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Iconic Foods From Cities Across America

Travel across the country without leaving your kitchen with these city-inspired recipes.

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New York City: Cheesecake

New York City: Cheesecake

New York-style cheesecake is has a smooth, creamy texture that’s delectably dense. Our favorite version is made with sour cream, which gives it a tangy kick. (Better yet, you don’t have to fight through traffic in the Big Apple to get it!)
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New York City: Bagels

The big city is also known for its fresh-baked bagels. With a crisp crust and chewy center, what’s not to love? Just add schmear (and lox, and capers and onions…) and never, ever toast it.
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New York City: Pastrami Sandwiches

Pastrami on rye is the unofficial sandwich of New York. It rose to popularity among Jewish delis in the early 1900s. Traveling to the city? Check out Katz’ Deli. It’s famous for house-made pastrami piled on high.
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Buffalo, New York: Buffalo Sauce

Buffalo-style wings were invented at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York in 1964. His signature sauce combines together ingredients like butter, vinegar and hot sauce. We love it glazed on chicken wings, meatballs-or anything!
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Boston: Boston Cream Pie

The official dessert of Massachusetts was first whipped up in 1856 at the Parker House Hotel in Boston. Contrary to its name, the pie is traditionally fashioned out of two sponge cakes. It’s then filled with a sweet custard and glazed in rich chocolate. Try our miniature version, below.
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Boston: Clam Chowder

Or should we say, chowdah. The New England coastal city is famous for this seafood dish. Make it the Boston way with simple, good-quality ingredients, a side of oyster crackers and absolutely no tomatoes.
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Boston: Brown Bread

Brown bread is popular across New England, but especially in Boston. The hearty loaf is made with several types of flour and molasses. We like it best toasted with a topper of butter.
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Philadelphia: Cheesesteaks

It’s practically sacrilege to visit Philly without getting one of these iconic sandwiches. Load up toppings like fried onions and peppers on a toasted sub. And make sure to know which cheese you prefer; the most popular choices include Provolone, American or canned Cheese Wiz!
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Baltimore: Crab Cakes

This bayside city is known for reeling in fresh Maryland blue crab every summer. The best restaurants use as little filler as possible. And don’t forget the Old Bay!
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Tampa: Cuban Sandwiches

Thanks to Cuban immigrants, this spicy sandwich has been a staple in the city and across the state of Florida. Take a bite and you’ll know why. Layers of roasted ham, pork and salami, as well as Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard are tucked inside a pressed bun. City-dwellers loved it so much, the Cuban was declared the official sandwich of Tampa.
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Key West: Key Lime Pie

Floridians make the most of the local Key limes in this creamy custard and meringue pie. What’s the difference between a Key lime and a regular lime, you ask? Key limes are smaller in size and contain more citrus juice than their counterpart. A Key lime is also much more flavorful, adding an extra zing cocktails and desserts.
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New Orleans: Po'Boys

The po’boy or ‘poor boy’ emerged from the working class of New Orleans in the mid-1920s. Its fillings vary from fried seafood to ham and cheese. Each year, New Orleans holds a po’boy festival to crown the best po’boy in the city.
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New Orleans: Beignets

These light, fluffy fried pastries are best-served coated in powdered sugar. And don’t forget a side of chicory coffee! Get your fix at the city’s most famous establishment Cafe du Monde. Better yet, learn how to make them at home.
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New Orleans: Gumbo

Louisiana natives pride themselves on this classic comfort food. The sausage or seafood stew can be made Cajun- or Creole-style. (The secret: Creole-style gumbos use tomatoes!) Our recipe is similar to those found in the French Quarter.
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Louisville: Hot Browns

You can thank Fred Schmidt for inventing this open-faced sandwich. Traditionally, layers of turkey and bacon are served on top of Texas toast, with a rich, creamy cheese sauce drizzled on top.
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St. Louis: Toasted Ravioli

This fun appetizer was supposedly invented by mistake when a chef accidentally dropped a ravioli in a deep-fryer. Don’t forget a side of marinara sauce for dipping!
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Cincinnati: Chili

Served over top pasta, this riverside city’s signature dish is composed primarily of ground meat, chopped onions and shredded cheddar cheese. The secret ingredient? Chocolate! This dish is so popular, over 2 million pounds of it is eaten each year in Cincinnati alone.
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Kansas City: Ribs

As a hot-spot for barbecue, you’d be amiss to travel through Kansas City without trying their smoky-sweet ribs. The city’s barbecue style is unique because it uses a thick tomato-based sauce that’s both spicy and sweet, often incorporating molasses and brown sugar.
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Chicago: Deep-Dish Pizza

Chicago is known for it’s thick-crusted, deep-dish pizza. And what’s not to love? The pie-like crust allows for more cheese, chunky tomato sauce and toppings. If you’re in town try Pizzeria Uno, Giordano’s or Lou Malnati’s for the best slice. Can’t make the trip? Try our recipe, below.
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Chicago: Giardiniera

Giardiniera is put on nearly everything in Chicago. The Italian pickled vegetables taste great on hot dogs, beef sandwiches, pizza and even eggs! Learn how to make your own, today.
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Milwaukee: Fried Cheese Curds

Nothing beats melty, deep-fried cheese curds made from real Wisconsin cheese. Prior to frying, you can tell if a cheese curd is fresh by its characteristic squeak.
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Denver: Omelets

The true origin of the Denver omelet is hotly debated, but one thing is for sure, it is loved by locals and visitors alike. Mix-ins like diced ham, green bell peppers and onions are sure to satisfy.
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Santa Fe: Chile Rellenos

Santa Fe citizens have no trouble ordering a plate of Chile Rellenos, a fried poblano pepper stuffed with meat and cheese. The tough choice is whether to add green or red chile sauce. Up in the air? Order it ‘Christmas’ style with both!
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Los Angeles: Avocado Toast

Get ready to snap a picture of this classic LA brunch meal. California chefs are known for creating artistic designs, such as roses, out of avocado on this savory toast. However, at home, we like ours mashed.
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Los Angeles: Chicken & Waffles

Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles is as famous for it’s sweet and salty mashup as it is for the many celebrities that visit. Make this fried speciality at home with our easy recipe, below.
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San Francisco: Cioppino

Invented by Italian-American fishermen around the turn of the century, this seafood stew is still a favorite at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. It takes advantage of a melange of fish and shellfish (anything a fisherman caught in a day!) to create a hearty comfort food perfect for those foggy summer days.
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San Diego: California Burrito

The California-style burrito originated in San Diego in the ’80s. It’s stuffed to near-bursting with juicy meat, cheese, sour cream and sometimes even potatoes. Try this homemade version for a tasty meal.
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San Francisco: Sourdough Bread

What is it about this iconic bread that makes it so sour? The cool, humid air that travels across the bay is ideal for long, slow fermentation, which gives the loaf its signature taste.
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Honolulu: Mahi Mahi Tacos

These fresh fish tacos are popular across the entire state, but the best are in Honolulu. Fun fact: Mahi mahi is the Hawaiian name for the fish, which literally translates to ‘very strong,’ The official English name for the seafood is dolphinfish.
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Seattle: Salmon

This coastal city is famous for their fresh fish, especially salmon. (The life cycle of the salmon is even taught in local elementary schools!) Check out the Pike Place Fish Market for the daily catch.
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Quebec: Poutine

Okay, this one is Canadian. But we don’t think our northerly neighbors would mind, especially since it’s a popular dish in the Northern half of the US, though commonly known as ‘disco fries.’

Caroline Stanko
As Editor, Caroline writes and edits all things food-related and helps produce videos for Taste of Home. When she’s not at her desk, you can probably find Caroline cooking up a feast, planning her next trip abroad or daydreaming about her golden retriever, Mac.