A Foodie’s Paradise: Top 5 Popular USA Culinary Trails
One of most delightful aspects of travel is the chance to indulge in new and unexpected local cuisines along the way.
That’s why, over the past few years, more and more regions across the nation have developed culinary trails that highlight their community’s unique foodways, indicative of their distinct cultures, histories, and geographies.
Culinary trails offer travelers the opportunity to immerse themselves in the nuances of a particular specialty dish, becoming experts with each additional stop (and bite) along the way!
Below are five popular culinary trails in the US. So grab your foodie friends, and hit the open road!
Butler County in southwest Ohio is home to the largest number of donut shops in all of the Midwest. The Donut Trail’s bakeries feature both traditional melt-in-your-mouth glazed donuts and more innovative styles—including fluffy cinnamon squares, donuts topped with other breakfast foods like cereal or bacon, cronuts (a croissant/donut crossover), and Paczki (a Polish style donut). When you visit each of the fourteen donut shops along the trail, don’t forget to get your Donut Trail passport stamped! At the end of your journey, mail it in to receive a free Donut Trail T-shirt.
The area in and around Lafayette in south Louisiana, where my daughter lives, is home to a sausage called boudin (pronounced “boo-dan”). This tasty Cajun sausage crafted with French influences is filled with a mixture of pork, rice, onions, peppers, and herbs and generally steamed or smoked. The Cajun Boudin Trail’s ten butcher shops, markets, and boucaniere (Cajun French for “smokehouses”) offer up many varieties, including boudin balls—where boudin filling is rolled into a ball, battered, and deep-fried—and other pork specialties like cracklins. The best time of year to visit is October, when the weather is mild and the Boudin Festival takes over downtown Lafayette.
You’ve heard of New York pizza, Chicago deep-dish pizza, and maybe even Detroit-style pizza, but have you tried Connecticut pizza, known as apizza? New Haven-style pizza is unique in that it’s traditionally baked in coal-fired ovens at extremely high temperatures. With distinct offerings like white clam pizza and in-house roasted red peppers as toppings, the dozens of pizza shops across the state will have you convinced that all pizzas should be topped, as they are, with grated pecorino romano cheese. Don’t pass up my absolute favorites, including Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana,Modern Apizza, and Mystic Pizza, the namesake of the Julia Roberts movie from 1988.
In Hamilton County, Indiana, Hoosiers partake in an extra-indulgent iconic sandwich: a pounded, breaded, and deep-fried pork tenderloin that generously overhangs the modest bun attempting to contain it. Visitors can join in this tradition at nearly fifty restaurants across the county, and I recommend visiting in July for “Tenderloin Tuesdays.” And while you’re there, you might as well have some dessert! Check out the nearby Hoosier Pie Trail to satisfy your sweet tooth with Indiana’s unofficial state pie: the sugar cream pie.
In New Mexico, where roasted local green chiles top almost every dish, it was only a matter of time before the green chile cheeseburger was born. A delicious combination of savory beef, spicy green chiles, and melty cheese, the green chile cheeseburger embodies that special combination of salt, fat, acid, and heat that Samin Nosrat is always talking about. And lucky for you, this local delicacy is served up at dozens of taverns and burger joints across the state. As you’re traversing New Mexico from Taos to Las Cruces, why not make it a two-for-one trip and check out the Santa Fe Margarita Trail as well? There’s nothing quite like a margarita to wash down a spicy burger.
Wherever your culinary adventures take you, I’m here to help! Let’s start planning your next foodie journey today. Wishing you a hearty appetite and delicious discoveries in your travels to come.
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