Think of American cuisine and burgers, hotdogs and stacks of pancakes covered in maple syrup are probably the first things that spring to mind. But while these classic dishes are all popular (and delicious!), there’s so much more to contemporary American cuisine.
Take food trucks for example, which have exploded everywhere from Oahus to Nashville, and typically combine carefully-sourced local products with avant-garde recipes executed with panache.
America’s food culture has a magpie quality to it, with dishes and recipes borrowed from all over the world. Whet your appetite with our bite-sized guide.
BBQ in the south
On summer evenings the air in southern states such as Arkansas and Virginia is thick with the tantalising smell of barbecues, the backbone of traditional American cuisine.
There are subtle differences in regional styles. In North Carolina, meat is traditionally served with apple cider vinegar sauce and hush puppies because of the quantity of orchards. Memphis ‘cues favour sweet, sticky molasses glaze while Alabama opts for white sauce, made from mayonnaise and vinegar.
So which are the tastiest joints? Try Cattleack Barbeque in Dallas, Lewis Barbecue in Charleston and Snow’s BBQ in Texas.
Deep-pan pizza in Chicago
Cheesier, moister and all together more decadent than its traditional equivalent, deep-pan pizza has been the Windy City’s culinary calling card since the 1940s.
Try it by the slice at The Art of Pizza, phone ahead with your order at Burt’s Place and don’t miss Pequod’s famous caramelized cheese crusts.
Roll up your sleeves, grab plenty of napkins and get stuck in.
Great wine in California
Almost 90% of the USA’s wine is grown in California. All that sunshine, mineral rich soil and a long, proud wine making tradition nourishes a wide variety of grapes.
Head to the northern central coast wineries to try California Chardonnay, the Napa Valley for world-famous Cabernet Sauvignon and the Sierra Foothills for the quintessential American grape, Zinfandel. Alternately, tour them all with a road trip. Here’s our perfect route.
Gumbo, Oysters and Jambalaya in New Orleans
New Orleans’ regional food is like an edible history lesson.
Gumbo is a melting pot of different cultures. The name comes from a West African word, the dark roux sauce is typically French and it pays more than a nod to the Creole cooking of the Caribbean.
Arnaud’s Restaurant does a delicious seafood version and has live jazz most nights.
Gulf of Mexico oysters are notoriously plump and flavoursome. Those at Pêche Seafood Grill are always sustainably sourced. We love ours with a few drops of Tabasco and you can read all about Louisiana’s hot sauce scene here.
When they colonised New Orleans, homesick Spanish settlers tried to recreate paella with local ingredients – and Jambalaya was born. Coops Place is a no frills bar that serves a rabbit version that’s packed with local seasonings.