If you're planning to visit the states, bring your appetite. This is a country that loves to eat. America has a large and diverse population, and every community there has contributed something different to the national palate.
Here are the six kinds of food you have to try when you visit the United States.
1. Hot dogs, hamburgers and other classic sandwiches
The humble American hamburger is known and beloved the world over, but that's just the top of the American sandwich landscape. Virtually everywhere you look, you'll find a new twist on how to turn two pieces of bread and the space between them into a culinary experience.
For example, let's talk about hot dogs. Just along Route 66 alone, you've got Chicago-style red hots and Southwestern Sonoran dogs. In Chicago, they pile yellow mustard, neon-green relish, tomato wedges, diced onions, sport peppers and a pickle spear on top of a boiled hot dog nestled in a steamed poppy seed bun. Down in Arizona and New Mexico, your dog comes wrapped in bacon on a bolillo-style bun, then smothered in pinto beans, tomatoes, onions, mustard, mayo and jalapeno salsa.
Remember, that's just hot dogs. Be on the lookout for all kinds of hamburgers and the world-famous Philly cheesesteak, just to name a couple other popular American sandwiches.
2. A big, hearty American breakfast
Fully loaded breakfast plates are the staple dish of a historic Route 66 icon: the all-night roadside diner.
Our Yankee brethren are no strangers to a good fried egg, but you'll notice some distinct additions when you sit down for a hearty American brekkie.
First, there's the bacon. American bacon is made from pork belly, served crisp and enthusiastically embraced from coast to coast.
Next, you haven't had an American breakfast until you've drenched giant, fluffy pancakes in thick, sweet maple syrup.
Lastly, in the American south, you'll find savoury diner favourites like buttery biscuits drowned in thick sausage gravy. Don't skip out on a side of grits, a cornmeal dish and classic comfort food popular throughout the south.
3. Tender, juicy barbecue
Remember how we said you'll find a local twist on the most popular American foods wherever you go? That might be most notable when you're talking about barbeque.
Barbeque in America is a unique threat.
The most popular restaurants slow-cook their meat and smoke it for a unique flavour. Barbeque pitmasters will only use select cuts of wood to smoke particular types of meat.
Then there's the sauce. From the tangy mustard vinegar-based sauces found in the Carolinas to Memphis dry rub and the sweet tomato-based sauces of Kansas City and Texas, there's a universe of flavours to explore when it comes to American barbeque.
4. Heaping portions of homemade soul food
Soul food is steeped in American history.
This unique style of cooking was developed by African American chefs over generations, and it has particularly strong roots in the deep south.
What do we mean by soul food?
We mean greens: a rich side comprised of cooked collard, mustard or turnip greens. We mean creamy homemade macaroni and cheese. We mean fried okra. The centre of your plate might be occupied by catfish or ham hock and black-eyed peas. We mean cooking at its finest
5. The classic slice
Americans might not have invented pizza, but they certainly made it their own.
First brought over by Italian immigrants over a hundred years ago, a distinct American style has become popular across the country with many regional variations that have spurred heated rivalries across the country.
First up, there's New York-style pizza. Served in thin, wide slices, this type of pizza is most often eaten in one hand while folding the slice, and you can find it in small independent restaurants across New York City for as little as one U.S. dollar per slice.
In Chicago, at the top of Route 66, you'll find a very different kind of pizza. This ultra-thick style, known locally as deep-dish pizza, is cooked in a thick pan, with the tomato sauce ladled on top of the cheese. You definitely can't fold this delightful creation!
Other popular regional varieties can be found in Detroit, St. Louis and California, and no matter where you are in the country, you're liable to find a local twist with regionally popular ingredients.
6. Tex-Mex and other influences from south of the border
While Mexican cuisine has left its mark on American food across the country, it's perhaps most obvious in the cooking styles you'll find between Texas and California. As Route 66 winds through North Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Southern California, you'll discover a remarkably widespread, and remarkably delicious, Mexican influence on classic American staples.
Tex-Mex is probably the most well-known variety of American food that has Mexican roots, and for good reason. Hot chilli con carne has been setting tongues ablaze for generations. Other dishes in this style take Mexican foods, like enchiladas, tamales and burritos, and they add a hefty dose of shredded or melted cheese, often mixed with spicy chillies and referred to by the Spanish term queso.
A wide variety of American interpretations of classic Mexican dishes are available to adventurous eaters throughout the Southwest and across the country.
Ready to join Route 66 Tours for a journey down America's Mother Road? Get in touch with us today. We promise to stop to eat along the way.