Emblematic eating

Randomly thinking about US regional cuisines and which foods/restaurants are the highest examples of them. To phrase a little differently, if you only had one meal in a given city and you wanted to experience the definitive example of the place’s food, where do you go?

NYC: Katz’s deli for pastrami.  But maybe there’s a pizza place that would be a better pick?

Miami: Probably Versailles for Cuban food.

SF: Tadich Grill, for cioppino or fish or Dungeness crab. But at this point a place like Koi Palace could be a contender.

New Haven: Sally’s Apizza.

Boston: Legal Sea Foods? Most of the very old-school Boston restaurants seem to have faded away. Places like Union Oyster House or Durgin Park are still around, but my sense is that they don’t have as strong a claim to “definitiveness” anymore.

Obviously this is a silly game and my picks here are heavily slanted toward a sort of middlebrow popular favorite. Anyway, I wonder what people would pick for cities I have little to no experience with: LA, Chicago, New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, DC, Atlanta, Seattle.

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    • Zach
    • April 29th, 2010

    My friend, I think you overestimate “middlebrow” eating tastes. A revision:

    Miami: Miami Subs (“Dude, it has ‘Miami’ right there in the title. Now go stand next to the sign so I can take your picture and post it on Facebook to prove we were here.”)

  1. Ha! I guess I meant middlebrow, but among foodies rather than the general population. I settled on “middlebrow” after debating whether Legal should be on there – it’s a chain, after all, so it loses points in the eyes of a snob, but obviously it wouldn’t have grown to chain-size if it weren’t popular with a lot of people.

    Also, you forget that I live in a bubble out here. SF and Berkeley are arguably the most anti-chain places in the US, so my view of the world is a little distorted these days.

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