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The One Food You Have to Try in Every State

From pizza to meat pies and lots of regional, rare, and heritage-influenced bites in between, we scoured the United States for the authentic foods that locals love, expert foodies want to get their hands on, and original meals that you won't be able to get anywhere else.

Fresh tomato pie on grey wooden background5 second Studio/Shutterstock

Alabama: Tomato pie

Tomato dishes roll deep in Alabama, but there is one that stands out from the rest—tomato pie. Fresh tomatoes, bacon, and basil make up the heart of the dish and then it’s covered in sauce. The dish has roots back to the 19th century when it started as a sweet dish that used buttered and sugared green tomatoes. Love all things America? Don’t miss these 100 unique products made in the U.S. of A.

Michael Anderson Hot dogs sizzle on the grill at Michael Anderson's popular hot dog stand, where spicy reindeer dogs are the hands-down crowd favorite in downtown Anchorage, Alaska. M.A.'s Gourmet Dogs is owned by Anderson, a guy with an attitude and seven types of tasty grilled dogs, including one with a little bit of Rudolph in it. The reindeer meat, too lean to hold together alone, is mixed with pork and beefRachel D'Oro/Shutterstock

Alaska: Reindeer dog

While Alaska is definitely known for salmon, it’s the Reindeer dogs you need to try in the northernmost state. Made from Alaskan caribou (no, you’re not really eating Rudolph!), these dogs are smoked and seasoned with coriander, then split, grilled, and served on a steamed bun. Around for years, the craze really picked up in 1999 when the food was featured in Rick Sebak’s 1999 Hot Dog Program.

Arizona- Cheese CrispsCourtesy Gaby Dalkin of www.whatsgabycooking.com

Arizona: Cheese crisps


Being close to the Mexican border, there are a lot of influences on Arizona’s cuisine. One thing that is pretty unique to the area—cheese crisps. Different from a quesadilla, cheese crisps are baked on a pan (like a pizza pan) and served open face. Cheese crisps are rarely found outside the state, but rumor has it you might spot some in San Diego.

Scones with chocolate gravyElzbieta Sekowska/Shutterstock

Arkansas: Chocolate gravy

While Arkansas may be known for its fried catfish, the food that keeps all the locals talking is the state’s chocolate gravy. Chocolate gravy dates back to the earliest part of the 20th century as the use of cocoa powder spread. It’s usually served over country-style biscuits as part of an artery-clogging breakfast.

Bouillabaisse seafood fish soup with prawns, mussels tomato, lobster. Sauce Rouille. Traditional Marseille France dish. Rustic style background. Flat lay.GreenArt/Shutterstock

California: Cioppino

Made famous in San Francisco, cioppino is a dish that was traditionally served to fishermen at the end of the day. While it traditionally consisted of a combination of leftovers from the day’s catch, tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, and wine, it’s now served in restaurants using different styles of seafood.

Rocky Mountain Oysters are cattle testicles, which in this case, are sliced, battered, fried, seasoned, and served with a dipping sauce.Josh Bergeron/REX/Shutterstock

Colorado: Rocky Mountain oysters


You can’t go to Colorado and not try the Rocky Mountain oysters, even if they are a bit, um, weird. Yes, they really are cattle testicles. But, they are usually fried so that makes it all better. The dish is lovingly referred to as “cowboy fare” and said to have been created by cattle ranchers. These are the 10 restaurants around the world that serve up the weirdest dining experiences.

Closeup of clam pizzaHeidi Besen/Shutterstock

Connecticut: Clam pie

A pizza and seafood lover’s dream, the clam pie is a must-have when you are visiting Connecticut. The pie, which originated in the city of New Haven, is a pizza crust is covered with clams, grated parmesan, olive oil, garlic, and oregano. We will take two, please, and we mean pies, not slices. Here are 11 more unexpected pizza toppings that are actually amazingly delicious.

Philly Scrapple and EggsNick Tropiano/Shutterstock

Delaware: Scrapple

A regional dish that started in Pennsylvania, scrapple has become so popular in Delaware that it is now known as one of the most iconic dishes to eat. Dating back to the Colonial times, scrapple is one of those pork dishes that tastes delicious—as long as you don’t know what’s in it. The state hosts an Apple-Scrapple Festival that attracts thousands of visitors every year and Delaware-based Dogfish Brewery, debuted a scrapple-flavored beer. Find out the must-try craft beer in each of the 50 states.

key lime pie with whipped cream close-up on a plate. horizontal view from aboveAS Food studio/Shutterstock

Florida: Key lime pie

Cuban sandwiches, conch fritters, and fresh-squeezed OJ dominate menus in and around Florida, although it seems as if nothing can compare to the state’s signature dessert, key lime pie. The pie is named after the state’s key limes, which are a signature in the Florida Keys, however, there seems to be an issue with the recipe. Not one single recipe can be pinpointed as the original, although each variation claims authenticity. Find out the surprising birthplace of 20 of your favorite foods and drinks.

Homemade peach cobbler (crumble) in baking dish over rustic wooden backgroundOksana Mizina/Shutterstock

Georgia: Peach cobbler

Georgia is known for its peaches and in this state, they don’t mess around with their peach cobbler. A staple on restaurant menus around Georgia, the world’s largest peach cobbler was served up at the 2016 Georgia Peach Festival with an impressive 75 gallons of peaches, 32 gallons of milk, 150 pounds of sugar and flour, and 60 pounds of butter, per WGXA.

Taro bread , taro dumplings in coconut cream(Thai dessert) and sweet taro snacks or sweet taro crispsPOP-THAILAND/Shutterstock

Hawaii: Poi

Spam may be top-of-mind when you think about Hawaiian fare, but the national dish of Hawaii is actually called Poi. Made from taro root, poi is mixed with water to create a pudding-like consistency. Poi has its roots in the Polynesian culture, which largely influenced the staple foods on the Hawaiian Islands.

Oriental Deep Fried Crispy Beef & Sweet Chilli Sauce DipPaul_Brighton/Shutterstock

Idaho: Finger steaks

You may think, “something potato, duh,” when you think iconic food in Idaho, but the one food you will need to get your hands on when you visit this state is finger steaks. Somewhat like chicken nuggets, finger steaks are twice-battered pieces of sirloin that are fried and served with your choice of dipping sauce on the side.

Hearty Italian Beef Sandwich with Hot Giadanarra PeppersBrent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Illinois: Italian Beef Sandwich

While everyone knows about Chicago-style pizza, here is a local delicacy you should put on your food radar—an Italian beef sandwich. A variation of a French dip, the Italian beef sandwich was invented in Chicago’s South Side. The sandwich has origins dating back to the early 20th century when Italian immigrants working in Chicago’s meatpacking district would slow roast the meat—they were allowed to take home the more undesirable cuts—to make it more tender and then simmered it in a broth that would add flavor.

tex mex style chicken burger as served in a restaurantBastiaanimage stock/Shutterstock

Indiana: Hoosier sandwich

A pork Tenderloin-based bite, a Hoosier sandwich is a must-get in the state of Indiana. Influenced by the city’s German immigrants, the Hoosier sandwich is a riff on Wiener schnitzel. However, there are many versions of the original sandwich and some may be hyper-local or only available at a specific establishment.

Loose meat (maidrite) sandwich on plate and white backgroundPaul Orr/Shutterstock

Iowa: Maid-Rite sandwich

In keeping in the tradition of Midwest meat sandwiches, A Maid-Rite is a must-have while visiting Iowa. A loose-meat sandwich with a special blend of spices, it is a cross between a hamburger and a sloppy Joe. It was created in 1926 by a butcher, Fred Angell, and became a franchised restaurant.

Hot cheese stuffed rolls after baking on cooling rack top viewAnastasia_Panait/Shutterstock

Kansas: Zwiebach

While you’re in Kansas, you’re going to want to pick yourself up some barbecue, however, you’ll want to soak that barbecue sauce up with a Zwiebach. A dinner roll made from potato water, sugar, butter, and egg, a Zwiebach made its way over to Kansas through the Mennonite community.

Homemade Baked Kentucky Hot Brown with Bacon Chicken and Cream SauceBrent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Kentucky: Hot Brown sandwich

If you’re a meat and cheese lover, a Kentucky Hot Brown sandwich is right up your alley. One of the most traditional meals in the state, a Hot Brown is turkey, bacon, tomato on toast, served under so much cheese sauce that you can’t find the sandwich. It originated in 1926 in Louisville’s Brown Hotel and is Kentucky’s take on the Welsh dish rarebit.

French beignets donuts with powdered sugar close-up on the table. horizontal view from aboveAS Food studio/Shutterstock

Louisiana: Beignets

Home to amazing Cajun food and delicious seafood, the dish you need to make sure to try in Louisiana is beignets. New Orlean’s Café Du Monde is the place to go for the flaky pastry covered in powdered sugar. Enjoy it dipped in the café’s signature coffee with chicory, served au lait style—day or night.

Homemade New England Lobster Roll with LemonsBrent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Maine: Lobster roll

Unlike a Connecticut-style lobster roll (which is warm and covered in drawn butter), when in Maine, you’ll get the tasty crustacean tossed with mayo and diced celery and served on a warm, grilled bun. More lobster is caught in Maine than any other state, so you’ll find it practically every street corner.

Maryland blue crabs with seafood utensilsYaJurka/Shutterstock

Maryland: Steamed crabs

Chesapeake Bay blue crabs are a staple in the diet of every Maryland resident. Pulled from the Chesapeake Bay, blue crabs can be eaten grilled, fried, in cakes or in soup. But, the best way to eat them is steamed with Old Bay seasoning and dipped in malt vinegar.

Homemade Oyster Stew with Parsley and CrackersBrent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Massachusetts: Clam chowder

Part of coastal New England, the seafood game is also strong in Massachusetts. While clam chowder (pronounced “chowdah” in this state) has taken on various forms up and down the East coast, the Massachusetts-style soup—which is made with a milk or cream-base—is thicker than the other variations and is usually accompanied by oyster crackers.

Hot pasties from butter enriched puff pastry filled with minced beef, potato, onions and swede in the iron panAnna Mente/Shutterstock

Michigan: Meat pasties

When in Michigan, a traditional pastry should be on your list of things to eat. But, this pastry isn’t sweet. With roots back to its mining days, these pastries are filled with meat, potatoes, onions, and vegetables for the most part. Miner’s wives used to make them for the men for lunch since the laborers could heat up the pie by placing it on their shovels and placing it above a flame.

Mormon Funeral Potatoes - traditional potato hotdish, or casserole, un Intermountain West region of the United States. potatoes, cheese , onions, cream soup, Fanfo/Shutterstock

Minnesota: Hotdish

“Hotdish” is Minnesotan for a “casserole” traditionally made with veggies, cheese, and a can of mushroom soup, then topped with crispy tater tots (ground meat is optional). You’ll find one at every family gathering or at the state’s annual hotdish competition.

Cornbread stuffing in a cast iron skillet with cranberry sauceMSPhotographic/Shutterstock

Mississippi: Cornbread dressing

Mississippi is the place to sample a variety of soul foods—Fried chicken, fried okra, biscuits and gravy, collard greens, catfish, and cornbread. And, speaking of cornbread, it’s the state’s cornbread dressing that needs to be ingested on a visit to Mississippi. Cornbread dressing—essentially Thanksgiving stuffing—is made with onion, celery, and sage along with the cornbread.

Homemade Fried Ravioli with Marinara Sauce and BasilBrent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Missouri: Toasted ravioli

These deep-fried pockets of meat or cheese are served with marinara on the side and are said to have come to be by accident when the pasta was accidentally dropped in oil instead of water. Find out 13 more foods that were invented by happy accidents.

Ripe forest blueberries (bilberry, whortleberry, blaeberry, huckleberry) in a patterned bowl on a sunny summer day. Fresh organic berriesvovidzha/Shutterstock

Montana: Huckleberries

When you’re in Montana, get your hands on anything huckleberry. From pie to ice cream to jelly, huckleberries are a staple in the diets of Montana natives all year-round. Just don’t eat them when you’re hiking or camping: bears love them, too, and can catch their scent from miles away.

Fried mozzarellaJa is so fly/Shutterstock

Nebraska: Frenchee


Have you ever had a deep-fried grilled cheese? Well, that’s what a Nebraskan Frenchee is. Spelled a variety of different ways (Frenchiee or Frenchy), the ingredients are the same: It is made from American cheese and salad dressing that’s hand-dipped in egg batter and cracker crumbs and fried to a golden brown.

Glass with shrimp cocktail and tomato sauce on table, closeupAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Nevada: Shrimp cocktail

In the city of endless buffets and upscale dinner options, one thing is for certain if you’re from Nevada—shrimp cocktail. In the last 50 years, the shrimp cocktail has become iconic of eating in southern Nevada and no matter what part of the state you’re in, biting into the steamed chilled shrimp dipped in cocktail sauce is a must-try.

Dulce de leche ice creams Bartosz Luczak/Shutterstock

New Hampshire: Maple ice cream

Staple foods in New Hampshire run the gamut from coastal to comfort. But if you’re in the state, maple ice cream and all of its variations are a sweet treat that can’t be beat. Whether it’s in a cone or in a maple nut sundae, maple ice cream is worth all of the calories. You’ll definitely want to check out the best ice cream shop in New Hampshire and the 49 other states.

Canadian Poutine crinkle-cut fries with gravy and cheese curdEzume Images/Shutterstock

New Jersey: Disco fries

Disco fries—no, not cheese fries and definitely not poutine—grace the menus at diners all over the Garden State. Roast beef, melted cheese, and gravy adorn a pile of perfectly brown and crisp French fries. These make a filling dinner or late-night snack and are perfect hangover food, too.

Vegetarian tasty spicy chili chick pea pumpkin wild rice soup pozole stew bowl on a wooden background AnastasiaKopa/Shutterstock

New Mexico: Posole

Influenced by Spanish, Mexican, and Native American cuisines, New Mexico has a plethora of eats that can’t be missed. However, posole is one of those dishes that is quintessentially New Mexican. Posole is corn boiled and soaked in slaked lime water and is the basis for a variety of stews.

pizza margarita close up Sia-James/Shutterstock

New York: Pizza

Home of the Buffalo wing and apple cider doughnuts, New York has some pretty tasty things on the menu. But New York style pizza is the one that just screams, “I Love NY!” While New York has a lot of different pizza styles—including grandma and Sicilian—traditional margarita pizza made with sauce and mozzarella cheese just tastes like the Empire State.

Homemade Deep Fried Hush Puppy Corn FrittersBrent Hofacker/Shutterstock

North Carolina: Hushpuppies

Although North Carolina is the Krispy Kreme capital of the world (the doughnut brand was born here!), there are plenty of other treats to eat in the Tarheel State. At the top of the list are hushpuppies, a side dish made from a thick, cornmeal batter that was originally made to quiet hungry dogs (or so the story goes). They accompany local dishes from barbecue platters to fried shrimp and everything in between.

Cinnamon sour cream coffee cake on plateMShev/Shutterstock

North Dakota: Kuchen

Kuchen has been named the ultimate North Dakota comfort food and is definitely something to try the next time you’re in the Peace Garden State. A coffee-cake-like dessert with a filling that combines custard and often a fruit such as apple, kuchen celebrates the German-Russian culture that has helped to shape the state’s cuisine.

Cincinnati style 5-way chili and spaghettiKeith Mecklem/Shutterstock

Ohio: Cincinnati Chili

Cincinnati chili is a plate of spaghetti smothered in secret chili sauce and topped with a mound of cheese. It was brought to the area by Macedonian immigrant restaurateurs in the 1920s. The original recipe called for the spaghetti to be cooked in the chili but was modified when customers preferred the sauce as a topping instead.

Homemade Oklahoma Fried Onion Cheeseburgers with CheddarBrent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Oklahoma: Fried onion burger

On this burger, the onions are actually cooking in with the meat, not merely served on top. The tradition of the fried onion burger dates back to the Great Depression when meat was expensive but onions were not. The onions were smashed in with the meat to make the burger seem bigger and more filling.

Fresh homemade marionberry cobbler in panZigzag Mountain Art/Shutterstock

Oregon: Marionberry pie

Home of Voodoo Doughnuts and Stumptown Coffee, you cannot leave Oregon without a slice of marionberry pie. The berry, a type of blackberry, was actually created in the state through a USDA ARS breeding program in cooperation with Oregon State University.

A messy Philly Cheesesteak with onions and peppers with fries on the sideEzume Images/Shutterstock

Pennsylvania: Philly Cheesesteak

When you’re in Pennsylvania, you simply cannot pass up a chance to get a Philly cheesesteak. The icon of Philadelphia consists of a long, crunchy roll filled with thin slices of rib-eye beef and melted cheese, typically Cheez Whiz, and topped with your choice of onion, peppers, and mushrooms.

Hush PuppiesGeorge W. Bailey/Shutterstock

Rhode Island: Clam cakes

Made of flour, water, baking powder, clam juice, and chopped or minced clams, clam cakes are one of the most iconic foods in Rhode Island. Although the origin of the delicacy isn’t known and there is no evidence of an original recipe, many people believed that frugal residents created the dish from readily-available resources.

Homemade Southern Hoppin John with Rice and PorkBrent Hofacker/Shutterstock

South Carolina: Hoppin’ John

While shrimp and grits are a close second, Hoppin’ John is the delicacy not to be missed. Made from traditional black-eyed peas, rice, and ham, the dish is said to have gotten its name back in the 1800s when a man named John peddled the dish in the streets of Charleston. Tradition holds that if you eat it on New Year’s Day, you’ll have good luck all year long.

Grilled beef liver on skewers, with teriyaki or soy sauce, yakitori, dark rusty table copy space top viewRimma Bondarenko/Shutterstock

South Dakota: Chislic

Chislic is deep-fried cubes of lamb, venison, or beef, served with toothpicks, garlic salt, and saltine crackers. The appetizer is most prevalent in southeastern South Dakota, but the salty delicacy shows up in other Midwestern communities, particularly those with a German Russian heritage.

Delicious homemade crispy fried chicken with taters and coleslaw.Foodio/Shutterstock

Tennessee: Hot fried chicken

You can’t go to Tennessee without trying the Tennessee hot fried chicken; chicken that has been marinated in a milk-based blend of seasoning, floured, fried, and finally doused with a mixture of cayenne pepper and other spices blended in the cooking oil. It ranges from mild to outrageously hot.

Chili con carne in a cast iron pan on white. Traditional mexican food.nadianb/Shutterstock

Texas: Chili con carne

Chili con carne, or simply beef chili, is a thick, spicy, tomato-based stew that has been around Texas since at least the early 1800s. The staple of Texan cuisine, it’s traditionally made with beef chuck and ancho chilies. Toss on some Fritos and shredded cheese to ease the heat.

Mormon Funeral Potatoes - traditional potato hotdish, or casserole, un Intermountain West region of the United States. potato chipsFanfo/Shutterstock

Utah: Funeral potatoes

Funeral potatoes may sound sad, but we can tell you that they are anything but. The dish usually consists of hash browns or cubed potatoes, cheese, onions, cream soup (chicken, mushroom, or celery) or a cream sauce, sour cream, and a topping of butter with corn flakes or crushed potato chips. This casserole-style dish got its name because it is often served at funerals or other large gatherings.

Classic American apple pie.Lesya Dolyuk/Shutterstock

Vermont: Apple pie with cheddar cheese

Both maple syrup and cheese have their place in the sun in Vermont, however, if you’re looking to snag a bite of an iconic state food, apple pie with cheddar cheese is it. The Vermont Legislature also signed into an act in 1999 (the same act that declared apple as the state fruit) that a piece of apple pie should be served with, “with a slice of cheddar cheese weighing a minimum of 1/2 ounce.” A glass of milk and scoop of ice cream were also acceptable accompaniments, too.

Brunswick StewAnnapolisStudios/Shutterstock

Virginia: Brunswick stew

You may have thought Virginia ham would have made this list, but since it’s gone mainstream, we dug a little deeper. Brunswick stew is a classic Virginian dish made from tomato, corn, chicken, and butter beans that is so thick, a spoon can stand in it. The dish is said to be so beloved that a fight between Brunswick, Georgia, and Brunswick, Virginia broke out over the stew’s origin.

Closeup horizontal photo of dried red peppercorns and sea salt on top of fresh Wild Red Salmon pieces with natural bamboo cutting board underneath tab62/Shutterstock

Washington: Sockeye salmon

While you can get salmon just about anywhere in the United States, the smoked sockeye salmon in Washington State is a have to try. Fresh because it’s caught right off the shores of the state, many locals eat it sashimi style because it’s just that good.

Pizza rollsAlexander Prokopenko/Shutterstock

West Virginia: Pepperoni roll

Known to the locals as a pepperoni roll, the soft bread stuffed with pepperoni was a lunch option for the coal minors of north-central West Virginia in the first half of the 20th century. It’s still one of the most iconic local foods today.

white dairy cheese curd in a bowl on tablejulie deshaies/Shutterstock

Wisconsin: Cheese curds

Cheese curds, the squeaky kind, are a uniquely Wisconsin treat. A by-product of the cheese making process, something that is rampant in the state, cheese curds have the same firmness as cheese but have a springy, rubbery texture. And yes, they squeak in your mouth. Find out the gross foods that are popular around the world.

White chili chicken with beans, corn and spices close-up in a bowl. horizontal top view from aboveAS Food studio/Shutterstock

Wyoming: White chili

Texas may have beef chili, but in Wyoming, white chicken chili is the bite to savor. Made with white beans and chicken in lieu of the more Spanish-influenced beef and pinto/black beans, the chili has become one of the state’s calling cards in the food department. Read on for the strangest food law in every state.