Special Report

America’s Most Iconic Dishes

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1. Cobb salad

The signature dish at Hollywood’s legendary Brown Derby restaurant, the Cobb Salad is named after the restaurant’s co-owner, Robert Cobb, who invented it in 1937. In its most classic form, it’s made with chopped salad greens, tomato, bacon, blue cheese, chicken breast, hard-boiled egg, and avocado with a vinaigrette dressing. The ingredients were originally tossed together, but now they are typically served neatly arranged in rows. And best of all, because it’s a salad you’re free to claim that it’s healthy.

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2. Shrimp cocktail

Is a steakhouse meal a steakhouse meal if it doesn’t start with shrimp cocktail? This classic appetizer (which is also extremely popular in the UK, where it’s called prawn cocktail) starts, of course, with shrimp, which is poached and chilled. It’s served alongside cocktail sauce, which at its simplest is a mixture of ketchup and horseradish, but also usually includes Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and vinegar. A squeeze of lemon completes the dish.

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3. Matzo ball soup

A Jewish deli staple, matzo ball soup has gone from being a traditional Passover dish to one that can be found at delis and diners across the country. Matzo balls (called kneidlach in Yiddish) are made with a combination of matzo meal (ground up matzo), eggs, water, and fat (usually oil or chicken fat). They’re formed into balls and boiled like dumplings in chicken soup. The soup itself can contain just the matzo balls or noodles and chicken. It’s simple, filling, and delicious.

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4. Clam chowder

Clam chowder originated in the Northeast, but today it’s beloved from coast to coast. There are a few varieties of clam chowder: Manhattan clam chowder, which is tomato-based (and, oddly enough, isn’t especially common in Manhattan); the far more popular New England clam chowder, which is thick, creamy, and milk- or cream-based, usually also containing potatoes and salt pork; Rhode Island (a clear broth with no dairy or tomatoes); and Long Island (a combination of Manhattan and New England).

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5. Poke

It wasn’t too long ago when poke (pronounced PO-kay) was almost unheard-of outside of Hawaii, but thanks to its versatility, the wide availability of super-fresh fish, healthfulness, and downright deliciousness, it has taken off over the past decade as a fast-casual go-to. Poke started as a snack for Hawaiian fishermen, and at its most traditional it combines diced fresh raw fish (usually ahi tuna but also salmon, octopus, shellfish, or other fish) with salt, toasted ground candlenuts, seaweed, and soy sauce; other add-ins can include avocado, ponzu, jalapeño, sriracha, and cucumber.

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