Exploring Local Cuisine: The Best Food and Drink Destinations in the US

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Three people eating dinner and clinking beer glasses.

Few things are better than taking a trip and getting to enjoy some local cuisine. The United States is home to some of the best food around. Do you want to try barbecue in Texas or venture up north for some lobsters in Maine? Tex-Mex out west or food of the islands in Hawaii? The options are endless. Today we’re going to explore some of the best food and drink destinations in the U.S. Read on to discover some of the best places to tickle your tastebuds and fill your belly. 

Southern Hospitality 

Some of the most famous food in the United States is authentic Southern cuisine. From birth, food is a huge part of the Southern lifestyle. Large get-togethers with family and friends and tables groaning under the weight of home cooked food is a staple at any holiday. If you’re looking for some down home eats that taste like grandma was cooking in the kitchen all day, North Carolina is a great place to start. Staples such as cornbread, chicken and dumplings and fried okra can be found at most soul food restaurants. The great state of North Carolina is home to plenty of restaurants serving up Southern classics like collard greens, black-eyed peas and fried chicken and biscuits. A comfort food at its finest, the Southern classic, biscuits and gravy, can’t be beat. 

If you visit North Carolina, you definitely need to weigh in on the great barbecue debate. You’ll come across two main types of barbecue in North Carolina – Eastern style and Western, also sometimes called Lexington style. The Eastern style barbecue features a vinegar based seasoning and is slightly spicier. The Lexington style barbecue is often covered in a sweet sauce, usually made with ketchup and plenty of sugar and butter. Wash everything down with the classic Southern drink: sweet tea. It’s nearly impossible to find a restaurant that doesn’t have sweet tea on the menu. 

Honorable mention states for great Southern food include Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama. Georgia peaches make up some of the tastiest peach cobbler you’ve ever put in your mouth. Tennessee is home to some iconic delights like Nashville Hot Chicken and Memphis barbecue. In Alabama you can find local favorites like Fried Green Tomatoes and Shrimp and Grits. It’s safe to say that no matter where you visit in the South, you’ll be hard pressed to find bad food. 

Best Seafood 

It’s no secret that some of the best seafood in the United States can be found in the Northeast. Maine is famous for its lobsters. With fresh, clean waters, lobster isn’t the only delicious food coming out of the ocean. Maine is also home to some of the best clams, scallops, oysters and fish. 

If it’s shrimp you’re looking for, you’ll want to travel down to the Florida Keys. The seafood here is harvested daily, making it some of the freshest seafood in the entire world. IIf you’re in the mood for crab, Alaska and Maryland come in at a tie. While Maryland is famous for some of the best shelled crab around, Alaska’s crab legs can’t be beat.

The Midwest 

The Midwest is home to some unique favorites. If you’re looking for a great hot dog or want to try a deep dish pizza, Chicago is the top destination. Loaded with toppings such as mustard, relish and pickle spears, these hot dogs are certainly unique and pack a big punch. There’s nothing quite like 

Chicago deep dish pizza. This isn’t your typical pizza and truly lives up to its name. Stuffed with delicious meats, cheeses and vegetables, the sauce goes on top. 

If you’re in the mood for an authentic bratwurst, the Brat Capital of America is Bucyrus, Ohio. If you’re looking to find the Brat capital of the world, the city of Sheboygan is known for having some of the tastiest of these German treats. 

The Midwest is also home to some of the best cheese around. Head over to Wisconsin to sample some of the best cheese in the United States. From cheese curds to cheese balls to cheese dips, Midwesterners love their cheese. The culinary delights of the Midwest are inspired by cuisines that come from Central, Northern and Eastern Europe. In this vast farm area, cuisine is also heavily influenced by local grown food and farm raised meat. 

Exotic Eats 

If you’re an adventurous eater and want to try something a little different, you have plenty of options there. For those seeking out some of the greatest Mexican food, you’ll have to head out west. El Paso, Texas is affectionately known as the “Mexican Food Capital of the World” and is the place you want to go if you want to experience authentic Mexican food. For more Americanized versions of the cuisine, you’ll also find fabulous Mexican food in the states of Arizona, California and Colorado. 

If it’s Polynesian food you want to get your hands on, the islands of Hawaii are the obvious choice. Chow down on traditional Polynesian dishes that often include pork or chicken, rice and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Surprisingly, Spam is a wildly popular dining option in Hawaii and can be found in everything from fried rice variations to Hawaii’s version of sushi: sat atop a bed of rice and wrapped with seaweed. Of course you can’t go to Hawaii without experiencing a traditional luau. Most luau’s feature a roasted pig along with a variety of sides like macaroni salad, sweet potatoes and, of course, plenty of pineapples. While you’re there, be sure to sip on one of the most widely known drinks of the islands, the Mai Tai. The Mai Tai is a smooth combination of rum, lime, orgeat, curacao or triple sec and is sure to be a satisfying delight. 

Go Big or Go Home 

No matter where you’re from, everyone knows that everything is bigger in Texas and that certainly includes the food. The monstrous sized portions are sure to satisfy even the biggest of eaters. Famous for its barbecue, Texas is home to some of the best ribs, brisket and smoked meats in the country. Most menus also feature pulled pork, which is similar to the barbecue in North Carolina, but rather than being chopped, pulled pork has a shredded texture. Usually slow cooked on a smoker, the meat is ready when it’s melt-in-your-mouth tender and can easily be pulled off in strips (hence the name). Pulled pork is served with a variety of sauces.

Alongside your above average portion of meat, you can expect mouth watering sides. Baked beans, coleslaw, macaroni and cheese and potato salad are the best sides to pair with a huge plate of Texas barbecue. Dr. Pepper is one of the most popular sodas in Texas and either that or a frosty cold beer is a perfect pairing for your meal. 

Bon Appetit 

It’s plain to see you can find great food and drink just about anywhere in the United States. A great way to determine the best food to try is to ask the locals. Most of the time the locals will be familiar with spots off the beaten path that are guaranteed to give you the most authentic experience for the area. Our advice is to seek out smaller locally owned eateries rather than one of the larger chain restaurants. That’s the only way to truly experience the unique cuisine of any area. One fact remains: no matter how you slice it, the United States of America is home to some of the best food in the world.

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