While Tom Sietsema toured the country in search of America’s best food cities, we collected and tested signature recipes from notable restaurants he dined in along the way.
This riff on a classic recipe from Florina, a region in northwestern Greece, embodies the country’s love of stuffed foods, says William Wright, head chef of Helen Greek Food and Wine in Houston.
This version of New Orleans’s official cocktail is on the reserve list at Cure, one of the city’s top-shelf bars, and that means it’s made with some hard-to-find or expensive ingredients.
This popular, hearty plate at Dove’s Luncheonette in Chicago is an outstanding and original take on chicken-fried steak.
A classic French dish rethought at Convivial in Washington, where chef Cedric Maupillier steams and slices the leeks before tossing them with mustard vinaigrette before shaping the salad into a round cake.
San Francisco’s Zuni Cafe follows the same basic recipe from Judy Rodgers’s 2002 “Zuni Cafe Cookbook” that you see here. Almost equal parts whipped cream and granita, it remains not overly sweet and quite refreshing.
These crisped, salty and savory slices of fennel from Philadelphia’s Vetri make a terrific and unusual hors d’oeuvre.
This elegant take on the classic low-country sausage-and-shrimp stew, from the Obstinate Daughter near Charleston, S.C., contains a generous amount of cream, turning it into a rich chowder.
Chef William Wright of Helen Greek Food and Wine in Houston makes this corn bread as a stuffing base for several of his restaurant’s recipes, including the Blistered Banana Peppers With Cheese (above).
A customer’s special request and a wealth of green ingredients on hand, including cucumber, jalapeño pepper, mint and arugula, led to this refreshing and beautiful cocktail from Los Angeles barman Christiaan Rollich.
Grilling okra, then pairing it with a variety of thinly sliced peppers, a bit of homemade soft cheese (easy!) and pimenton-laced peanuts makes this salad from Herbsaint in New Orleans a true standout.
When it’s executed properly, as at Katz’s Delicatessen in New York, this classic beverage should display three colors: a dark chocolate brown near the bottom, a lighter chocolate brown in the middle and a beige, foamy head.
Pickled celery, a sherry-shallot reduction and toasted hazelnuts elevate this dish, from a.kitchen in Philadelphia, beyond your typical chicken salad.
Ten-year-old brandy, bitters and house-made limonada make for a distinctive, smoky cocktail at Topolobampo in Chicago, where it is shaken at the table.
The fresh masa ground each day to make tortillas at Sean Brock’s Minero in Charleston, S.C. is also used to make the creamy, satisfying base of this reinvented low-country dish.
This is the signature dessert at Chicago Cut Steakhouse. The intensity of the mint makes the dish.
This egg-topped, yogurt- and spice-accented potato masala is a common breakfast dish in Parsi cuisine. Anita Jaisinghani of Pondicheri, a restaurant and bake shop in Houston, learned to make the dish as a child by watching her Parsi friend’s mother in the kitchen.
The roots of this dish, which has become a signature at Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen in Santa Monica, Calif., begin with Jeremy Fox’s tryout for executive chef.
This dish is one of the many reasons diners stand in line at Screen Door in Portland, Ore. Crack open the hush puppies, and you’ll find smoked cheddar and bacon in the fluffy centers. They’re drizzled with a spicy syrup.
The fresh, spicy and complex qualities of this drink at Barmini in Washington were inspired by trips to Scandinavia and Thailand.
This dessert has been served at Vidalia since the downtown Washington restaurant opened, more than 23 years ago.