America’s greatest restaurants: 4 can’t-miss Northeast eats

Don’t miss dining at these delicious and historic hot spots.

You’ve seen them on TV. You’ve heard about them from friends. You’ve looked at their websites with a watering mouth. So what are you waiting for?

Here’s a list of iconic eateries to hit up in the northeast the next time you’re in the area:

Bob’s Clam Hut (Kittery, Maine)

Most people think of the ever-beloved lobster when it comes to Maine’s main dishes. But what about the lobster’s little cousin? Clams!

Locals might say there’s only one place to get your clam on in the great state of Maine: Bob’s Clam Hut. Bob’s has been around since 1956, offering always-fresh seafood to locals and travelers alike.

Their mission to serve “traditional Maine fried seafood with straightforward simplicity” is apparent in every bite. Just ask Jamie Himes from Boston. “The food is spot on every time,” she says. “The jumbo lobster roll is one of the best in the area.”

Bob’s Clam Hut aims to provide only the best quality seafood. This means daily deliveries of the freshest items to this intimate roadside food stop. As their website explains, this charming spot is “too small to store more than that anyway.” So, if you find yourself on US-1 in Kittery, Maine, you’re sure to be in luck for a fresh catch.

Katz’s Delicatessen® (New York City)

Looking for a legendary sandwich? There’s only one place to go. Since 1888, Katz’s Delicatessen has been slinging mouthwatering cured meats and more to loyal NYC locals and tourists alike. Corned beef, pastrami, turkey, liverwurst, knishes, soups…it’s a Jewish deli-lover’s dream come true.

They even sent salami overseas! During World War II, the restaurant owners’ 3 sons were all serving their country abroad. To keep their boys well-fed, they began shipping their favorite deli meats to the front lines. What started as a family tradition soon became a community effort and the company slogan: “Send a Salami to Your Boy in the Army™” was born.

This Lower East Side landmark is a hard sight to miss if you’re wandering down Houston. Bright neon lights and a line out the door—clearly, they’re doing many things right. And it’s been drawing the attention of Hollywood directors and producers for decades. A quick search for “Katz’s in the movies” will yield some truly memorable moments in film.

Your first question upon arrival will probably be, “is there a right and wrong way to order?” Yep! It can be a little overwhelming when you step inside. You immediately notice guests anxiously awaiting their turn at the deli case.

So, now what? Grab your ticket from the person at the door. And make sure you don’t lose it! That’ll cost you. Your ticket is in no particular numerical order—everything is first come first served, so don’t be shy.

Take your ticket to the counter and place your order. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a yummy sample while you wait—and FYI, it’s fairly customary to tip the counter if you do. Your food will get handed to you with your ticket, so you can move down toward the beverages.

Food, drink and ticket in hand, it’s time to find a table and stare at the walls. They’re covered with autographed photos of celebrities who’ve enjoyed the same rite of passage as you.

Take one bite from this family-run institution and you’ll quickly learn the true meaning of the word “legendary.”

Pat’s King of Steaks® (Philadelphia)

A trip to “The City of Brotherly Love” wouldn’t be complete without a Philly cheesesteak. And the Philly cheesesteak wouldn’t exist without the help of Pat Olivieri and his brother Harry.

In 1930, Pat was working hard at his hot-dog stand in South Philadelphia when he had a hankering for something different for lunch. He sent for some steak meat and cooked it on his hot-dog grill. He added some onions, tossed it onto a roll and boom—steak sandwich!

Since then, Pat’s King of Steaks has been serving the cheesesteak-loving population of Philadelphia with what many argue to be the best around.

“There just isn’t a better sandwich in town. Pat’s has always been my favorite, and it always will be,” says Philadelphia native Jenny Evans. Jenny lives close to several cheesesteak shops. But, as a loyal patron of Pat’s, she regularly makes the 30-minute trek for a sandwich fix from her favorite.  

Newcomers to the city might be surprised when it comes to ordering etiquette and options. First and foremost, remember this is a cheesesteak. It’s not a hoagie. It’s not a sub. Not a hero. Not a grinder. It’s just a cheesesteak. So, that’s all you have to say when you order.

Next, with or without? Onions, that is. No need to add the word onions. A simple “with” or “without” will suffice at the counter.

Lastly, the star topping: the cheese. And here’s the kicker. Many Philadelphians swear by the processed delight, Cheeze Wiz® over actual cheese. If this isn’t your thing, no worries. Pat’s satisfies both sides of the cheese wheel by offering American and provolone toppings as well.

Now located on E. Passyunk Ave., this Philadelphia staple serves upwards of 6,000 cheesesteaks on a busy day. So, expect a bit of a wait. But don’t worry—it’s worth it.

Keens Steakhouse® (New York City)

Topping this list as the earliest to be established is none other than Keens Steakhouse. This culinary icon was first founded in 1885—that’s right, 1885—by Albert Keen.

The chophouse was conveniently situated right next to the historic Garrick Theater in Herald Square’s Theater District. Back then, actors would sneak through the back in full makeup during intermission for a quick drink.

Its famous Pipe Room played host to up-and-coming writers and publishers seeking a space to sip a cocktail and dine on mutton. Later, the restaurant became a haven for famous inventors, presidents, baseball players and other luminaries. Keens was the place to be.

Today, you’ll find a museum of pipes from patrons of the past alongside a warm fire and some really cool pictures. Lawyers, actors, locals and tourists alike will all be dining and imbibing among the rich history and charming old-world decor.

So, if you’re flocking to feast on the legendary mutton chop or satiate over the superb King’s Cut prime rib, you’re in for a real treat when you eat here.

Not a meat lover? Not to worry. The sides—many of them vegetarian friendly—come a la carte! The spinach is extra special, and there’s a rave-worthy veggie plate you can order as an entree. Just make sure you make a reservation.

Whether you’re a local looking for your next favorite meal or just passing through the upper-right-hand corner of America, these are definite must-stop dining spots.

Related Content