10 Must-Try Hybrid Foods Around the U.S.

By Zagat Staff  |  September 3, 2013

Why eat just one of your favorite foods when you can eat two (in the same dish, no less)? Cronut hysteria has hybrid foods stealing the spotlight around the U.S. Meanwhile, chefs, bakers and restaurant owners are getting those creative juices flowing to come up with the next big-selling outlandish concoction. Here are 10 of our favorite hybrids both new and old in cities around the country.

  • Credit: Lesley Balla

    Pastrami Burger at Various Locations in Los Angeles

    This hybrid goes back... way back. If you're not originally from LA, the abundance of pastrami burgers - a beef patty topped with a ginormous amount of thinly sliced, salty ribbons of meat, Thousand Island dressing, tomatoes and lettuce - is a little jarring. You usually find the specialty at old-roadside-looking stands, places like any of The Hat locations, Tom's Burgers in East LA and Dino's in Lincoln Heights. Astro Burger has a great one. Heck, even Carl's Jr. attempted it at some point. We discovered the wonders of the pastrami burger at Tops in Pasadena earlier this week. Umamicatessen has a fancified pastrami burger, and Hole in the Wall often runs it as a special.

  • Doughscuit at Endgrain in Chicago

    Half donut and half biscuit - what's not to love with this fluffy new creation? This trendy treat from the Chicago-based restaurant comes in two varieties: German chocolate cake-inspired sweet brown sugar glaze and toasted coconut flakes, and filled with a blend of crème fraîche and chocolate ganache; and just simply glazed in honey and stuffed with crème fraîche. This is one good-looking and good-tasting hybrid.

  • The Luther at Birch and Barley in Washington, DC

    One of the older and more revered hybrids, this creation involves buttermilk-fried chicken sandwiched between two brioche donuts and topped with applewood-smoked bacon. (Move over, Double Down.) The whole thing is glazed with a maple-chicken jus and topped with oven-baked pecans. Um... yes, please! 

  • Dannoli at Psycho Donuts in San Jose, CA

    Meet the latest entry into Cronut knock-off territory in the Bay Area: the dannoli, a donut-cannoli made by Psycho Donuts. The company, which has two shops in the South Bay in Campbell and in San Jose, is known for going way over the top, but they've climbed even dizzier heights on this one. A tube-shaped donut is fried, filled with pastry cream and chocolate chips, and then rolled in crushed cannoli pieces to bring your future heart attack a few days closer. Have mercy.

  • Spaghetti Burger at PYT in Philadelphia

    Philly's PYT introduced a new burger of the week recently, and instead of bread - or ramen noodles - it's meat sandwiched between two “buns” made of spaghetti. Northern Liberties is already home to the lasagna burger (watch a video on it here), so this was a natural next step for Tommy Up’s unorthodox bar. Ramen burger what?

    No word yet on exactly how the “transmogrification” happens, but the pasta looks like it was fried into place. The patty itself is stuffed with mozzarella and topped with red sauce (or is it gravy?) and flakes of Parmesan cheese. Though it looks tough to pick up, it sounds like a great flavor pairing. Would you eat one?

  • Ramen Burger at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn, NYC

    Khizo Shimamoto's ingenious creation has been the reason for three-hour lines at Brooklyn's popular Smorgasburg food festival on Saturdays. A burger is sandwiched between two buns made of dried ramen. Though the ramen is the gimmick, the sauce is where it's at. It's a secret, thickened shoyu blend that is at once sweet and garlicky (and you better eat fast - it was dripping out of our wrapper by the time we finished). The arugula didn't really register, but the scallions that are placed on one side of the "bun" did.

    And about that bun... it's the true innovation here. The fresh-cut Sun noodles are held together in a disk and lightly seared on the top, which provides a graspable surface. The noodles stay soft in the center, giving the disk a breadlike texture. Actually, it's not so far from an actual bun, so biting into this is at once strange and familiar. The flavor combo is actually more like a beef teriyaki than a bowl of brothy ramen, and though the noodles add plenty of texture, the effect they have on the flavor is subtle

  • Cuffin at Plum Market in Chicago

    Since the Cronut craze has peaked, we think it’s about time for another hybrid treat to spark a fresh batch of over-publicized hysteria. A recent trip to Plum Market revealed an interesting baked good in the pastry department. It goes by the name of Cuffin, and is made by combining the shape and soft inside of a muffin with the sweetness and chewy outside of a cookie.

    Local baker Zayna has been cranking out Cuffins since 2011. Based out of her home kitchen, the company began as a hobby when she moved to Chicago. The pastries were made for family and friends before they gained a following. In her own words, a Cuffin is: “The perfect blend of a cookie and muffin's greatest traits - crisp consistency on the outside, with gooey chewiness at the center.”

    So, is it that special, or is it just another overhyped sugar rush? Each Cuffin is like a deep-dish, soft-baked cookie with a filled center. She offers traditional varieties such as chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin as well as specialty flavors such as baklava, s’more and white chocolate macadamia with a raspberry jelly filling.

    Cuffins are available at Plum Market or directly though Zayna. They come in boxes of six that cost roughly the same as two Cronuts. Between the creative flavors, the soft texture and the pop of filling, it’s a treat that may deserve a bit of hysteria.

  • Bronut at Griddler's in Boston

    Fresh off the Cronut craze, the folks at Griddler's have put together this concoction that is one part burger and one part donut. You're looking at a Griddler's burger patty, topped with a fried egg, encased in a maple-bacon-glazed donut. While the item isn't available all the time (currently, you can only get it on weekends), it's already the most-asked-about item at the Boston eatery, and with good reason.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Kronuts at One Shot Cafe in Philadelphia

    Co-owner Rebecca Baruno dismissed the fad at first, but when it started to catch on, she knew she could help satisfy desire for the trendy treats in Philadelphia. She recalled enjoying something very similar on a trip to Spain with her wife Melissa. Xiuxos is the name for a cylindrical, croissant-like pastry that’s deep-fried, dusted in sugar and filled with cream - it’s popular and common around Catalonia.

    In Northern Liberties, however, Baruno skipped the cream in her Kronuts, which actually makes them flakier and easier to pull apart. She makes them two or three times each week with two different toppings - maple walnut or almond caramel (for our money, get the latter) - and sells them for $5 apiece.

  • Credit: Lawrence Pearl and Elisabeth Dillion

    CroBrio at La Patisserie in Austin

    Lest you think Austin is too cool for the Cronut craze, South Congress’ La Patisserie is making their version of it called the CroBrio. They're sold twice a day with a limit of two CroBrios per person, with $1 from each pastry being donated to local charity Urban Roots.