From pizza and hot dogs to bagels and cheesecake, New York (and we all know that means Brooklyn) is already associated with a surplus of signature dishes. But—sorry to break it to the rest of the country—we’ve got easy access to their iconic creations as well. And just what are those iconic creations? Well, here we go state by state, identifying some of the best things each place has to offer, and pair it up with 50 regionally minded places in Brooklyn where you can taste the best of the US, all without having to ever leave the borough.
Sure, fried green tomatoes are an omnipresent appetizer in the South, but Alabama’s own Irondale Café had both a best-selling novel and Academy Award-nominated film lovingly devoted to their touchstone version. And Brooklyn’s down-home roadhouse Dinosaur—set in a converted tool-and-die shop along the banks of the Gowanus Canal—seems as appropriate a spot as any (on the East Coast, at least) to enjoy the working-class snack; either served as a starter with pimento cheese and chow chow, or stacked on a sandwich with shredded cabbage and mayo, they’re incredible.
604 Union Street, Gowanus
This isn’t your average deli-case nova. In fact, Shelsky’s charges almost double the price (we’re talking $20) for bagels piled with scarlet-fleshed fish from Tilgner’s—an award-winning, family-run company located in Deep Creek Alaska, which salt brines and cold smokes premium quality sockeye salmon sourced from Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound.
141 Court Street, Cobble Hill
Thank the “Mexican Food Capital of the US” (specifically Tucson) for the originative notion to drop a burrito in the deep fryer. And credit the Mexican Food Capital of Brooklyn—i.e., Sunset Park—for carrying on the hallowed tradition; in fact, there are 10 different variations at Fourth Avenue’s Los Tres Portrillos, stuffed with everything from shrimp, chicken and spicy pork, to tongue, sausage and salted beef.
998 4th Avenue, Sunset Park
Who knew the “A” states were such a hotbed of deep-frying innovation? And what would Brooklyn’s late-night drunk food scene be without them? Lock Yard hews closely to tradition by eschewing sweet, flimsy chips for sturdy dill spears, but can’t resist adding a soupcon of NYC savor, in the form of cream cheese dipping sauce and signature “everything” seasoning.
9221 5th Avenue, Bay Ridge
Forget about Rice-A-Roni; the real San Francisco treat is the tomato-based fish stew called cioppino. And you’ll find it at Brooklyn’s BYOB Petite Crevette; although since cioppino is all about showcasing the catch of the day, it includes Atlantic Ocean delicacies like lobster, shrimp and mussels, instead of the Pacific’s prized dungeness crab.
144 Union Street, Columbia Waterfront District
This sometime Fritzl’s special is a fixture in Colorado; featuring yielding hunks of pork shoulder that have been slow-braised with tart tomatillos and a host of green chiles, such as Anaheims and poblanos.
173 Irving Avenue, Bushwick
Originating at Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven, the sauceless, littleneck-strewn round may have made Connecticut a legit contender on the pizza scene, but Franny’s snatched back the crown for Brooklyn in 2004, when they debuted their own top-selling, bivalve-blessed pie.
348 Flatbush Avenue, Park Slope
If you’re going to open a restaurant that specifically honors the hyper-regional fare of the Mid-Atlantic states, you’re basically contractually bound to give a platform to scrapple; a semi-solid loaf of pork leavings, sliced into discs and pan-fried.
135 N 5th Street, Williamsburg
Perched on the secluded Red Hook waterfront, and advertised by a hand painted sign propped by the cobblestoned road, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in a tranquil Key West hamlet, instead of an out-of-the-way corner of South Brooklyn. Especially once you bite into Steve’s sole, signature item: a palm-sized, graham cracker-crusted pie, filled with a golden scrim of pure key limejuice curd.
185 Van Dyke Street, Red Hook
With all due respect to the far more local apple, we’re always eager for summer stone fruits to overtake Four & Twenty’s seasonal rotation; specifically, syrup-sweet, fuzz-cloaked peaches, infused with everything from pepper and paprika to brown sugar and cream.
439 3rd Avenue, Gowanus
The canned pork product is a Hawaiian favorite in any form, but one of the most popular presentations is in Spam musubi; i.e., grilled, propped on rice and wrapped sushi-style with a sheet of nori. So it’s no surprise that its remained a mainstay on the menu at Onomea; one of NYC’s first real Hawaiian restaurants.
84 Havemeyer Street, Williamsburg
We can’t imagine a more glorious showcase for Idaho’s beloved spud than the salt-baked potatoes at Mekelburg’s, alternately adorned with smoked black cod, crème fraiche, caviar and dill, or slab bacon, scallion, raclette, and sour cream.
293 Grand Avenue, Clinton Hill
From deep dish pizza to “dragged through the garden” hot dogs, Chicago gives NYC a real run for its money, when it comes to notable regional eats. And while we’re plenty proud of Brooklyn’s Italianate roast beef with motz, we’re pumped that Smorg’s 2nd City has provided direct access to this delectable Midwestern specialty as well, doused in dark jus and paved with pickled giardiniera.
All you need to do to mimic this Hoosier State favorite is dwarf a deep-fried pork cutlet inside of a pedestrian hamburger bun. And Park Slope’s Sea Witch pretty much stays the course, adding in a few (acceptable) condiments such as onions, lettuce, mustard, mayonnaise and pickled peppers.
703 5th Avenue, Park Slope
Good on Iowa for first thinking to merge candy and ice cream, encasing vanilla popsicles in a crunchy chocolate shell. Now marketed by Nestle, they’re still a mainstay on ice cream trucks and in grocer’s freezers throughout the borough today, and you can even glimpse a bit of Eskimo Pie history at the site of 100-110 Bridge Street, where Brooklyn’s very own dedicated factory once stood.
A cornerstone of Kansas City barbecue, burnt ends refer to the extra-caramelized tips, cut from the fatty pointed section of a whole, smoked brisket. They’re also commonly known as “meat candy;” an especially fitting moniker when applied to Fletcher’s smoke-saturated, bark-crusted nubbins.
433 3rd Avenue, Gowanus
Being a culinary love letter to Appalachian cuisine, you can occasionally spot hot brown—an open-faced turkey and bacon sandwich, inundated with mornay sauce and broiled—on Montana’s frequently changing brunch menu.
455 Troutman Street, Bushwick
They may not be quite as corpulent as the muffulettas you’ll find in the French Quarter, but this nose-to-tail butcher shop puts extra TLC into their fillings; think housemade mortadella, black peppercorn salami, and a tricked-out kalamata salad that also includes beets, kohlrabi and brussels sprouts, mounded on wheels of Sicilian sesame bread moistened with wide stripes of parsley and caper oil.
254 36th Street, Sunset Park
Boasting relationships with the most respected lobstermen in Maine, who handpick top quality specimens for use at the Red Hook restaurant, the Pound’s quarter-pound rolls stand head and shoulders (make that claw and knuckles) above the rest.
284 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook
This Sheepshead Bay staple is as much old-school Brooklyn as it is coastal Maryland, offering all-you-can-eat blue crabs (and a supply of wooden mallets) alongside heaping plattersful of zuppe de mussels, clams oreganata, and fried calamari with red sauce.
3939 Emmons Avenue, Sheepshead Bay
Boston cream pie is actually a cake, and frequently, also a donut—we’re especially enamored of Du Jour’s buoyant, yeast-risen version, riddled with custard and enrobed in glistening dark chocolate.
365 5th Avenue, Park Slope
The Emily team decided to diverge from the standard circle with the recently debuted Emmy Squared, specializing in Detroit-style pizzas fashioned in rectangular baking pans, with toppings and cheese at the bottom and sauce slathered over the top.
364 Grand Street, Williamsburg
Minnesota’s trademark Juicy Lucy (a cheese-stuffed burger) is only one of the regional dishes lovingly represented at Burnside. You can even order a Hungover Lucy (a beef patty topped with Wisconsin cheese curds, fried eggs and bacon). Talk about an interstate love song.
506 Grand Street, Williamsburg
If you happen to encounter the endearingly retro Mississippi mud pie (a faintly obscene amalgam of chocolate crust, chocolate pudding, chocolate sauce and cream) at an area restaurant, it was probably sourced from Aunt Butchie’s; a family-owned commercial supplier and retail outlet in the center of Dyker Heights.
6901 13th Avenue, Dyker Heights
As opposed to small and tender baby backs (taken from the top of the rib cage, close to the loin), fatty, meaty, belly-adjacent St. Louis-style ribs are the rack of choice, at top borough ‘cue spots like Fette Sau.
354 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg
Like tart, heavily seeded blueberries, huckleberries grow thick and wild all over Montana. And while they’re hardly a native species to Brooklyn, you’ll actually find a supply at the popular pre-BAM eatery, Berlyn, simmered into satiny compote and spooned over panna cotta.
25 Lafayette Avenue, Fort Greene
Both NYC and Nebraska claim bragging rights to the reuben—corned beef, melted swiss, thousand island dressing and sauerkraut, grilled between slices of rye. And while more conclusive evidence points to Omaha, we’re hardly slouches in the deli department, as evidenced by Mile End’s classic sandwich, made with rosy rectangles of salt-cured meat.
97A Hoyt Street, Boerum Hill
While Nevada still lacks a discernable culinary identity to call its own, shrimp cocktail—a fixture at opulent, throwback steakhouses, like Brooklyn’s own Peter Luger—just may come closest to being the buffet capital’s signature dish.
178 Broadway, Williamsburg
Referred to as “Great Nut” at this Caribbean-inspired scoop shop (made with pebbles of roasted barley and malted wheat, as opposed to scoops of the Post-brand cereal) the intriguingly textured dairy dessert is a hallmark of New Hampshire.
1839 Nostrand Avenue, Flatbush
Also referred to as pork roll, Court Street Grocers layers the processed, Garden State favorite (not dissimilar to thickly cut bologna) in their best-selling breakfast sandwich, along with scrambled eggs and gluey slices of American cheese.
485 Court Street, Carroll Gardens
While production and sales of hatch chiles contribute over $400 million annually to New Mexico’s economy, they’re only now starting to see some real cash flow from Brooklyn. Integrated into all manner of Santa Fe-inspired dishes at Smorgasburg, Zia’s roasted, New Mexico-manufactured chiles are also available by the jar for retail purposes, as well as by the gallon for commercial use. And if you reach out during the harvest (mid-August to mid-October), you just might be able to avail yourself of peppers picked at the beginning of the week, freshly roasted, and delivered throughout the NYC metro area.
With all due respect to century-old Nathans, the 1867-era Feltman’s was the first to introduce hot dogs to the shores of Coney Island. And local historian, Michael Quinn, is well on his way to officially resurrecting the iconic brand, recreating the original recipe, and launching a GoFundMe page, in order to facilitate large-scale frankfurter production.
Feltmans of Coney Island
It goes without saying that you can find Texas-style brisket and St. Louis ribs all over the borough, at Hometown, Fletcher’s, Fette Sau, Delaney’s, Dinosaur, Hill Country et al. But to date, Arrogant Swine is the only spot concentrating on true North Carolina ‘cue, most notably, the Piedmont specialty known as “outside brown,” the exceptionally smoky and crusty bit of pork shoulder sitting closest to the pit.
173 Morgan Avenue, Bushwick
Using all natural buffalo meat, sustainably raised on the plains of North Dakota, this husband-and-wife-owned company supplies hormone and antibiotic free jerky to numerous Brooklyn purveyors, such as Marlow & Daughters, Foragers Market, Choice Greene, Radish and Bedford Cheese Shop.
Based on the owner’s mother’s recipe, this seasonally available treat consists of orbs of peanut butter mixed with cream cheese and graham cracker crumbs (instead of the traditional, saccharine fondant) dipped in a glossy cap of hardened chocolate.
359 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook
Found up and down the length of Route 66 in Oklahoma, chicken fried steak is equally easy to come by at Americana-celebrating spots like Brooklyn Star, which lards its crunchy cutlets with puddles of pepper-spiked white gravy, and positions them over atolls of bacon-studded slaw.
593 Lorimer Street, Williamsburg
Essentially, the new Brooklyn dining scene is Portland’s, writ large. Not only did we follow their lead when it came to food trucks, but we’ve become second home for a number of their best-loved businesses as well, including Pok Pok Ny, Stumptown, and Bunk Sandwiches.
While Philly may have recently emerged as an estimable food capital, there’s simply no extricating it from cheesesteaks. That said, Greenpoint’s Delilah’s is perfectly happy to divert attention, with shaved meat and Whiz sandwiches served wit or witout, as well as an equally admirable roast pork, blanketed in broccoli rabe and provolone.
55 McGuinness Boulevard, Greenpoint
Having originated as a pushcart in 1948, peddling what was to become one of Rhode Island’s signature beverages (the other one is coffee milk), Del’s has since evolved into a series of storefront locations and a fleet of trucks, also boasting a NYC headquarters in Dumbo.
A fundamental part of low country cuisine in South Carolina, where brown and white shrimp teem in the coastal estuaries, Brooklyn’s own passion for shrimp and grits (enjoyed at spots like Sunshine Co., lapped in red chili sauce and ladled over Anson Mills grains) helped usher in a full-blown Southern fried obsession.
780 Washington Avenue, Crown Heights
The official state dessert of South Dakota, you’ll find three variations of the German cake, kuchen, at this sprawling Fort Greene biergarten, including a cherry torte, an apple crumb, and a flourless chocolate, freshly baked daily from family recipes.
733 Fulton Street, Fort Greene
Nashville hot chicken has descended on NYC in earnest; in fact, The Chew’s Carla Hall is opening a dedicated Columbia Waterfront District spot later this spring. But Bed Stuy’s evocatively dubbed HotHouse has long been well ahead of the curve, slinging segments of cayenne pepper paste-basted bird in regular, hot, or extra hot iterations.
415 Tompkins Avenue, Bed Stuy
Brooklyn has taken a big bite of Texas, appropriating not only its sweet and savory Czech pastries (found at Brooklyn Kolache Co. and Kings Kolache) but its entire style of barbecue, exemplified at Red Hook’s critically acclaimed Hometown, whose brisket, beef ribs and queso mac + cheese ably prove that the Lone Star State may be bigger, but it ain’t necessarily better.
454 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook
It seems that LDS Church members sure do love their Jell-O, with the Mormon Corridor region regularly referred to as the “Jell-O Belt,” and the Utah legislature recognizing the jiggly dessert as their official state snack in 2001. And while you can pick up the Kraft product in pretty much any grocery store throughout Brooklyn, it’s also taken on a far more artisanal form at Smorgasburg’s newest trendsetter, Raindrop Cake, which specializes in translucent globules made from mineral water and agar, inspired by mizu shingen mochi from Japan.
Made with cream instead of milk (hence the name), this frozen treat far surpasses your average, corn syrupy soft serve, especially considering it’s sweetened with both sugar and syrup from the owners’ century-old maple farm in Brattleboro.
374 5th Avenue, Park Slope
The state’s prized, salt-cured ham is used to swaddle fried oysters at Brooklyn’s sultriest new bar, Belle Shoals, which aims to bring the soul of the south to Williamsburg.
10 Hope Street, Williamsburg
Enthusiastically embraced as a diet friendly trend, the method of broiling heart healthy salmon over slim blocks of fragrant wood (with very little else added by way of flavor or fat) pretty much ran its course in NYC years ago. That said, its still a thing at Authentic, offered alongside organic milkshakes, superfood smoothies and make your own cold quinoa bowls.
685 Broadway, Williamsburg
Granted, New York and West Virginia have dissimilar definitions of pepperoni rolls; ours involve pizza dough and plenty of mozzarella cheese, whilst the Mountain State prefers their salami sticks largely unadorned, plunged into the pliant centers of a soft, white, yeast bread.
766 Classon Avenue, Crown Heights
While there’s nothing else remotely Midwestern about it, this landmark Brooklyn diner-turned cocktail bar offers a tremendous rendition of that Wisconsin state fair favorite, cheese curds, comprising extra sharp shards of locally-sourced cheddar, plunged into beer batter and paired with a thick french onion dip.
110 Atlantic Avenue, Cobble Hill
Believe it or not, buffalo do roam in Brooklyn. And they form especially large herds during the Wild Game Festival at Henry’s End, which incorporates them into a short rib ragu, slumped over wide ribbons of pappardelle, as well as lean hanger steaks, accompanied by matchsticks of truffled fries.
44 Henry Street, Brooklyn Heights
Photos by Max Branigan, Jane Bruce, and Josh Cohen.