It’s possible to eat very well today in virtually every corner of America. It could be homemade waffles or classic burgers at a popular diner, vivid foods from other cultures (such as Thai or Colombian or Moroccan), or refined Michelin-starred dining in some temple of gastronomy — or anything in-between.
In every state, however, there’s inevitably at least one establishment that has attained iconic status, a place emblematic of its surroundings — a restaurant no food-lover should miss when in the vicinity.
Sometimes these places are plain, sometimes they’re fancy. They might be relative newcomers to the dining scene or have been around for a century or more. What matters is that, in one way or another, they represent and define their time and place — sometimes simply by perfecting some unique local specialty. (These are the signature dishes from 50 American cities.)
Click here to see the one can’t-miss restaurant in every state
These days, of course, nobody’s traveling around the U.S. very much. The average New Yorker probably doesn’t care what constitutes a can’t-miss eating experience in Arizona, and it’ll be quite some time before a typical North Dakotan is thinking about an essential dinner in Louisiana.
But current restrictions on traveling and dining out won’t last forever, and chances are good that when COVID-19 is vanquished, one of the first things many people will want to do is to hit the road and enjoy a meal in a good restaurant. When that happens, these institutions will be worth knowing about. They’re the kinds of places of which somebody might say, “You went to [wherever] and you didn’t eat THERE???”
For now, remember that every state or city has rules governing social distancing and mask-wearing in public places as well as capacity limits and restrictions on hours of operation, and that these rules change constantly as cases of COVID-19 increase and decrease locally. It’s always important to double-check the situation before making dining plans.
To assemble this list of can’t-miss restaurants around the country, 24/7 Tempo consulted reviews on Yelp, Trip Advisor, and Zagat, as well as numerous roundups of iconic and/or important restaurants from a wide range of online publications, including Food & Wine, Eater, Thrillist, the Travel Channel, and The Daily Meal, as well as numerous city- and state-specific sites. We also studied menus and historical information on restaurant websites, making the final choice editorially based on all these sources.
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