There's no better way to ring in an all-American Summer than with hot dogs, hamburgers, fresh ears of grilled corn, and giant slices of watermelon. But if you're in search of a national adventure, might I suggest scoping out the country's regional food scene? Whether you're in Cincinnati or Central Texas, the United States of America is a veritable chest of gastronomic treasures just waiting to be discovered. A few of my favorite local specialties are right this way.
Chicago Hot Dog
I like to tell friends they haven't really eaten a hot dog until they've eaten it "dragged through the garden" Chicago-style: all-beef Vienna hot dog, steamed poppy seed bun, mustard, onion, emerald green relish, pickle, tomato wedges, celery salt, and a sport pepper. My favorite comes from the legendary folks at Superdawg .
Central Texas Kolaches
For a taste of the Czech Republic in the States, head to East Central Texas, home to a massive kolache  following. These pastries are traditionally flat and filled with fruit, but Lone Star denizens have put their own stamp on them with a meat-stuffed, savory adaptation as well.
Minnesota Jucy Lucy
For this infamously juicy beef patty with a molten cheese core, head straight to Minneapolis, MN. There, the beloved Jucy Lucy  is the subject of an all-out war between two local haunts — Matt's Bar  and The 5-8 Club  — who both claim to have been the original.
Cincinnatians take the motto "have it your way" to the next level. Here in Queen City, hungry diners can have their chili two-way (spaghetti and chili), three-way (spaghetti, chili, cheddar cheese), four-way (spaghetti, chili, cheese, and onions or beans), or five-way (spaghetti, chili, cheese, onions, and beans). The gut-busting dish was created in 1922 by Tom and John Kiradjieff, owners of the now-famous Empress Chili.
Beignets from New Orleans
Think doughnuts are the best? You might think again once you've tried beignets , a specialty of New Orleans. Nobody is more famous for making these deep-fried, sugar-dusted pillows of goodness than Café du Monde , located in the city's French Quarter.
Cheesesteaks have become known across the country, but a legitimate, authentic version must be made from thinly-sliced chipped steak, come on a long, skinny Philadelphia roll, and should be covered "wit wiz" — Cheez Whiz, that is. Sought-after steak sandwich destinations include Tony Luke's , Pat's King of Steaks , and Geno's .
San Diego Fish Taco
The undisputed destination for tacos de pescado is San Diego, because of its proximity to Baja California, the region of Mexico where this handheld meal was first created. Head to the original, Rubio's , for a taste of battered, fried fish, dressed with cabbage and sauce on a tortilla.
New York Pastrami Sandwich
You haven't had a true pastrami sandwich unless you've taken a bite of one at an old-fashioned New York delicatessen like Katz's  on the Lower East Side. There, the beef brisket is brined, spiced, gently smoked, and then hand-sliced for unctuous pastrami perfection.
Chicago Deep Dish Pizza
Who has the best pizza in America? That's very disputable, but Chicago has a very likely contender with its deep dish pizza. Invented at the famed Pizzeria Uno , the style means an inches-high, parbaked crust made with olive oil and cornmeal and alternating servings of puréed tomatoes, sliced mozzarella, and layers of Italian sausage.
St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake
I've never been to Missouri, but I'm willing to make the trek to try their gooey butter cake, a St. Louis specialty. It's described as tasting both bready and pecan pie-like and typically served for breakfast. Dessert for breakfast? Count me in!