Food Paradise: Comfort Foods

Comfort foods fill your tummy and feed your soul.
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Foodie Tour

50 States 50 Plates

The must-have eats in every state (plus, DC) according to James Beard Award-winning chef Andrew Zimmern.

Alabama: White BBQ Sauce

Alabama: White BBQ Sauce

I love this stuff. When I think of Alabama, I think of piles of smoky BBQ chicken with deep bowls of Alabama white for dipping. 960 1280

David Lang  

Alaska: King Crab

Alaska: King Crab

Keep your caribou, your moose, your seal and your salmon, for my money the best food on earth is king crab -- in season, pulled live from the icy waters of Alaska and eaten immediately. And don’t let any of it go to waste: steam the knuckles in egg white and rice wine and season with soy sauce; make crab rice with the head and body; fry the legs with ginger and chilies. 960 1280

  

Arizona: Sonoran Hot Dogs and Fry Bread (Tie)

Arizona: Sonoran Hot Dogs and Fry Bread (Tie)

Chili meat sandwiches made with local fry bread are as good as eating gets. I have one and then use that as fuel as I drive to Nogales, my favorite Sonoran hotdog stand. 960 1280

  

Arkansas: Squirrel

Arkansas: Squirrel

The Hiawassee Squirrel Cook Off takes place every year in Bentonville, AR. Be there or be square. 960 1280

  

California: Sea Urchin

California: Sea Urchin

From Dungeness crab in the north to Grunion (a fish similar to sardines) in the south, it’s Cali’s coastline that lures me in. No sea urchin is better in the world than the huge, black-spike globes taken off the San Diego coast in season. None. 960 1280

  

Colorado: Lamb and Peaches (Tie)

Colorado: Lamb and Peaches (Tie)

Every spring, Colorado baby lamb (eaten just as it’s transitioning from being fed milk to grass) might be my favorite food in the state … wait, what about those mountain peaches? Hmm … tie game! 960 1280

Rich Freeda  

Connecticut: New Haven Pizza

Connecticut: New Haven Pizza

New Haven “apizza” -- pronounced A-BEET-ZA  -- period, end of discussion. I like to crush my Neopolitan-style pies at Frank Pepe’s or Sally’s. 960 1280

  

DC: Half smokes at Ben's Chili Bowl

DC: Half smokes at Ben's Chili Bowl

Sure, they’re junky and not the bespoke dogs so popular elsewhere, but with loads of raw onion they seriously can't be beat. 960 1280

By Josh Thompson CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Delaware: Muddle

Delaware: Muddle

Sure, the Carolinas claim fish stew known as muddle as their own, but the best version I ever had was on the beach in Delaware served with saltines and piles of corn pudding and cracked crabs. 960 1280

  

Florida: Key Lime Pie

Florida: Key Lime Pie

Key Lime pie is my favorite and this is my list. End of discussion. 960 1280

  

Georgia: Pecan Pie

Georgia: Pecan Pie

Sure, I’ll take your peach pie, your ham and biscuits, your boiled peanuts and fried green tomatoes … but for me, Georgia’s pecan pie is the best. They even call it Karo pie after the corn syrup in the recipe. Love. 960 1280

  

Hawaii: Ahi Limu Poke

Hawaii: Ahi Limu Poke

Fresh-cut tuna seasoned with sesame oil, soy, seaweed and, for me, a spritz of citrus and I am all good brah. 960 1280

  

Idaho: Baked Potato

Idaho: Baked Potato

Don’t feel bad Idaho, your baked potato comes loaded and stuffed from the fixin’s bar. Oh, and served alongside some of your world-class grilled elk there is no finer food on earth. 960 1280

  

Illinois: Chicago-Style Hot Dog

Illinois: Chicago-Style Hot Dog

Considering that I am a New Yorker, Chicago pizza is off the table. Luckily, my favorite food is the hot dog and no state on earth has more hot dog eateries per capita than Illinois. I love a great Chicago Dog: Wolfy’s or Superdawg or Franks ‘n Dawgs for the win. 960 1280

  

Indiana: Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie

Indiana: Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie

Sugar. Cream. Pie. Done. 960 1280

  

Iowa: Eskimo Pie

Iowa: Eskimo Pie

It might seem like an unlikely choice for Iowa, but did you know the Eskimo Pie was invented by Christian Nelson in Onawa, Iowa who franchised his idea in the Roaring ‘20s after the encouragement of candy god Russell Stover? 960 1280

  

Kansas: Kansas City BBQ

Kansas: Kansas City BBQ

Kansas City was the home of great stockyards once, and much of the northern migration of Black America passed through here, so the BBQ scene is like the greatest hits of what the south has to offer. Q39, LC’s, Jacks Stack, Joe’s, BB’s Lawnside -- and that’s just one day of eating for me in Kansas City alone! 960 1280

  

Kentucky: Bourbon

Kentucky: Bourbon

Bourbon counts as a food because it’s brown. And brown is the color of flavor. Don’t question me on these issues. 960 1280

  

Louisiana: Gumbo

Louisiana: Gumbo

Nothing reflects the history of our country better than gumbo. Nothing. And here in Louisiana it’s cooked better than anywhere else. 960 1280

  

Maine: Lobster Roll

Maine: Lobster Roll

Lobster Rolls are in my all-time top 10 foods. I eat 2 a day when I visit my dad every month. From Reds in Wiscasset to Five Islands Lobster Company to Eventide to the shack nearest you, the lobstah’ roll is without peer. 960 1280

  

Maryland: Crab

Maryland: Crab

Softies, crab cakes and cracked-steamed blues seasoned with Old Bay. Maryland, I love you. 960 1280

  

Massachusetts: Clam Chowder

Massachusetts: Clam Chowder

I wanted to go so many places with this one, but at end of the day the Chowdah capital of the world is Massachusetts. Runner up goes to NECCO wafers, my favorite candy and a Mass original for 150 years. 960 1280

  

Michigan: Cherry Pie

Michigan: Cherry Pie

Michigan cherry pie -- holy, sweet baby Jesus -- it’s beyond superb. 960 1280

  

Minnesota: The Jucy Lucy

Minnesota: The Jucy Lucy

The New York Times finally got something wrong with the grape salad debacle, but the Jucy Lucy (a burger with molten cheese in the middle of the patty as well as on top) is all ours. 960 1280

  

Mississippi: Natchez-Style Grits

Mississippi: Natchez-Style Grits

Natchez-style grits, baked and loaded with cheese and served with some real Mississippi barbecue are where it’s at. 960 1280

  

Missouri: Gooey Butter Cake

Missouri: Gooey Butter Cake

Fried Ravioli was invented here, and local river fish are superb, but Ooey Gooey Butter Cake is the crack cocaine of desserts. 960 1280

  

Montana: Huckleberry Pie

Montana: Huckleberry Pie

One night in Montana, I ate a pitchfork bison steak fried in a kettle of lard over an open fire and it blew my mind, but the fresh huckleberry pie afterwards still haunts me at night. 960 1280

  

Nebraska: Rocky Mountain Oysters

Nebraska: Rocky Mountain Oysters

If you have an adventurous palate and want to give Rocky Mountain oysters, aka bull testicles, a try, Nebraska is the place to go. Round the Bend Steakhouse in Ashland has hosted an annual Testicle Festival since 1993 where they serve up Rocky Mountain oysters and call them "bull fries." 960 1280

Rhett Muller / Red Thread  

Nevada: Las Vegas Sushi

Nevada: Las Vegas Sushi

Nothing says Las Vegas like eating sushi before hitting the gaming tables. Famed Japanese chef Masa Takayama creates a $240 appetizer that some consider a work of art at BarMasa, if that tells you anything about what to expect at this restaurant. Toro, also known as the belly of wild bluefin tuna, is a must. 960 1280

Ethan Miller  

New Hampshire: Sunday Turkey Dinner

New Hampshire: Sunday Turkey Dinner

The seafood in New Hampshire is amazing, but their real food heritage lies inland in the traditional Yankee food category. Puritan settlers from England brought their own cooking traditions, like baked beans, baked turkey, and apple pie, and stole some classics from the Native Americans, who used corn meal in skillet cake, all kinds of fish in chowders and clam bakes and boiled maple sap. So let’s give New Hampshire the “Sunday turkey dinner while watching the football game.” 960 1280

Adam Rose  

New Jersey: Taylor Ham

New Jersey: Taylor Ham

Some of the best seafood, tomatoes and corn on the planet comes from the Garden State, but it’s Taylor Ham, the original Jersey pork roll, that I love most. 960 1280

  

New Mexico: Hatch Green Chile

New Mexico: Hatch Green Chile

Hatch Green Chiles roasted and chopped on anything or turned into green chile salsa. 960 1280
New York: Smoked Fish and Bagels

New York: Smoked Fish and Bagels

This is my list, and for me, NYC is the greatest food town on earth. Smoked fish piled on bagels ranks up there with the classic NYC burger, Chinese food or a slice of pizza on any list of mine. I love you, "New Yawkh." 960 1280

  

North Carolina: Whole Hog

North Carolina: Whole Hog

North Carolina whole hog served with their classic vinegar slaw and mustardy BBQ sauce is superb. 960 1280

  

North Dakota: Sugar Beets

North Dakota: Sugar Beets

Sorry North Dakota, but lets be honest, your sugar beets are without a peer. We will give you White Bread with Sour Cream-Green Onion salad as a runner up, because I love it every time I see it on the menu. 960 1280

  

Ohio: Polish Boy at Seti’s

Ohio: Polish Boy at Seti’s

Cincinnati chili is cinnamon spiked. Pierogies and Friday fish fries are also superb here, but the Polish Boy at Seti’s is all yours; own that thing!! 960 1280

  

Oklahoma: Chicken-Fried Steak

Oklahoma: Chicken-Fried Steak

The best chicken-fried steak with creamy gravy ever is found all over Sooner Land. 960 1280

  

Oregon: Fish-Sauce Wings at Pok Pok

Oregon: Fish-Sauce Wings at Pok Pok

The easy answer here would be oysters, or salmon, or any of a hundred foods that Oregon is famous for such as Prince Puckler’s hot fudge sauce or Voodoo Donuts … but I’m making a list for a new generation and I’m going with Andy Ricker’s fish-sauce wings at Pok Pok. 960 1280

  

Pennsylvania: Roast-Pork Sandwich

Pennsylvania: Roast-Pork Sandwich

Cheesesteaks, sure, but I prefer the roast-pork version at John’s in Philly, the greatest sandwich town on earth. 960 1280

  

Rhode Island: Coffee Milk

Rhode Island: Coffee Milk

Coffee Milk, even better in a cabinet (or milkshake). Gaggers (weenies) are pretty awesome in Little Rhody, and of course so are all things clam … but I gotta go with my coffee milk. 960 1280

  

South Carolina: Shrimp and Grits

South Carolina: Shrimp and Grits

Sure, Rodney Scott makes BBQ here, and boiled peanuts and sweet muscadine grapes are without equal, but this land is Shrimp-and-Grits territory for me. Plain and simple. Oh, and Martha Lou’s beans. 960 1280

  

South Dakota: Chislic

South Dakota: Chislic

Chislic is weird, but delicious. This meaty stunner is made by deep-frying cubed red meat, dipping it in garlic salt and serving it with saltines. 960 1280

Tara Donne  

Tennessee: Hot Chicken

Tennessee: Hot Chicken

So much to choose from, but you gotta go with the people’s choice and they have spoken: Nashville HOT CHICKEN baby! 960 1280

  

Texas: Brisket

Texas: Brisket

Texas is all about the beef, and real Texas BBQ is all about beef brisket. 960 1280

  

Utah: Funeral Potatoes?

Utah: Funeral Potatoes?

Utah, you make this so hard, your official State Snack is Jell-O. But you love to gather at potlucks and funeral potatoes -- a traditional Mormon casserole consisting of hash browns, cheese, onions, cream soup, sour cream and butter, topped with crushed potato chips -- seem like a natural pick here. 960 1280

  

Vermont: Ben & Jerry’s

Vermont: Ben & Jerry’s

Maple syrup would be an easy answer, but I think Canada owns that one. I’m going with Ben & Jerry’s, the state’s most popular export besides Phish. 960 1280

  

Virginia: Country Ham With Biscuits

Virginia: Country Ham With Biscuits

Need I say more? 960 1280

  

Washington: Oysters

Washington: Oysters

Your oysters are the best. Period. I know it’s hard to hear for all the other states, but it’s true. 960 1280

  

West Virginia: Pepperoni Rolls

West Virginia: Pepperoni Rolls

All the hunting and fishing I do in my FAVORITE state makes me want to offer up a hundred of my campfire favorites, from chicken-fried squirrel to whole-roasted venison, but pepperoni and tomato rolled in store-bought bread or croissant dough is the thing here. If someone makes you them homemade. even better. 960 1280

  

Wisconsin: Cheese Curds

Wisconsin: Cheese Curds

Cheese curds and brats, double down and eat them at the same time. 960 1280

  

Wyoming: Steak

Wyoming: Steak

The best steak I ever ate was on a dude ranch in Wyoming. It was grass fed, aged 4 months and grilled over dying embers to become a charred, rare piece of beefy intensity. Thank you, Wyoming. 960 1280

  

Delicious Eats

America's Best Food Festivals

Whether you want to hobnob with culinary celebs in Los Angeles or chow down on Chicago street food, these festivals offer the perfect way to indulge in a city’s best restaurants without breaking the bank.

Photo Galleries

Big Bob Gibson's BBQ, Decatur, AL

Big Bob Gibson's BBQ, Decatur, AL

960 1280

  

Central BBQ, Memphis, TN

Central BBQ, Memphis, TN

960 1280

  

Atwater Village Tavern, Los Angeles

Atwater Village Tavern, Los Angeles

960 1280

  

Lexington BBQ, Lexington, NC

Lexington BBQ, Lexington, NC

960 1280

  

Rollin Smoke, Las Vegas

Rollin Smoke, Las Vegas

960 1280

  

960 1280

  

Wabash BBQ, Excelsior Springs, MO

Wabash BBQ, Excelsior Springs, MO

960 1280

  

Gatlin’s BBQ, Houston

Gatlin’s BBQ, Houston

960 1280

  

960 1280

  

Micklethwait Craft Meats, Austin, TX

Micklethwait Craft Meats, Austin, TX

960 1280

  

960 1280

  

Boise Fry Company’s Po’ Balls

Boise Fry Company’s Po’ Balls

In Boise, ID, bite into Boise Fry Company’s Po’ Balls. A popular variation on tater tots, BFC’s Po’ Balls are grated russet potatoes, seasoned and deep-fried. 960 1280

  

Unicorn Droppings

Unicorn Droppings

Visit Seattle’s Unicorn for a taste of Unicorn Droppings -- deep-fried peanut butter cups with banana and whipped cream. 960 1280

  

Dickie Dee's Italian Hot Dog

Dickie Dee's Italian Hot Dog

Dickie Dee’s in Newark, NJ, serves up a mouthwatering Italian hot dog -- a pizza bread pocket filled with mustard, 2 deep-fried hot dogs, and topped with peppers and onions, fried potatoes and ketchup. 960 1280

  

Adam's Grub Truck Kraken

Adam's Grub Truck Kraken

Stop by Adam’s Grub Truck in San Francisco for a taste of the Kraken -- a deep-fried soft shell crab sandwich served with 2 jumbo soft shell crabs, avocado wasabi, pickled ginger, fried egg, Asian slaw, bacon and roasted seaweed served on a brioche bun. 960 1280

  

Chicken Charlie's Jelly Donut Chicken Sandwich

Chicken Charlie's Jelly Donut Chicken Sandwich

Head to Chicken Charlie’s at the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar, CA, for the Jelly Donut Chicken Sandwich -- deep-fried chicken on a raspberry jelly donut, topped with honey and powdered sugar. 960 1280

  

The Mighty Cone Fried Pickles

The Mighty Cone Fried Pickles

At The Mighty Cone in Austin, TX, the hot and crunchy, deep-fried Pickles and guajillo chili dusted fries are a customer favorite. 960 1280

  

The Fritti at Salty Caper

The Fritti at Salty Caper

For a deep-fried sugar coma, try The Fritti at Salty Caper in Salisbury, NC. The Fritti is deep-fried pizza dough stuffed with a variety of chocolate candy bars, deep-fried and topped with powdered sugar and hot fudge. 960 1280

  

BFC Bourgeois Fries

BFC Bourgeois Fries

Bourgeois Fries at the Boise Fry Company in Boise, ID, are sliced russet potatoes deep-fried in duck fat and topped with truffle salt. 960 1280

  

B-52 Burgers and Brew, Inver Grove Heights, MN

B-52 Burgers and Brew, Inver Grove Heights, MN

The M.O.A.B (Mother of All Burgers) at B-52 Burgers and Brew. The M.O.A.B is packed with 2 lbs. of burger patties 2 eggs cheddar BBQ pork pepper jack onion and tanglers and is served on a 15-inch French loaf. 960 1280

  

Capitol Burger, Los Angeles

Capitol Burger, Los Angeles

The Chili Cheeseburger at Capitol Burger is 2 burgers topped with meaty chili that melts perfectly between 2 slices of cheese. Capitol Burger first opened in 1965, and with only a few embellishments, has stayed true to its roots of serving nothing but some of the best burgers in California. 960 1280

  

The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar, Charlotte, NC

The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar, Charlotte, NC

The Dynamic Duo Burger at Cowfish comes made-to-order with a 1/2-lb. beef burger braised short rib sweet roasted garlic provolone cheese tomato onion jam lettuce onion and tomato jammed in between an onion roll. 960 1280

  

Cowfish customer eats a burger

Cowfish customer eats a burger

A Cowfish customer sinks her teeth into Granny's Southern Pimento Cheeseburger, which comes packed with pimento cheese, fried green tomatoes, jalapeno bacon, red onion, lettuce and Duke's mayo on marbled rye bread. 960 1280

  

Grease Burger, West Palm Beach, FL

Grease Burger, West Palm Beach, FL

The last bit of topping is applied to the Grease Beast burger at Grease Burger. What?s included on this beast of a burger? Sink your teeth into a cheeseburger stacked between 2 bacon and grilled cheese sandwiches lettuce and tomato piled high with French fries and onion rings and topped with ranch dressing and cheese sauce. 960 1280

  

Grease beast burger

Grease beast burger

For your dreams: Another shot of the Grease Beast burger with a glass of beer at Grease Burger. 960 1280

  

Lunchbox Laboratory, Seattle

Lunchbox Laboratory, Seattle

Chef Evan Poulias holds the Burger of the Gods outside of the Lunchbox Laboratory. Complete with super beef crumbled blue cheese candied balsamic onions and super gorgonzola spread this burger is a cheese lovers paradise. 960 1280

  

The Tear Jerker Burger at Lunchbox Laboratory

The Tear Jerker Burger at Lunchbox Laboratory

Another beauty from Lunchbox Laboratory: The Tear Jerker Burger topped with pepper jack cheese, onions, jalapenos, habanero mayo and "Satan's-tears" ketchup. 960 1280

  

Outlaws Café, Van Nuys, CA

Outlaws Café, Van Nuys, CA

Outlaws Caf?'s Outlaws Burger accompanied by French fries and iced tea. The 1-lb. of spicy beef burger is stuffed with blue cheese grilled mushrooms grilled garlic grilled onions and pieces of jalapeno bacon and is topped with smoked chipotle cheese tomato and 2 big slices of their special jalapeno bacon served on a pretzel bread bun. 960 1280

  

Rockit Burger Bar, Chicago

Rockit Burger Bar, Chicago

Your eyes don?t deceive you. That's the Mac & Cheese Attack Burger from Rockit Burger Bar. The Mac & Cheese Attack Burger is a 1/4-lb. black angus patty between 2 fried mac and cheese "buns" with lettuce tomato scallions and sriracha ketchup all served with mixed greens tossed in red wine vinaigrette. 960 1280

  

Mac & Cheese Attack Burger at Rockit Burger

Mac & Cheese Attack Burger at Rockit Burger

Proud chef Amanda Downing holds the Mac & Cheese Attack Burger at Rockit Burger -- a unique restaurant that sits in the center of Wrigleyville, and has an atmosphere being part sports bar, rock 'n' roll venue and upscale pub. 960 1280

  

Sketch Burger, Philadelphia

Sketch Burger, Philadelphia

The Cyclops burger at Sketch Burger consists of an 8-oz. brisket short-rib and chuck blend patty topped with cheese bacon and a fried egg. 960 1280

  

About the Show

Since fantastic food is more important to many travelers than museums, hotels and souvenirs, we've compiled all the must-stop food spots across the country that offer a one-of-a-kind dining experience.

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