Part of the fun of traveling is being able to visit new places and have experiences that are out of the ordinary. If you’re a foodie, that likely involves finding and trying the best or craziest dishes in any given destination. If you're going to splurge your hard-earned money on a trip in the coming weeks, you'll want to make it worth it. To help your travel inspiration, here are some of the weirdest vacation foods you can find in every state.
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1. Alabama: Orange pineapple ice cream
If you find yourself in Alabama, you have to try some orange pineapple ice cream from Trowbridge’s in Florence. This unique recipe, which sounds more akin to Hawaii, has been handed down for generations and provides the perfect treat on a warm day.
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2. Alaska: Reindeer dog
We know every state or city has its version of a hot dog. But can any of them compete with Alaskan reindeer dogs? These sausages — served at Red Umbrella Reindeer in Anchorage — typically include actual caribou, or reindeer, meat, as well as beef and pork.
3. Arizona: Hot Cheetos pizza
Pizza covered in Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, who would have known it would be such a big hit at the Arizona State Fair? Apparently Enzo’s Pizzeria out of Phoenix knew, because they’re the ones serving up these blazing slices.
4. Arkansas: Possum pie
It’s likely not what you might be thinking, but the name is sure to catch your eye. Possum pie is an extremely popular (and decadent) dessert found throughout spots in Arkansas — Stoby’s Restaurant in Conway is one. This pie doesn’t have possum in it, but instead creamy layers of chocolate, cream cheese, and shortbread crust.
5. California: Sushi burrito
Asian and Mexican influences meet to form an unusual, yet delectable, dish called the sushi burrito. As the name suggests, it’s typically made with different sushi elements but served in the form of a burrito. An instant classic that’s beloved at Sushirrito in San Francisco.
6. Colorado: Rocky Mountain oysters
Visiting the mile-high city of Denver or another locale in Colorado? Check out the Rocky Mountain oysters at just about any bar and grill or brewery, including Buckhorn Exchange in Denver. They’re supposed to be a real deep-fried treat, but be warned, they aren’t oysters (they’re typically animal testicles).
7. Connecticut: Peanut butter and jelly wings
Peanut butter and jelly is an iconic duo, but on chicken wings? For some Connecticut residents and visitors, there’s nothing better. If you like sweet and savory mixes (think chicken and waffles), these wings served at the Dew Drop Inn in Derby might be right up your alley.
8. Delaware: Saltwatertaffy
If you’re not from the Northeast, you might not be familiar with saltwater soft, chewy candy. Getting the taste of salt in your mouth from swimming in the ocean doesn’t sound too fun. But eating some sweet (and salty!) candy while visiting Delaware beaches doesn’t sound bad at all. Candy Kitchen in Rehoboth Beach has a great selection.
9. Florida: Conch fritters
Have you eaten snails? What about sea snails? That’s basically what a conch is and they’re all the rage at DJ’s Clam Shack in Key West. Fry them up and you’ve got yourself a tasty treat.
10. Georgia: Chicken and waffles
No matter how mainstream chicken and waffles become, they’re still a bit strange, albeit delicious. You typically stick with savory or sweet items on a plate, but this dish throws traditional senses out the window and puts them together. Find some top chicken and waffles at Buttermilk Kitchen in Atlanta.
11. Hawaii: Loco moco
Amazing culture, beautiful beaches, and comforting food — what’s not to like about Hawaii? The loco moco, or a mix of burger patties, rice, gravy, and runny eggs, fits right in. It sounds a bit out there, but it might be the ideal dish from Rainbow Drive-In (offered in five locations) after a long day of surfing or exploring.
12. Idaho: Ice cream potato
Idaho fully embraces its potato culture by offering all sorts of potato dishes, including the ice cream potato. This dish looks like a classic baked potato with all the toppings, but there’s no potato in it — it’s just a fun dessert scooped up at Westside Drive-In in Boise.
13. Illinois: Chicago dog
It’s no reindeer dog, but Chicago-style hot dogs can definitely come off as strange to a first-time visitor. For anyone who’s never had all the best garden picks, including tomato and pickle, included on their hot dog, you’ve got to try one from Portillo’s in the city.
14. Indiana: Peanut butter burger
Hear me out, a burger with a nice slathering of peanut butter across the bun. It’s a bit out of the box, but it’s caught on in certain parts of Indiana. So if you’re visiting The Hoosier State, don’t miss out on a peanut butter burger served at Triple XXX Family Restaurant in West Lafayette.
15. Iowa: Breaded pork tenderloin
There’s nothing innately weird about a breaded pork tenderloin, that is until you throw a giant one between two sides of a bun — then it becomes weirdly awesome. Some restaurants in Iowa, like Smitty’s Tenderloins in Des Moines, have turned making pork sandwiches into an artform.
16. Kansas: Chili and cinnamon rolls
Of things I would likely not think to mix, these are two of them. But chili and cinnamon rolls have won over the hearts and stomachs of many a Midwesterner as evidenced by the menu at Carriage Crossing Restaurant & Bakery in Yoder. Consider me convinced.
17. Kentucky: Beer cheese
Is it beer or cheese? It’s both in a way, but it’s more of a dip than anything. And it’s the ideal complement for pretzels, chips, and other snacks you might find at a pub or party with friends. Kentucky claims beer cheese as its own, so look for it on your next visit. It’s a favorite at Wunderbar in Covington.
18. Louisiana: Alligator
From fried gator tail to cajun alligator chili, Louisiana is home to a wide variety of these reptilian dishes. This is a far cry from your typical beef, pork, and poultry, but it’s a common deal here and worth a try at Cochon in New Orleans.
19. Maine: Duck gravy poutine
Poutine is typically already decadent enough, but for some reason having duck gravy seems to make it more so. Duck isn’t a common food for many Americans and neither is poutine, so the combination, served at Duckfat in Portland, could be a new experience for visitors to Maine.
20. Maryland: Old Bay everything
If you haven’t been to Maryland, prepare yourself for a healthy obsession with Old Bay seasoning. As the locals might say, it’s wicked good, especially on seafood, wings, and everything else. Wicked Sisters in Baltimore knows how to sprinkle it on.
21. Massachusetts: Fluffernutter
You’d be forgiven for not knowing what a fluffernutter sandwich is, but you’d be remiss not to try one if given the opportunity. It’s traditionally a sandwich made with white bread, peanut butter, and marshmallow creme, but you find fried variations at Local 149 in Boston.
22. Michigan: Pasty
What in the world is a pasty? For Michiganders, it’s an everyday delight and something you have to try if you’re in the area. Think of a warm, flaky meat pie and you’ll be right about on target. Mackinaw Pastie & Cookie Co. in Mackinaw City takes the treat to a new level with their signature crimped ends.
23. Minnesota: Jucy Lucy
The name doesn’t immediately let you know what type of food we’re dealing with, but let it be known that the “Jucy Lucy” is a double burger with cheese. Sounds simple enough, but as many foodies know, a good story and history can go a long way in making food taste better — ask anyone at Matt’s in Minneapolis.
24. Mississippi: Hot tamale pie
It’s not exactly a tamale or a pie, but it (maybe) has some elements of both. Either way, it’s a cheesy grits, pork, and green chile concoction served at Ajax Diner in Oxford. It’s known to be a crowd pleaser and should be on your Mississippi foods list.
25. Missouri: Provel cheese
Provel cheese — typically a mixture of cheddar, swiss, and provolone — is popular in Missouri. The creamy and gooey cheese was said to have been invented in St. Louis in 1947 and is often enjoyed on slices and pies at Imo’s Pizza and various other eateries.
26. Montana: Bison
Bison can’t be found in many places, but Montana is one of the states where you can both find and eat this type of meat. In particular, bison burgers and steaks are popular dishes among locals and visitors alike. It’s a well-loved dish at Ted’s Montana Grill in Bozeman.
27. Nebraska: Runza sandwich
Runza is a restaurant chain based out of Nebraska and home to the original Runza sandwich and its offshoots. This type of sandwich is more like an enclosed hot roll with different fillings, which often include beef, cabbage, and onions. If you’ve been to Nebraska, but haven’t been to a Runza, have you really been?
28. Nevada: Mochi ice cream pops
Nevada has so much food to choose from, especially in Las Vegas, and mochi ice cream pops are one of your options. These little treats are found on a stick and can provide a small, chilled relief from the Nevada heat. If you’ve never had mochi before, this is a fun introduction. You can sample at Jaburritos in Las Vegas.
29. New Hampshire: Apple cider doughnut
Since New Hampshire already has plenty of apple cider, why not make it into something edible that’s also delicious? The resulting apple cider doughnuts are a welcome surprise for anyone visiting this part of New England for the first time. These treats are very popular during harvest season at Applecrest Farm Orchards in Hampton Falls.
30. New Jersey: Pork roll
Pork roll is exactly what you might imagine it to be, a roll of unsliced pork. It’s typically used in different breakfast dishes, including pork roll sandwiches. If you’re in Jersey, you’re likely to find a nearby diner or other type of restaurant that serves pork roll. The Committed Pig in Morristown is one such spot.
31. New Mexico: Green chile sundae
It’s New Mexico, so you know there’s bound to be green chile somewhere, even in your dessert. If you don’t believe me, check out the green chile sundae that’s made with frozen custard and a green chile topping at Caliche’s Frozen Custard in Las Cruces. Now that’s something you likely won’t find anywhere else.
32. New York: Foie gras ice cream
Speaking of unique frozen desserts, how about some foie gras ice cream in New York? Foie gras is a French delicacy made from the liver of a goose or duck. It’s unclear whether this unique flavor is still being served as the menu changes seasonally, but OddFellows Ice Cream in Brooklyn currently has options such as matcha rocky road, mandarin jasmine brulee, and a whole lot more.
33. North Carolina: Livermush
Does it sound appetizing? Be honest. Despite its interesting name, livermush is a mainstay in North Carolina cuisine. There’s even an annual festival for everyone to celebrate this sliceable concoction that pairs well with eggs or toast. You can find it at The Shelby Cafe in Shelby.
34. North Dakota: Knoephla soup
You might find this to be a strange soup because of the unfamiliar name, but once you realize it’s basically chicken and dumplings, there’s no turning back. North Dakotans are all in on this hearty dish and you’re invited to partake as well. One spot that serves it is Deaner’s Diner in West Fargo.
35. Ohio: Cincinnati chili
Chili comes from Texas or thereabouts, right? Perhaps, but Cincinnati chili comes from Ohio, and it’s a lot different, but in a good way. This type of chili has loads of cheese, often resembles spaghetti, and has a sweeter flavor — and is a menu item at Skyline Chili in Cincinnati. If you’re not intrigued, you should be.
36. Oklahoma: Fry bread tacos
We all know tacos, but do you know about fry bread tacos? It’s basically dough that’s been fried and topped with loads of goodness, which could include meat, beans, and cheese. Fry bread is a hit at FireLake Fry Bread Taco in Shawnee, much of Oklahoma, as well as other states — and using it for tacos is a stroke of culinary genius.
37. Oregon: Salt & Straw ice cream
Pear and blue cheese, arbequina olive oil, honey lavender, and strawberry honey balsamic with black pepper are all ice cream flavors from Salt & Straw in Portland. And those might be considered some of the less strange options. But guess what? These scoops are a hit and you have to try it if you’re near a store.
38. Pennsylvania: Scrapple
Pork roll is to New Jersey as scrapple is to Pennsylvania. They’re similar, but don’t ever call them the same, at least not in the same room as a local. Scrapple is a dish that resembles a loaf of meat and is often made of pork, cornmeal, and spices. It’s typically served with breakfast dishes, so be on the lookout for diners and similar restaurants. It’s a hot item at Bird-in-Hand Family Restaurant & Smorgasbord located in the town it’s named after.
39. Rhode Island: Stuffed quahog
Despite its name, a quahog has nothing to do with pigs or hogs. A stuffed quahog is a large stuffed clam that’s enjoyed in and around Rhode Island. Each recipe is different, but you can typically expect the stuffing to be made from bread crumbs, onion, celery, and spices. Iggy’s Doughboys and Chowder House serves up their own recipe in Warwick.
40. South Carolina: Frogmore stew
Frogmore stew, or a low country boil, typically includes shrimp, corn on the cob, potatoes, and sausage — and it’s a menu item at Bowens Island Restaurant in Charleston. It could involve some crab as well, but frogs aren’t part of the recipe, other than helping with the name.
41. South Dakota: Wojapi
Wojapi originates from South Dakota and is a sauce traditionally made from chokecherries and root flour. Not sure what chokecherries are? No worries, these days you might find wojapi made from different types of berries. They’re offered at Pow Wows in South Dakota.
42. Tennessee: Little Debbie treats
It’s strange to think that Little Debbie treats actually originated somewhere since they’re such a common grocery item. But if you travel to Tennessee, you could visit the Little Debbie Bakery Store in Collegedale and find all your favorite treats, from oatmeal creme pies to fudge rounds.
43. Texas: Frito pie
This isn’t your typical pie because it’s savory, not sweet, and it’s more like nachos or a casserole than a pie. But it’s a classic throughout Texas and the Southwest and doesn’t have to be more complicated than a bunch of Fritos, ground beef, beans, cheese, and your pick of veggies . The folks at Micklethwait Craft Meats in Austin know just how to make them.
44. Utah: Jolly elf
This is actually a beverage and it’s one of many you can order from Swig in Lehi, famously called the home of the “dirty soda,” or soda that typically includes different additions such as syrups and fruit. The jolly elf is a mountain dew with passion fruit, strawberry puree, and fresh orange. Add some mango for an extra kick.
45. Vermont: Phish Food
Don’t worry, it’s not little bits of food you drop into a fish tank. Rather, it’s one of many popular flavors of ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s in Vermont. You can visit Ben & Jerry’s Waterbury factory for tours and, of course, lots of ice cream.
46. Virginia: Peanut soup
The name doesn’t automatically evoke a sense of craving or delight, but it might if you’re from Virginia. This creamy and buttery soup traces its roots back to colonial times and before, which could make for the perfect accompaniment on a visit to the Old Dominion. King’s Arms Tavern in Williamsburg offers peanut soup on their menu.
47. Washington: Geoduck
What may sound like a sort of Pokemon is actually a strange-looking clam that can often be found in Washington, notably the Taylor Shellfish restaurant in Seattle, Geoduck sashimi is sure to be a worthwhile choice if you’re looking for new seafood options.
48. West Virginia: Pepperoni roll
There’s nothing terribly strange about pepperoni and bread, served at Country Club Bakery in Fairmont, but its popularity in West Virginia is a bit different. These tasty delights trace their origins back to Italian immigrants working in coal mines in the area and their popularity has only grown since.
49. Wisconsin: Fried cheese curds
Cheese curds are made from curdled milk and are often squeaky when eaten. They already taste good by themselves, but if you fry them up and serve them with a favorite dipping sauce, you’ll be onto something. Since nobody knows cheese better than Wisconsin, this is where you should dig into some cheese curds. The Old Fashioned in Madison likely sells a lot.
50. Wyoming: Jackalope sausage
There’s no such thing as a jackrabbit with antelope horns, right? Maybe, but that hasn’t stopped jackalope sausage from existing. Take a bite out of this mythical creature the next time you visit the Cowboy State. Wyoming Buffalo Company in Cody has them packaged to-go.
There are so many fascinating eats offered around the country — some items more daring than others. If you’re planning a domestic trip, use this list for food-related inspiration on your travels. You always have to eat, so you might as well make an adventure out of it and try something new or unique to the area you’re visiting.
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