Driving around the East Coast will make you appreciate the history of the United States of America. There are landmarks and monuments that retell the story of how the founding fathers paved the way for American culture. At the same time, food establishments can also be good storytellers of how the culture evolved. Here are eight of the East Coast’s top food destinations to visit—from Washington, D.C. all the way to New York City.
Ben’s Chili Bowl
Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington D.C. stands out because of its classic façade. It started in 1958 and has been a witness to D.C.’s history. The restaurant is famous for its original half-smoke chili dog—a spicy quarter-pound pork and beef sausage placed on a warm steamed bun then topped with mustard, onions, and Ben’s homemade spicy chili sauce. Former President Barack Obama and other celebrities love Ben’s Chili Bowl. In fact, he ate there before he was inaugurated in 2009.
Union Oyster House
The Union Oyster House in Boston, Massachusetts is the oldest operating restaurant in the United States. The building has a U-shaped raw oyster bar on the first floor and booths on the second where patrons like former President John F. Kennedy enjoyed their meals. Aside from New England oysters, the restaurant is also known for its bivalves which can be enjoyed raw, grilled, fried, stewed, or Rockefeller.
Ye Olde Centerton Inn
Ye Olde Centerton Inn is one of the longest-running food establishments in New Jersey. It opened in 1706 and has since been serving fine steaks and fresh seafood. You can enjoy the ambience of a pre-Revolution America in its dining hall.
Superdawg Drive-in in Chicago has been run by the same family since 1948. You can easily recognize the place by the two 12-foot long hot dog statues with blinking eyes mounted on the rooftop. It is most famous for its franks recipe that gives the sausage a spicy smoked flavor. The made-to-order franks are served with a generous amount of toppings, crinkle-cut fries, and Superdawg’s signature pickled green tomato.
Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks
Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has been competing for the best Philly cheesesteak for the past five decades. Owner Pat Olivieri opened Pat’s King of Steaks in 1930. His recipe involves the steak topped with “Cheez Whiz” flowing over the sides of the bread.
In 1966 Joey Vento decided to challenge Pat’s by opening Geno’s Steaks right across the street. Its cheesesteak has neat thinly sliced steaks topped with provolone cheese. You can easily sample both cheesesteaks when you visit the area and determine which of the two is better.
Katz’s Delicatessen in Brooklyn, New York has been serving pastrami sandwiches since 1888. The cutters start by stacking a mound of smoked pastrami on rye bread then smothers it with a deli-style mustard and lots of pickles. Patrons and tourists alike brave the long lines just to sample this famed sandwich.
Keens Steakhouse in Manhattan, New York has been around since 1885. It is most famous for its mutton chops. The thick succulent meat oozes with juice as it is served on a plate. Aside from that, patrons and new visitors can also enjoy a wide variety of dry-aged steaks and meats cooked to your preference. You can view the largest collection of churchwarden pipes displayed on the ceiling at Keens.
Peter Luger’s Steakhouse
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Peter Luger’s Steakhouse was established in Brooklyn, New York in 1887. It was the go-to restaurant of residents in the small Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg. After Peter Luger’s death, the restaurant suffered a setback. It reemerged in 1950 when Sol Forman bought the restaurant. Since then, it has become the top New York steakhouse and even earned a Michelin Star. When you visit Peter Luger’s, it is recommended you order the roast prime ribs of beef. You must also call days ahead for your visit to book a table.