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29 Must-Try Foods While You Are in the U.S.
29 Must-Try Foods While You Are in the U.S.

29 Must-Try Foods While You Are in the U.S.

June 16, 2023

5 -min read

Food brings people together, and it’s a great way to get the locals to tell their stories. The home-cooked meals we shared while growing up are still some of my favorite comfort foods today! Food is also a great way to learn about a community, local flavors, secrets to generations-old recipes, and even social norms. The InterExchange team has put together a few recommendations of their favorite dishes for you to try while you are in the U.S.!

California

Carne Asada Fries

If you are around southern California, try carne asada fries at the local taco shop. You'll find crispy golden fries with guacamole, Cojita cheese, crema, and perfectly seasoned steak.
California

Mission Style Burrito

Originating in the Mission District of San Francisco, the Mission Style Burrito is a tortilla filled with ground beef, carnitas, carne asada, beans, rice, guacamole, pico de gallo, cheese, and sour cream. If you find yourself in the Bay Area, this is a must-try!
Illinois

Deep Dish Pizza

Deep Dish Pizza was first served in Chicago, Illinois. It is called this because, unlike New York’s thinner slices, Chicago Deep Dish has much more substance. It has sparked a long-running debate over which is better: New York Style or Chicago Style pizza.
Louisiana

Gumbo

Gumbo is a hardy Creole/Cajun dish that is mostly found in the deep South. It usually contains local vegetables such as okra, collared greens, and several kinds of meat such as chicken, sausage, and shrimp. It is known for being very spicy, so it is not for the faint of heart.
Louisiana

Crawfish

Crawfish is a freshwater crustacean that tastes sweet and is a cross between lobster and shrimp. It is often an ingredient in gumbo and can also be served boiled with other vegetables like potatoes and corn.
Michigan

Pasties

Pasties (pronounced with a soft a) is a savory Michigan pastry dish. It consists of diced and steamed vegetables like potatoes, rutabaga, and carrots with chicken or beef, all wrapped in a crumbly crust and baked to perfection. There is a big debate on what condiment to use. Lower Michigan tends to use gravy while the Upper Peninsula swears by ketchup.
Michigan

Fudge

Fudge is a well-known treat, but nowhere is it better than on the Mackinac (pronounced Mack-in-aw) Island just north of the tip of Michigan. They are known for having no motor vehicles on the entire island as well as for their many flavors of fudge, which most shops make behind large windows of glass so people can watch the process.
Maine

Whoopie Pies

Maine has labeled the Whoopie Pie—a sweet treat consisting of a whipped cream sandwiched between two soft cookies— as its official state dessert. It can be found in nearly every grocery and convenience store.
Maine

Lobster Rolls

Lobster Rolls are the most iconic food in Maine. The lobster roll includes pieces of cool lobster with a little bit of mayonnaise, presented in a split-top bun that has been grilled on both sides. (Did you know that about 90% of the country’s lobster is caught off of Maine’s coast?)
Massachusetts

Grilled Blueberry Muffins

Griddled blueberry muffins are a distinctly New England phenomenon. They’re made by slicing a muffin in half and then weighing it down with a steak weight on the griddle until it’s perfectly crisp.

Photo by Bing on Flickr. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Massachusetts

New England Clam Chowder

It is a creamy soup made from clams, potatoes, onions, sometimes salt pork, and milk or cream.
New York

Pizza

There is something different when it comes to a New York style pizza. The thin pizza crust with the red tomato-based sauce with cheese is classic. Check out any of these places to taste the best pizza in the Big Apple.
New York

Hot Dogs

This is a soft sliced bun with a juicy, grilled, or steamed sausage topped with a stripe of mustard and ketchup (or anything else you like, really). Although the sausages originated in Germany, it is said that the idea to put them on a bun was dreamed up in New York. It’s a classic combination that never fails to satisfy.
New York

Black and White Cookies

You can get these unmistakable classic cookies around New York City, but some of the best can be found at Manhattan’s William Greenberg Bakery.
New York

New York Cheesecake

New York Cheesecake is a rich, dense and creamy dessert. Whether it’s in Junior’s or Eileen’s Special Cheesecake, you can find a number of stores and bakeries all across New York City that serve this classic dessert.
New Jersey

Salt Water Taffy

Salt Water Taffy is a soft, chewy candy that was originally produced in Atlantic City, New Jersey. You can find a variety of flavors all over Jersey Shore. Does it really have salt water? Get all the details here.
New Jersey

Pork Roll

The New Jersey Pork Roll was created back in 1856. This pork-based meat product is typically sliced and pan-fried or grilled, then used in a breakfast sandwich with eggs and cheese.

Photo by Bigmacthealmanac on Wikimedia Commons.

Ohio

Buckeye Candy

The buckeye is Ohio’s state tree, a nickname for native Ohioans, and a delicious chocolate peanut butter candy that locals love to make during the winter holidays.
Ohio

Shredded Chicken Sandwich

Shredded Chicken Sandwich is a specialty of Northern and Central Ohio. It is made by cooking and fork-shredding chicken that is then cooked in chicken broth with flour, bread crumbs, or crushed potato chips.
Ohio

Skyline Chili

Skyline Chili takes the classic meat-and-bean chili—typically associated with the American Southwest—and serves it over a plate of fresh-boiled spaghetti.

Photo by Chiot's Run on Flickr. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Pennsylvania

Philly Cheese Steak

Philly Cheese Steak is a delicious sandwich of sliced steak, caramelized onions, peppers, and mozzarella cheese, all melted on a hoagie bun. It can be a little messy, but it is so worth it.
South Carolina

Shrimp and Grits

This is a staple food in South Carolina and other coastal regions of the American South. The soft and creamy grits with perfectly cooked saucy shrimp is one dish you must try while you are there.
South Carolina

Chow Chow

This oddly-named food is a pickled relish dish that preserves fresh summer vegetables so they can be eaten later in the year. It typically includes vegetables like green tomatoes, cabbage, bell peppers, and onions. Check out this simple Chow Chow recipe.

Photo by Geoff on Wikimedia Commons.

South Carolina

Chicken Bog

This one-pot dish combines the best qualities of both chicken and rice and often includes sausage. The rice absorbs the flavor from the juicy, tender chicken and spices.
Tennessee

Banana Pudding

Banana Pudding is known across the nation as Tennessee’s state dessert. It consists of layers of vanilla wafers, sliced bananas, homemade vanilla custard, and meringue or whipped cream piles. This creamy and delicious Tennessee delicacy is a Southern staple.
Tennessee

Catfish

The fresh catch of any day in Tennessee, catfish is battered in various seasonings and flash-fried for a delicious Southern version of fish ’n’ chips. It’s predominant here, so make sure you try it at least once.
Texas

Barbecue

Barbecue (BBQ) is a staple of Texan cuisine. Pork, chicken, and beef are the usual meats that are slow-cooked often using a smoking, roasting, or charcoal grilling method so the meat is extra tender. Every restaurant has its own style of barbecue sauce, ranging from spicy, to sweet, to tangy.
Wisconsin

Friday Fish Fry

The classic Wisconsin fish fry is significant to the state’s food culture, and there is an interesting history behind why this dish became so popular. You can get battered, deep-fried pieces of fish — like cod, perch, walleye, haddock, and catfish—with a side of potato pancakes, rye bread, and coleslaw.
Wisconsin

Fried Cheese Curds

Fried cheese is a slice, ball, or chunk of cheese fried in hot oil. Some fried cheeses are battered before frying, creating a crispy outside and a slightly melted cheese inside.
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InterExchange is proud to have an experienced team that is dedicated to international cultural exchange. We come from a variety of backgrounds, but nearly every member of our New York City-based staff has extensive experience traveling, working, or living abroad.

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