Mass has a lot going for it. Yeah, sure there’s chowder, Boston cream pie, all that Cape and Island seafood, all that Italian food in Boston's North End, all the Barbara Lynch restaurants everywhere in Boston, and all those teeny delicious burgers at West Springfield's White Hut. But not baked beans. Boston baked beans aren't really a thing anyone in Boston cares about. They do, however, care about how many Dunkin' Donuts locations are within walking distance from their residence.
Atlanta is having something of a moment right now, but there's more to eating well there than just lemon pepper wet wings. And while we're at it, there's also more than pecan pie and peach cobbler. Contemporary dining in Atlanta can increasingly hold its own with just about anywhere, and yet the state still boasts much of the slow-smoked, Southern fried goodness that makes the rest of the region taste so good. It's the kind of combination that can make you forget what happened in the Super Bowl last year for a few fleeting milliseconds.
The Pine Tree State is a bit of a sleeping giant in the food world, and not simply because it is actually so big that you can be hundreds of miles north of Montreal, and still in Maine. Their dominance in the lobster game is legendary, but causes the rest of their excellent seafood game to be a bit shortchanged. Also, it's worth noting that these days, if you tell someone you're going to spend the weekend eating amazing meals in Portland, you had better specify which one.
12. South Carolina
Does a trip to South Carolina to eat some shrimp & grits, devour some of Rodney Scott's barbecue, and inhale (but, like, classily) some of Sean Brock's food at Husk sound good to you? No? Then you'd better have either a shellfish allergy, a principled adherence to veganism, or a court order not to leave your state.
It's weirdly the original home of the coney hot dog, enormous pasties (the meat pies, not the stripper nipple covers), and the currently hot, always-square Detroit-style pizza, not to mention the fact that Mitten-born Little Caesars and Domino's more or less defined American takeout pizza as we know it. The Detroit Metro area also has a massive wealth of Polish, Greek, and Middle Eastern food, while Traverse City and Grand Rapids are fast becoming food destinations unto themselves (the Yoopers have it low-key going on too). BBQ and soul food, too, are plentiful in the lower half of the state. Additional points for the state's farmer’s market cred, and for its wealth of fish fries and venison chili. Minus points for losing your appetite when you see a shitload of deer splattered on the road en route to actually eat that chili.
10. North Carolina
It would be one thing if North Carolina only boasted one of America's great barbecue traditions, but it just so happens that it has TWO of them. But there's more going on here than just whole hog artistry, from the abundant seafood shacks lining the coast from Nags Head to Calabash, to an Asheville food scene that's increasingly catching up with its beer, to a Charlotte food scene that's consistently underrated. If ingesting tobacco was a more pleasant experience, it'd be even higher.