When you think of traditional American food what comes to mind? Pizzas? Burgers? Fries? Or is it maybe tacos, injera bread or General Tso’s chicken? One of the things that makes the United States awesome to visit is the melting pot of cultures from all around the world that can be found – and tasted – in cities across the country. Take a look at some of the international food scenes you can find near HI USA hostels across the US and get ready to get a better understanding of people, places and cultures just by filling your belly.
New York City – Italian
New York City has long been the original gateway for immigrants from all over the world who wanted to settle in America, and one of the most established and influential communities here has been the Italian one. As any true blue New Yorker will tell you, an essential must-try when you’re in the Big Apple is the giant pizza slice, while a wander through the Little Italy neighborhoods in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan will lead you to handmade raviolis and cannoli just like someone’s Mama used to make back in Sicily. And if anyone can point you to the best of the best, it’s the know-all staff at HI New York City.
Washington DC – Ethiopian
According to the Embassy of Ethiopia, the Washington DC area has the largest population of Ethiopian people outside of Africa, and you can definitely get a sense of that as you walk past restaurant after restaurant enticing passers-by with spicy scents of curried meats and fragrant lentils. Ethiopian food is probably one of the best cuisines to share with friends you meet at HI Washington DC as the different vegetable and meat dishes are served atop a large disk of sourdough injera flatbread. It also makes for a different experience for those used to eating with utensils because Ethiopian is definitely best when eaten by hand.
Miami’s Little Havana has been a slice of home for many Cubans who fled their country during the revolution, and even after all these years, the city has retained the culture, customs and cuisines of Cuba. The neighborhood’s streets are lively with festivals, live music and warm mom and pop restaurants serving up traditional Cuban sandwiches and plates of rice and beans. The food is influenced by a number of different nationalities, including Spanish, African, indigenous Caribbean and French, so with just one meal you’ll get to experience a world of unique histories. Bonus points if you eat Cuban food with friends at HI Miami Beach Hostel who come from one of these areas.
Austin – Tex-Mex
Tex-Mex food is one of the best examples of a good thing happening when two different countries join forces, and we can thank Mexico and Texas for life-changing creations like nachos, queso dip and chili con carne (the official dish of the American state). As the name suggests, Tex-Mex is a combination of traditional Mexican food with a Texan twist, mainly involving the inclusion of yellow cheese and sour cream to beef, bean and tortilla dishes, and along with traditional southern barbecue, this style of food is ubiquitous here in the Lone Star State. In Austin, you’ll find more legit Tex-Mex spots than you can shake a cowboy boot at, so your best bet is to ask the front desk staff at HI Austin Hostel for their favorite spots.
San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco – Mexican
Speaking of Mexican, you can find lots more up and down the coast of California. There’s an abundance of salsas, molés and pozoles thanks to the large population of people from Mexico who have made a home here and shared a piece of their heritage through food, while different cities have adopted and adapted some signature dishes. You can get some Cali-Mex in San Diego, which is the hub and home for fish tacos and carne asada fries, authentic carnitas tacos from a food truck in LA, and the Americanized giant burrito in San Francisco’s taquerias in the Mission. Keep an eye out for food tours at HI San Diego, HI Los Angeles, and the HI San Francisco hostels and taste your way through the cities.
HI USA Tip: Save money for all the food you’re going to eat by reading up on how to travel on a budget, then be sure to check some of the best places to visit this year and find out how you can travel to a different country thanks to HI USA’s Explore the World scholarship.