4/24/2013 09:45:00 AM

The 50 Plates of America: A Culinary Journey Across the U.S.

Texas 'cue
When you're traveling from sea to shining sea, you sure work up an appetite. With spring-travel season approaching, we thought we'd take a little trip of our own through restaurants around the country to see who's serving up some must-try dishes in each state (plus DC!). Our slide show features 51 dishes that represent the vast and varied culinary scene in America. The selections are sure to stir up some debate - when you have to narrow down all the awesome offerings to just a single selection, some worthy options are bound to be left out. Click through to see some travel-worthy bites and let us know in the comments about which state dishes you think should have made the map.

Oh, and if you get in the mood for some coffee during your journey, check out our 50 States, 50 Coffee Shop guide here.

39 comments :

  1. I live in LA and NEVER eat fish tacos...really a poor representation of LA. and Most of this food is something I doubt most people eat..it is pretty gross.

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  2. I was raised in Indiana and never ate a Sugar Cream Pie. What we did eat was a Breaded Tenderloin sandwich which are incredible. You can't find them outside of the state anywhere.
    Then I moved to Illinois and Deep Dish Pizza, is a Chicago tradition, but it doesn't represent the state. (Its a big state.) What is unique to Illinois are their Walleye sandwiches and Cheese Toasties.
    Now I live in Texas and have learned to love BBQ Brisket...that one they really get right and so did Zagat!

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  3. I've lived in Indiana for 53 years and never had Hoosier Cream Pie (and don't know where to find it). I think a better choice is a giant Pork Tenderloin sandwich.

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    1. I want a Hoosier Cream Pie, now!

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  4. Apparently a very poorly researched article. Missouri - Burnt End Sandwich??? What? Where? I've lived in St. Louis for over 40 years ang have never heard of this item. Maybe they should have featured Gooey Butter Cake, Pork Steaks, or Toasted Ravioli. Much more Missouri. ZAGAT you get a complete FAIL on this one.

    Face it people, ZAGAT only covers trendy cities and states. They ignore most of the 'fly-over'. We've got great restaurants in St. Louis and KC, some on par with the trendy places in NYC, LA, San Fran, but ZAGAT will never know since the only time they've been to St. Louis is when they were in our airspace at 38,000 feet.

    Michael

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    1. Burnt Ends are HUGE in Kansas City, and a unique dish to that part of Missouri! I can't believe you haven't heard of it in St Louis, we know Imo's pizza out west.

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    2. I lived in ST. Louis for 15 years and never heard of Burnt End Sandwiches either. What about Concretes??

      Everybody in Missouri knows about Ted Drews.

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    3. Burnt ends ARE Kansas City BBQ...famous everywhere except St. Louis, apparently.

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    4. Michael, Kansas City has two foods/restaurants on the list (Ribs-Oklahoma Joe's and Burnt End Sandwiches-Arthur Bryants). Missouri is more than just St. Louis. Maybe you and Headhunter should take a trip out west and see what all the fuss is about.

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    5. Why not meet half way, Columbia, Jeff City? Headhunter and I will bring Toasted Ravs, Gooey Butter Cake and Ted Drews. You bring the Burnt End Sandwiches and the rib racks. It'll be a 'statewide' meal and we'll get to know each other better. Game?

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    6. Hardly anyone outside of STL has ever heard of any of STL's favorite foods. KC BBQ on the other hand has been featured, published, and bragged about more times than I can count. Having lived in both cities for exactly the same amount of time, I would say there are enormous strong points in each and I could go on for some time about the things the rock in STL. That being said, the food scene in KC is simply superior. Sorry

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    7. Throw in some bagels (with a schmear) from Protzels, and a pastrami sandwich from Kruger's, and I'm in with Chicken Spiedini from Cascone's, and the cake of your choice from Wally's (both worth the drive from St. Louis).

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  5. Zagat, you're an institution. Now knock it off with the attempts at ultra-hipness. WTF is 'cue!?

    In Texas: Barbecue, BBQ, Bar-B-Que, take your pick. But "'cue"? What nonsense.

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  6. The most iconic food to come out of New York State is the bagel? What? I love a real New York bagel more than most, but you're really stacking the bagel up against chicken wings? I'm getting kind of sick of Zagat focusing the cities that they think are good and ignoring actual up and coming cities with growing culinary cultures. If I read one more list that includes cities like Austin and Portland while ignoring Pittsburgh, I'm going to scream.

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  7. Replies
    1. Iowa's (Zombie Burger) is positively junk. No substitutions or changes, can't specify doneness (everything is well). You want the best fried food, go to the Iowa State Fair and get a Pickle Dawg

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    2. I can't claim to have lived in/traveled extensively in all 50 states, but I think they killed it in CA, AZ, HI, MO, KS, WI, and MN, all areas with which I'm familiar. Fish tacos, poke, burnt ends (and yes, we call it 'cue), hot dish -- all regional faves & rightly famous. And now I want some cheese curds, dang it.

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    3. Thank you for the article

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  8. Just got back from Hawaii and had poke for the first time. Great choice, Zagat!

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  9. I'm from California and I love fish tacos. Also, just got back from a business trip to Missouri and went to the original Arthur Bryant's from a local's suggestions. Amazing stuff. Finally, gotta say, I'm interested in at Hoosier Cream Pie, though.

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    1. come to shediac new brunswick canada where the original acadians made it back in oooh 1755 lol go to a local bakery and ask for sugar pie if you want the real stuff :)

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  10. Arkansas:
    Cheese dip
    Fried pickles
    Grapette and Orangette
    Chocolate gravy
    Pecans
    Blackapples
    Rice (even sugared rice)
    The Bradley County Pink Tomato
    Watermelon
    Pie... pie... pie.

    C'mon, Zagat. Ask the experts.

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  11. Texas Bar-B-Que Beats the Heck out of what they call BBQ in North Carolina, but how in the heck could Zagat miss good ole Tex-Mex food. Oh well, at least they did get brisket.

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  12. Not to continue the negativity but...

    " take their barbecue very seriously and scoff at the notion of perfectly good meat smothered in the sort of thick, tomato-based sauces found in Texas and elsewhere"

    Dude, the calling card of Texas is a dry rub. We think it's a travesty to drown meat in sauce. Now, when we do use it, yes it's usually tomato-based, but we don't smother meat. That's Kansas City you're talking about. I live in Atlanta, GA now and have had some NC-inspired Q and that vinegar $#*% is for the birds.

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    1. Uh, Kansas City does NOT smother BBQ with syrupy sauce. Whether it is beef, turkey, ham or burnt ends, you are free to add sauce as you desire. The meat, however is served au naturel, to show off the perfect smoke ring in the meat.
      Molasses-based sauce is the domain of KC Masterpiece, which is suburban barbecue. Bryant's sauce is ANYTHING BUT sweet. REAL Kansas City-style ribs are served sans sauce, or, as Bryant's says, with a splash of sauce. And, by the way Tex, the Lone Star State does not have an exclusive on dry rubs. Anyone in the Show Me State worth his salt (and pepper, paprika, etc.) uses a specialized rub.

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  13. Traveling through the Natural State, Arkansas, you have got to experience the best of the skillet cornbread. Lots of restaurants go for the 'sweet baked in a pan' kind but, when you get a great skillet cornbread with a buttery crispy crust, you know you're in Southern cornbread heaven.

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  14. Burnt ends are heaven in my mouth! Get them when you're in Kansas City, Mo.

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  15. I anxiously salivated through the 50 Plates of America, waiting to see what you held as special in Nevada. While I agree that beef is a staple in the state, I disagree that one will find the best beef in Las Vegas. The Bonanza Casino, in Reno, is home to Cactus Creek Prime Steakhouse. This restaurant has been voted the best of Nevada the last three years in a row. We serve only USDA Prime beef; our signature Prime Rib draws guests from as far away as Northern California and beyond. Perhaps you should give Cactus Creek a look and taste and see if you don't agree? Google us and give me a call!
    Char Coburn, Director of Human Resources

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  16. I have lived in VT my entire life and never had Maple Mousse

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  17. Zagat REALLY missed the mark here; to say the best thing in Missouri is a BURNT END SANDWHICH!!?? Really? Im totally losing faith in your ability to choose delicious things aside from your terrible ability at choosing state famous foods....

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    1. Agree with the Missouri comment. Zagat people need to actually come to the places they write about instead of relying on Google searches to create content.

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    2. BBQ is certainly not exclusive to Missouri, but a huge part of the state's food culture. I'm a southern Mo resident, but think it's great that they included Kansas City, as everyone always thinks of St. Louis when it comes to the state. Also, if you've been to Arthur Bryant's, you know to get those amazing burnt ends. I've had them and they're so good and way more unique than ribs or pulled pork.

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    3. St. Louis certainly has plenty going on, but Arthur Bryant's makes some of the best food in America. That was a smart choice.

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    4. I'm not aware of a single BBQ staple in the Lou. burnt ends, best in BBQ? maybe. Best in MO, of probably. Better than the Niche? no way. But until someone does better in the worlds eye, which is what this column depicts, KC is renown for "BURNT END SANDWICHES!???"

      Side note, Visit the American, Bluestem, Rye, Port Fonda, or the butcher shop Local Pig. Im sure there has been 0 press about these folks repping Missouri. (in huge national media at that)

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  18. Frank and Lupe's in Arizona? Don't they have any mexican restaurants of their own that measure up to what comes out of NM? The original Frank and Lupe's is in Socorro, not Scottsdale.

    Also, get Lupe's enchiladas (chicken, green, with an egg OE) instead of Frank's plate. You can thank me later.

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  19. Louisiana is known for its spicy seafood not just gumbo. Which one, just pick one, shrimp, oyster, crawfish, and blue crab! La. has more seafood restaurants than churches! Furthermore, Zagat, you didn't mention the location of Commander's Palace. It's in New Orleans. Thanks for the effort better luck next time. :)

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  20. Believe me, sugar cream pie is a Hoosier treat.
    Yesterday a semi passed me from Wick's Pies in Winchester, IN.
    Sign on the truck --Wick's Sugar Cream Pie, Official Pie of the Indianapolis Colts.

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  21. OK, so where are the recipes for these? There are some I'd love to try!

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