Traveling and trying new food go hand-in-hand. So, before embarking on your next U.S. road trip, discover the most famous food each state is known for (and the foods that MUST go on your “to eat” list).
All in “Yummy” Fun
A 2023 report released by Zippia identified the most well-known food from all 50 United States. This list is not definitive, and the data doesn’t necessarily represent the most popular food in each state.
Southern tradition meets coastal cuisine on Alamaba’s Gulf Shore. After a stroll on the beach, be sure to indulge in the state’s most well-known dish, shrimp and grits.
It’s no surprise that the setting of the long-running reality show Deadliest Catch is most famous for king crab legs. Sweet, meaty, and juicy, these crustaceans are best enjoyed with a side of coastal mountain views.
Tex-Mex reigns supreme in Arizona, where the distinctly American chimichanga is the most well-known food. Legend has it that the deep-fried delicacy was invented at the El Charro Cafe (the oldest continuously operating Mexican restaurant in the US) when a cook dropped a burrito in the fryer. That’s one happy accident.
Fried pickles are the food of choice in Arkansas, where the crispy and tangy fried treat was supposedly invented in the early 1960s.
A love of brunch among a health-conscious crowd (not to mention a hearty crop of locally grown avocados) birthed California’s most well-known food: avocado toast. It’s an appropriate homage given that the vast majority of America’s avocados (138.5 thousand tons in 2022) are grown in the Golden State.
A bit of a misnomer, Rocky Mountain Oysters are Colorado’s most well-known food, though they aren’t actually made from oysters at all. The state’s most famous dish is actually made from deep-fried bull testicles.
Connecticut’s claim to culinary fame is the invention of New Haven-style clam pizza, also the state’s most well-known food, according to Zippia. The vaguely Neopolitan-style crust is the pie’s most distinctive feature: thin and crispy with a bit of char from being cooked in a wood-fired oven.
Invented by the Pennsylvania Dutch and embraced by Delaware locals, scrapple earns top honors as the state’s most well-known food. A breakfast spin on meatloaf, the dish contains leftover pork scraps (hence the name), cornmeal, wheat flour, and a variety of seasonings that vary depending on the cook.
To get a taste of Florida’s most well-known food, you’ll have to head south…really far south. Miami’s most famous sandwich, the Cuban, is a marriage of toasted Cuban bread, ham, shredded roast pork, swiss cheese, pickle slices, and mustard.
Start the day off right with Georgia’s most famous culinary creation, the chicken biscuit. Establishments from Blue Ridge to Brunswick serve up their own twist on the breakfast staple. But in a pinch, the Chick-fil-A version will do just fine.
Plenty of fresh fish and the need to preserve it led to the establishment of poke as one of Hawaii’s most distinctive foods. Some of the most traditional variations feature fresh skipjack tuna or octopus.
With the pick of potatoes at their disposal, there is only one logical food to earn Idaho a spot on America’s roster of most-loved foods: French fries.
Of course, Chicago-style deep-dish pizza is one of the most famous foods to come out of Illinois. Baked in a distinctive deep pan (which gives the pie its signature name), the pizza is more akin to a lasagna, filled with gooey cheese, chunky tomato sauce, and plenty of additional toppings, or rather, fillings.
Few foods define Midwestern comfort quite like Indiana’s most well-known dish, the fried pork tenderloin sandwich. Pounded thin and deep-fried, the signature pork cutlet is simply dressed with a few choice toppings piled on a white bun. A true Hoosier staple.
The corn capital of the US, Iowa celebrates its signature crop by simply throwing it on the grill with a bit of butter, no frills needed.
While technically named for a city in Missouri, distinctive Kansas City-style barbecue ribs are just as famous (if not more so) in Kansas. Slowly smoked and coated with a sticky sweet sauce of molasses, brown sugar, and tomatoes, baby back barbecue ribs are a must-try on a visit to the Sunflower State.
Ask any Kentucky resident and they’ll likely name the Hot Brown sandwich as the Bluegrass State’s most well-known food. Invented at Louisville’s Brown Hotel in 1926, the open-faced turkey sandwich gets a savory upgrade with crispy bacon and a healthy dose of cheesy Mornay sauce.
Named for the West African word for “okra,” gumbo is as diverse as Louisiana itself. A blend of African, French, and Native American tastes, the dish today typically resembles a stew packed with andouille sausage, shrimp or chicken, vegetables, and a thick, dark roux.
Lobster rolls reign supreme as the most well-known food in Maine. Unsurprising, given that local fishermen brought in nearly 100 million pounds of the crustacean in 2022.
From crab cakes to crab boils, crabs are the most well-known food to come out of Maryland. Just don’t skimp on the Old Bay seasoning.
“Chowda” stakes its claim as the most well-known food in Massachusetts, specifically clam chowder. The state’s most famous bowl can be found at Legal Seafood packed with fresh clams, salt pork, potatoes, cream, and homemade fish stock.
A product of the Western European immigrants who settled in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the pasty, or savory hand pie, is one of the most well-known foods to come out of Michigan. The traditional recipe calls for a filling of beef, potato, onion, and rutabaga, but vegetable versions can typically be found as well.
Don’t call Minnesota’s signature dish a casserole…this is a hotdish. A savory combination of beef or chicken, veggies, and a can of cream of mushroom soup all topped with a layer of tater tots makes the tater tot hotdish one of the Land of 10,000 Lakes’ most iconic foods.
A classic Southern staple, fried catfish is a popular Mississippi supper, especially when served with a side of hush puppies.
We dare you to eat just one of Missouri’s most well-known foods: Toasted ravioli. These savory pockets of meaty goodness are actually deep-fried and served with a side of marinara dipping sauce.
Montana’s most famous fruit stars in the Treasure State’s signature dish. A fruity blend of blueberry and Concord grape flavors, huckleberry cobbler is best served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
What could be considered the Russian version of a hot pocket, runza reigns supreme as the most well-known food in Nebraska. The doughy pocket is stuffed with beef, sauerkraut, and onions and has been enjoyed in the Cornhusker State for nearly 100 years.
What visit to the Las Vegas Strip would be complete without a shrimp cocktail? Nevada’s most well-known food pays homage to the higher-roller lifestyle the state has become known for.
New Hampshire shows its French-Canadian roots in its signature dish: poutine. French fries and cheese curds smothered in brown gravy are a match made in comfort food heaven.
Most commonly eaten as a breakfast sandwich, with egg and cheese on a bagel or kaiser roll, pork roll earns pride of place as New Jersey’s most well-known food. So famous in the Garden State that it boasts its own namesake festival, pork roll is all but unknown outside New Jersey’s borders.
New Mexico is unflinchingly proud of its chiles, so much so that even Tex-Mex staples like enchiladas get a double dose of homemade salsa. When visiting, be sure to order up a plate of Christmas-style chicken enchiladas, the state’s most well-known food, so named for the dish’s distinctive green and red salsas.
Any number of foods could earn the top spot as New York’s signature dish, but nothing says “Empire State” quite like a classic bagel. So what makes New York’s bagels so special? They’re boiled in a blend of water and barley malt, which gives the doughy bagel its signature crispy crust.
Vinegar-based North Carolina-style barbecue sauce pairs particularly well with pork, which is perhaps why pulled pork earns the distinction of being named the state’s most well-known food.
The deer and the antelope certainly play on North Dakota’s wide-open plains, but it’s bison the locals are using for their burgers, which also happen to be the state’s most well-known food.
No visit to Ohio is complete without downing an order of Cincinnati chili. Classically served over spaghetti with a healthy dose of cheese, the iconic dish has a 100-plus-year history in the state that has rightfully earned it its spot as Ohio’s most well-known food.
Southern-fried okra is a staple side dish in Oklahoma and is considered one of the state’s most well-known foods.
Oregon’s most beloved food features an ingredient you can only find there. Marionberry pie’s filling relies on a unique berry that was bred at the University of Oregon by crossing two different varieties of blackberry.
While locals can agree that the Philly cheesesteak is Pennsylvania’s most well-known food, that’s about where the similarities end. The thinly sliced beef sandwich is a hotly contested item, filled with or without onions and/or peppers, and topped with cheese whiz, American, or provolone, depending on who you ask.
The most famous food in Rhode Island can be sipped through a straw. Coffee milk is a delightful dessert-like take on a cup of coffee, featuring a blend of sweetened coffee syrup and milk.
Rich and comforting, she-crab soup takes the top spot as South Carolina’s most well-known food. The rich bisque is a savory blend of cream, crab meat, red-orange roe from the female crab (hence “she-crab”), and a splash of sherry.
A tasty remnant of South Dakota’s early days of statehood, chislic remains a comfort-food favorite in the Mount Rushmore State. Similar to a shish kebab, the chislic is a meat-only skewer of beef, venison, or lamb that is deliciously deep-fried or grilled.
Crispy and juicy with just the right amount of kick, Nashville hot chicken earns top spot as the most well-known food in Tennessee. Legend has it that the dish got its start when the girlfriend of a womanizer found out he was cheating and served him fried chicken doused in hot sauce. The trick backfired when she accidentally invented an instant classic.
Beef is king in Texas barbecue, where brisket reigns supreme as the Lone Star State’s most well-known food. Be sure to ask for the burnt ends when visiting a Texas barbecue joint.
With its roots in Mormon tradition, funeral potatoes are generally enjoyed by Utah residents regardless of their faith. The surprisingly delicious dish is a cheesy casserole of hash browns, cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soup, cheese, butter, and sour cream, all topped with a crispy layer of cornflakes.
No visit to Vermont is complete without eating something drenched in maple syrup. For purists, the best way to enjoy the state’s signature food is simply poured over snow and rolled up on a wooden stick or scooped up with a spoon.
Served simply for breakfast or as a holiday highlight, Virginia salty ham is a distinctively local dish. The ham’s sweetness comes from the pig’s diet of peanuts and peaches and a slow smoking process over apple and hickory woods.
Once the salmon capital of the US, Washington natives know how to cook up a prime piece of fish. Cedar-planked salmon ranks as the state’s most well-known food, and for good reason.
Created by Italian immigrants as a quick and easy handheld lunch, pepperoni rolls continue to prove popular with West Virginians who voted the fluffy pork-stuffed bun the state’s official food.
Wisconsin locals love their cheese curds. But what they love more than that squeak from a fresh curd is the hot deep-fried version served with a cold beer.
Native American heritage is on full display in Wyoming, where classic fry bread takes pride of place as the state’s most well-known food. As the name suggests, the dish is a simple bread dough fried golden brown in oil, shortening, or lard.
A Culinary Melting Pot
Eating a local specialty is one of the quickest ways to get to know a state’s culture. Whether it’s Wyoming fry bread or Louisiana gumbo, each of these foods offers a little taste of its home state’s history.
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