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Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

This map tracks where to go in LA to find food from any state

Written by
Brittany Martin

Nothing fights a bout of homesickness like your favorite meal from the old country—even if your ‘old country’ is, say, Pittsburgh. When urban designer Andrew Petrovsky returned to LA after a long sojourn in America’s heartland, he found himself craving some Midwestern delicacies that just weren’t on the average modern California café’s menu. Rather than simply acquiescing to the avocado toast lifestyle, he felt inspired to take action.

That inspiration is now a public interactive map titled Fifty States of L.A.where Petrovsky hopes to catalog places within the LA area to get the food of all 50 states. 

Our first question for a project like this is obvious. What even constitutes the food of a particular state? With a few exceptions of foods very distinct to a certain locale, most things are a little harder to pin down. To break it down, he made three categories: chains that are based in a certain state and now have LA branches, food items that are popular in a particular state (think, lobster rolls for Maine, etc.) and then, perhaps the stretch of the bunch, restaurants serving ethnic foods from abroad that are popular in a particular state, generally because there is a large diaspora population of that ethnicity there. 

Once he had his methodology plotted out, he turned where any of us would when seeking people to share peculiar, semi-obsessive data on the internet, Reddit. The team has now assembled 108 color-coded points on the map, categorized into five regions.

Certain states and regions certainly have more map points than others. New York is heavily represented, particularly with the recent West Coast expansions of the likes of Shake Shack and Halal Guys. Wisconsin, by contrast, logs just one local spot on the map, Tipsy Cow in Sherman Oaks where, according to the map's comment, the fried cheese curds are not to be missed.

Some states haven’t made the list at all just yet. Petrovsky is still seeking community contributions, so if you know LA’s best Kansas City barbecue or, you know, a place to get whatever the specialty of South Dakota is (they must have one, right?) he would appreciate you adding your notes. 

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