Hi guys. Very long time, no see. I wrote this guide to the best American foods (and what can be disregarded) over six months ago while I was staying in the US (since eating is what I occupy most of my time with while I’m over there), but then I never ended up posting it. Just recently one of my very best friends embarked on a road trip through California and as she had never been to the States before, I sent her a huge list of foods she’d have to try (because both of us share a passion for eating…a lot), so it reminded me about this post I had put together back in March. Here goes.
One thing that is very typical for many Americans (in comparison to most Europeans’ eating habits), is going out to dinner more often than eating at home at times, and when going out, it’s usually going to be some sort of chain restaurant (unless you live in the downtown area of huge cities like NYC or LA). So most of these places I’m recommending, you’re going to find all over the US, no matter where you have a trip planned to!
MY FAVORITE CHAIN RESTAURANTS
So when my host family asked me which places I want to go back to for food, they were really surprised by me mentioning Cracker Barrel. But I honestly love their food (make sure to get their Mac & Cheese as a side, theirs is the BEST. Also, their salads are very good but they discontinued my favorite one so if you go there just once, get the Mac & Cheese) and they have a cute little store (great discounts on candles haha!) attached to it so what more is there to ask for?
BUFFALO WILD WINGS
If you like chicken wings and sports bars, b-dubs is the place to be. They have a broad selection of sauces and seasonings (from mild to very hot and spicy) so everyone will find a flavor they enjoy.
I’m not exactly sure how to describe the type of food Applebee’s offers (Italian, American, Mexican, etc.) but everything I’ve eaten there has been great.
Perkins is mainly a breakfast place, but I absolutely loved their fries and I’m almost positive they were the best ones I’ve had in the US so far.
Unpopular opinion: I’m not a fan of cheesecake (at all) so I can’t comment on that but the rest of their food is amazing.
My host family really wanted to take me there as they love this place so much, but since I’m not big on meat (it’s mainly a steak place) at all I was a bit hesitant. My opinion changed very quickly though when I tasted the stuffed mushrooms. Oh my god. They’re life-changing, if you know what I mean. The special thing about this place is, that you get your meat almost raw and you then cook it yourself at your table so it’s always warm and done just the way you like. Although I never really eat steak or a lot of meat in general, I absolutely loved it.
Side note: Generally I’m always more about choosing local places over the big chains when travelling (or even at home), that way you’re actually supporting the communities you’re visiting and helping their economy as compared to some huge chain, although this does get hard in the US where you have such a big selection of (also good) chain restaurants to choose from.
MY FAVORITE LOCAL PLACES
CORNER STONE in Detroit, MI: very loud but super friendly staff and mind-blowingly great Mac & Cheese (yes, a billion times better than Cracker Barrel even)!
FAMOUS HAMBURGER in Canton and Dearborn, MI: My host mom randomly found this place on Facebook and after seeing that they make a milkshake WITH A CUPCAKE ON TOP OF IT, I had to go. They switch out one signature milkshake (which was that said Red Velvet one we saw on facebook) every month, but we were lucky enough to go there just in time when they still had the ingredients left from the previous month. Their burgers were also amazing so I think it’s a no brainer to go there if you’re in the Detroit area.
CAKES BY STEPHANIE in Monroe, MI: I actually did an internship there for my Senior English class four years ago and let me tell you, it was the hardest thing making all these sweets and not eating all of it because it’s so. so. good.
SCOOP’S SOFT SERVE in Temperance, MI: If you know me, you’re probably familiar with my unwavering love for ice cream. So it will come as no surprise that I was desperately hoping for this ice cream place nearby Toledo, OH, to open up again before I had to leave. And I was lucky enough that they did open – the exact day before I had to go back, which meant that I was able to go there two times. Long story short: if you’re in Toledo in the spring/ summer, it’s so worth taking the trip.
SAKURA in Toledo, OH: Japanese Steak House, their food is a dream.
BURGERS2BEERS in Cleveland, OH: Delicious burgers!
HOUSE OF HUNAN in Medina, OH: My absolute favorite restaurant ever. Their sushi is heavenly (the Angry Dragon, the Confetti,…) and so is the rest of their food (Almond Boneless Chicken, Singapore Noodles,…) which is why I always put myself in a food coma whenever I got there. If you’re ever just somewhat close to this little town, it’s a must!
MAIA in the JW Marriot on Marco Island, FL: the best breakfast buffet ever (although very, very pricey unfortunately).
400 PAZZI’S in the JW Marriot on Marco Island, FL: Honestly, I never really enjoy eating any Italian food outside of Europe (whether it be pizza or pasta) since I’m used to the more authentic Italian cuisine which so many places in Germany offer and after numerous trips to Italy on top of that, I’m just not big on any “Italian” food in the US. 400 Pazzi’s food may not have been really “Italian” but it was extremely delicious nevertheless.
Pizza in Chicago, IL: Unfortunately I can’t remember the specific restaurant we got our Chicago-style pizza from, but it was so good that we even warmed it up for breakfast the next day, so trying their typical pizza is a must when you’re in the Windy City.
MY FAVORITE SNACKS FROM THE STORE
Anything (and everything) from Russell Stover (I recommend checking out one of their stores where you can get a discount on a lot of treats! It’s basically become a tradition for my host dad and me to take a trip there and go crazy with everything that’s on sale.), Cheez Its, Goldfish (of any kind), Reese’s, Poptarts (the Red Velvet ones are my favorite), Lofthouse Sugar Cookies (get them ALL), cookie cake, Kraft Mac & Cheese, Rice Krispie Treats.
BEYOND THE BURGERS AND FRIES
What you should try apart from the burgers that come to mind when thinking of the American cuisine? These: Sloppy Joes, Tater Tots, Waffle Fries, French Toast (which I personally don’t like but it’s very popular amongst everyone), Pancakes, Red Velvet anything, Cream Cheese Bagels.
These are just some foods and places that I personally don’t care for but you might feel different about these, I just want to point out that sometimes a hype makes it up to be more than it is! In my opinion, Taco Bell, Olive Garden, Wendy’s, Soft Pretzels, Outback, Nerds, Hot Tamales and Sour Patch Kids are a little overrated on social media or among many people but you may still enjoy them!
So now there’s only one last thing you need to know about American food: Go big or go home! 😉
I’m not working with any of the brands or restaurants mentioned nor am I being paid or asked to promote them, they are simply personal recommendations.