S’mores, Twinkies, burgers, fortune cookies…the US has a long list of decadent foods invented right here in our own backyard. Whether you’re planning a foodie road trip or just wondering about that thing you just ate, we’ve put together a whole list of the best original dishes and where to find them.
Key Lime Pie – Key West, Florida
A good key lime pie combines fluffy meringue with a sweet, crunchy crust
Key limes are tart and deliciously fragrant, giving the similarly-named pie a flavor you just can’t get in other citrus desserts. This fluffy meringue-topped treat was invented in the 1800’s and has been an important part of the Florida Keys’ culture ever since. There’s even an annual Key Lime Pie Festival on July 4th weekend, best enjoyed from the historic rooms of Orchid Key Inn.
Lobster Roll – Bar Harbor, Maine
Maine's tastiest “lobstah rolls” can be found at harborside restaurants
Lobster rolls might have gotten their start in Connecticut, but these days you’ll find the best seafood shacks on Maine’s wild shores. Make your way up the coast to Bar Harbor Grand Hotel, where fresh, buttery “lobstah rolls” and the gorgeous trails of Arcadia National Park will definitely keep you busy.
Chocolate Chip Cookie – Whitman, Massachusetts
Chocolate chip cookies are so addictive you'll want the whole jar
Ah, chocolate chip cookies. There’s nothing as comforting as a freshly baked tray washed down with a cold glass of milk. Invented in 1938 by Chef Ruth Graves Wakefield at the Toll House Inn, chocolate chip cookies are now so popular you can find them almost anywhere in the world. Pay tribute to their origins by staying at Best Western Rockland, just a short drive from Whitman.
Cioppino – San Francisco, California
Soak up this rich stew with pesto-covered toast
In San Francisco in the 1800’s, many Italian immigrants made their living off the sea. If these fishermen ever came back to port empty-handed, they searched the docks for leftovers. Whatever ended up in their pot became cioppino—Dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels—all cooked in an aromatic tomato broth. Fast forward 200 years and it’s a San Francisco staple, best eaten in Little Italy around Hotel Boheme.
Corn Dog – Dallas, Texas
Snacking on corn dogs at the state fair is a Texan pastime
This deep-fried sinful snack is attributed to Neil Fletcher. At the 1942 Texas State Fair, he thought his hot dogs would sell faster if they were breaded, fried, and put on a stick. Turns out, he was right. Eating them is still a favorite American pastime, especially in their birthplace of Dallas. Take a trip to the city and stay at Warwick Melrose Hotel, in the tree-lined Oaklawn neighborhood.
California Roll – Los Angeles, California
Get your California rolls to go for a fresh and healthy snack
This super popular makizushi roll is most often credited to Chef Ichiro Mashita in the 1960’s. He had the genius idea of replacing fatty tuna with avocado when the fish wasn’t in season. Today, this mix of avocado, crab and cucumber is a hit all around the world. Treat yourself to the world’s most authentic California roll by staying in Little Tokyo – try DTLA Suite 11.
Buffalo Wings – Buffalo, New York
Buffalo wings are often credited as popularizing chicken wings in the US
Buffalo wings have a perfect balance of spicy and vinegary. Unbreaded chicken drumsticks are deep fried and then tossed in hot sauce, served with a side of blue cheese dressing and celery sticks. This delicious snack was created by Teressa Bellissimo in 1964 at the Anchor Bar, which is still in business today. Stay within walking distance at The Mansion on Delaware Avenue.
New England Clam Chowder – Boston, Massachusetts
“Chowdah” is best served piping hot on a picnic table by the sea
New England chowder is true coastal comfort food. Fresh clams are steamed in a creamy broth of potatoes, onions and plenty of butter, then served with crusty bread and oyster crackers. This variety of chowder most likely originated from Boston settlers in the 1700’s. Soak up more colonial history with a stay at The Godfrey Hotel Boston, located in the theater district.
Po’ Boy – New Orleans, Louisiana
Crispy shrimp po' boys are probably the most famous variety
The po’ boy holds a special place in the hearts of Louisianans, with the first “poor boy” shops dating back to the Great Depression. These crispy baguette sandwiches are stuffed with everything from shrimp to catfish to roast beef – and don’t forget the “fixins” (plenty of pickles, mayo, and hot sauce). Po’ boys aren’t New Orleans’ only food speciality, so make a trip out of it and stay at Blue 60 Guest House.
Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza – Chicago, Illinois
A Margherita deep-dish pie is filled with melted mozzarella
Dating back to the 1940s, the Chicago deep-dish is more of a pie than a pizza. A thin, crispy crust is stuffed to the edge with cheese, baked in the oven, and then slathered in tomato sauce – and Chicago is naturally the best place to try it. For a real cosmopolitan vibe, check in to sky-high The Langham Chicago.
Saratoga Potato Chips – Saratoga Springs, NY
There's only one rule when it comes to potato chips – they have to be crispy!
Although some credit potato chips to a recipe in an English cookbook from the 1800s (in the UK they’re called crisps), most prefer the story of chef George Crum in Saratoga Springs. According to legend, in 1853 he tried to satisfy an unhappy customer with thinner fries – and ended up with an instant classic. Whatever you believe, Saratoga Springs is a beautiful place to visit, with The Inn at Saratoga being one of the nicest hotels.
Chicken Fried Steak – Lamesa, Texas
Homemade chicken fried steak is best served with brussel sprouts and mashed potatoes
Deep-fried beef smothered in peppery white gravy, chicken fried steak is best served the size of your face. Its disputed birthplace is Lamesa, a cattle-ranching town on the South Texas plains. Here you can attend the annual chicken fried steak competition, and then sleep it off at Southern Inn & Suites Lamesa.
Philly Cheesesteak – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This Philly classic is a favorite of American diners and food trucks around the city
A Philly Cheesesteak is beautiful in its simplicity: place thinly sliced beef between two soft Hoagie rolls, and add lots of cheese. However, there’s plenty of debate on the choice of cheese, with Provolone, American and the strangely classic Cheese Whiz all competing for first place. Decide for yourself – the highly-rated La Reserve Bed and Breakfast makes a great homebase.
Reuben Sandwich – Omaha, Nebraska
A traditional deli-style Reuben should be served with plenty of sauerkraut
There are conflicting reports on the Reuben’s invention. One story is that Lithuanian-born Jewish grocer Reuben Kulakofsky created it during a 1920’s poker game, while another credits New York City deli-owner Arnold Reuben. Whoever made it, we’re glad they did – corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on rye bread is a flavor-packed stroke of genius. To really show your Reuben love, visit Omaha on March 14 for Reuben Sandwich Day. Hilton Omaha and Even Omaha Downtown are great options.