Delicious Destinations: Regional Foods You Have to Try

From New York Pizza to Philly Cheesesteaks, many cities in the US are famous for their signature dishes. Trying regional foods in all their glory when you travel can be a fun experience, especially when you find a new favorite!

I’ve been lucky enough to try local food from many different parts of the country, and I have truly found some culinary delights along the way.

If you get the chance to visit any of these delicious destinations, here are a few regional dishes you have to try:

Memphis: Dry Rub Barbecue

Many places in the south boast that they have the best BBQ. Texas, the Carolinas, and Missouri all have unique approaches to ribs, brisket and pulled pork. However, none of them hold a candle to the sweet, spicy, tender dry rubbed BBQ that Memphis, TN has to offer. Establishments such as Rendezvous have been smoking and grilling meat to perfection for over 100 years.

If you take a Memphis vacation to visit some of the historical sites or perhaps do a pub crawl down Beale Street, you simply can’t leave without tasting some delicious BBQ. I recommend trying out Rendezvous or BB King’s Blues Club – order a rack of ribs with a side of baked beans and southern potato salad. You can add sauce if you want, but the magic of Memphis barbeque is found in the slow smoking for hours as well as the tasty rub of spices which creates a delicious bark on the meat.

For an added bit of awesomeness, give another Memphis staple a whirl – an appetizer of sausage and cheese garnished with pickle spears and sprinkled with a little dry rub spice. You will not regret your decision!

Pittsburg: Pierogis

Ahh, pierogis. This Eastern European dish is fairly simple – a dumpling stuffed with mashed potatoes and other fillings such as onion and cheese. In and around Pittsburg, PA, you can find pierogis at over a dozen different restaurants, both quick-service and fine dining. You can even find them at a stand in the Pittsburg Pirate’s PNC Park, which is where I was first introduced to one of the best regional foods I have ever eaten.

Pittsburg isn’t afraid to get a little adventurous with their pierogis, often stuffing them with a variety of fillings such as cheese, mushrooms, meats or even berries and jams. My favorite pierogis are the simple classic incarnation – potatoes, cheese, and onion, with a dollop of sour cream on top. S&D Polish Deli in the Strip District has some of the best I’ve ever tasted!

For a delicious meal, you can order kielbasa with half a dozen pierogis – your taste buds will thank you.

New Orleans: Beignets

If your tastes sway more to the sweeter side, you can find an indulgent, decadent dessert in the coastal city of New Orleans, LA. Famously served at the Café Du Monde, the beignet is a flaky, deep-fried pastry dusted generously with confectioner’s sugar and served hot. The flavor of this regional food is reminiscent of an elevated doughnut or palmier. There’s little more satisfying than picking up a paper bag of hot, fresh beignets to snack on while exploring the beauty of the French Quarter.

Several cafes in New Orleans also serve a beverage that pairs perfectly with the sweet pastry – chicory coffee. Created in the New Orleans region, this coffee is infused with roasted chicory root, giving it a nutty, almost caramel flavor.

Grab a bag of beignets, a cup of chicory coffee, and savor a taste of the Big Easy.

Saint Louis: Gooey Butter Cake

Another treat to satisfy your sweet tooth hails from the Midwest metropolis of Saint Louis, MO. Saint Louis is famous for several dishes, including pizza, BBQ, and toasted ravioli. At the top of the list of great Saint Louis regional foods, however, sits the insanely delicious gooey butter cake.

The cake batter is infused with a large amount of butter and baked in a shallow dish, then dusted with confectioner’s sugar before serving. Some incarnations include berry toppings, lemon glaze or chocolate chips.

Any way you slice it, the gooey butter cake needs to be on your culinary bucket list.

Final Thought

Whether you prefer savory comfort food or something a little sweet, most cities in the United States have dishes that are both delicious and memorable. Do a little research on your travel destination to see what regional foods are popular or unique to the area.

Pack your bags, grab a fork and start tasting your way around the county. Bon Appétit!


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