Big flavor is as American as apple pie. From coast to coast, inspired chefs are serving up creative dishes that coax all the flavor from fresh ingredients. Each region may have its own specialty and diverse cultural influences, but food across the country right now has one thing in common: It packs a punch. From fried chicken to fish tacos, here’s where to find some of the most flavorful dishes in America.
Grand Central Oyster Bar, New York City
Since 1913, New Yorkers and visitors alike have met under the vaulted ceiling of the Oyster Bar beneath Grand Central Terminal to feast on seafood. Locals swear by a seat at the oyster bar, where you can watch the master shuckers at work while you eat. Individual oysters are a popular order (the daily menu offers a changing list of about two dozen choices) or you can sample the best of the sea with a shellfish platter of oysters, clams, shrimp, mussels, and lobster. Another bonus of sitting at the bar is access to the limited sandwich menu; spark food envy from your neighbors by ordering the crunchy fried oyster po’boy with a side of Cholula.
Loco Taqueria and Oyster Bar, Boston
A South Boston destination for tacos and tequila, Loco Taqueria has developed a cult following for its fresh seafood, including a raw bar. Grab a seat at the central U-shaped bar and start your meal with a few oysters and raw bar specialties like the sea bass ceviche, tossed with pickled papaya, roasted habanero, and passionfruit. Top off the seafood feast with Baja fried fish tacos stuffed with pickled cabbage and charred jalapeno or lobster toast with grilled avocado and sweet corn cream.
Sidewalk tables are the prime pick at Lolita, a contemporary Mexican restaurant in Philadelphia, along with seats at the chef’s counter where you can watch the pros at work. It’s easy to fill up on appetizers — grilled octopus on poblano pistachio puree or braised short rib nachos with black beans, queso mixto, charred corn, and avocado — but save room for the tacos. Fill the table with crispy fish and al pastor tacos, and don’t miss the Cholula fried chicken tacos with pickled cabbage and blue cheese crema. Cooling cocktails, including half a dozen varieties of margaritas, complete the meal.
Frances Deli, Chicago
Does it take decades of experience to perfect the art of making grilled cheese? At Frances Deli in Chicago, these sandwiches with a golden crunchy exterior and molten cheese center have been a staple since 1938. Alongside breakfast classics from omelettes to fried potato skillets topped with cheddar and sunny side up eggs, this unfussy deli is a master of all varieties of sandwiches. The King of Clubs is an apt name for a sandwich that stacks grilled chicken, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo on toast.
There’s a decadent answer to any craving at Jonathon’s, an all-day restaurant in the North Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas. Sweet, savory, and crunchy combine in a single dish with Jonathon’s beloved fried chicken and Belgian waffle (or satisfy a hankering for something savory with fried chicken and a sunny side up egg on a biscuit). A side of mac and cheese is never a bad idea, especially alongside a hearty patty melt. This amplified burger sandwiches a beef patty, swiss cheese, provolone, and caramelized onions between two crunchy pieces of grilled wheat bread.
Scrumptious Café, Los Angeles
Breakfast away from home should be a flavor-layered affair, with ample fresh ingredients that aren’t always found in your fridge. At Scrumptious Café in West Hollywood, huevos rancheros hit that target with over easy eggs, pinto beans, queso fresco, corn tortillas, avocado, sour cream, and a side of Cholula if you’re so inclined. An outdoor terrace provides a shady spot for a spicy breakfast or lunch; try the skirt steak torta with marinated steak, onions, arugula, and jack cheese.
Want more flavorful dishes? Head to these restaurants.
multiple locations, Chicago, IL
4614 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60625
New York City:
151 W 46th St. New York, NY 10036
169 Sullivan St. New York, NY 10012