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50 States, 50 Favorite Restaurants

From coast to coast, these must-try eateries are beloved for a reason
October 10, 2017
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by Zagat Staff

From regional food specialists to culinary trailblazers, we've rounded up our favorite restaurants in all 50 states (plus Washington, DC) that all serve top-notch local fare. Check out the original feature on People.com.

Alabama: Highlands Bar & Grill

Nationally recognized and a fine-dining go-to for locals, this white-tablecloth destination in Birmingham presents a daily changing menu of French-influenced Southern fare. Offerings are informed by what’s in season and locally available, and supplemented by classic cocktails and a vast, global wine menu.

2011 Eleventh Avenue South, Birmingham; 205-939-1400

Alaska: The Rookery Cafe

At this downtown Juneau cafe, chef-owner Beau Schooler draws on his native Alaskan roots to showcase the state's varied natural resources and populations. Dinner may feature Asian dishes like Filipino sisig or a Vietnamese banh mi salad side-by-side with inventive seafood preparations like salmon chorizo and pan-seared halibut with spruce tip chimichurri.

111 Seward Street, Juneau; 907-463-3013

Arizona: Barrio Cafe

Arizona’s proximity to the U.S.-Mexican border makes the state a natural for Mexican cuisine and at the top of the chain is Barrio Cafe in Phoenix by chef-owner and James Beard Award semifinalist, Silvana Salcido Esparza. There are several outposts sharing the same name but the one in downtown Phoenix, open since 2002, is the one you’ll want to head to for signature plates like chiles en nogado featuring a walnut-based cream sauce.

2815 North 16th Street, Phoenix; 602-636-0240

Arkansas: The Hive

Bentonville, Arkansas, is best known as the headquarters of Wal-Mart, but the city is hailed in the art and food worlds for its robust cultural and restaurant scenes. The Hive, nestled inside the avant-garde 21c Museum Hotel, seamlessly melds highbrow visual aesthetics with refined High South Cuisine from award-winning chef Matt McClure.

200 NE A St., Bentonville; 479-286-6575

California: Chez Panisse

Alice Waters' Berkeley legend helped shape what is today referred to as "California cuisine" and taught chefs to get to know their local farmers and cook with organic, top-notch produce. Since its wild early days in the 1970s it has been one of the most influential restaurants in the state, if not the entire world.

1517 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley; 510-548-5525

Colorado: J-Bar

From Hunter S. Thompson to visiting celebrity chefs, this historic bar in the Hotel Jerome has been a hub of Aspen, Colorado, social life since 1889. To this day it oozes vintage mining-town saloon atmosphere, complete with buckets of Aspen Crud, as its legendary bourbon shake is called. 

330 E. Main St., Aspen; 970-920-1000

Connecticut: Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana

New Haven apizza ("ah-beets") is Connecticut's claim to culinary fame, and no place does it better than Pepe's, which has been open since 1925 and has expanded across the state and into New York and Massachusetts. The white clam pie, topped with freshly shucked clams, is the thing to order. But get there early: Lines extend down the block most every night.

157 Wooster Street, New Haven; 203-865-5762

Delaware: Dogfish Head Brewery

What started as a small brewpub in the ’90s recently underwent a reboot this year, offering exclusive tastes of the beloved brewery’s experimental ales along with small-batch spirits and upscale pub grub like burgers, wood-fired pizzas and fish and chips. The Rehoboth Beach mainstay regularly hosts live music and sits next to another link in the brewery’s small chain, the seafood-focused Chesapeake & Maine.

320 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach; 302-226-2739

Florida: Joe's Stone Crab

This legendary seafooder in SoFi is one of the most iconic Florida eateries and brings in the crowds for its killer stone crabs, as well as its famed Key lime pie and fried chicken. It doesn't take reservations and waiting times can last for 40 minutes (on a good day), so head there super-early. If you're really in a hurry, head next door to the market to get your claws to go.

11 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-0365

Georgia: Back in the Day Bakery

Owners Cheryl and Griffith Day turn out vintage pastries by the hour at this charming Savannah bakery — think lemon shaker or coconut cream pie, or seasonal Southern treats with ingredients like rhubarb or sweet potato. The best item here, however, is the Back in the Day biscuit. Flaky and buttery, pillowy inside and crisp outside, it's a paragon of the form, and ideal with baked eggs and bacon, with sweet local preserves, or just on its own.

2403 Bull St., Savannah; 912-495-9292

Hawaii: Roy's Waikiki

No other restaurant chain has put Hawaiian cuisine on the map like The Original Roy’s by Roy Yamaguchi. With 25 years under its belt, the Honolulu location still maintains its iconic homey vibe serving classics like roasted macadamia nut shutome, honey-mustard grilled beef short ribs and traditional Hawaiian mixed plates.

6600 Kalanianaole Highway, Honolulu; 808-396-7697

Idaho: Bar Gernika

Boise is home to the largest Basque diaspora community in the United States. For two decades, Bar Gernika, located directly on Boise’s Basque Block, has been the place to try the region’s rustic fare. Owner Dan Ansotegui offers Basque specialties and sandwiches like lamb grinders, stuffed marinated pork loin with pimentos and, on Saturdays, beef tongue, washed down by regional microbrews and wine from Northern Spain.

2870 W. State St., Boise; 208-429-6735

Illinois: Superdawg

In Chicago, the veritable hot dog capital of the country, Superdawg is as iconic as it gets thanks to its old-timey drive-in vibe and its crowd-pleasing beef dogs. While the mom-and-pop eatery on the far Northwest Side adheres to traditional Chicago hot dog toppings like tangy mustard, onions and neon green relish in a poppy seed bun, Superdawg puts its own stamp on the pastime with pickled green tomatoes and habit-forming crinkle-cut fries. 

Multiple locations

Indianapolis: St. Elmo's Steakhouse

Back in 1902, St. Elmo’s started out on the same little corner of downtown Indianapolis as a bar (hence its exemplary martinis) but during Prohibition became the steakhouse it’s known as now. While the porterhouse is passable, it’s the killer shrimp cocktail made with house-ground horseradish (guaranteed to make even the toughest athlete or celebrity diner cry big, fat, salty tears) that made this spot famous. 

127 Illinois St., Indianapolis; 317-635-0636

Iowa: Brietbach's Country Dining

Brietbach’s claims the title as Iowa’s oldest restaurant (circa 1852) and serves what can only be called down-home Midwestern cooking with longtime family owners (the Brietbachs) there to welcome you at the front door. After burning to the ground twice in less than a year, this homey spot rose from the ashes with plates of made-from-scratch pork chops, fried chicken and pies as far as the eye can see.

563 Balltown Rd., Sherrill; 563-552-2220

Kansas: Joe's Kansas City BBQ

Barbecue folks are notoriously disagreeable when it comes to their favorite ‘cue. But, in Kansas City, the Barbecue Capital of the World, one place is undebatable: Joe’s. It may be one of the new kids in the long-established barbecue town — we’re talking mid-90s — but it’s quickly made its way to the top of the barbecue bucket list for smoked meat–obsessives, paving the way for a new generation of KC pitmasters. 

Multiple locations

Kentucky: The Brown Hotel

It’s not often a restaurant can lay claim to a signature dish of a state but the storied Brown Hotel certainly can. Hotel chef Fred Schmidt introduced fashionable late-night partygoers to the Hot Brown (an open-faced sandwich with turkey, bacon and mornay sauce) decades ago which is still served today at the hotel’s restaurants, along with other Bluegrass classics and naturally, lots of bourbon. 

335 W. Broadway, Louisville; 502-583-1234

Louisiana: Commander's Palace

For a place that’s been around since 1893, Commander’s Palace still draws a crowd of locals and visitors alike in New Orleans’ quiet, tree-canopied Garden District. Creole cuisine can be found on nearly every corner of the city, but this iconic spot made a name for itself with its version, known affectionately as “haute Creole.” Plus, the old-world atmosphere transports diners to a vintage version of NOLA long since passed.

1403 Washington Ave., New Orleans; 504-899-8221

Maine: Young's Lobster Pound

Maine is practically synonymous with lobster, and this lively, family-run eatery in Belfast has made it the house specialty. In fact, you can pick out which lobster should don the table by visiting the giant tank inside the joint. After you have made your choice, take a seat on the large outdoor patio and marvel at Penobscot Bay while cracking shells and slurping up glorious chunks of crustacean. Guests can also get other New England fish-shack classics like clam chowder, crab rolls, steamed mussels and crab salad.

2 Fairview St., Belfast; 207-338-1160

Maryland: Cantler's Riverside Inn

Ask any Marylander what the best crab in the world is, and there will be no hesitation whatsoever in their answer of sweet, Old Bay–crusted Chesapeake blue crab. And while there are dozens of places near the bay to score these beloved crustaceans, there are few more authentic, picturesque and satisfying as a seat on the deck overlooking Mill Creek just west of the bay — and accessible by boat.

458 Forest Beach Rd., Annapolis; 410-757-1311

Massachusetts: Neptune Oyster

Boston's historic North End is best known as the city's Little Italy, full of cobblestone streets jammed with red sauce–slathered mom-and-pops. But its greatest treasure might be Neptune Oyster, an iconic and intimate (hence the long lines) seafood restaurant heralded for some of the best cold and, especially, hot buttered lobster rolls in a city that knows its clawed crustaceans. You'll also find plenty of other elevated but accessible eats, from raw-bar and crudo selections to seafood pastas and other impeccable fin fare.

63 Salem St. #1, Boston; 617-742-3474

Michigan: Lafayette Coney Island

The Coney Dog may look like just another chili dog to a non-Michigander, but in the Mitten State, this chili, mustard and onion-topped tube steak defines "local cuisine" in its largest city, Detroit. Lafayette arguably makes the best Coney in town (the rivalry with next-door neighbor, American Coney, is real) in one of the most beloved divey venues around. 

118 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit; 313-964-8198

Minnesota: Restaurant Alma

In many ways, James Beard Award–winning chef Alex Robert’s Restaurant Alma paved the way for the thriving food scene in Minneapolis when it debuted in November 1999. Today, Alma has expanded to include a family-friendly cafe next door and a boutique hotel upstairs, but the menu still pays homage to creative cooking with local, seasonal ingredients and gives a nod to the Scandinavian heritage of the city.

3500 Cedar Ave. S, Minneapolis; 612-379-4909

Mississippi: City Grocery

In its 25 years in business, City Grocery has become as much a landmark of Oxford's Square as the Courthouse in its center. John Currance's New Southern landmark helped usher in one of today's most popular trends of combining fine dining with seasonal ingredients and global influences for a lighter, fresher take on Southern classics like shrimp and grits. Not surprisingly given City Grocery's outsized influence on this bucolic college town, Currance now runs a mini dining empire. Still, a dinner at his flagship remains the most iconic meal in town — other than an autumn Saturday tailgate at Ole Miss Grove.

152 Courthouse Square, Oxford; 662-232-8080

Missouri: Pappy's Smokehouse

Customers willingly wait in long lines for a taste of the slow-smoked, fall-off-the-bone meats at this Memphis-style BBQ fixture, which closes when the ‘cue runs out. On the menu are heaping platters, sandwiches and classic sides, with smoked meats by the pound for those that want to take it to go.

3106 Olive Street, St. Louis; 314-535-4340 

Montana: The Burger Dive

Since opening in Billings in 2010, chef-owner Brad Halsten and his wife Andi have won scores of local and national awards for their outstanding burgers. One of their latest creations, “I’m Your Huckleberry,” made with one-third-pound Angus beef topped with Huckleberry Hatch chile barbecue sauce, bacon, goat cheese, arugula and roasted red pepper mayo, won the World Food Championships.

114 N. 27th St., Billings; 406-281-8291

Nebraska: The Grey Plume

Five-time James Beard nominee Clayton Chapman helms this fine-dining, totally eco destination in Omaha, serving globally inspired New American fare made with seasonal, locally grown produce and livestock. One dessert staple that’s won Chapman acclaim: duck-fat donuts with vanilla ice cream.

220 S. 31st Ave. #3101, Omaha; 402-763-4447

Nevada: Lotus of Siam

Amid a constantly evolving culinary landscape in Las Vegas, this strip-mall hole-in-the-wall turned nationally recognized destination for both locals and visitors has remained a staple. Here, you’ll find a large menu of Northern Thai specialties crafted by chef Saipin Chutima, who uses old family recipes that have been passed down.

953 East Sahara Ave. Ste. A5, Las Vegas; 702-538-6135

New Hampshire: Polly's Pancake Parlor

New Englanders travel from all over the region to get a taste of the legendary pancakes at Polly's, whose recipes date back 70-plus years. Choose from varieties like buckwheat, gingerbread and cornmeal, and enjoy them alongside Polly's insane variety of maple products, including maple salt, maple coffee, even maple chile sauce.  

672 NH-117, Sugar Hill; 603-823-5575 

New Jersey: De Lorenzo's Tomato Pies

Since 1947 this family-owned pizzeria has dished up original Trenton-style tomato pies, a central Jersey delicacy that puts a crispy, tomato-topped spin on the traditional Sicilian slice. Although it specializes in create-your-own pies, native New Jerseyans swear by the clam or tuna tomato pie and seasonal salads, local staples that highlight this eatery's true Italian roots.

2350 NJ-33, Robbinsville; 609-341-8480

New Mexico: Mary & Tito's Cafe

For a taste of traditional New Mexican fare, it doesn’t get any more classic than Mary & Tito’s, a longtime fixture since 1963 from husband-and-wife team Mary and Tito Gonzales. You’ll find dishes like carne adovada and red and green chile in an old-school setting with retro furnishings and framed photos of family and customers.

2711 4th St. NW, Albuquerque; 505-344-6266

New York: Katz's Deli

There's no sandwich more iconic to New York City than pastrami, and no place more iconic to get it than Katz's Deli. The classic LES institution, open since 1888, epitomizes the dying deli genre which defines the city's culinary roots.

205 E. Houston St., New York; 212-254-2246

North Carolina: Skylight Inn BBQ

Setting the standard for eastern North Carolina barbecue, this no-frills spot in tiny Ayden, NC, (which started as a roadside burger joint in 1947) specializes in whole hog, wood-smoked ‘cue that's chopped up and doused in a spicy vinegar sauce (that's iconic to the region). Sam Jones, grandson of founder Pete Jones, lovingly carries on his family's traditions including maintaining an old-school smokehouse out back.

4618 Lee St. Ayden; 252-746-4113

North Dakota: HoDo Restaurant

HoDo may be the new kid on the block compared to other standbys in North Dakota, but this Fargo kitchen showcases farm-fresh Midwestern food at its best. The menu at HoDo (which received a James Beard semifinalist nod in 2014) focuses on local products like bison, local walleye and garden fresh veggies served in charming surrounds of the century-old Hotel Donaldson.

101 Broadway N, Fargo; 701-478-8888

Ohio: Lola

Michael Symon is one of the most recognized chefs in the country, and not just for his time on TV as the co-host of The Chew. When he opened his flagship Cleveland restaurant in 1997, he put his spin on New Midwestern cuisine by focusing on locally sourced Ohio ingredients for elevated classics like beef-cheek pierogi, pork belly with crispy pig’s ears and smoked chops — long before nose-to-tail cooking was a thing. The still-bustling Downtown restaurant is the heart of an empire that’s grown throughout the region, one that inspired many others to follow.

2058 E. 4th St., Cleveland; 216-621-5652

Oklahoma: Eischen's Bar

Established in 1896, this cash-only mainstay is Oklahoma’s oldest bar — and has hosted scores of famous guests over its long history. Go for award-winning homestyle cooking like whole fried chicken, chili and beef sandwiches and soak in the company of a diverse clientele.

109 S. 2nd, Okarche; 405-263-9939

Oregon: Beast

Diners have been flocking to this intimate Portland eatery ever since it opened in 2007 for six-course, prix fixe dinners that, for the first three years, were created only with two electric induction burners. Although the kitchen has gotten more advanced, the James Beard Award–winning chef Naomi Pomeroy is still serving up innovative, meat-centric dinners (and now Sunday brunch!), served at communal tables.

5425 NE 30th Ave., Portland; 503-841-6968

Pennsylvania: Bolete

This husband-and-wife-run Lehigh Valley restaurant set in a former stagecoach epitomizes Pennsylvania farm-to-table cuisine. Using the local bounty, chef Lee Chizmar's elevated cuisine has garnered national attention including a James Beard nomination.

1740 Seidersville Rd., Bethlehem; 610-868-6505

Rhode Island: Al Forno

A Providence institution and the birthplace of grilled pizza, this upscale riverfront kitchen presents a daily changing menu of Italian plates that have been adapted to take advantage of local ingredients from both land and water. On the menu are wood-fired mains, baked pasta dishes and made-to-order desserts.

577 South Water St., Providence; 401-273-9760

South Carolina: Husk

Familiar ingredients are transformed in unexpected ways by celebrated chef Sean Brock at this downtown Charleston icon, pushing the limits of Southern cooking and exploring its potential. The modern, daily changing menu is fueled by what’s locally available, pickled in-house and produced by heirloom vegetable cultivation efforts by Brock and his team.

76 Queen St., Charleston; 843-577-2500

South Dakota: Prairie House Restaurant

The South Dakotan specialty chislic can mean various things across the state, but one thing it always means? Meat on a stick! In the southeastern corner of the state, mutton takes center stage for this bar food fave, and Prairie House, which replaced the long-running and storied Papa's back in 2014, offers multiple options for its skewered sheep, whether grilled or fried, marinated or simply salt-and-peppered.

1121 US-81, Freeman; 605-925-4496

Tennessee: Prince's Hot Chicken

Food legends are sometimes born in unusual ways, and as local lore has it, James Thornton Prince’s man-about-town reputation caught up with him when a certain lady friend was looking to get even and spiked Prince’s fried chicken batter with pepper. The rest, as they say, is history, with this unassuming counter-serve spot offering the Nashville classic hot chicken from plain to XXX Hot since the 1940s. Newbies should definitely proceed with caution.

123 Ewing Dr., Nashville; 615-226-9442

Texas: Franklin Barbecue

Aaron Franklin put Austin on the culinary map when he opened Franklin Barbecue as a humble food trailer in 2009. By the time he opened his first brick-and-mortar, two years later, carnivores were flocking to Austin to line up each morning and get their hands on a heaping tray of smoked brisket, sausage and ribs (known as the "holy trinity" in central Texas). In 2015, Franklin took home a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest, effectively becoming the first pitmaster to accept such a title. 

900 East 11th Street, Austin; 512-653-1187

Utah: Ruth's Diner

Housed in a refurbished trolley car with vintage furnishings and canyon views, this Salt Lake City fixture, founded by a spirited woman with a penchant for storytelling, is one of the oldest restaurants in Utah (originally established in 1930). Traditional American diner fare is served here at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

4160 Emigration Canyon Rd., Salt Lake City; 801-582-5807

Vermont: Prohibition Pig

As the name suggests, Prohibition Pig's menu is all about, well, pork. The place serves up local, expertly cooked swine in practically every preparation imaginable, including spice-rubbed pork rinds, a chopped BBQ pork sandwich and even a pork burger with bacon. Prohibition Pig also doubles as a brewery, serving unique, proprietary brews like the Raspberry Swine Cooler and the classically refreshing Pro Pig IPA.

4182 VT-100, Waterbury Center; 802-244-7476

Virginia: Merroir

Located at the water’s edge in a sleepy town on the Rappahannock River, owners Travis and Ryan Croxton opened this restaurant to showcase the oysters they raise in that river. The cousins, who were instrumental in reviving the once floundering Virginia oyster industry, offer simple yet outstanding dishes that are served raw or grilled — and with an unbeatable view.

784 Locklies Creek Rd., Topping; 804-758-2871

Washington: Ray's Boathouse

The red neon sign flashing “Ray’s” has been beckoning diners to this Shilshole Bay restaurant since 1952, serving up fish and chips and steaming mugs of coffee to boaters. Now, it’s the place Seattleites and beyond go for fresh oysters, Copper River salmon, spot prawns and other Puget Sound seafood delicacies alongside breathtaking views at the casual cafe on the top deck and the more formal boathouse restaurant below.

6049 Seaview Ave. NW, Seattle; 206-789-3770

West Virginia: The Dining Room at The Greenbrier

This historic and iconic hotel serves as a luxury destination resort, drawing vacationers from all over the world which means the cuisine also has to be top-notch. While there are multiple dining venues within the hotel, the jacket-required main dining room serves up a famous five onion soup and other globally influenced plates using local ingredients like pickled ramps (seasonal).

300 W. Main St., White Sulphur Springs; 855-453-4858

Wisconsin: Graze

This farm-to-table gastropub in Madison uses locally pastured grass-fed beef in signature dishes like its take on a Wisconsin butter burger. Other local products abound on the crowd-pleasing global menu including, of course, Wisconsin cheeses.

1 S. Pinckney St., Madison; 608-251-2700

Wyoming: Snake River Grill

Snake River Grill is the institution that opened the door for cosmopolitan dining in all of Wyoming, and possibly the entire American West when it opened its doors back in 1993. The sophisticated New American spot has been a fixture of Jackson’s Town Square serving elegant locally inspired fare, signature cocktails and hundreds of wines from across the globe. 

84 E. Broadway Suite 2, Jackson; 307-733-0557
 

Washington, DC: Dukem

Many cities have a Little Italy, a Little Saigon or a Chinatown, but DC takes particular pride in the cluster of Ethiopian restaurants mainly found along the U Street corridor. Dukem has been around for more than a decade, serving rich and flavorful stews like chicken-studded doro wat to Ethiopian expats, globe-trotting fans and newbies alike.

1114-1118 U St. NW, Washington, DC; 202-667-8735

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