The Best Classic American Dishes and Where To Try Them

Every dish, whether great or humble, had to have a moment of creation. Some born from necessity, others by chance, the original dishes caught on and became classics for very good reasons and have been widely copied by cooks all over the world. Here are the ten places where you can get these perpetually celebrated American dishes, where they haven’t changed a thing about the original recipe.

Lobster Newbury

A rich dish of lobster meat, sherry egg yolks, cream, and cayenne pepper made famous at Delmonico’s restaurant in New York in 1876, when the recipe was brought to Chef Charles Rabhofer by a West Indian sea captain named Ben Weinberg. It was an immediate hit especially for after-theatre suppers, and owner Charles Delmonico honored the Captain by naming the dish “lobster a la Wenberg.” However, Wenberg and Delmonico later had a falling out, and the restaurateur took the dish off the menu. It was restored only after popular demand and renamed “Lobster a la Newberg,” reversing the first three letters of the Captain’s name. Chicken a la King and Eggs Benedict are also Delmonico’s creations.

56 Beaver Street
New York, NY 10004
(212) 509-1144

Bananas Foster

A dessert made from sliced bananas cooked with butter and brown sugar then flamed with rum and banana cordial and served with vanilla ice cream. The dish was created by chef Paul Blange in the early 1950s at Brennan’s restaurant in New Orleans as part of a Breakfast at Brennan’s promotion (which has since become a city tradition). It was named after a regular customer, Richard Foster, owner of the Foster Awning Company in New Orleans.

417 Royal Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
(504) 525-9711

Boston Cream Pie

This pie is made of white cake with custard filling or topping. If chocolate icing is added it’s called “Parker House Chocolate Pie,” after the Parker House Hotel in Boston, where the dessert was first created. The first mention of the desert as “Boston Cream Pie” was in the New York Herald in 1855. The hotel is also responsible for Parker House rolls.

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Omni Parker House
60 School Street
Boston, MA 02018
617 227-8600

Hot Brown

This is a sandwich of chicken, bacon or ham, and a cheese sauce from Louisville’s Brown Hotel. It was created in 1926 by chef Fred K. Schmidt as a late night dish. It’s still the specialty of the house at the hotel’s restaurants, including the English Grille, J. Graham’s Cafe, and the Lobby Bar. You’ll find it elsewhere in the city, but the original is still the best.

The Brown Hotel
335 West Broadway
Louisville, KY 40202
(888) 888-5252

Irish Coffee

This is a delightful blend of hot coffee, Irish whisky, and whipped cream. According to a plaque outside The Buena Vista Bar in San Francisco, America’s first Irish coffee was made here in 1952.

Irish coffee was created in the winter of 1943 by Joe Sheridan, chef at Foynes Port near Limerick, Ireland. Foynes had become one of the biggest civilian airports in Europe during WWII and then an airbase for transatlantic flights that often carried political or Hollywood figures. The airbase was usually just a stopover for longer flights to refuel and often due to weather passengers would need to stay the night. A restaurant was created to cater to these dignified passengers.

One night a flight had to turn back to Foynes midway through a journey, Chef Sheridan, feeling empathy for the weary passengers, concocted a special drink for them and dubbed it Irish coffee.

Irish coffee became a huge success and an airport specialty. In 1952, Irish Coffee was introduced to the United States by travel writer Stanton Delaplane. He brought it to the attention of Jack Koppler, a bartender at the Buena Vista Bar in San Francisco, and persuaded him to recreate it. The cream kept sinking when Koeppler tried to make the drink, so he actually travelled to Limerick, Ireland, so that Joe Sheridan could show him the correct way to make the coffee.

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The Buena Vista
2765 Hyde Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 474-5044


A hero-type sandwich on a large, round, Italian bread loaf, stuffed with ham, Genoa and mortadella salami, cheeses, and pickled olives. It’s a specialty of New Orleans, where it was created at the Central Grocery in 1906 by Salvatore Lupo, based on a Sicilian sandwich. The word itself, however, does not appear in print until 1967 (according to the Oxford English Dictionary). Muffuletta is a Sicilian dialect word for a round loaf of bread baked so the center is hollow, so it may be stuffed, usually with ricotta cheese.

Central Grocery
923 Decatur Street
New Orleans, LA 70116
(504) 523-1620


While the first pizza alla Margherita, with tomato, mozzarella and basil (the colors of the Italian flag) was created in Naples in 1889, it was sixteen years later that immigrant Gennaro Lombardi made his own at his namesake pizzeria on Spring Street in New York. Before long, others followed in the Italian communities around the city. Lombardi’s has moved from its original address, but it’s still on Spring Street. Enrico Caruso was a regular.

32 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012
(212) 941-7994

Buffalo Chicken Wings

Deep-fried chicken wings served with a hot sauce and a blue cheese dressing originated at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York, on October 30, 1964. Owner Teressa Bellissimo, having just received an oversupply of chicken wings, was asked by her son Dominic and his friends for something to nibble on. According to Dominic, “she cut off the doohickeys, fried them, drained them and swished them around in margarine. Then she improvised the hot sauce and put blue cheese dressing (our house dressing) on the side.” Being Catholics, the Bellissimos did not eat meat on Fridays, so they waited until midnight to serve the first wings. The wings were an instant hit and it didn’t take long for people to flock to the bar to experience the new taste sensation. In 1977, the city of Buffalo declared July 29 “Chicken Wing Day.”

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Anchor Bar
1047 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14209
(716) 883-1134

Seafood Carpaccio

Upon opening Le Bernardin restaurant in New York in 1986, brother and sister Gilbert and Muguy Le Coze, from Brittany, France, committed to using American seafood as much as possible. They came up with the idea of serving raw, sashimi-like seafood paper thin, like beef carpaccio (invented at Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy) and dressing it with a light mayonnaise. It was an overnight hit whose repercussions made raw fish ubiquitous on menus worldwide.

Le Bernardin
155 West 51st Street
New York, NY 10019
(212) 554-1515

“Five way chili” was the most elaborate

Cincinnati Chili

In 1922, Macedonian immigrant brothers Tom and John Kiradjieff created their iconic chili by experimenting with a Greek style stew over hot dogs and spaghetti at their hot dog stand. Their stand was called the Empress and was located next to the Empress Burlesque Theatre on Vine, between 8th and 9th Streets. The layered chili (seasoned with Middle Eastern spices) could be served in various ways. “Five way chili” was the most elaborate: a mound of spaghetti topped with chili, then chopped onions, then red kidney beans, then shredded yellow cheese, and served traditionally with oyster crackers and a side order of two hot dogs topped with more shredded cheese.

Cincinnati Chili had many imitations and there are chili joints all over the city (about 150) each having its own loyal supporters. The brothers later changed the name to Empress Chili which is now a chain in Ohio and Kentucky using the original recipe.

Empress Chili
Various locations throughout Ohio & Kentucky

Now you have seen where the first meals were developed, but other foods are out there and have established themselves as classics for excellent reasons. They’ve been tried by foodies all around the world since, and you should try them too. Once you go through these 10 places get out there and try new ones, or give them your own personal twist, there is always more food to try!

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