5 mouth-watering US food institutions you need to try

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Feeling uninspired by your current one-pot winter meal? Look no further than some supersized Stateside flavour for meal time inspiration. These dishes are set to be your new foodie faves…

From Five Guys to Thanksgiving, it’s clear that American food traditions are now well and truly part of UK culture.

We love nothing more than booking our flights to the US to dabble in some shopping and to try out some cult food hotspots, before they inevitably get so popular that they open up branches here. 

But within the 50 US states, the food options are not just limited to burgers and hotdogs: each place has its own twist on comfort-food dishes guaranteed to excite your taste buds.

From the quintessential New York pizza – served up straight from a coal oven to your paper plate – to Philly’s most famous food export, the cheesesteak, no trip Stateside is complete without your fill of these food institutions. 

And if you’re looking for a place to get a hit of as many Americanisms as you can in one go, make sure Simon Shopping Destinations is on your itinerary. Fly, shop and then wait for the carb coma to hit.

1. Tacos

Close-up of delicious Mexican tortillas with filling served with sliced lime on blue plate at sunny terrace.

Forget what you know about tacos – these folds of joy are definitely not your average shop-bought, build-your-own taco sets.

These succulent, soft, fresh corn or flour tortillas are covered with rice and black beans.  

They come with a topping of your choice – fried shrimp, smoked pork – plus a final squeeze of lime. And they just so happen to be one of the most popular lunch options in the States.

Usually plated up with nachos and guacamole (because there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing), they’re best served with a side of tequila, straight up or in cocktail form.

One of the top spots to devour these pint-size snacks, with a margarita in hand, is at the exclusive Mojito Bar from celebrity chef Douglas Rodriguez, in Florida. 

It’s almost as if the sun-kissed location adds summer flavour to a tortilla.

Get it at: The Oasis at Sawgrass Mills, Fort Lauderdale

2. New York pizza     

young female holding and eating pizza looking away from camera

There’s pizza and then there’s a New York pie. On the surface, these two things look very similar; in reality, there is a world of difference. 

If you’re new to the party, start by asking for a plain slice from New York City institution Sbarro, available at various Simon Shopping Destinations across the country.  

There is something magical about the tomato sauce and the melted mozzarella as it comes out of the oven, before it quite literally melts in your mouth, that UK pizzerias can’t do justice to.

Next step: adding classic toppings such as pepperoni and sausage, or spinach for the veggies and Hawaiian pineapple chunks and ham for those who live for the controversy. 

Devour the slice in seconds with no knives and forks needed – just a napkin at the end to dab the sauce from your chin. 

Get it at: Sbarro at The Mills at Jersey Gardens

3. The Philly cheesesteak

Chefs cooking in and customers buying at a food truck in St. Louis that features hot sandwiches.

Forget what you know about sandwiches as a familiar lunch staple. 

Sure, on our shores we might be happy to accept two pieces of bread, some cheese and maybe a soggy piece of cucumber, but over in the US they have a very different opinion of sandwiches. 

There, it’s all about stacking your sandwich fillings and super-sizing your bread base with sub-long sandwiches. 

Better yet, you can take a page out of Philadelphia’s book. Philly was the home of local favourites Pat Olivieri and his brother and the dish they invented: the cheesesteak. 

You’ll need a crusty roll packed with steak, grilled onions and melted cheese on top. Perfection.

Get it at: Tony Luke’s at King of Prussia, Philadelphia.

4. Southern baby back ribs

North Carolina style barbeque. Smoked pork sausage. baby back ribs, white bread, cornbread, baked beans, potato salad, etc.

Southern food is the definition of comfort food. Think plates of ribs with cornbread and a side of mac and cheese. 

It’s definitely trickier to recreate it in your kitchen, but it’s one of those food types that just brings the spirit of the South with it as you sit applying your BBQ sauce to the finished dish with wild abandon. 

Smoking your ribs is the key to the great flavour, so expend most of your effort here – using the smoke option on your outdoor BBQ grill (or your slow-cooker if it’s the winter months) so that the meat just falls off the bone. 

Get it at: Gotcha Smokehouse Bar-B-Que at The Florida Mall.

5. Soft pretzels     

Heart shaped Pretzel on marble background

Snacks that taste great when served up as both sweet or salty are far and few between.

However, one snack gets it right: enter freshly baked soft pretzels. 

If you’ve ever taken a trip to outdoor markets in Europe over Christmas, then you will be no stranger to the salty pretzel treats on sale alongside mulled wine. But across the pond in the US, they have even more choice.

From the land of sweet doughnuts and beignets (more fried dough that’s covered in sugar) comes the sweet pretzel: a soft pretzel covered in dreamy cinnamon dust with caramel to dip into.

And if that’s too sweet for you, grab the salty braided pretzel and add a dip of mustard for that ideal afternoon treat. 

Get it at: Auntie Anne’s, located in 164 Simon Shopping Destinations.

The magic of any trip to the US is that each destination has its own foodie staple. Wherever you’re heading (East Coast, West Coast or some Southern charm), you’ll be able to get a taste of these must-have meals at your nearby Simon Shopping Destinations, from more than 100 Malls, Mills® and Premium Outlets®.