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An Expert's Guide to Eating in the USA

Published 30 March 2016

Alexandra Gregg

Ceviche in Miami; gumbo in New Orleans; Tex-Mex in Texas; and burgers, well, pretty much everywhere. When it comes to food, the USA is as diverse as it gets – it boasts nearly every cuisine in the world, which is why it can be hard to know what to chow down on when you visit. Fear not though foodies: this expert’s guide to eating in the USA will serve up seven must-eat dishes across this grub-loving behemoth nation. Read on and, when you hop over the pond, you’ll know exactly what to order from the menu. Napkins at the ready and prepare to drool.

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Beastly burgers in New York City

Nearly every state claims to have the best burgers in North America, but ordering a patty in Manhattan quickly sorts the men from the boys. It has a burger to suit every taste and budget – regardless of whether you want to blow your budget on a bun infused with truffle oil or just have a hankering for a regular double cheese. You can get one in some of the city’s Michelin-starred restaurants or grab a spot in one of the Big Apple’s most important institutions: the diner.

Our personal favourite? A classic cheese and bacon or ‘Parkburger’ from the ever-popular Shake Shack kiosk in Madison Square Park: the Mothership of this modest chain and the server of burger bliss.

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Tangy Tex-Mex in Houston

Texas is the birthplace of Tex-Mex – a fusion cuisine we love in Old Blighty – and nowhere does it better than Houston. A juicy combo of shredded meats, cheese, beans and rice from the Lone Star State, all packed inside a Mexican tortilla, is near-impossible to resist. The first restaurant was opened in Houston over a century ago and now hundreds exist across the city, reaffirming this delectable fare’s position as a foodie heavyweight.

With so many eateries to choose from (not to mention so many dishes) it’s practically impossible to pick the best, but you can’t go wrong with local chain El Tiempo Cantina. It’s got brisket, frozen margaritas, tequilas and steak fajitas, and it’s practically a Houston rite of passage.

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Creole cuisine in New Orleans

Gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish étouffée and muffuletta: Creole food is unlike any other. And there are few places where it tastes quite as good as it does in New Orleans. Stewed meats, vegetables, sausage and seafood are the city’s culinary legacy and it’d be a waste – nay, a crime – to visit without tasting said greatness.

But where should you get your spice on, I hear you ask? Why, Jacques-Imos of course. This ‘Nawlins’ mainstay is all about soulful Creole eats and warm southern hospitality.

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Seafood in Little Havana

Think Miami and most will conjure up images of scorching sunshine, glitzy high-rises and perfect beach bodies… and they’d be right. But there’s a side to Miami that’s overspilling with culture, and it’s the side that most people don’t get to see. Little Havana is all about Cuban influence, it’s Miami at its most cosmopolitan. And with that multiculturalism comes an array of Cuban bars, art galleries, shops, sightseeing and of course, food.

Combine Cuban cuisine with Miami’s great oceanfront location and it’s no surprise that the seafood here is to-die-for. And that’s especially true if you dine at the La Camaronera Seafood Joint & Fish Market – a family-owned eaterie that adds authentic spice to fresh fish to serve up some of the best flavours in Little Havana.

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Thai tastes in Los Angeles

Los Angeles has the biggest population of Thai people outside of the country itself, so it’s no surprise this city has a lot of Thai food, and does it pretty well too. The best nosh – from southern flavours to northeastern spice – can be found in Thai Town, a six-block expanse of Hollywood Boulevard, between Normandie and Western Avenue.

More than anything we love Thai street food, which is why we adore Pa-Ord. This is the best restaurant in the City of Angels if you’re seeking a bowl of aromatic yet murky boat noodles (pictured above), infused with the perfect blend of sweet and sour pack-a-punch spices.

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Barbecued bits in Austin

Austin wasn’t always the best place in Texas for a bit of barbecue. In the last few years though, it has seen a surge of smoky meats and melts rise to the surface and along with it, some of the tastiest foods the state has to offer. From not-quite-charcoaled sausages to tender pulled pork and crispy burnt ends, it’s now the place where even Americans go for the best of BBQ.

But where’s the best of the best, you ask? Franklin’s Barbecue gives all the other restaurants a run for their money, not least because of its humongous menu. Expect a four-hour+ queue most days, but it’s totally worth the wait.

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Pie-like pizza in Chicago

Pizza is great in Italy. Pizza is great in New York City. Pizza is, well, not quite pizza in Chicago. But it still tastes fantastic. The hometown of deep-dish “pizza”, the Windy City knows exactly how to cram dough, tomato puree and melted cheese together until it creates utter carb-packed perfection. Unlike stereotypical pizzas though, a Chicago slice is more like a slab, a thick bready slab that we are so in love with, it hurts.

For a slab of the aptly-named deep-dish at its best, we recommend Pizzeria Uno. It stakes a pretty strong claim as the creator of the dish, and has its crispy crusts and soggy middles crafted to perfection.

Have we made you hungry for some Stateside grub? Dig in on our USA Big Eats Journey

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