delicious combinations. How about a sandwich inspired by the old fashioned cocktail, made with pecan butter and apple jam with bitters and orange zest?
Everyone loves a grilled cheese sandwich, but at The Grilled Cheeserie in Nashville, Tennessee, they're over the top. An item called the B&B of Tennessee combines cheddar and bacon with a caramelized apple and shallot jam. There's also a Southern-inspired pimento mac and cheese item. Yes, that's mac and cheese in a grilled cheese sandwich.
And speaking of macaroni and cheese, a six-location chain in cheese-loving Wisconsin predictably makes some of the best. MACS serves up piping hot skillets of bubbly mac, extra creamy and full of cheeses, and topped with anything from fried hot dogs to chipotle chicken.
If you're a french fry lover, FryGuys in New York City only starts with classic fries before heading into options including spicy fries, curly fries, and tater tots that can be loaded up with toppings such as pulled pork, cheese sauce, and guacamole. You can even get a three-tiered frycano with 12 pounds of fries.
Many restaurants serve great hamburgers, but Louis' Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut, claims to have created the hamburger sandwich in 1895 and makes it the same today: cooked in a vertical grill, topped with tomato and onion, and served on toast. It's simple and satisfying, and it's easy to see why it became a classic.
If there's only one place you can choose to go for fried chicken, pick Willie Mae's Scotch House in New Orleans. The hole in the wall has been open since 1957 in the Treme neighborhood, closed only two years by Hurricane Katrina. Today, Willie Mae's great granddaughter runs the place, serving the same fried chicken as always.
There's a French dish that's so classic that one restaurant in Washington, D.C. (with four locations) serves only it. Medium Rare has one prix fixe menu: You get bread, a green salad, and a culotte steak with fresh hand-cut fries, also known as steak frites. There are some desserts and plenty of wine to choose from if you feel like you must make some type of choice during your meal.
The popular Thai street food called khao man gai, otherwise known as chicken and rice, is still sold on the street in Portland, Oregon, where Nong's has a food cart as well as two bricks-and-mortar chicken locations. The chicken is gently poached, the rice is cooked with the stock and aromatic herbs, and it's all served with a tangy sauce made with fermented soy beans.
Judging by the lines of hungry customers, it's no secret that Red's Eats in Wiscasset, Maine, has great lobster rolls. Once you see the size of the massive roll — with more than one whole lobster's worth of meat — you'll understand the wait. It's served plain, with melted butter and mayonnaise on the side.
When you think of po' boys, chances are you're thinking of fillings such as fried oysters. Domilise's in New Orleans has that, of course, but seafood doesn't appear on the menu until more than 15 other kinds of po' boys, including the popular roast beef. It comes topped with the juices and little bits of meat it's cooked in, called debris — tastier than the name implies.
The fried pork tenderloin sandwich is an Iowa specialty. Head to Gramma's Kitchen, (just off Interstate 80 at the same exit as the world's largest truck stop in Walcott) for an award-winning version. The pork is pounded thin until it's about twice the size of the hamburger bun it's served on, then breaded and fried crispy.
The Varsity has been slinging chili dogs for Atlanta since 1928, and is known as the world's largest drive-in restaurant. Its best-selling combo meal comes with two chili dogs and onion rings for big appetites. Get your dogs topped with creamy slaw for a Southern addition.
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