Although fast food might be the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term “American cuisine,” it’s so much more than that. America’s culinary heritage is a cornucopia of ethnic traditions, regional tastes and local ingredients. Check out the Dex directory to find an eclectic variety of restaurants in your area, or take a tour of the country’s distinct regions below.
The chilly Atlantic waters off New England’s rocky coast have sustained its fishing industry for nearly 400 years. This is one of the best regions in the country to get seafood, from lobster rolls and crab cakes to clam chowder.
Cornmeal “johnnycakes” are another staple in New England and all along the East Coast. Their origins are not entirely certain, but early British settlers may have based the recipe on Native-American-style flatbread.
If you have a taste for hot dogs on through fine dining, head to New York City, a culinary crown jewel with its street food and 4-star restaurants. It’s also home to a diverse ethnic population, and you can find traditional Middle Eastern food, Indian curry, Caribbean food, classic Italian fare, deli and bagels — and much more — around every corner.
Southern cuisine is an amalgam of French, South American and African influences, combined with locally grown ingredients like rice, seafood, peaches and citrus. Some of the region’s culinary highlights include:
Southern fare is also associated with comfort foods like fried chicken, pecan pie and peach cobbler. And no discussion of this cuisine would be complete without mentioning barbecue. Southern-style barbecue sauce, characterized by its tang and sweetness, is a popular way to dress up wings or pork.
If you’re hungry for burgers or steak, head to the cattle-growing region of the Midwest. While you’re there, be sure to sample the spaetzle or pierogies at a German or Eastern European restaurant, as many immigrants from these areas settled in states like Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Like New York City, Chicago is a patchwork of ethnic neighborhoods and home to a thriving restaurant scene. Chicagoans who settle in other regions of the country sometimes talk about missing their hometown pizza. Chicago-style deep dish pizza features ingredients like a thick, focaccia-style crust, spicy sausage, chunky tomato sauce and melty cheese. It’s the ultimate in comfort food or a hearty game-day meal.
Like Southern food, cuisine in America’s Southwest grew out of an eclectic blending of cultures, especially Mexican, Spanish and Native American. Beef, chilies and bell peppers are prominent in Southwestern recipes, along with tortillas, tamales and other foods imported from south of the border.
Texas barbecue is cooked low and slow, either without sauce or with sauces and rubs that tend to be spicier than their Southern counterparts. The Texas-style pit method of barbecuing is ideal for beef, especially brisket.
California reflects the Mediterranean in its climate and terrain and also in its cuisine, from seafood to mixed-green salads and fresh fruit and vegetables. The West Coast supports a large Asian population, along with classic Chinese, Thai and Japanese restaurants. In fact, sushi was first introduced to the United States by way of Los Angeles in the 1960s.
Vegan and vegetarian cuisine are popular in the Pacific Northwest, and the area is home to a large community of enthusiastic foodies, creative chefs, food cart entrepreneurs and innovative restaurants.
This quick trip through America’s regions offers just a taste of its culinary diversity. Whatever you’re hungry for, the Dex directory can help you find a great restaurant, bakery or grocery store close to home.
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