Garlic Shrimp, Giovanni's Shrimp Truck
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30 Eateries That Are Famous for One Amazing Dish

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Garlic Shrimp, Giovanni's Shrimp Truck
Jennifer W./yelp.com

Essential Eats

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, it's a solid move to order a restaurant's most famous dish so you can see what all the hype is about. We scoured reviews and rankings by expert food writers and countless hungry customers to find out which restauarants across the U.S. are woth visiting for their signature menu item.

Steak, Peter Luger Steak House
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Peter Luger Steak House: Porterhouse

New York
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.

Hot Brown Open-faced Sandwiches, The Brown Hotel
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The Brown Hotel: The Hot Brown

Louisville, Kentucky
A specialty 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.

Toasted Ravioli, Charlie Gitto's
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Charlie Gitto’s: Toasted Ravioli

St. Louis
Though the exact origins of the favorite snack of St. Louis, Missouri, are unknown, one of the most accepted stories is that Charlie Gitto's was the first to serve toasted ravioli, little pillows of meat-filled pasta that get breaded, deep fried, and served with marinara sauce for dipping.

Brisket, Franklin Barbecue
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Franklin Barbecue: Brisket

Austin
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.

Tacos, Las Cuatro Milpas
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Las Cuatro Milpas: Tacos

San Diego
There are so many amazing taquerias, but few have the following of San Diego's Las Cuatro Milpas. The menu is short and the lines long, but that's because the tortillas are rolled every day and fried fresh for light, crispy tacos.

Empanadas, Marini's Empanada House
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Marini’s Empanada House: Empanadas

Houston and Katy, Texas
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 Sandwich, Bakesale Betty
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Bakesale Betty: Fried Chicken Sandwich

Oakland, California
Fried chicken sandwiches are popular all over, but one worth waiting for is at Bakesale Betty in Oakland. 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.

Belgian Frites, Saus
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Saus: Belgian Frites

Boston
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.

Dumplings, Paul's Pel'meni
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Paul’s Pel’meni: Dumplings

Madison, Wisconsin
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.

Cereal, The Cereal Box
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The Cereal Box: Cereal

Arvada, Colorado
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.

Burritos, La Taqueria
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La Taqueria: Burritos

San Francisco
San Francisco is a hot spot for excellent burrito joints. 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.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches, PBJ.LA
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PBJ.LA: Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

Los Angeles
Like cereal restaurants, peanut butter and jelly eateries are becoming popular. PBJ.LA in L.A. 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?

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, The Grilled Cheeserie
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The Grilled Cheeserie: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Nashville, Tennessee
Everyone loves a grilled cheese sandwich, but at The Grilled Cheeserie in Nashville, 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.

Macaroni and Cheese, Macs
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MACS: Macaroni and Cheese

Multiple locations, Wisconsin
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.

Deep Dish Pizza, Pequod's
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Pequod’s: Deep Dish Pizza

Chicago
If you're going to get deep dish pizza in Chicago, make sure you get it at Pequod's, where the edges of the pies are crispy, caramelized cheese and toppings. The waits can be long and the ordering system a little confusing, but that's just part of the experience now.

Garlic Shrimp, Giovanni's Shrimp Truck
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Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck: Garlic Shrimp

Haleiwa, Hawaii
Hawaii has its own version of shrimp scampi, usually served from food trucks on the North Shore of Oahu. Giovanni's is one of the most popular, selling plates of a dozen shrimp bathed in a butter sauce full of chopped garlic, along with two scoops of rice to soak up all that sauce.

Cuban Sandwich, Las Olas Cafe
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Las Olas Cafe: Cuban Sandwich

Miami Beach
Just a couple blocks from the southern end of Miami Beach is one of the best places to get a Cuban sandwich in Miami: Las Olas Cafe. It's tiny, with just a couple of tables, so plan to take your melty cubano full of roasted pork, ham, pickles, and mustard to the beach.

Crab Cakes, Faidley's Seafood
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Faidley’s Seafood: Crab Cakes

Baltimore
In Baltimore, you have to eat one thing: crab cakes. Faidley's stand in Lexington Market is known as one of the best in the country. The cakes are made with either jumbo lump or backfin crab meat, formed into softball-sized cakes by hand, and deep fried briefly to form a crust.

Hamburgers, Louis' Lunch
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Fried Chicken, Willie Mae's Scotch House
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Willie Mae’s Scotch House: Fried Chicken

New Orleans
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.

Steak Frites, Medium Rare
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Medium Rare: Steak Frites

Washington, D.C.
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.

Chicken and Rice, Nong's Khao Man Gai
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Nong’s Khao Man Gai: Chicken and Rice

Portland, Oregon
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.

Biscuits, The Biscuit Pit
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The Biscuit Pit: Biscuits

Grenada, Mississippi
Inside a gas station in Grenada is The Biscuit Pit restaurant counter, which makes 600 to 1,000 biscuits every day, filled with everything from sausage patties to barbecue pork.

Lobster Roll, Red's Eats
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Red’s Eats: Lobster Roll

Wiscasset, Maine
Judging by the lines of hungry customers, it's no secret that Red's Eats in Wiscasset 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.

Po' Boys, Domilise's
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Domilise’s: Po’ Boys

New Orleans
When you think of po' boys, chances are you're thinking of fillings such as fried oysters. Domilise's 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.

Sausages, The Vanguard
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The Vanguard: Sausages

Milwaukee
In Milwaukee, with its long German roots, The Vanguard ups the ante on bratwursts and hot dogs with creative variations such as the jinder mahal, Indian-inspired and made with chicken, coriander, and raisins, and a Thai sausage made with pork and lemongrass that gets a squirt of peanut sauce.

Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches, Gramma's Kitchen
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Gramma’s Kitchen: Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches

Walcott, Iowa
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.

Chili Dogs, The Varsity
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The Varsity: Chili Dogs

Atlanta
The Varsity has been slinging chili dogs 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.

French Fries: The Boise Fry Co.
Source: facebook.com/BoiseFryCo

The Boise Fry Co.: French Fries

Multiple locations, Idaho
This Idaho mini-chain considers burgers to be "on the side," not fries — and that's no joke. Though potato choices change seasonally and cuts change daily, usually you can choose between six different potatoes, including red lady, sweet potato, yam, and purple) and five or six cuts (everything from curly fries to po'balls). And if you feel guilty about eating so-called junk-food fries, you can feel good about the company's commitment to reducing waste and being green. They recycle their oil in cars and use Energy Star appliances and lights.

Shrimp and Grits: The Original Pierre Maspero's
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The Original Pierre Maspero's: Shrimp and Grits

New Orleans
If you'd like some authentic Cajun food with a side of history, you can't top this New Orleans restaurant. The building dates back to 1788 and was a coffee house where Andrew Jackson plotted the Battle of New Orleans with Pierre and Jean Lafitte (the British surrendered). But whether or not you're impressed with the history, the shrimp and grits should wow you. Gulf shrimp are sautéed in white wine and butter with heirloom tomatoes, shallots, fresh herbs, and ham, then served over cheese grits.