The Best Meal Every State Has To Offer According To The Best Thing I Ever Ate

Some may dismiss American cuisine as derivative, disgusting, or just bad. But there are ardent fans out there. One journalist from the Huffington Post proudly and ardently proclaims that American cuisine isn't just great, it's among the best of the best. After all, the country spans the width of a continent, houses people from every walk of life, and has many ingredients at its disposal — there is a lot of room for downright good cooking in the States. 

The television series "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" sets off across the country with different chefs and foodies to find the best eats that each state, region, and locale has to offer. With a mighty 13 seasons, hundreds of episodes, and countless categories and meals, the list of best things they ever ate is a daunting task for hungry fans (via IMDb).

For the voracious reader, however, we've done the work to whittle down the list to the best meal each state has to offer. You'll note that this list isn't a neat 50 states and this is for two main reasons: First, the series simply hasn't had the chance to delve into each state yet. Second, some states have only had their best desserts or appetizers featured. While these are sure to be yummy, we've opted to stick with the main course this time around.


Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q is a mouthful of a name, and so is its smoked turkey sandwich. That's probably why "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" named it as one of the finest meals that Alabama has to offer. With two locations in the town of Decatur, there's a reason why Big Bob Gibson's has been put on the map and why it's so nice they had to do it twice.

Big Bob's proves that turkey shouldn't be reserved for Thanksgiving. As one Tripadvisor reviewer raved, the barbecue joint's turkey strikes the utterly brilliant balance of smokey, tender, and juicy. As noted by the same review, the eatery is utterly old school which adds to the charm of the entire experience and makes it a must-visit when cruising through the Crimson Tide state. 

Luckily, for those of us who aren't swimming in these waters, Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q ships its turkey nationally through Goldbelly. Of course, when shipping, it has to be a decently large order, and the site sells a whole Gibson smoked turkey breast for $104.95 at the time of writing. The turkey can also be shipped along with the famous Alabama white sauce, which according to the site, is so popular that it's even inspired a statewide style of barbecuing. It's reassuring to know that Alabama's finest is more available than it's ever been before.


It may feel weird to dine on Mediterranean food in the desert, but that's just the kind of oasis that the family-owned and operated Queen Creek Olive Mill of Arizona provides. The Mill promises to treat all visitors to a delectable taste of the Mediterranean. The olive mill offers up a bevy of indulgences that may be off the beaten path for some. There's a reason why "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" pointed to the restaurant's kalamata sandwich as absolutely exquisite. With onsite olive cultivation, Queen Creek Mill offers the one-of-a-kind opportunity to enjoy exotic goods that are locally produced (via Visit Arizona).

One reviewer observes that mill's kalamata sandwich is both a first-rate and delicious bite. But, beyond that, the restaurant provides a unique and enjoyable atmosphere. In short, come for the sandwich, but stay for the coffee, wines, and arsenal of olives and olive goods. The review notes that the outdoor eating area is very well done, especially given the functioning olive grove that surrounds the Mill. Perhaps while snacking on olives you can close your eyes and pretend that the breeze caressing your face is coming straight from the Aegean.


The renowned Californian institution that is The French Laundry isn't your average casual dining experience, even if the name may evoke that. It takes just one look at the restaurant's exterior to know that this is fine dining, West Coast style. The building that houses the French Laundry was indeed at one point a French-style laundromat as outlined by the L.A. Times. While part of the architecture still evokes a sense of Provence, large floor-to-ceiling windows and expertly cultivated, though not overly done, topiary make sure to remind all restaurant-goers that this is an elevated gourmet experience. 

Fitting to the chic yet playful atmosphere is the founder and chef, Thomas Keller's, signature dish, oysters and pearls, which was referred to by Eater as genius and certain to impress time and time again. Just the name sounds luxurious — after all what's better than an oyster with a pearl? 

The signature dish is an extravagant foray into fine dining. Oysters are melded with butter and tapioca, making a sauce that warms the sturgeon roe "pearls." The dish is served in a shallow bowl with fresh garnishes. It's bold, it's daring, and it's as refined and unique as one would imagine the West Coast to be. So don't make a visit to the French Laundry a pit stop, make it an occasion. After all, the tasting menu is listed at $310 (via The Food XP).


Colorado has been coming on the map as a trendy place to live for some time. Nonetheless, it may come as a surprise to find one of the best dishes in the state in the unassuming town of Carbondale, which has a population, at the date of writing, of around 6,600 people (via Data Commons). But that's the beauty of the television series' premise — there are so many wonderful restaurants out there to be discovered.

Garcia's Market is located just off the highway and is sure to provide some really yummy stuff to those who are in the know. Among its menagerie of Mexican dishes is what the show deems as the best menudo in the States. This is a dish worth getting to know. 

Menudo is a Mexican cattle rancher's soup that makes use of every part of the cow. Per 10Best, it's cow stomach soup, and it's a divisive dish. While some may not be able to stomach the stomach, there is a reason why the dish has stuck around for so long. One review praises Garcia's as a place that gets down to business with as few frills as possible: It serves good food simply and authentically. As per the reviewer, every Saturday each table has at least one serving of the hearty Mexican soup.


The hamburger goes down as one of the most celebrated American foods to date: It's what we make at home and order at diners, upscale restaurants, and greasy spoons alike. It's the dish that put McDonald's on the map. Time and time again, we as a country enthusiastically turn to the patty between two heavenly slices of white bread to nourish us. 

It may seem random that Louis' Lunch of Connecticut would be singled out by "The Best Thing I Ever Ate." But random it is not. According to Connecticut History, Louis Lassen whipped up the first hamburger in the U.S. at the turn of the century. His customer was in a hurry, and making the more popular steak sandwich would have taken too long. While some might roll their eyes at the idea of one person creating the burger, so serious is Louis Lunch's claim that even the Library of Congress has noted that he served the first (documented) hamburger (via Connecticut History).

To this day, Louis' descendants serve hamburgers in New Haven. As noted by the restaurant's online menu, the burger doesn't deviate much from the original recipe: The patties are ground from five cuts of beef at the beginning of each work day and then cooked in original cast iron grills, some of which date back to the restaurant's opening in 1895. Served between white bread with onion, cheese, and tomato, this isn't just a stripped-down burger: It is the original.


Okay, okay, D.C. isn't a state. But the States' capital just has to be on this list. D.C. is known for some seriously killer restaurants and was even ranked in 2019 by Bloomberg as having the most exciting food scene. It's not easy to beat out traditional foodie meccas like New York and L.A., but there's a reason why the District did. After all, the city is a melting pot of people from all over the world and it's filled with the creativity that defines the East Coast. The international flair of this metropolis makes for a dynamic scene. "The Best Thing I Ever Had" tips its cap to Jaleo for having the best paella around.

In a city of utmost political importance, The Infatuation chimes in that the owner of Jaleo, Jose Andres, is the founding father of the contemporary D.C. food scene. With more than 20 years in business, Jaleo serves up refined yet earnest meals that are high in quality and low in posturing. Many would equate paella with seafood, and indeed there is a shrimp and calamari paella on the menu that is absolutely scrumptious. But the true showstopper may just be the restaurant's traditional rabbit and chicken paella Valenciana (via Tripadvisor). There is much to be said about the tried and true Jaleo paella, and it's all good.


Florida is at the delicious crossroads of Southern and coastal cooking. It's easy to have a good meal in the Orange Grove state. When digging into all of Florida's bounties, the show turned its eyes and mouth towards Ted Peters smoked mullet fish dinner. Located in the beach city of St. Petersburg, Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish is renowned, fittingly, for its smoked fish. There's truly little guesswork when choosing what to order at this restaurant.

St. Petersburg's city site refers to the joint as a local foodie institution and assures that despite critical acclaim, it is just as down to earth as ever. The site outlines that the fish joint got its start in the '50s when Florida transplants Ted Peter and his brother had an ingenious plan: Why not take the style of smoked fish that dominated local cuisine and feature the fish smoker at the center of the restaurant? The idea was so simple and true to the goodness of the fish that it took off and stuck. To this day, people come from all over to try this local delicacy. As one Tripadvisor review observes, this is a place that has withstood the test of time. This isn't going to be an upscale experience, and that's not the point. Come ready to de-bone your fish and drink in some local culture. Also, as per the St. Petersburg site, come with cash, as credit cards still aren't accepted.


The Olde Pink House is hard to miss, just stop at the bright pink house in Savannah, Georgia. The city's tourism site reveals that the rosy hue isn't a recent development or even really a marketing gimmick, but rather what started off as an annoying quirk. Due to some fluke, the mansion's bricks tended to bleed through the plaster cand turn the house a light pink. Private owners would try to paint over the ever-blushing building. It wasn't until around 100 years ago when the mansion was converted into a tea room that the new owner decided to end the tradition of painting over the bricks and instead fully embraced the building's pink color. It seems this was the right move, and to this day, the building is cherished for its charming color.

Beyond its looks, The Olde Pink House offers up some serious good eats with its pretty face. As recommended by "The Best Thing I Ever Ate", the pink house's BLT salad with fried green tomatoes is just as much a hit as its iconic exterior. Sure, this isn't the most complicated dish, but as one reviewer describes, this is one dish that makes this old house a must for foodies. The salad is fresh and small, topped with a thick and inviting slice of fried tomato, and drizzled generously, though not overwhelmingly, with dressing. As the review advises, there is no other choice if you want to capture the wonderfully charming essence of this Southern town.


There are tons of fresh and flavorful ingredients that weave the rich tapestry of Hawaiian cuisine. Among the absolute cornucopia of great eating on the islands, "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" advises ordering laulau at Kalooa's Super J's. But this local legend didn't need the show to shed light on just how good it is. As noted by none other than the Big Island Guide, Super J's is a spot to get both tasty and authentic Hawaiian food. It's just as much a staple for locals as it is for visitors. 

For those who are unfamiliar with laulau, it is aptly described by Big Island Now as Hawaiian soul food. The savory dish consists pork, chicken, or fish that's been wrapped in taro leaves and steamed for up to 10 hours. It's tender, filling, and flavorful. The dish is usually paired up with some sides like rice, mac salad, or even lomi salmon. It doesn't get much better than that. As the Guide notes, the restaurant is family-run to this day and still serves up dishes as it always has. For those hankering to take some with them, the restaurant also sells frozen laulau to hit the road with, after all, it is located right off the highway.


Crispy pata is a Filipino dish that features an underutilized cut: the pork knuckle. If you think this sounds utterly unappetizing, you probably won't be shocked to hear that this dish may have started off as a literal punishment. According to Esquire, after a restaurant owner's son went, all pun intended, ham on feeding his friends, she forbade him from serving them anything but pork knuckle. The son quickly devised a way to make the dish delicious and deep-fried the knuckle so that it took on an extremely crispy exterior with an incredibly tender and gooey interior. 

While this may sound like a tall tale, it can't be denied that this pork knuckle has made its way into many a heart. The crew at "The Best Thing I Ever Ate"  signed off on the sentiment when they named the crispy pata at Ruby's Fast Food in Chicago as one of the best dishes in Illinois. This is a pretty major feat given that Illinois is the home of deep-dish pizza. When looking at the reviews, it's clear that Ruby's crispy pata is a no-brainer. One Yelp reviewer notes that it's really it's hard to go wrong at Ruby's, just about everything's going to hit the spot. But, as they conclude, it's the crispy pata that's not only done to perfection, but also served pre-chopped for easier eating. As it turns out, there's not that much elbow grease that needs to go into enjoying this pork knuckle.


Shapiro's Delicatessen is Indiana in location and New York in spirit; the restaurant has specialized in bringing kosher eats and authentic Jewish food to the Midwest for well over a hundred years according to the company site. As the restaurant proudly notes, a century, the storefront has been run solely by the Shapiro family. It's been piling its sandwiches up for a long time and has no plans of stopping. It seems like the family is on to something, as "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" credits its peppered beef sandwich as one of the yummiest eats in all the land.

One look at the sandwich, and it's clear what a behemoth it is: piles and piles of thinly sliced, cured meat satisfy your appetite in the way that only New York (style) sandwiches do. One beguiled visitor on Tripadvisor exclaims that they have no clue as to how the Shapiro family gets their peppered beef so dang good, but one thing they are sure about: You won't find anything like it anywhere else. The reviewer compares the deli meat to a milder corned beef and assures that it's amazing to eat. Though one could say that the delicatessen places a lot of value on tradition, there have been some modern adaptations to the classic recipes. Gluten-free bread is now available for those who may not otherwise be able to enjoy this souped-up sandwich.


Stroud's Restaurant & Bar was, according to its site, first opened as a barbecue joint at the precarious time between the end of Prohibition and the onslaught of the Second World War. While the barbecue did well in those years, once the U.S. entered the Second World War, beef was heavily rationed. This may have very well spelled ruin for the restaurant, but luckily, the owner of the restaurant, Helen Stroud, opted to start serving the much cheaper and more available chicken. At this point, she couldn't have expected that Stroud's would become affectionately known as the home of pan-fried chicken.

"The Best Thing I Ever Ate" also lists the best pan-fried chicken's true address at Stroud's. In fact, it's probably hard to find someone who would disagree. One Yelp reviewer joins in and even strongly advises to not waste time reading and to just get a move on to the restaurant to see what all the well-deserved fuss is about. But for inquiring minds, who may be further away from Kansas, read on. The reviewer describes Stroud's pan-fried chicken as being a through and through a wonderful dish: A great exterior crunch gives way to flavorful, seasoned, and juicy chicken. Sure, just about all of us have had good fried chicken. But Stroud's Restaurant & Bar does the rare thing where it takes something that's good and makes it great. Not to mention it's served with sides that the reviews note are just as praise-worthy.


Louisiana is a state with an instantly recognizable and beloved cuisine — who doesn't get a little weak in the knees when thinking of beignets and gumbo? Jacques-Imo's Cafe takes cajun cooking and twists it on its head with its shrimp and alligator sausage cheesecake. For one dish, there sure is a lot going on. It lingers on one of those thrilling questions in cuisine: Is it just crazy, or crazy enough to work? 

While the three-meat cheesecake may come across as a gimmicky foray into the world of sweet and savory cooking, "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" stands by it. In fact, the New Orleans observes that Jacques-Imo's Café has long gleefully experimented with Southern cooking and its many influences, and perhaps that's what it can credit its success to. But Jacques-Imo's isn't a snobby experience in any way, shape, or form. Diners range from foodies to civilians just looking for a good meal, such is the unique draw of this restaurant. As for the (in)famous cheesecake, as one Tripadvisor boldly declares, it's impossible to tell just how well it works until you try it. The reviewer goes so far as to imply that if you don't order this, a trip to the cafe is simply incomplete.


It is no secret that good lobster comes from Maine. But, what is that makes that New England crustacean so unbelievably good? According to Maine's tourism site, it's all about location. The cold waters of the North Atlantic make a sweeter lobster, simply put. Notably, the cooler waters prevent the lobster from absorbing a lot of the ocean's salt. Maine quite literally has the corner on irrefutably prime lobster meat.

It's hard to have bad lobster in New England. But where is the best lobster to be had? According to "The Best Thing I Ever Ate"  it's at The Tavern at the Kennebunk Inn, formerly known as the Academe Maine Brasserie & Tavern. Boldly, the show doesn't turn to a classic lobster dish, but rather to the Inn's more experimental lobster pot pie. Despite this slightly unconventional form, one Tripadvisor review cites both the pie and the restaurant as carrying all the quaint charm that Maine has to offer. Do note however, that this is somewhat of a deconstructed pie. The actual pot pie is the bisque underneath and is simply topped with a filled puff pastry! The innovative approach certainly could surprise someone expecting a more classic take on the dish. But, for those looking to enjoy refined Maine lobster in a new way, make sure to plan in advance. The Inn's restaurant is only open from Thursday to Saturday.


Maryland is a state known for its seafood, specifically its famed Maryland blue crab. While it may be easy to find some of the best crab cakes in the nation here, the show pivots to a lesser-explored option: Burgundy snails at Charleston. Located in Baltimore, this particular restaurant is far from a hidden gem and has long been known to offer some of the city's best eating (via 10Best). Even though the restaurant is situated in the vibrant Little Italy neighborhood, the restaurant opts to fuse French and Southern cuisine. After all, what two cuisines better encapsulate decadence and deliciousness? The result is a heavy hitter befitting of Charm City.

As 10Best warns, Charleston is not a budget-friendly choice. But it is a place where the price pays off. One review describes eating the restaurant's famous snails as an intense experience. They note that the cephalopods are extremely aromatic and can be smelled long before they even reach the table. It only takes one bite to figure out just how the savory and heavy snail perfectly meshes with the light heaven of the puff pastry. Even if you may shrink away from the more snail-oriented aspects of French cooking, the reviewer suggests that this is the place to be brave. As they advise, "Get adventurous. Worth it."


Massachusetts is brimming with seafood and seemingly limitless ways to serve it. Among all the wonderful possibilities, the foodies at "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" hunkered down most eagerly with a bowl of clam chowder, or better yet, chowdah. The show cites Plymouth's very own Cabby Shack as the best place to enjoy the hearty soup. But, what is it that makes the Cabby Shack's clam chowder so exemplary? It really only takes one glance to see why — Cabby Shack serves up an extremely thick version of the already thick stew. According to one review, Cabby Shack's dish was so thick that they were able to stand a spoon straight up in it. Made with clams and cream, this isn't a dish to eat before hitting the gym. Rather, this is a dish best followed by a nap or perhaps a good seaside stroll.

Thankfully, this is a dish that comes with a view, and despite the name, the Cabby Shack is a relatively elegant affair. According to the restaurant's website, the two-story restaurant overlooks Plymouth's wharf and is a stone's throw from the Atlantic Ocean. So, throw on a cable knit sweater and beanie and indulge in the food that has nourished seafaring men and women for hundreds of years.


It may seem counterintuitive to travel to Detroit for a Coney Island dog, but hear us out, or better yet hear Detroit out. Visit Detroit names the confusingly named dish as a Detroit native for well over a hundred years and goes so far as to imply that it may have even originated there. In the present day, origin doesn't matter as much as the end result, and boy does the city cook up a mean dish.

For Detroit, Coney Island style means a beef, not pork, dog in a steamed bun topped with all-meat chili, onions, and mustard (via Visit Detroit). The site says definitively that the chili used for Coney Island dogs in no way involves beans. This is not a dish for feeble stomachs or those who are looking for the healthy option on the menu. The Coney Island dog is as old-school as it gets, and it stays very passionately true to its character.

It's self-evident, that the Coney Island competition in Detroit must be heavy. But nonetheless, the folks over at "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" recommend visiting National Coney Island just for the chili that tops the dog. The reviews back it up, and one describes a visit to the National Coney Island as a positive, even indulgent experience. They enjoyed loaded-up Coney dogs, milkshakes, and desserts. For those far away from Detroit, don't fret: Coney Island dog kits are available for inquiring minds and watering mouths alike.


Mississipi's The Old Country Store challenges patrons ever so tantalizingly: Just how far would you go for a good piece of fried chicken? Although the restaurant is located in an unincorporated town that is in no way close to anything, Only In Your State assures that travelers who take on the journey will be immensely rewarded. On the outside, the restaurant looks just like its name: An old country store, complete in rustic charm and the feeling that you've somehow unknowingly succeeded in time travel. Inside is what "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" has found to be some of the best fried chicken the South has to offer. 

It seems like an almost mythical atmosphere surrounds the half-eatery half-general store. At surface level, it almost sounds like a quirky tall tale. According to one Yelp review, a 92-mile drive delivered them to fried chicken heaven, and indeed, it was the best kind of Southern cuisine. They even pointed to the restaurant's chef as imparting some valuable wisdom. Indeed, Only in Your State, notes that restaurant's chef, Mr. D., really adds to the eating experience with his singing. The Old Country Store is that rare instance in life where the destination is just as important as the journey, and what a wonderful thing that is. 


Why there's a Kansas City in Missouri the world may never know. But what is clear from the folks at "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" is that the duck tongue tacos at Extra Virgin are the best in town. Extra Virgin is headed by chef Michael Smith, who not only grew up behind the scenes in restaurants but went on to study and work in the French culinary scene. French cooking is known both for its decadence and high quality, which Smith makes sure to bring into his own restaurant while adding his own twist to it. After all, what other sort of background would bring duck tongue tacos to such mouthwatering heights? Sure, there's a little bit of shock value to it. But there's a reason why this entrée was singled out as some of the best food around.

It's evident that duck tongue tacos were made with both French and Mexican cuisine in mind, and what results is a vibrant and delectable fusion. The people seem to agree, and one reviewer points to their evening at Extra Virgin as an elevated experience. Although they naturally had some reservations about the thought of tongue-based taco, all caution was thrown to the wind once they tasted just how truly yummy this dish is. There's a little bit of trust that goes into this dish, but as the saying goes, fortune favors the bold.


Vegas is a city known to surprise and astound. Why wouldn't this desert city have the best French seafood? There are certainly stranger things out there, after all. Per "The Best Thing I Ever Ate," some of the best langoustines around can be found at the upscale L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon. Before reserving, you may find yourself asking: What are langoustines? You may better know them as scampi, according to the Food Network. The site compares the crustacean to crayfish in sight and lobster in taste. They're only found in certain regions of the Atlantic, are governed by strict regulations, and are hard to catch. This, combined with their great taste, makes them a luxury good that is bound to cost a pretty penny. 

L'Atelier leans into this air of rarity, and doesn't shy away from the opulent nature of the shellfish. But as observed the Food Network, the restaurant doesn't try to gild the lily. Robuchon opted to combine the natural richness of the langoustine and pair it with a more low-key but tasty basil pesto sauce. While this may seem underwhelming in comparison to other meals selected by the show, don't be so quick to write it off. The meal's charm lies in how deceptively simple it is. After all, the ingredients speak for themselves, and they do so convincingly. In that sense, the meal couldn't get more French.

New Jersey

There may come a point in your life where you find yourself asking, "What is mutz?" And if you find yourself asking this question, you need to try Vito's Deli of New Jersey. To clear things up, mutz is shorthand for mozzarella, Vito's claim to fame and point of pride. Starting his deli career at the young age of 14, Vito has been honing his delicatessen skills since the '80s according to the biography on his store site. Homemade mozzarella has long since come to be the name of his game, and he cites a focus on fine ingredients and pure water as the secret to his cheese. It seems like these tenets have paid off, as the fresh mozzarella has earned him acclaim on "The Best Thing I Ever Ate." The store site cheekily notes that it has even received orders from Italy. If that isn't a sign of approval, well what else could be? 

The show joins the consensus that Vito's Deli's smoked mutz hero is the stuff of food dreams. The love for this store and sandwich runs deep. As one reviewer proclaims, the cheese is "to die and live for!" So why not get to living in the most delicious of ways?

New Mexico

Frito pie is a big point of pride for one specific region of the United States. Boiled down to its essential structure, Frito pie is simply Fritos topped off with a scoop of chili, white onions, and a sprinkling of cheddar. At its humblest, the dish is served still in the bag. 

While haters may write the dish off as low-brow, this comfort food's origin is hotly contested between Texans and New Mexicans: Both states proudly lay claim to the invention of the dish. Even though it was famously dissed by the late chef Anthony Bourdain, it nonetheless persists as a favorite dish for many.

It's no surprise then that "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" would find some Frito pie to write home about. Located at the Five & Dime General Store of Santa Fe, there's a certain charm to this rustic meal. The business is authentic — according to Only in Your State the restaurant was and is a functioning general store. The original snack bar is where you can pick up a warm Frito pie. One satisfied guest notes that while you may have to wander around the store a bit to find the snack bar, it's all a part of the experience. The reviewer describes the dish as both top-notch and economical, though do beware, only so many pies are made in a day, and they can sell out.

New York

Chinese food has long been a big part of the American food landscape. Major immigration in the 19th century first brought both Chinese immigrants and food culture to the West Coast and major cities like New York according to Time Magazine. Since its initial introduction, In 2016, Chinese restaurants were opening at a rate greater than any chain restaurant and tended to outrank them in popularity too.

Despite changes in time, space, and culture, New York still holds some of the best Chinese food out there. This is evidenced by Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles, which if you couldn't guess by the name, specializes in fresh hand-made noodles. There's something to be admired about old methods of cooking that have more or less been forgotten as we've mechanized the culinary world. When visiting, "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" recommends ordering the hand-pulled noodles with beef, and the reviews back it up. One reviewer notes that it's impossible to go wrong with the dish, but the location will slightly alter the experience. Tasty Hand Pulled Noodles has two locations. According to the review, the location in Chinatown, as opposed to Midtown, is more economical in price. Either way, the reviewer notes that the portions are sure to leave you full and the quality of the food is sure to leave you happy.

North Carolina

There's a lot of barbecue in the States, though arguably the epicenter of this sauciness is the Carolinas. In an interview with Mashed, renowned chef Rodney Scott points to the sauces used in Carolina barbecue, among other factors, as putting the Carolinas a notch above the rest. There are a lot of different and unique barbecue sauces that add a one-of-a-kind flair to Carolina barbecue.

It's only fitting that a king reigns supreme, and Bar-B-Q King of Charlotte, North Carolina is what one restaurant-goer describes poetically as BBQ heaven. To find this pathway to the divine, "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" suggests ordering the restaurant's critically acclaimed Bar-B-Q chicken. When looking at the restaurant's process it's not hard to understand why this chicken is so finger-lickin' good. Instead of traditional barbecue chicken, this is fried chicken that is smothered in tangy barbecue sauce. It's sticky, sloppy, and messy, but the taste is worth it.


Forget a po' boy, what about a Polish boy? A Polish boy is prized by many an Ohioan as a local delicacy, according to This is Cleveland. The site on all things Ohio asserts that it doesn't get more down-home than the Polish boy. 

For those not from Cleveland, the dish features kielbasa, a sausage that is, you guessed it, Polish in origin. It's then topped with a hearty helping of coleslaw, a more than generous amount of fries, and what may be described by some as a terrifying amount of barbecue sauce. All of this is barely contained by one measly hot dog bun. When going out for a Polish boy, it's best to be brave and be hungry.

According to "The Best Thing I Ever Ate," among the many Ohio Polish boys, no one does it quite like Seti's. Unlike other places to eat on the list, this isn't a sit-down establishment but rather a beloved food truck. Really, there's no better way to indulge in this sandwich. One review observes that the food truck parks directly in front of a health center, which of course seems quite cheeky. The reviewer notes that these boys aren't too wild, but are good quality for a cheap price. 


Oregon, specifically Portland, probably isn't where you'd look for a good Cubano, but "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" dares to do just that. The show points to the Bunk Sandwiches' pork belly Cubano as being the best around, and it's hard not to see how this came to be. Bunk Sandwiches is a single-minded shop that doggedly pursues bringing sandwiches up to another level. 

Sandwiches, while just another basic lunch to some, are a world of possibility for the sandwich shop. On the menu, Bunk strives to make sandwiches that are simultaneously innovative, filling, and just indisputably yummy. The pork belly Cubano remains one of the restaurant's signature dishes.

It seems that there's a consensus, as Grub Street concludes that the unique approach that Bunk takes to sandwich making pays off incredibly well. The sandwich features unique and rich cuts of pork from both the belly and hindquarters. Swiss cheese melts in between the layers of meat in this pressed sandwich, and pickles provide a good shock of tang. Mustard and a decent amount of hot sauce seal the deal and invite the customer to go ahead and dig in. The review concludes that the sandwich walks a perfect tightrope of experimentation while staying true to the elements that have made Cubanos so popular for so many.


Vetri Cucina of Philadelphia demands that patrons come hungry. There's no need to go halfway when it comes to the restaurant's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate"-approved Italian food. You have to simply go all in to really enjoy the highs of this menu. The restaurant first got its start with the Philadelphia-native chef Marc Vetri, who is credited with leading the city's restaurant resurgence with Vetri Cucina in the '90s (via Vetri Cucina). Some 30 years later, the appeal persists and the dishes stay just as yummy.

The tasting menu, known as The Quattro Piatti, is a titillating four-course meal that features an antipasti, pasta, secondi, and dessert along with wines and cocktails. The menu features locally-sourced and seasonal ingredients and was heralded by one reviewer as the best Italian meal to be had outside of Italy. 

The review described the meal as being both high in quality and unique in taste, punctuated by kind and helpful service and wonderful wine. She notes that the meal had extreme, yet complementary, variations in flavor that made for a truly elevated experience. For those looking to enjoy Italy by way of Philadelphia, Vetri's Cucina simply can't be beat. Make sure to reserve a table in advance, as the atmosphere is limited. Do also note that the menu is prixe fixe and set at $150 per meal at the time of writing.

Rhode Island

A clam shack may not seem like a romantic getaway, but in this world, anything's possible. Rhode Island Tour astutely observes that you're never really that far from the ocean when in the country's tiniest state, and at Flo's Drive-In you're practically floating in it! There's something comforting about looking at the water where, at least theoretically, your meal has been sourced from. The Rhode Island tourism site notes that, unlike other restaurants, Flo's really delves into the specificities and uniqueness of this tiny state's cuisine. The site even goes so far as to say that the clam shack is emblematic of the state's identity: laid-back, independent, and willing to work with what's at hand.

That has to at least be part of the reasoning why "The Best Thing I Ever Ate"  listed the low-key shack's fried clam roll as some of the best eating that the country has to offer. On Tripadvisor, one diner notes that despite the adversities of the last couple of years, the fried clams at this shack are just as yummy as ever. The shack couldn't keep these bad boys a secret for long, and to this day they remain a popular hit among locals and travelers alike. So make sure to come with a little patience and know that soon enough you'll be eating a local delicacy while breathing in the salty sea air of Rhode Island.

South Carolina

There's a wide world of barbecue out there, but the Carolinas have a special relationship with smoked meat. It makes sense that the foodie sleuths over at "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" would dig deep into the Palmetto State for some of the best barbecue around. Their searching led landed them to Duke's Bar B Que in Orangeburg, South Carolina. It's not the flashiest of places. But where the restaurant does go hard is in its food, including pork hash that the show labeled as the best around.

For those unfamiliar with the dish, it makes sense to look at the etymology. Hash comes from the French word hacher, which means to chop up. Hashed browns, for example, are a form of hash. Pork hash is thus a sort of chopped pork complete with fat and fixings. Per Destination BBQ, the chopped meat is often stewed with potatoes and barbecue sauce and served over rice.


"The Best Thing I Ever Ate" tends to shy away from plant-based dishes. Often the show's meals feature some form of animal product. This is a bit of shame, given the rise of plant-based eating. Surely, some of the best foods are bound to be vegan-friendly at this point in time. Thankfully, A Single Pebble of Vermont does provide a vegan-friendly option on this list. 

According to the restaurant's site, the Burlington-based eatery takes inspiration from Chinese cuisine in dishes, philosophy, and atmosphere. Ultimately, the meal should leave patrons feeling full and inspired. Which seems like a tall order for a dinner, but if there's anywhere to do that, it's A Single Pebble.

It's with this bold approach and these lofty goals that the restaurant serves up its mock eel. You may have to do a double take when looking at the dish. It looks like a pile of tentacles drenched in ink. But, as clarified in a Facebook post from the restaurant, the dish is made from shiitake mushrooms that give the dish a seafood-like texture and a scallion-infused soy sauce to give it the perfect taste. For vegetarians missing seafood, or for those who would like to experience an old favorite in a new way, A Single Pebble delivers magnificently.


Peking duck has long been a mouthwatering dish, so long in fact that National Geographic has traced the dish back to 13th century China, where it was sold door to door by traveling vendors. The dish prevailed throughout time, moved throughout different empires, and was so cherished that its recipe was carried over to the United States. 

For those who are looking to try this illustrious dish, "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" suggests paying the Peking Gourmet Inn of Virginia a visit. Located just outside of Washington D.C., the restaurant has been serving up high-quality meals since the late '80s (via Peking Gourmet). Nearly half a century later, this place has still got it. 

One Yelp reviewer says that this establishment is well-known for good reason: The reviewer describes the meat as both crispy and tender. The reviewer notes that the dish is accompanied by flavorful sauces and cucumbers for a welcome palate cleanse. Despite the popularity, the reviewer notes that the restaurant is still pretty low-key at times, but does recommend making reservations for larger parties. After all, this is a place with a notable reputation.


For many pizza is a serious passion, so what better place to find some seriously good eats than Serious Pie of Seattle? The pizza aficionado site Pizza Today praises the Washingtonian pie place as where every chef who wants to make the most perfect pizza trains. As the pizza site outlines, the restaurant believes that a great pizza starts at the base with a good crust. Everything else should build on this solid structure. It only takes one bite of this pie to know that the restaurant's philosophy checks out.

"The Best Thing I Ever Ate" selected an extremely indulgent item from the adventurous restaurant's menu, naming the chanterelle truffle cheese pizza as the cream of the crop. Truffles have long been a prized ingredient, and for good reason. They're certainly a welcome addition for most people. But truffles need a partner to really bring the best out of them. The roasted chanterelle mushrooms, which pair nicely with the truffles, serve this purpose perfectly. This is an elegant, and indulgent, take on the classic mushroom pizza. 

As one review notes, this pizza is a full experience. The review touches on how wonderful the pizza's crust is and how this brings out the best of wonderfully selected ingredients. This is a pizza that's up front about what it is, and it's all good.

West Virginia

Could it be that some of the best lobster in the States isn't up in New England, but in landlocked West Virginia? According, to "The Best Thing I Ever Ate," yes, absolutelyPrime 44 West at the Greenbrier is a restaurant inside a luxury resort nestled away in the idyllic surroundings of White Sulphur Springs of West Virginia. It offers both a meal and a retreat according to U.S. News. If anyone was going to be able to serve truly phenomenal landlocked lobster, it was going to be The Prime 44. The resort focuses on a luxury experience that's bound to wow as much as it relaxes. Ranked as the finest hotel situated in West Virginia, its gastronomical offerings are certainly up to par, to say the least.

What better way to meet the call to luxury than with lobsters and mashed potatoes? While technically a side dish, there's certainly enough richness here to include this delectable morsel in the mix. After all, creamy mashed potatoes laden with whole chunks of lobster may be enough for many on their own. Despite a menu filled with many wonderful entrées, as noted by one Yelp reviewer, the lobster mashed potatoes both take the cake and steal the show.