Special Report

The Most Iconic Food From Every State

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Kansas
> Iconic dish: Strip steak

Kansas City is a steak town (its famed stockyards processed millions of heads of cattle from 1871 to 1991), so when in Rome, do as the Romans do and dig into a Kansas City strip. Essentially the same as a New York strip, this steak is cut from the short loin and best enjoyed at famous Kansas City steakhouses including Jess & Jim’s, 801 Chophouse, Stock Hill, or Golden Ox.

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Kentucky
> Iconic dish: Hot Brown sandwich

The iconic open-faced Kentucky Hot Brown sandwich was invented at Louisville’s renowned Brown Hotel in 1926 by chef Fred K. Schmidt as a late-night alternative to ham and eggs. Consisting of toast topped with turkey, bacon, and creamy mornay sauce (béchamel with cheese added) that’s broiled until brown and finished with tomatoes, it’s rich and comforting. It can be found at restaurants all throughout Louisville, but the Brown Hotel still serves the definitive version.

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Louisiana
> Iconic dish: Gumbo

With po’boys, jambalaya, beignets, and more, New Orleans is home to countless legendary foods to call its own. No other dish is as iconic throughout Louisiana as gumbo, however; it’s actually the state’s official dish. It’s a rich stew made with a dark brown roux; the “holy trinity” of onions, bell peppers, and celery; a rich stock; and any combination of shrimp, chicken, sausage, or other meats. Gumbo is usually thickened with either okra or filé powder (dried, ground sassafras leaves), and served over rice.

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Maine
> Iconic dish: Lobster roll

If you’ve visited Maine and didn’t eat a lobster roll on the coastline, did you really visit Maine? While strapping on a bib and cracking into a whole steamed lobster is well and good, there’s something magical about taking a big bite of cold, super-fresh lobster, cut into chunks and tossed with a little mayo, tucked into a warm, buttered split-top bun while taking in views of the Maine coast. Lobster rolls are casual and luxurious at the same time, and countless shacks across Maine serve them on picnic tables overlooking the water.

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Maryland
> Iconic dish: Crab cakes

The Chesapeake Bay is brimming with blue crabs, and while it certainly can be fun to grab a mallet and go to town on a butcher-paper-covered table, the best way to enjoy the bounty of the bay is in crab cake form. At their best, they’re made with big chunks of fresh jumbo lump crab, tossed with just enough mayo and bread crumbs to bind it all together before being pan- or deep-fried. Most of Maryland’s top restaurants serve their own take on the dish, but they’re best enjoyed at casual spots on the waterfront.

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