USA Travel Bucket List: Best Food in the USA

One of the joys of traveling through the United States is discovering the diversity of food that is available. Regions, states, and cities have their own specialty fare, ingredients, and must-visit restaurants and markets. Even those travelers who don't consider themselves gourmands may be inclined to plan an itinerary around a favorite food item, such as Chicago pizza or Memphis BBQ; or around a culinary landmark, like a Michelin-starred restaurant.

The following is a list of some of the must-eat foods and must-visit restaurants, markets, and snack shacks across the USA. The items in this list are in no particular order. It's impossible to rate one experience over the other.

  • 01 of 20

    Fish in Seattle

    Purveyor holding large fish
    ••• Pike Place Market

     Watch the flying fish at Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle. Visit Rachel the Piggybank while shopping in the fish market, collectible shops, and specialty food vendors. Originally established in 1907, the Fish Market is got an expansion called the MarketFront.

  • 02 of 20

    Tabasco in Louisiana

    Tabasco Museum
    ••• Tabasco

    You can take a tour of the Tabasco Factory on Avery Island in Louisiana, but if you're just passing by, you can read what it's like to work as a Tabasco taste tester.

     

  • 03 of 20

    Michelin-Starred Resturants

    Scandinavian bouillabaisse
    ••• Scandinavian Bouillabaisse at Aquavit in New York City. Michelin Guide

    Michelin-Starred restaurants are considered the pinnacle of dining (though there has been some blowback on that). Nevertheless, many foodies may aim to dine in at least one — if not all — of the Michelin-starred restaurants in the USA.

  • 04 of 20

    BBQs

    Close-Up of meat on plate
    ••• Eric William Ozbun / EyeEm / Getty Images

    BBQ is made differently in each nook and cranny of the country and you can sample each one of the USA's many different styles of BBQ.

    Continue to 5 of 20 below.
  • 05 of 20

    Spicy New Orleans

    Seafood gumbo with bread
    ••• Bill Boch / Getty Images

    Indulge in the spicy flavors of Cajun and Creole cuisine in New Orleans. Trying their gumbo is a must and you can't leave without trying the pralines. 

  • 06 of 20

    Cuban Food in Little Havana

    MiamI tourists order from window of Little Havana restaurant
    ••• Boogich / Getty Images

     Enjoy authentic Cuban eats in Miami's Little Havana. Indulge your palate with their arroz con gris, while indulging your eyes and ears with the culture and the language.

  • 07 of 20

    Jewish Delis in New York City

    Pastrami sandwich
    ••• Pastrami sandwich at Carnegie Deli. Carnegie Deli

    Go on a crawl of Jewish Delis in New York City. Some of the renowned Jewish Delis in New York City include Katz's and Carnegie Deli.

     

  • 08 of 20

    New York Bagels

    Bagels on display, on a New York sidewalk.
    ••• Bagels on display, on a New York sidewalk. Lonely Planet / Getty Images

    Eating an authentic New York bagel is a must. Try one from one of the delis listed as the best places for New York City bagels.

    Continue to 9 of 20 below.
  • 09 of 20

    Ethnic Eating

    ••• San Francisco Chinatown. Margarethe Winchert

    Some of the best food in the entire nation is cooked in various cities' ethnic neighborhoods. Some areas worth exploring for their culinary contributions include San Francisco's Chinatown and The Hill, the Italian-American neighborhood in St. Louis, which is particularly known for its fried ravioli.

  • 10 of 20

    Kentucky Bourbon Trail

    Barrels of Kentucky bourbon
    ••• Angels Envy Bourbon. John J. Miller Photography / Getty Images

    Bourbon whiskey is particular to the United States, and the best place to experience it is along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. You can pick up a "passport" which will get stamped at every distillery and once completed, you'll receive a t-shirt for your journey.

  • 11 of 20

    Wine Country

    Woman drinking wine, Mountain Vineyard, Napa Valley, California
    ••• Mountain Vineyard, Napa Valley, California. Martin Sundberg / Getty Images

    Everyone should visit California wine country, which includes regions north of San Francisco such as Napa and Sonoma, as well as the Central Coast such as Paso Robles.

  • 12 of 20

    Seafood Along the Coasts

    Maryland Blue Crab
    ••• Maryland Blue Crab. JuniperCreek / Getty Images

    With thousands of miles of coastline on the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as well as the Gulf of Mexico, the United States can boast many seafood traditions. Two of them worth adding to a bucket list are dining on lobster in Maine and blue crabs in Maryland.

    Continue to 13 of 20 below.
  • 13 of 20

    Pizza Corners

    Chicago deep dish pizza
    ••• Chicago deep dish pizza. LauriPatterson / Getty Images

    Pizza is Italian in origin, but it has its own traditions in the United States. Both New York pizza and Chicago pizza deserve to be on the bucket list.

  • 14 of 20

    Burger Joints

    Man holding homemade angus beef burgers with bacon whisky jam
    ••• Eugene Mymrin / Getty Images

    Try one, if not all, of the best burgers in the USA

  • 15 of 20

    Old Eating

    ••• Union Oyster House. Paul Marotta

    Dine at one or all of America's oldest restaurants. They include the White Horse Tavern in Newport, Rhode Island; Union Oyster House in Boston; and Antoine's Restaurant in New Orleans.

  • 16 of 20

    Lowcountry Cuisine

    Shrimp boil stew
    ••• Shrimp boil, also known as Lowcountry Boil or Frogmore Stew. A13ean/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

    Visit coastal Georgia and South Carolina to try Lowcountry Cuisine.

    Continue to 17 of 20 below.
  • 17 of 20

    Green Chiles in New Mexico

    Chicken chile verde
    ••• New Mexican green chile chicken stew. sbossert / Getty Images

    Spice up your trip taste buds with some New Mexico green chiles. Check out the best restaurants for green chile dishes in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

  • 18 of 20

    Tex-Mex in Texas

    Chili con carne tacos viewed from above
    ••• Chili con carne tacos tex mex. istetiana / Getty Images

    Try the Tex-Mex cuisine in Texas. Texas Monthly, the authority on all things Lone Star State, has published the 50 Best Mexican Restaurants in Texas.

  • 19 of 20

    Cheesesteaks in Philadelphia

    Philly cheese steak sandwich with potato wedges
    ••• Thomas Firak Photography / Getty Images

    Have a Philly Cheesesteak in Philadelphia. Will you go to Pat's or Geno's, the best-known cheesesteak sellers in the city, or another vendor? 

  • 20 of 20

    Good Eats in Hawaii

    Assorted food at luau
    ••• Burke/Triolo Productions / Getty Images

    If you're willing to cross the ocean to our furthest state, you have to go to a luau in Hawaii. What's not to love about the warm weather, the salty air, and Hawaiian cuisine?