Everyone has a favorite local restaurant they think is supremely underrated. Whether it’s because of the understated appearance, hidden location or lack of publicity, these restaurants serve great food and everyone should know it.
Many of these eateries specialize in a particular type of cuisine and are family owned and run. Lucky for you, we have compiled a list of these gems for your convenience.
If you’re in the mood for some authentic Southern fried seafood, definitely give McCollum’s a visit. Although it may not look like anything special on the outside, it makes up for that with its classic southern taste. The seafood platter is highly recommended.
Alaska: International House of Hot Dogs
It might look like just a shack, but the International House of Hot Dogs is exactly what it sounds like. And with an array including Bombay, Greek, Mexican and other international inspirations, you can pick your destination.
Arizona: Old Smokey’s
Although it’s not in a big city or a major tourist destination, Old Smokey’s serves a great breakfast, and their waffles are not to be missed. Find it in Williams, Arizona off of historic Route 66.
Arkansas: The Venesian Inn
The Venesian makes their pasta and rolls daily and has been family owned for over 60 years.
California: Blue Barn
There are so many great places to eat in the Bay Area, it’s easy for a gem to be overlooked. Blue Barn in San Francisco, CA supports the greater slow food movement and operates as a neighborhood deli inspired by Oak Hill Farm in nearby Sonoma. It’s known to be one of the places Bay Area natives miss when they’re away from home.
Colorado: Blackbelly Market
Blackbelly Market in Boulder, CO is dedicated to farm-to-table practices and flavor. Chef Hosea loves experimenting in the kitchen and dreaming up new creations. Boulder is a great foodie town, and Blackbelly doesn’t get all the attention it deserves.
Connecticut: Valencia Luncheria
You might not expect to find South American food this far north in the states, but Valencia won’t disappoint. Valencia serves great Latin American cuisine and their brunch is awesome as well. Who could resist snapping a colorful Insta of their spread?
Delaware: Half Full
Located in Lewes, Half Full offers delicious gourmet pizza, but because they’re only open in the summer they might not be on everyone’s radar.
Florida: Pizza Rustica
Often overlooked, Pizza Rustica in Delray Beach, FL has a wide variety of pizzas and huge portions.
Georgia: Nick’s Food To Go
Home to some of the best Greek food in Atlanta, Nick’s Food To Go is one of the city’s best kept secrets.
Hawaii: Farmers Market Maui
Famers Market Maui has all the usual attributes of a typical farmers market plus an awesome juice bar hidden inside with the island’s best acai bowls. Not to mention the beach directly across the street, which is a great place to relax and enjoy your bowl while simultaneously providing you with perfect photo-op. If you don’t find yourself in Hawaii, you can make your own acai bowl at home.
Idaho: Bar Gernika
Basque cuisine might not be on everyone’s radar, but it should be. Bar Gernika specializes in authentic Basque food, wine and dessert. Their croquettas get rave reviews.
Illinois: NEAR Restaurant
NEAR Restaurant serves Italian cuisine with a modern twist, but because it’s located in Barrington, a suburb, and not the city, it’s unfairly underrated.
Indiana: Fat Dan’s Deli
It might not exactly be fine dining, but that doesn’t mean it’s not great food. Fat Dan’s Chicago-style deli serves up wings, burgers and more, in addition to catering for tailgates, home or office parties.
Iowa: Bluebird Diner
There are several other breakfast spots in the area that generate more buzz, but Blue Bird should be on everyone’s list. Blue Bird Diner specializes in Midwestern soul food and gorgeous breakfasts.
Kansas: Ya Ya’s Eurobistro
Frequently overlooked, Ya Ya’s is inspired by a variety of European cuisines including Italian, Greek and French.
Kentucky: Bunz Burgers
Their unusual hours make them unknown to many who don’t work downtown, but everyone should make Bunz Burgers their next weekday lunch spot because they are closed Saturday and Sunday.
Louisiana: Willie Mae’s Scotch House
Their website boasts the title “America’s Best Fried Chicken” and according to some NOLA locals, that may just be the case. Everyone that visits New Orlean’s should make Willie Mae’s a destination. Located New Orleans’ 6th Ward, Willie Mae’s has the perfect location near the historic Treme Neighborhood and the French Quarter. Don’t miss the rest of the must eat foods New Orleans has to offer.
Maine: Jordan Pond House
Open from May to October, Jordan Pond House offers amazing popovers, blueberry tea and breathtaking views of Acadia National Park. Jordan Pond House made our list because it is located on Mount Desert Island.
Unknown to many, this BYOB Baltimore eatery is inspired by Tuscan traditions. Check their Facebook for the latest on the frequently changing menu.
Massachusetts: Highland Kitchen
Boston is home to so many great food options, it is easy for great things to be overlooked. Highland Kitchen provides comfort food, craft cocktails and a killer jukebox. Don’t miss their awesome brunch cocktail, the Cereal Killer, a white Russian with cereal milk and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
Michigan: Noble Fish
Detroit as a whole is an underrated food city, but Anthony Bourdain believes it has food worth noting. Don’t miss Noble Fish, a Japanese market with the freshest sushi Detroit has to offer.
Piccolo, one of the most underrated fine dining experiences in the country, promises “seasonal and creative” dishes in Minneapolis.
Mississippi: Shelter on Van Buren
Named one of the best coffee shops in Oxford, Shelton on Van Buren offers so much more including: a great atmosphere, breakfast options, coffee drinks and dessert in an ideal location.
A very specialized restaurant located in Kansas City, MO, Potpie, has the best feel-good food, perfect for a rainy day. Don’t miss these other must-try KC spots.
Montana: River City Grill
Tucked away by a truck stop, River City Grill has tasty and hearty home cooked food.
Unknown to many, Daffodil has a wide variety of wonderful Mediterranean food, but their baklava is the best in town. The owner is even known as the “Baklava Lady.”
Nevada: Weiss Restaurant Deli and Bakery
Ofter over looked for the showy restaurants Las Vegas has to offer, Weiss is an authentic Jewish deli with matzo ball chicken noodle soup that’s to die for.
New Hampshire: Giuseppe’s Show Time Pizzeria
Giuseppe’s is described on their website as “very musical, very Italian, and very good.” They offer a schedule of karaoke, DJ and dancing, live bands and an open stage. The combination of great food and entertainment sets them apart from your typical Italian restaurant.
New Jersey: Sammy’s
Sammy’s started as a speakeasy in the 1920s. Different from most restaurants, at Sammy’s you order then go to basement bar to have a few drinks and play pool or arcade games until your food is ready.
New Mexico: The Dog House Drive In
What the Dog House may lack in ambiance they make up for in the taste of their chili dogs. Breaking Bad even used the Dog House as a filming location.
New York: Downtown Bakery Cocina Mexicana
Even though it doesn’t look like much from the outside, Downtown Bakery in the East Village of Manhattan serves the best burritos, enchiladas, tacos and more.
North Carolina: The Pit
There are so many barbecue joints in the area, it’s hard for attention to be evenly distributed. The Pit in Durham, NC serves up authentic whole pig barbecue that should be on everyone’s go to list.
North Dakota: Spitfire Bar & Grill
Located in West Fargo, ND, Spitfire is a wonderful, traditional American restaurant that is often overlooked.
Ohio: Angelo’s Pizzeria
Angelo’s wants you to “bring your family for a nice dinner and not bust your wallet.” Be sure to check out their cheese ravioli, as it’s the best in Ohio.
Oklahoma: Burn Co Barbecue
It may not be the most publicized, but it is one of the best. Check our their monster of a sandwich, The Frankenstein.
Oregon: ¿Por Que No?
Por Que No makes an effort to support the local economy through their ingredients. Be sure to examine their extensive regular menu and brunch menu. What better way to feel like a hipster in Portland than to go to a restaurant before everyone knows about it?
Pennsylvania: White Dog Cafe
With locations in University City, Wayne and Haverford, it is better known on the Main Line than in the city. White Dog Cafe is committed to farm-to table-practices and environmentally sustainable ingredients.
Rhode Island: The Landing
Indulge in fresh seafood and lobster rolls with gorgeous harbor views in Newport, RI.
South Carolina: Wild Olive
Wild Olive creates some of the richest Italian food in South Carolina. It is completely worth the drive to John’s Island.
South Dakota: M.B. Haskett
This unassuming deli in Sioux Falls serves some damn good quiche.
Tennessee: The Farm House
Nashville has so many great eats, no one can know about all of them, but everyone should give The Farm House a visit. Just as it sounds, The Farm House is committed to making traditional Southern cuisine featuring modern technique and fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.
Thai Fresh is home to some of Austin’s best pad see ew, vegan and gluten-free desserts and even ice cream with cool flavors like Thai tea and Thai coffee. At Thai Fresh you’re bound to find something up your alley as the location is part coffee shop, part restaurant and part dessert shop. For a space that has so much to offer, it doesn’t get the credit it deserves.
Utah: Even Stevens Sandwiches
Although it doesn’t look like anything special from the outside, their sandwiches are unreal. The best part about Even Stevens is their commitment to giving back. For every sandwich sold, they donate a sandwich to a local non-profit to battle hunger in the area.
Vermont: Ruth’s Table
Located in Woodstock, Ruth’s serves perfectly prepared brunch, lunch and dinner. Be aware, they are closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Virginia: Lunch and Supper
The location of this place keeps it unknown to many. Lunch and Supper are actually two restaurants that both serve the most delicious Southern comfort food in Richmond.
Washington: Cafe Pettirosso
Cafe Pettirosso has been through many transitions and is currently a restaurant and bar with great cocktails, pastries and even wedding cakes. The brioche French toast generously sprinkled in powdered sugar looks heavenly.
West Virginia: Cilantro Latin Grill
Most people might hesitate at the idea of Tex-Mex in West Virginia, but they would be wrong. Cilantro Latin Grill is a great spot for huge burritos and Tex-Mex, but if you hate cilantro, you might be out of luck.
Wisconsin: Blue’s Egg
Blue Egg in Milwaukee sure knows how to make great breakfast foods. Someone told Bernie Sanders this because he stopped there on the day of the Wisconsin primary.
Wyoming: Calico Restaurant
Located in Jackson Hole, Calico is perfect for a low key family dinner while on vacation. With great pizza and pasta, Calico is sure to please everyone.