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Taste local American cuisine

Culinary

Food in America is an adventure. It is an exciting combination of all the different cultural influences that make up this country, arranged with new ingredients. It's certainly not all supersized junk food. Sample these new interesting dishes throughout your trip and the flavours will stay in your memories.

Just imagine Dim Sum stacked in high steamers, guacamole freshly made for you at your table, bagels with 25 choices of cream cheese piled high in a New York deli, freshly caught seafood in Maine, blueberry pancakes in Portland, wine from a Californian vineyard, and barista coffee and cocktail-making taken to an art form.

Eating a filling breakfast in an American diner is a fun way to start your day
The American burger now has lots of healthier variations for you to try

What is American cuisine?

When travelling around the United States, you will notice many new and enticing things to try. From native ingredients and the traditional favourites to interesting fusions and multi-cultural chefs who really celebrate the locally-grown produce. Here are some of the most popular and a few of the less well-known dishes for you to try on your trip. Whether you have breakfast and complimentary coffee refills in a Chicago diner or fresh seafood in San Francisco Bay, you are in for a treat.

Native ingredients

Would you like to try real and authentic American flavours? There are some particular ingredients that were the original staple foods of the indigenous people of the Americas. The Native Americans taught the English Settlers to use these new crops to survive in the new land. Over time these ingredients have slowly been adapted to form some of the traditional American dishes that you can try during your journey through the United States. Here are some to keep an eye out for.

  • Squash
  • Corn
  • Avocado
  • Peppers & Beans
  • Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes
  • Tomatoes & Tomatillos
The squash is native to North America and comes in many varieties
The English settlers named this crop corn and it was a vital source of food for them; it still tastes great on the barbeque today

Traditional Cusine

Traditional American food is not well known for being healthy but it’s certainly delicious. For meat-eaters, there is the Texas barbeque and are more variations of hamburgers and fries than can we list. Shrimp with Hominy Grits (a kind of porridge made from boiled cornmeal) or drop biscuits and sausage gravy are classic dishes in the southern states and corn chowder is more typical in New England.

Pastrami and rye sandwiches and bagels with lox are not originally American but these delicacies introduced by Italian and Polish immigrants have almost become traditional foods now. Enjoy the mixing of influences of traditional and modern cuisine during your holiday and sample some new dishes. If you travel in November, perhaps you will be lucky enough to experience a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner.

A traditional Thanksgiving meal with turkey, pumpkin pie and pecan pie

Fresh Seafood

Many Americans consider Maine the seafood capital of the United States, but others like to debate this and say that California, Texas or Florida are better. With such variety from fresh crab in Alaska, giant lobsters and tasty oysters in New England to crispy fried shrimp in the southern states, we suggest you try out a selection of dishes and make up your own mind. There is even lobster ice cream if you are feeling really adventurous.

Oysters with a dash of lemon served outdoors
Fine dining with a whole lobster served to your plate

Fusion Food

America is the home of the Pizza Effect, where they take regional cuisine and make it bigger and better and create a fusion with other cooking styles. Think of a deep-dish pizza topped with pineapple or the way Tex-Mex food has developed more elaborately from its Mexican origins.

Hawaiian food is also truly a fusion of cultures where different types of cuisines mix. Here you can order spam sushi, which is spam wrapped in sticky rice, then in seaweed. Or you can ask for a Loco Moco, which is white sticky rice topped with a hamburger, a fried egg and thick brown gravy. Do you consider this shocking or would you give it a try?

Californian Rolls and other kinds of sushi are now found all across the States
Tex-Mex food had become something uniquely American

Dining Out

Most Americans eat out several times a week and dining out is certain to be a special part of your holiday in the States. The range of food and restaurants is varied and tempting, from formal dining with gourmet chefs cooking heritage cuisine to avocado toast and poke bowls at a casual waterside lunch.

We recommend trying out traditional American restaurants for fish, steaks, regional ingredients and desserts. Also, try some international restaurants, for example, Dim Sum restaurants where all your courses arrive at once and you can stay for hours. Do be prepared for the tipping culture; 15 to 20% is standard in good restaurants.

Outdoor dining with fresh air and fresh ingredients is very popular in the States

Deserts

Save some room for dessert because there are just so many great sweet things to try during your trip. There are American classics like apple pie and ice cream, peach cobbler and carrot cake. Or try the fun desserts like banana and hot fudge sundae or peanut butter brownies. In New York, the variety of different types of cheesecake is staggering, including lime, blueberry, lemon, chocolate and more.

And don't forget all those naughty in-between snacks like soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies and doughnuts with one hundred types of toppings. Let us help you plan an active holiday so you can enjoy tasting these delicious desserts without worrying too much.

Cherry Pie and Peach Cobbler are two American deserts using fresh seasonal fruits

Cocktails

According to legend, the first cocktail was invented by an apothecary in New Orleans. There are now so many to try, with a huge range of flavours and locals ingredients. Margheritas, Martinis, Mimosas, Manhattans or Moscow Mules; they don't all begin with M, but that's just to name a few. You can sit back and relax with a Cosmo in your hand and really know that you are on holiday.

A Long Island Ice Tea is a very refreshing cocktail on summer days

Wine

In your travels across the United States, you can take tours of vineyards and go to wine tastings. Wine has been produced here since the time of the early settlers and although every state has vineyards, California is responsible for 90% of the American wine production. Napa Valley and Sonoma are two regions of California famous for their chardonnay, pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon and zinfandel. However, there are also other wine-producing regions that stretch from Washington to Virginia and New York.

Learn about the characteristics of the different grapes and regions and how these combine to produce unique tastes - and then you can choose the best wines to accompany your meal with confidence.

Take time on your trip to go to a wine tasting in a vineyard
Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, Merlot or Syrah, what will be your choice?

Coffee

Enjoy the fantastic coffee culture that America has to offer. On almost every street corner of any American city, you can enjoy a quality cup of coffee. Baristas make beautiful coffee, from the regular types to try speciality coffees and they take their work seriously.

Know your Macchiato from your Affogato and an Americano from a Red Eye. Get your day off to a good start with the quality coffee of your choice and then go and explore.

Baristas at work at a coffee bar
Enjoy the many different types of coffee available throughout the United States

Discover more about America

Indigenous Americans

Culture and history

Learning about the fascinating culture of the Indigenous Americans is an unmistakable part of your journey through… read more

America has a rich history and an amazing range of museums, over 35,000 infact, and they are not only famous art… read more

One step closer to your dream trip

More is possible than you may think

You probably already have ideas for your holiday to America and Canada. Nature tours through the Rocky Mountains, spotting orcas near the San Juan Islands, or exploring the streets of San Francisco on the iconic cable car?

For the best local tips and advice, visit one of our online presentations. Meet our travel specialists and have all of your questions answered.