Food is one of the best reasons to travel, because if all else falls through and attractions don’t turn out to be what they were advertised as, at least food options can be enjoyed in every restaurant and pub along the way. There is always something amazing to eat in every country, and every nation has that one food that they make better than anyone and that has become iconic to their people. That isn’t discrediting the United States ability to cook up some amazing dishes and create some iconic meals of their own, as cuisine on this side of the pond comes in many different flavor groups and varieties that staying home will offer something great to eat as well.
Here are foods from both sides of the spectrum, including foods that have made their name in the United States and have become iconic with the city, state or region they are cooked in, as well as foods from different countries around the world that we have to travel for. Get the real taste of many different nations, because if anyone wants something amazing to eat, head to the place where it is famous and made the correct way and get the full experience. Your taste buds will thank you for it.
30 Found In The US: Philly Cheesesteak
In the City of Brotherly Love, it’s a hallowed food that is a staple of any trip to Philadelphia. A Philly Cheese Steak is made of chopped beef that is grilled, with onions and of course, melted cheese on top, and laid into a long locally made Amoroso bun. According to CNN, Pat and Harry Olivieri get the credit for inventing the cheesesteak. Pat owns Pat’s King of Steaks, which is still in operation today, along with their rival Geno's Steaks, who battle for the title of best cheesesteak in town.
29 Travel For: Poutine
Canada has some classic foods, but they are best known for a mix of cheese, gravy and French fries, known as the poutine. According to Business Insider, the poutine originated in Quebec and is traditionally done with cheese curds and not just shredded cheese, on top of French fries, with hot gravy poured over top until the cheese melts. When it comes to a food a nation is known for, the poutine definitely represents Canada, and if you’re heading to the Great White North, it’s a great time in indulge in a poutine.
28 Found In The US: Chicago Style Pizza
Pizza isn’t new to a lot of people and in fact, Naples, Italy is where you would go to get the original style pizza. But for the deep-dish style, known as the Chicago style pizza, head to the windy city in Chicago, Illinois, for one of the thickest, cheesiest pizzas around. According to CNN, the pizza was first created back in 1943, where one pizza maker had the idea that if you made it big enough, pizza could be a full meal, as up until that point, it was just a snack. Today, it’s loaded with meat and cheese for a slice that can fill you up in just a couple of bites.
27 Found In The US: Barbecue Ribs
One thing the United States is famous for above all other countries is their love for barbecue, especially ribs. They sure do know how to cook them, either in the oven, low and slow, or in a smoker, smoother with a great sauce to make them finger-licking good. They are so popular that there are cook-offs in nearly every state, and to be your states champion is a big deal. According to CNN, the rib capital of the world is the southern United States, mainly Texas and places like Kansas City, where get the sauce right is just as important as the right cooking time.
26 Travel For: Borscht
Russia may not be known for much tasty food, and very rarely does someone say “Let’s go out for Russian tonight”, but if you find yourself in the largest country in the world, you need to try borscht, which, according to Business Insider, is a soup made from beetroots, although, it is generally served cold. Russia is already cold enough, so hopefully, you weren’t looking for something hot, but borscht is full of flavors and the perfect shade of red for a Russian main dish.
25 Found In The US: Buffalo Wings
One food that people of the United States can’t get enough of is their buffalo chicken wings. During the Super Bowl, they are one of the most ordered foods, and according to CNN, they were first tossed in the cayenne pepper hot sauce and butter in 1964. Since then, many different flavors have been created, but it’s that spicy flavor that keeps people coming back for more. Make sure to have a napkin on hand for those fingers. Of course, they were first made in Buffalo, New York, and every Labor Day weekend they hold the annual Buffalo Chicken Wing Festival to crown the best of the best.
24 Found In The US: Grits
If you didn’t grow up eating them, you are probably wondering what they are and why they are so popular. Grits are a staple of southern cooking, especially at breakfast time, where it is a standard menu item. Grits are made out of corn and can be served plain, savory, or pan-fried, and they are simple and cheap to make. According to Food Reference, the World Grits Festival is held in April in St. George, South Carolina, which claims to be the ‘Grits Capital of the World’.
23 Travel For: Wiener Schnitzel
If you travel to Austria, you’ll find wiener schnitzel on the menu in plenty of places, as according to Business Insider, it is the signature dish in Austria. Wiener schnitzel is a very thin veal cutlet that is breaded and then deep fried. It would seem like something out of the southern United States, but using veal isn’t something you’re going to find outside of Europe too often, and it’s generally served with lemon, parsley and rice, as opposed to beans and gravy all over.
22 Found In The US: Biscuits And Gravy
Another southern favorite is biscuits and gravy, which sounds heavy on the stomach, but is one of the tastiest southern meals you’ll find. According to CNN, the reason it became a classic food in the United States was during poor times when people had to make do with what they had, and what they had were the fixings to make gravy. So they added it to everything, including biscuits, to create meals, and over time, this dish took off and became a staple of their cuisine.
21 Found In The US: Banana Split
When it comes to United States desserts, there may be nothing more classic than a banana split. Generally, your typical banana split has three scoops of ice cream in between a banana split in two, and on top is three different kinds toppings, including chocolate sauce, strawberry and Caramel. According to CNN, the original banana split started in 1907 in Ohio, where restaurant owners looking for ways to draw in college students. Walgreens in Chicago made it a staple in the 1920s, but it’s Ohio that has the festival every year for the classic dessert.
20 Travel For: Haggis
Haggis might be the one food that turns everyone off at the sound of it but is something you need to try if heading to Scotland. Haggis is sheep’s stomach that is stuffed with oats and other spices to create a big stomach full of deliciousness. It’s the sound of eating sheep’s stomach that turns people off, and haggis, isn’t much of a better sounding name, but the flavors are great and you can make haggis into plenty of other things, including burgers or use as a meat topping.
19 Travel For: Feijoada
Going down way south to Brazil will bring up plenty of interesting dishes, but perhaps the most iconic one, according to Business Insider, is feijoada, a stew of black beans and smoked beef and pork. The standard side dish for feijoada includes rice, collard greens and an orange slice, and it’s taken up a notch with some spice from hot sauce, hence why the orange slice to help with digestion. So grab a bowl of this Brazilian favorite and get the taste of South America.
18 Found In The US: Po’ Boy
When it comes to New Orleans cuisine, the Po’ Boy sandwich is one of the top options available. The signature sandwich originated in 1929, according to CNN, and has caught on as a traditional food if you are traveling down to the Big Easy. It’s made of fried shrimp or oysters that are put inside a soft bun, topped with lettuce and tomato and served fresh. It’s so popular that every October, New Orleans has an entire festival around it, as the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival puts sub shops across the city up against each other for best in the business.
17 Found In The US: Apple Pie
When it comes to classic US food, the apple pie is right near the top of the list. According to the American Pie Council, apple pie is the US’s national favorite, followed by pumpkin and chocolate. According to CNN, the apple pie appeared back in 1780 and has become a staple of holiday tables for every type of holiday, from Christmas to Thanksgiving and Easter. Nothing tops a fresh, hot apple pie with a glob of whipped cream on top and some vanilla ice cream on the side.
16 Travel For: Xiaolongbao
China is one of the largest countries in the world, so it’s hard to pick a favorite dish from there, but if a signature dish had to be selected, it would be Xiaolongbao. According to Business Insider, these soup dumplings originated in Shanghai and are typically filled with meat. The soup they make is generally steamed in a bamboo basket, giving it some amazing flavor to go along with the dumplings. It’s a simple meal, but something that is such a large part of Chinese culture.
15 Travel For: Yorkshire Pudding
England doesn’t get a lot of love for their cooking, but according to Business Insider, their national dish is roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, which isn’t actually pudding as someone from the United States would know it, but rather, are more like little buns. Yorkshire pudding is a hot doughy bread that is used to soak up gravy and old juices from the meat. It’s made of eggs, flour, milk or water, baked in a muffin tin and served warm on the side of normally a delicious roast beef dinner.
14 Travel For: Khachapuri
Another bread dish you will find in the world is in Georgia, which is home to the khachapuri, which according to Business Insider is a savory, chewy bread that is filled with bubbling cheese or egg. Who doesn’t love a cheesy bread that has a nice crust and bubbling with cheese? It’s Georgia’s national dish, and as their staple food, the price in making a khachapuri is used as a measure of inflation in different cities in the country, known as the khachapuri index.
13 Found In The US: Lobster Rolls
On the coast of Maine, lobster is one of the king catches from the coastal state. And people have taken that sweet tasting shellfish and turned it into a sandwich with the lobster roll. According to CNN, Maine provides 80 percent of the United States lobster supply, and it’s no surprise that you can find a lobster joint up and down the coast and in the state. Put some melted butter on the lobster, take the knuckle, tail and claw meat and stuffed in a bun with mayo and lemon for an amazing taste.
12 Travel For: Tandoori Chicken
Indian cuisine is known for bold flavors, but it does vary depending on the region you are in, so it’s hard to lock down a signature dish. But Tandoori chicken was selected as the iconic dish for India, according to Business Insider, as it’s a mix of the meat dish from the Northern part of India, and the spices used in the Southern part. The dish consists of chicken that's spiced with tandoori masala and roasted in a tandoor, a type of clay oven. It’s often served with a yogurt sauce to cut down the heat, some rice and naan bread.
11 Found In The US: New England Clam Chowder
There are a few kinds of clam chowder in the United States, but New England might be the one most people think of when they think of a solid bowl of clam chowder. New England style is white, and according to CNN, the creamy white chowder with potatoes and onions is the most famous of them all. Up and down the east coast, however, from Maine to Florida, everyone has their own version of it, so it won’t be hard to find a version you like and enjoy.
10 Found In The US: Fried Chicken And Waffles
While it may have been the Scottish who brought the deep-fried method to the United States, the people in the US have taken it to some weird levels. And fried chicken and waffles is one of them. Colonel Sanders started frying chicken in 1930 according to CNN, but one of the most interesting ways of eating fried chicken is with waffles, something that was started on the west coast and has taken over the United States. It’s a sweet extra with syrup to pour over the chicken and waffles and has been immortalized in moves such as Pulp Fiction, making them a can’t miss.
9 Travel For: Kabsah
If visiting Saudi Arabia, you will want to put your fork into kabsah, which is a flavored rice dish that is made with a lot of spices, including cloves, cardamom, saffron, cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg, and bay leaves. According to Business Insider, this dish, which also includes meat, mixed with vegetables, all across the Middle East, but it’s most popular in Saudi Arabia and makes for a very hearty meal with some intense flavor. And you can top it will nuts, raisins and fruit, so it literally covers every food group you need.
8 Found In The US: Macaroni And Cheese
When you talk ultimate comfort food in the United States, many would suggest a bowl of macaroni and cheese. In fact, it even has some presidential beginnings, as according to CNN, Thomas Jefferson liked a certain noodle dish so much, he brought the recipe back with him for state dinners. His cousin would include it in her cookbook in 1824 and label it macaroni and cheese. Who would have guessed Jefferson was the man behind what would be considered a classic comfort food?
7 Travel For: Biltong
In South Africa, biltong is one of the main foods the people eat, and according to Business Insider, is their version of what people from the United States would think is beef jerky. Biltong is cured meat made of beef or game meats like ostrich, that is salted, spiced and dried out to make a really delicious strip of meat. Just ask any local and they will point you to the best local place to pick up some biltong, which will be a lot more flavorful than the normal jerky you are used to.
6 Travel For: Jamón Ibérico
People traveling from the United States may think it’s all spices in Spanish food, but if they want something they can sink their teeth into, try Jamón Ibérico, which is actually a savory cured ham, according to Business Insider. It’s an iconic Spanish dish that is generally served with wine, crusty bread and olives. It’s a cut from the hind leg, and it’s a great flavor and stays within the realm of something you may actually eat while visiting Spain for vacation.
5 Found In The US: Chicken Fried Steak
Steak is simply an amazing food when cooked right, but leave it to people in the United States to say that steak alone isn’t enough, it needs to be breaded and deep fried as well. And so was born the classic food, chicken fried steak. According to CNN, it’s a United States version of the schnitzel, with the steak tenderized, breaded, seasoned and then pan fried. Most of the time, white gravy is added as well, making it a southern favorite that can’t be missed.
4 Travel For: Palacinky
Crepes are great for breakfast, but if you’re in the Czech Republic, try their palacinky, which according to Hostel World, is one of the most eaten foods in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. They may look like crepes and are filled with fruit jam and are rolled up for an awesome little dessert that is topped with more fruit, chocolate sauce, and syrups, perfect for any time of the day, including a sweet breakfast or after dinner treat.
3 Travel For: Soused Herring
In the United States, the most common fish people eat are salmon, bass and perch. But in the Netherlands, a huge seafood country, they are scooping up herring faster than they can eat. According to Hostel World, herring is a large part of the Dutch diet and has become a symbol of their food. They have it on its own or put it in sandwiches. It’s best straight off the boat when the first catch of the day comes in, but it won’t be hard to find visiting any food market in the Netherlands, and it’s also a popular healthy snack for them as well.
2 Found In The US: Jambalaya
If you had down to Louisiana, you better not leave without trying a bowl of jambalaya, a dish that just screams southern Cajun comfort, with rich bold flavors. It’s truly a sweep-up-the-kitchen dish, as you can throw anything into the pot and call it jambalaya. It comes in many different colors and according to CNN, the colors tell you the type of cooking it is, with the red version being the Spanish version and the brown version being the Cajun one. It’s made with seafood, typically crawfish or shrimp, sausage and vegetables for a blast of flavor in every bite.
1 Travel For: Goulash
If you’re looking for something hearty to eat while in Hungary, then try something the people there have been eating for centuries in goulash. According to Hostel World, this thick stew is made with meat, potatoes, and vegetables, and is then seasoned with paprika to give it some added flavor that makes it the perfect thing to eat on any cold night. It’s generally served in a bread bowl and goes great with a cold beer, ensuring that while in Hungary, you won’t go hungry at all.
Sources: cnn.com; hostelworld.com; businessinsider.com; foodreference.com