True to the spirit of James Beard, who enjoyed a paper cone of fried belly clams as much as a white tablecloth dinner, we can't get enough of our America's Classics Award–winning restaurants, which are distinguished by timeless appeal and food that truly reflects the character of their communities.
Can't make it to one near you? Try your hand at one of these nine quintessential recipes from our cookbook, James Beard's All-American Eats: Recipes and Stories from Our Best-Loved Local Restaurants. From an innovative twist on Southern brisket to a famed Midwestern breakfast to what's arguably New York City's most iconic order, any of these dishes will give you an unmistakably authentic taste of our nation's food history.
Texas-Style Oven Brisket (pictured above)
This peppery riff from the Lone Star State's Louie Mueller Barbecue may be made in the oven, but trust us: it’s just as good as bona fide ‘cue. Start roasting your meat in the morning in order for it to be ready by dinnertime.
Golden brown and delicate, the blintzes from New York City mainstay Barney Greengrass are filled with lightly sweetened farmer cheese, a pot cheese with a soft but crumbly consistency that’s often used in eastern European cooking. If you can’t find farmer cheese in a store, you can make your own by pressing cottage cheese in cheesecloth overnight to remove the moisture.
King Crab Mac and Cheese
The subtle smokiness from the Gouda makes this creamy pasta from St. Elmo’s Steak House in Indianapolis an unexpectedly delicious counterpoint to the sweet, unadorned crabmeat.
As the legend goes, the famed chicken wings at Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York, were created late one night in the 1960s by then-owner Teressa Bellissimo, who wanted to cook up something special for hungry regulars. Whether or not buffalo wings had ever been made before is debatable, but it’s clear that Anchor Bar was one of the first places to serve this now-ubiquitous snack.
The star of the show at Milwaukee's historic Watts Tea Shop is this cake, a spectacular three-layer chiffon extravagance that’s filled with French vanilla custard, slathered in a thick seven-minute icing, and garnished with an edible flower.
The snapper fillets in this Mediterranean-inspired dish from Bright Star in Bessemer, Alabama, are drizzled with melted butter before being pan-fried and finished with a citrusy, oregano-infused vinaigrette.
Rich with spices, including cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg, this recipe from Ohio's Camp Washington Chili has a deep, beefy flavor and a nice kick. To serve it “five-way”—the most popular order at the restaurant—ladle the chili over a bed of spaghetti and top with red kidney beans, diced white onions, and a heaping mound of shredded Wisconsin cheddar cheese.
Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls
The deeply flavored chicken broth and fluffy, perfectly round matzoh balls are as good, if not better, than any your bubbe has ever made. The secret? New York City's famed 2nd Avenue Deli uses a pound of chicken parts plus a whole chicken to make its golden broth.