America has given rise to countless dishes that are now part of global culinary culture. The same can be said for its restaurants, and none more iconic than the golden arches of McDonald’s. As one of America’s most famous food exports, McDonald’s now has over 36,000 restaurants in over 100 nations, but it all started with one restaurant in San Bernardino, California in 1940.
On May 15, 2020, McDonald’s celebrated its 80th birthday. To mark the occasion, GoUSA TV – the on-demand travel-entertainment streaming network—showcased a quintessential U.S. dishes and complimentary culinary shows to whet viewer’s appetites.
All hail the hamburger!
Where better to start than the humble hamburger – especially since International Burger Day falls on 28th May 2020! Not only a favourite at McDonalds, but an American classic, adored and recreated almost everywhere. There are various claims to its invention, many from the USA and some from Germany. Nonetheless, the USA is where it really found fame. Nowadays, the most popular outlets in the states include California institution: In-N-Out Burger, Shake Shack on the East Coast, and Five Guys hailing from Virginia. The most lauded burger of recent times comes from Chicago establishment, Au Cheval; while New York is home to a multitude of iconic burgers ranging from established greats at the likes of JG Melon, Gramercy Tavern, Peter Luger and the $33 black label burger at Minetta Tavern, to the newly introduced burger from Emily in Clinton Hill – an immediate cult-favourite.
It’s hardly surprising that health-conscious Los Angeles embraced the now ubiquitous brunch dish, avocado on toast. Trendy restaurants around the city have put their own spin on the millennial favourite including: Go Get Em Tiger, Jon & Vinnys, Gjelina Take Away and Sqirl. However, Sqirl is also renowned for another toast-based concoction – the Insta-famous, and oh so delicious, ricotta toast. Imagine brioche, ricotta, and the finest artisan jam. Across the country, New Yorkers trade toast for bagels and there is plenty of competition. One good option for the veggie-inclined is Russ & Daughters, a hot spot for veggie fillings. For a higher end option, NIX in Greenwich village offers a plant-based meal with a twist – it’s the only Michelin-starred vegetarian restaurant in the USA. The Midwest offers its own take on vegetarian options. From down-to-earth classics like Iowa’s corn on the cob (with some of the best corn in state found at downtown Des Moines Farmers’ Market), to Native American fry bread in South Dakota, to decadent deep-dish pizza in Chicago. Last but not least, don’t miss fried green tomatoes, a Southern staple that shouldn’t be missed.
Up in your grill – Southern Barbecue styles from the Carolinas to Texas In the Southern United States, barbecue is a dedicated sub-culture with huge diversity among regions and intense rivalry for trophies at barbecue competitions. True barbecue is an intricate process of cooking meat in an enclosed space with low, indirect heat and smoke, which then comes out of the BBQ pit moist and tender, after up to 20 hours. “Carolina Style” is the oldest in America. It is usually shredded or pulled pork rubbed with a spice mix, before smoking over hardwood and then mopped with a spice and vinegar sauce. “Memphis Style” is primarily made using pork, usually ribs and shoulders, and can be served with a dry rub or sauce. Tennesseans have a penchant for pork sandwiches, and some of the finest are found at Central BBQ and A&R Bar-B-Que, in Memphis. There are four styles in Texas but it is largely “Central Texas” style that is famous. With this style of BBQ, it’s the pit-master’s meat of choice. For low and slow brisket, served dry, visitors should check out Franklins BBQ and Salt Lick in Austin. Finally, “Kansas City” style is characterised by the use of a wide variety of meat. Barbecue sauce is integral and here ‘burnt ends’ (the crusty bite-sized tips of a beef or pork brisket) are distinctive to the city, with Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que being the star of the show.
Seafood staples – from smoked salmon in Alaska to oysters in Virginia No matter where in the United States, sumptuous seafood is never far away. In land locked Minnesota, the state favourite is the British classic, fish and chips. In New England, there is a wealth of wonderful seafood dishes, from white clam pizza in Connecticut, honed at Frank Pepe’s in New Haven, to clam chowder in Massachusetts, clam stuffies in Rhode Island, and lobster rolls in Maine, with Reds Eats being a state star. Crab cakes are the favourite further down the coast in Maryland, while Virginia is home to an abundance of oysters in Chesapeake Bay, best enjoyed at laid-back clam shack, Chick’s Oyster Bar at Virginia Beach. The finest smoked salmon in the world can be found at Alaska Sausage & Seafood Market in Anchorage, meanwhile in Hawaii hearty cubes of tuna are served raw with rice, in what’s known as a poke bowl. Visitors should make a pilgrimage to the North Shore of Oahu and visit Kahuku Superette for the best!
The donut (or doughnut) is a joyous ring-shaped morsel, likely originating from Dutch settlers. Nothing screams fall in New England like traditional apple cider donuts, but for outlandish donut creations visitors should look to Voodoo Donuts in Portland, Oregon (and now Austin, Texas). Or, the artisanal handcrafted varieties at Sugar Shack in Richmond, Virginia. Snacking on beignets (deep-fried choux pastry dusted with powdered sugar) in Café Du Monde, New Orleans will be on most people’s bucket list, as will trying a key lime pie in the Floridian sun. For fruit lovers, ‘there ain’t nothing sweeter than Georgia peaches’, and visitors can be pointed in the direction of Mary Mac’s Tea Room in Atlanta or Crystal Beer Parlour in Savannah for some of the state’s best peach cobblers.