Many of the culinary trends that have come to define the American food landscape got their start in the Northeast, from pizza in New York to cheeseburgers in Connecticut. This diverse and historic region also boasts some of the best seafood the United States has to offer. As part of our exploration of iconic dishes across the country, we're looking for the best versions of iconic foods in 11 Northeastern states.
Vote once per day for your favorite restaurant in each state until voting ends on Tuesday, June 26 at noon ET. The winning restaurants will be announced on Friday, July 6 on 10Best.com.
Click on each category below to vote:
Best Cheeseburger in Connecticut
Connecticut is believed to be the birthplace of the hamburger — Photo courtesy of iStock / graphixel
While hamburger origin stories are numerous, one of the most enduring (and recognized by the Library of Congress) is that it was first cooked up by Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, Connecticut. No matter where it was invented, it didn’t take long for burgers to start featuring cheese – a trend that became popular during the 1920s and '30s.
Connecticut’s modern-day burger joints range from seasonal stands to gourmet affairs serving up just about every type of cheeseburger you can imagine. One notable offering you’re not likely to find outside the state is the steamed cheeseburger (or steamer), served almost exclusively in Central Connecticut.
Best Chicken in Delaware
Chicken and slippery dumplings appears on many menus in the Chesapeake area — Photo courtesy of iStock / eurobanks
Chickens easily outnumber humans in Delaware – a state where 70 percent of agricultural production value comes from meat chickens, or broilers. With this abundance of birds, it's no surprise that chicken features heavily on menus across the state, typically either fried, roasted, or boiled and served with slippery dumplings (a Chesapeake-area specialty).
So where do you go to get the tastiest chicken in Delaware? That's up to you to decide.
Best Cider Donuts in New Hampshire
Autumn in New Hampshire means the smell of fresh cider donuts wafting through the air — Photo courtesy of iStock / sparkia
Apple picking is a fall family tradition in New Hampshire, where more than 24.5 million pounds of the fruit are produced each year. Picking season is also known for another sweet treat: apple cider donuts. Farm stands and bakeries across the state fry them up fresh.
Eat them plain, glazed or cinnamon sugared, and for the ultimate autumn snack, dip them in a cup of the same fresh pressed cider used to give them their distinct apple flavor.
Best Clam Chowder in Massachusetts
Massachusetts is the place to go for a warm bowl of New England clam chowder — Photo courtesy of iStock / jstephenlee
Just about every state on the East Coast has their own take of this seafood soup, but Massachusetts was where the New England variety (made with a thick, creamy broth) was popularized during the 1700s and 1800s. By 1836, the dish was on the menu at Ye Olde Union Oyster House, the oldest continuously operated restaurant in the nation.
The version of clam chowder you’ll find on menus across the Bay State is typically made from clams, potatoes, onions and a base of milk or cream. Bacon or salt pork sometimes makes an appearance, and it’s often served with oyster crackers.
Best Clams in Rhode Island
Be sure to brush up on your clam shack lingo before visiting Rhode Island — Photo courtesy of iStock / wsmahar
Steamers, stuffed quahogs, whole bellies and littlenecks. Clam strips, clam cakes and clam chowder (Manhattan, New England, Rhode Island). Rhode Island loves their clams, whether served on a seaside picnic table from a relaxed clam shack or from the kitchen of a fine dining establishment in cities like Providence or Newport.
Best Crabs in Maryland
Summer is crab season in Maryland — Photo courtesy of iStock / WilliamSherman
Crabbers have been commercially catching blue crabs (also known as Maryland crabs) from the Chesapeake Bay since the mid-19th century. Today, summertime means heading to your favorite crab house or seafood market to tuck into steamed crab, crab cakes and crab soup made from these Chesapeake Bay crustaceans.
Steamed crabs, arguably the most popular preparation, typically get cooked in plenty of Old Bay Seasoning and are best served with a pitcher of cold beer.
Best Lobster in Maine
In Maine, lobster is just as good from a seafood shack as from a high end restaurant — Photo courtesy of iStock / BDphoto
No one does lobster quite like Maine, where the arrival of summer means flocking to the local lobster shack for a steamed lobster or lobster roll with fresh-picked meat tossed in warm butter or mayo.
At many of Maine’s best seafood eateries, lobster is pulled fresh from the sea daily; some let diners pick their own lobsters from a tank. Many offer waterfront views of working wharves and fishing piers. So which restaurant, seafood market or lobster shack serves up the best morsels in Maine?
Best Mac & Cheese in Vermont
The best mac & cheese in this state is usually made with Vermont cheddar — Photo courtesy of iStock / MeaghanHarvey
While the exact origin of mac & cheese is unknown, the earliest recorded recipe dates back to 1769. According to Smithsonian, it likely made its way from France to the United States via Thomas Jefferson, who later served the dish at a state dinner in 1802.
It quickly became an American comfort food and a dorm room staple when Kraft began selling their boxed version in 1937. Today, mac & cheese is enjoying a bit of a renaissance, nowhere more so than in Vermont. Thanks to a $2.2-billion dairy industry, Vermont has plenty of local cheese that chefs across the state are using to put their own interesting twists on the classic dish.
Best Pizza in New York
The battle for New York pizza supremacy is a fierce one — Photo courtesy of iStock / littleny
In 1905, an Italian immigrant by the name of Gennaro Lombardi opened America’s first pizzeria in Little Italy in New York City. This single pizza shop selling pies for five cents apiece triggered a culinary movement, and today, New York City alone has some 400 pizzerias, with hundreds more scattered around the state.
You can get pizza just about anywhere on the planet these days, but New York has its own distinct style. Typically hand-tossed with a dough made from high-gluten bread flour, New York-style pizza comes with a thin layer of tomato sauce, a sprinkling of grated mozzarella cheese and a host of other toppings.
Slices are often large and wide – best eaten folded in half from the crust. And while you can get great pizza outside the Big Apple (as some of our nominees prove), local legend credits the mineral content in New York City’s water for the texture and flavor of the crust.
How Many of These Iconic Regional Pizza Styles Can You Name?
How Many of These Iconic Regional Pizza Styles Can You Name?
Best Stromboli in Pennsylvania
Stromboli was likely born in the Italian immigrant communities in Pennsylvania — Photo courtesy of iStock / NoirChocolate
The origins of stromboli aren’t clear, but the turnover made with pizza dough and typically filled with mozzarella, Italian meats, vegetables and other pizza ingredients was likely invented by either Italian immigrants or Italian-Americans in Philadelphia ».
Similar to a calzone, stromboli is usually made by rolling out pizza dough, adding toppings, rolling it into a log and baking it, though some pizzerias make it by folding dough in half, much like the crescent-shaped calzone.
Best Tomato Pie in New Jersey
Do you prefer Trenton or Philly-style tomato pie? — Photo courtesy of Daniel Zemans / Flickr
We've all heard of New York and Chicago-style pizzas, but what about tomato pie? Popular in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States – including New Jersey – tomato pie comes in two sub-variations.
Trenton-style tomato pie typically starts with a thin and crispy crust, topped with mozzarella cheese followed by crushed tomatoes on top. The Philly bakery style, also popular in parts of the Garden State, is made with a thick, focaccia-like crust topped with chunky tomato sauce and little or no cheese.
Remember to vote once per day for your favorites until voting ends on June 26. Check back on July 6 to see which restaurants won.