If you’re a foodie, you probably seek out the best, strangest, and most innovative dishes you can find. Luckily, the US is filled with gastro lovers just like you who are committed to tantalizing their palate at every opportunity.
Have you thought of creating a foodie bucket list of some of the craziest — yet delicious — fare out there? Start by checking these off your list.
1. M.A.’s Gourmet Dogs: reindeer hot dogs
Made famous in Alaska, you might be able to find these traditional ballpark treats at food carts in your city, too. It’s just what it sounds like; reindeer meat when turned into a frank is shockingly similar to just about any other hot dog. When it comes to unique toppings, that’s your call, but a sweet mango salsa is the perfect complement.
2. World’s Largest Rattlesnake Roundup: fried rattlesnake
Eating snake sounds iffy at best, but in Texas (of course) the famous World’s Largest Rattlesnake Roundup has only one specialty on the menu: deep fried rattlesnake. Anything that’s fried tastes good, but surprisingly, rattlesnake is delicate and appetizing. However, if you want this once-in-a-lifetime treat, you’ll probably only find it in the Lone Star state.
3. Can Am: Indian pizza
Can Am is a local chain in Seattle operated by Indian immigrants and serving — you guessed it — Indian pizza. There’s a wide selection to choose from and it includes Indian spices, paneer, curries in lieu of tomato sauce, and obviously plenty of veggie options. People drive from miles around for one of these pies, which are best eaten piping hot from the oven.
4. The Kati Company: kati rolls
Another Indian influence, the kati roll joints in New York City have people driving over the New Jersey state line for a taste. Think taquitos made with paan, but stuffed full of Indian spices and foods, then deep fried. It’s kind of like if Taco Bell were to go south Asian. The restaurants are worth checking out.
5. Seersucker: marrow and jam
Bone marrow isn’t exactly a new menu item, but some restaurants are now combining it with sweet things like jams and white breads to make the experience new. Marrow has somewhat of a buttery taste with a tinge of copper, which makes it the perfect choice for an appetizer. Try it at southern California’s Seersucker.
6. Crazee Burger: burgers from all animals
A few burger joints do this, but Crazee Burger in San Diego is the place that’s really well-known for serving up all types of animals between the buns. Exotic meats like ostrich, bison, kangaroo, and of course good old-fashioned beef are all on the menu. You choose your toppings, and this restaurant (strangely owned by two German men) will dish it up mom-and-pop style.
7. Grasshoppers in just about anything
Whether it’s grasshopper tacos or ground grasshoppers added to chocolate, they’re cheap and a great source of protein. A few Mexican restaurants may have these available, but they’re few and far between. One great one is La Calaca Comelona in Portland, Oregon.
For the most part, grasshoppers taste like nothing at all and, like tofu, soak up the flavor of whatever they’re marinated in. The only issue is getting over the ick factor, since cooked grasshoppers look just like, well, regular grasshoppers.
The new wave of innovative dishes isn’t just good news for food lovers, but also entrepreneurs breaking into the restaurant business. There’s been a surge of up-and-comers buying existing restaurants that were failing or ho hum and turning them into meccas for gourmands seeking the truly strange.
People like new, adventurous ways of eating, perhaps with an element of comfort food; blending the two, along with great chefs and service, really knocks it out of the park.