The United States is huge and contains within it plenty of regional cultures. While someone from New York might never have eaten reindeer meat, a California native might be horrified at the thought of eating a garbage plate. America’s 50 states offer unique, niche specialties that you simply must try when you’re in the neighborhood. Even better, go on a road trip and try them all. Here are ten of the weirdest regional dishes you’ll find all over the United States. Ask for them and the locals will already love you!
Reindeer hotdog – Alaska
This super exotic sounding meat is really quite typical in America’s northernmost state, which is chock-full of the four legged reindeer. This dish is just like a regular hotdog but made with the meat of a reindeer. Try M.A.’s Gourmet Dogs in Anchorage for one of the favorite versions of locals and tourists alike. Just try to avoid the obvious jokes about Rudolph that you or someone around you is sure to make.
Frybread tacos – Western US
Also known as Indian tacos, this delicious dish really does come from southwestern Native American culture. It’s similar to the regular taco in that it also contains beef, cheese and lettuce. However, unlike a usual taco shell, this one is made from (delicious but not-too-healthy) frybread – made with flour, sugar and lard.
Food Drunk – New Orleans, Louisiana
A New Orleans food truck called Food Drunk, in preparation for the New Year’s 2014 celebrations, took a typical cheeseburger and gave it an upgrade – the king cake bun! This sweet-meets-savory treat is, apparently, the perfect food to eat after you’ve had a few too many drinks.
Heady Topper Beer – Vermont
Vermont is well known for its beer brewing culture and history. One of its most mythological is The Alchemist, which produces Heady Topper Beer, a double India Pale Ale which is made in limited quantities and contains favors like grapefruit and pine. Many connoisseurs consider it to be one the best beers in the world and it has its own cult following. Try and get your hands on one!
Rocky Mountain oysters – Western US
The Western United States was once a rough, tough place, home to agricultural and herding ways of life. Accordingly, resourceful ranchers came up with the Rocky Mountain oyster, which, despite its elegant name, is actually sliced, deep fried bull testicle. It’s rumored to have a great effect on male potency!
Hot beef sundae – Iowa
Cattle is a huge industry in Iowa. Fittingly, this ice cream classic gets a fresh twist in the Midwestern state: scoops of mashed potatoes are covered in beef tips and gravy and sprinkled with shredded cheese. Despite the Iowa Beef Industry Council’s recommendation of this delicacy, perhaps people with concerns about heart health or high cholesterol should stick to one bite.
Garbage plate –Rochester, New York
Next time you’re wasted after a college frat party in western New York, pick up this famous local delicacy. Created by Nick Tahou, the garbage plate is a mishmash of meat (cheeseburgers, hot dogs, or pork white hots), home fries, French fries, baked beans, and macaroni salad, all smothered with mustard, onions, and hot sauce. This is not for the faint of heart.
Hoagie dip – Philadelphia
Philadelphia’s signature dish is known by many names: the hoagie, grinder, sub, hero, etc. A new twist on the city-wide favorite is this dip which contains the normal sandwich ingredients: ham, turkey, provolone cheese, peppers, onions, mayonnaise and olive oil. The dip is then served in a hollowed roll.
Hemp milk latte – Washington
It’s not a coincidence that one of the US states which has already legalized recreational marijuana also offers a cannabis-infused coffee drink. When in the beautiful northern state on one of its many rainy days, try one of these local favorites – but not too many!
Local cuisine – Hawaii
It would be unfair to list one regional Hawaiian dish, because there are so many unique ones. Ahi, Mahi Mahi and macadamia butter are only a few of the dishes that locals have preserved as part of their cultural heritage.