"What should I be eating right now?" It's a question we think about constantly at Thrillist. It's also a question we know YOU think about constantly (or at least semi-regularly?), which is why directing people to the most amazing, life-altering stuff to eat has been kind of our thing.
Whether you're heading to a new city soon or looking for some uncovered culinary treasures you've overlooked in your own backyard, below you'll find a series of meticulously crafted lists of the 50 must-eat things in America's biggest, most delicious dining powerhouses -- 26 of them, to be exact. That's 1,300 things altogether! Happy eating, America.
Timothy DeLaGhetto & David So Consume Copious Amounts of Spam at Honolulu's Annual Waikiki Spam Jam
You better believe Atlanta's must-have list is deep with Southern favorites like fried chicken and biscuits… topped with fried chicken. But you'll also find legendary chili dogs, pizza for breakfast, and chocolate soup. Get all 50 here.
Narrowing Austin's perpetually enticing food scene down to 50 things was no easy feat. It could have easily been a list of 50 things just involving brisket, and to be sure, you'll find brisket tacos, brisket Bloody Marys, brisket Frito pie, just straight-up brisket, and pastrami (it's made from brisket!). But don't think Austin's a one-note town: wait until you get a load of this Thai take on a Southern classic and some of the finest ramen you'll find anywhere. Take in all that Texan taste here.
If you love that dirty water… too bad, because it thankfully did NOT make the cut for Boston's 50 must-eat foods. You know what did? A top-secret burger, a 160-year-old dessert, and the lobster roll to end all lobster rolls. Will you find it down by the river? Only one way to find out!
What makes a burger a White Trash burger? What goes on a hot dog called the Life Changer? How are Charlotte "nachos" different than regular old nachos? Where can you get that incredible-looking breakfast sandwich? These questions and more will be answered right here.
Chicago isn't just pizza and hot dogs (although, don't worry, you'll be totally covered in those categories). In fact, did you know Chicago also has its own style of barbecue, invented a sandwich that uses fried plantains for bread, and boasts the classiest riff on dipping French fries in a milkshake you'll ever encounter in your life? Unlock all the best eats Chicago has to offer.
Can beef be any better than a perfect piece of Texas brisket? That's debatable, but if anything could give it a run for its money it's a 240-day-aged rib-eye that's so precious it's sold by the inch. And if you prefer your steak chicken-fried? Your covered. Prefer that fried steak to be fried chicken? Still covered! It's all here.
If you should visit Denver you're obviously within your legal right to purchase certain experience-enhancing substances, but these dishes don't need them! Brace yourself for chile relleno burritos, Cheddar Goldfish ice cream (yep), and a good ole PB&J that’s much more complex than it first seems. Get a (visual) taste for yourself.
Detroit's not just about coney dogs. It's also about lobster corn dogs! And other completely non-dog-related cuisine, like the mystery meat sliders at one of Detroit's most treasured drinking institutions. Well, at least those BETTER not be dog-related...
Would you be interested in having a steak inside a dining car at 3am where you'll be treated like you're Sinatra? How about a donut that eats like it mated with a piece of pie? Or a now-off-menu pizza that was once the toast of the LA food scene? Yes?! Great, because it's all here.
You probably won't be surprised to find a Kentucky Hot Brown (though you won't be upset either!). But you'll likely be surprised to find bison enchiladas and octopus bacon. What you won't find is a straight-up shot of bourbon (it's an eating list!), but don't worry, the good stuff makes its way into PLENTY of dishes. Find out how many…
"When I was walking in Memphis / I realized they put BBQ on nachos and spaghetti." OK, fine, the poetry and rhyming abilities of Marc Cohn are hard to beat, but then again, so is Memphis' pork game. Of course, there's way more to Memphis than simply pork. But also, like, a LOT of pork...
What do you get when you combine traditional Jewish deli flavors with the classic configuration of a Cuban sandwich? A Jewban! That's not a joke, it's a really delicious sandwich you can eat in Miami, along with bacon-wrapped plantains, Lobster Pop-Tarts, and a big-ass chocolate chip cookie. Go on, look at it.
Sometimes Wisconsin's just gonna Wisconsin, which in this case means hot dogs covered in impossible amounts of cheese, burgers swimming in even MORE impossible amounts of butter, and mac & cheese pizza. But other times Wisconsin's gonna surprise you with spicy crab pasta, amazing Indonesian beef, and bacon-wrapped meatloaf. OK, that last one wasn't terribly surprising.
It's not just about the cheese oozing out of your Jucy Lucy. It's about soft-scrambled eggs with pickled pigs feet and blinis with caviar. But lest you think Minneapolis is getting a little too refined, wait until you get a load of this incredible foot-long hot dog. It's all here.
From soul-satisfying classics like chicken & dumplings and (of course) hot chicken to more surprising choices like duck-fat tater tots, pad Thai pig ears, and something called a Bonut (?), there are definitely more than 50 culinary reasons to visit Nashville these days. But these 50 are a fine place to start.
Where do you even start with a list of New York's must-eat foods? That's a trick question. The answer is pastrami at Katz's. But you better believe you're following it up with mutton chops, chocolate babka (Seinfeld!), and The Rev. Al Sharpton. Not like, literally. You aren't going cannibal. It's a dish named for him. But what kind of dish?!
Sure, you knew there'd be a cheesesteak, but did you know there's one in omelet form? And in pretzel form? Man, that's heavy stuff. How about a light snack? Like popcorn. Oh wait, it's doused in bacon grease. Now all you need is some dessert pizza...
French fries in your sandwiches! French fries in your salad! A pierogi on every plate. Also, pierogies on pizza. Man, you have to love Pittsburgh. But did you know there's a Pittsburgh-style pizza? Hint: it isn't the one with the pierogies on it.
Portland is full of surprises. Sometimes they're of the "I didn't know an entire store devoted to artisanal light bulbs was necessary" variety. But sometimes they're of the "donuts you fill up with booze via syringe" variety. So yeah, let's focus on the second kind. Buttermilk-fried rabbit sandwiches are involved...
Not to be outdone by the good people of Pittsburgh, San Diego pioneered the art of working French fries into a burrito. Then, just for the hell of it, it went nuts on tiramisu pancakes, lasagna pizza, and lemon meringue pie milkshakes. Like you needed an excuse to go to San Diego...
Whoever made "flowers in your hair" the critical point of advice when visiting San Francisco CLEARLY is not up to date on the local dining scene, because there are at LEAST 50 things you should be focusing on first. Among them are porcini mushroom donuts, pastrami cheese fries, and something called a California croissant. Will France be angry?
DC's dining scene continues to flourish in exciting new directions, but that doesn't mean you're too good for old local standbys like a chili-covered half smoke. You'll also find incredible Greek donuts and Laotian duck, but don't worry, there's also a breakfast sandwich dubbed "The Patriot" in case you're worried about drifting too far from America in the nation's capital.
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Thrillist Executive Editor Matt Lynch is wondering how much time it would take one person to eat all of these things and all of these cities. Give him your best guess: @MLynchChi.