From coast to coast, America is a bacon nation. We are united through a primal love for those streaky strips. And wherever you go, there are a few simple rules to finding the best bacon:
- Local butcher bacon is usually better than what you find pre-packaged at the grocery store.
- Bacon isn’t just for breakfast and can make any meal better.
- Bacon lovers are everywhere, so ask a local’s opinion!
Pork fanatics across the United States shared favorite ways to eat bacon in their home state. With the winter holidays approaching, indulge in one (or more) of this fifty-one of the best bacon adventures our nation has to offer.
I Love Bacon Food Truck, a ‘roaming bacon emporium’ on the streets of Hunstville, features a 100% bacon-focused menu of sandwiches and tacos using local ingredients. Spicy, salty, and sweet flavors come together in Public Enemy Mac and Cheese, which can also be found in abundance along with bacon strips on the Notorious B.I.G. sandwich. If your meal doesn’t come with enough strips to satisfy your hunger, you can double your porkiness for a small price.
Spenard Roadhouse in Anchorage recognizes the unlimited potential of bacon with its rotating Bacon of the Month special. But regulars never have to worry about the Bacon Jam Burger cycling off the menu. A dreamy flavor mash-up of ground beef, bacon jam, cambozola cheese, grilled apple, arugula, and mayonnaise may cause you to lose your senses and wander off into the wild north. Wash down your meal with a specialty bourbon, the best liquor mate for the best meat ever.
On the outskirts of the Phoenix metropolitan area, you will find a butchery called The Pork Shop, a small operation with a very loyal following that spans generations. While their bacon can be found in select dining establishments such as the popular Matt’s Big Breakfast in Downtown Phoenix, most Phoenicians drive an hour each way to acquire their delicious bacon and other fresh pork products directly from the source. The Pork Shop’s jalapeno-flavored bacon is a regional specialty that should not be missed.
In Little Rock, Hillcrest Artisan Meats (yep, that’s H.A.M.) is the place to go for fresh, locally raised meat crafted into high-quality products sold by the pound or on artisanal sandwiches. An establishment whose name implies its dedication to the noble pig is undoubtedly going to display a lot of pride in its bacon. This neighborhood butcher has become popular for applewood bacon among many other irresistible cured pork products.
‘Cheap Dates’ don’t get the cold shoulder at Red Table in Huntington Beach. Instead, they are wrapped in bacon with mascarpone and arugula and will leave your lips wanting more. That’s when the PB.B.L.T Sandwich comes to the rescue. Pork belly AND bacon stacked with tomato, watercress, and – because there’s no such thing as too much bacon – bacon aioli. Treating your sweetheart to dinner at Red Table is the ultimate way of declaring your love … of bacon.
Brotherly love goes into every slab of Tender Belly Bacon. Denver-based Erik and Shannon Duffy are dedicated to putting their mark on the world of artisanal bacon, and its increasing appearance in top restaurants and gourmet markets is a testament to the quality of their product. Popular breakfast restaurant, Snooze, features Tender Belly strips on their menu. The B.E.A.T. sandwich – bacon, egg, arugula, and tomato with bacon-tomato aioli on a toasted ciabatta roll – is always a fulfilling brunch option in the Mile-High City.
Nodine’s Smokehouse has been using ‘old world techniques’ to cure bacon for over four decades. Their custom smoked meats can be found in gourmet restaurants and stores across the country as well as their own retail location in Goshen. Nodine’s small-batch bacon comes in a variety of fun flavors including maple, Cajun, garlic, juniper, peppered, double-smoked, and apple, and they also offer uncured and nitrate-free options.
Celebrate life at the beach with a Super Bloody Mary topped with Hawaiian BBQ Bacon Wrapped Shrimp at Nalu in Dewey Beach. Some may consider this to be a meal on its own. But if you need more sustenance before hitting the waves, Nalu also features a classic beach breakfast sandwich of fried eggs, American cheese, and choice of bacon or Spam on a toasted bun. But why force yourself to choose between the meat options? Load up and get the best possible start to your day in the sun.
District of Columbia
Bacon is an important component of a functional democracy, and Chef Geoff Tracy is doing his part to secure America’s future through Bacon Bar at his four restaurants located around our nation’s capital. Every Wednesday and Thursday, Chef Geoff patrons are seduced by a special swine-focused menu. The options vary slightly by location, giving you the ability to vote with your stomach for your preferred bacon experience. Bacon-wrapped dates versus bacon pretzels. Bacon, broccoli, and cheddar soup versus crispy pork belly ramen. These are difficult choices that no one wants to make, but we do it for the love of country (and for the bacon & maple cupcakes).
Rated one of the top food trucks in South Florida, Ms. Cheezious is beloved by many for its Grilled Blue and Bacon. Crispy bacon, creamy blue cheese, and green onions on sourdough bread – not exactly a meal for achieving the perfect beach body, but it is a path to guaranteed happiness. Track down this Miami-based mobile eatery for the adult version of a childhood classic.
Self-taught bakers Cheryl and Griff Day create everything from scratch the old-fashioned way at their Savannah bakery and eatery, Back in the Day. They are nationally recognized – and locally popular – for their sweet treats. But the Days have also mastered the art of bacon-themed sandwiches and baked goods. While their menu changes seasonally, creations you may encounter include bacon jam empanadas, the pimento cheese and bacon sandwich, and a bacon-onion panini.
Local comfort food is the featured cuisine of Side Street Inn in Honolulu. Assemble a group of friends, wear loose-fitting clothes, and prepare to eat family-style. Their award-winning Side Style Fried Rice is piled high and features bacon along with Char Siu, Portuguese sausage, peas, carrots, and green onions.
Life in Nampa hasn’t been the same since Chef Dustan Bristol rolled into town with his big ideas about creating food that goes beyond the traditional meat and potatoes diet of this farming community. Brick 29’s “Bristol Bacon” won over the hearts and stomachs of the citizenry, and it was love at first sight for caramelized bacon spiced up with red pepper flakes.
Dreymiller & Kray in Hampshire has been in the curing and smoking business since 1929, supplying several generations of Illinois bacon lovers with their beloved meat. But in keeping up with evolving consumer tastes, they introduced a new and unusual bacon product to the market in 2011. Goose Island Matilda Beer Bacon is prepared using a dry cure, smoked with applewood, and finished with beer. Delicious on a B.L.T. or as individual strips served with a cold brew, this unique approach puts the sweeter side of bacon on display.
While it can make almost any food better, bacon is at its best when it stands alone. The Libertine in Indianapolis puts America’s favorite meat in the spotlight with its Bacon Flight, featuring three flavors of streaky strips served with dipping sauces. Pair the flight with a delicious vintage cocktail – preferably one made with bourbon or rye whisky – and you may not want to order another course, lest it interferes with the flavors rolling around on your palate.
No one celebrates the love of bacon better than the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in Des Moines. With over 15,000 attendees expected in 2015, far from the event’s humble roots of a couple of hundred people just a few years ago, this is now the premiere bacon festival in the United States. The fun atmosphere, quirky entertainment, and tantalizing bacon samples are just as good as they were when this was a more intimate event. And speaking of BRBF’s roots, stop by the High Life Lounge when you’re in town for their bacon-wrapped jalapeño tater tots.
One of the recent trends to evolve out of America’s increasing bacon obsession is the availability of bacon jam. Our Sassy Pantry in Prairie Village makes several unique flavors of jam including one comprised of bacon, onions, garlic, brown sugar, cider vinegar, maple, and chili flakes. When not secretly eating it by the spoonful, share this jam with family and friends by mixing it in macaroni and cheese, spreading it on a B.L.T. or grilled cheese sandwich, or garnishing a baked potato.
Kentucky is a state with a long history of making the best bacon in the United States. Some of the most popular producers are still curing meat in small brick outbuildings scattered throughout the bucolic region. It’s impossible to declare one to be ‘the best.’ But an undisputed fact is that the (unofficial) state cuisine is the Kentucky Hot Brown. Invented at Louisville’s Brown Hotel in the 1920s as a late-night snack, this open-faced sandwich consists of layers of toast, turkey, tomato, Mornay sauce, and, the crowning ingredient: bacon.
The Wayfare in New Orleans is leading the way when it comes to perfecting the art of bacon-infused bourbon. Their Pork Belly Bourbon Old Fashioned is a meaty twist on a traditional cocktail. Buffalo Trace bourbon is infused with pork belly and then mixed with maple syrup and Angostura bitters. The cocktail is garnished with candied bacon and orange peel to round out the porkalicious experience.
Your first reaction to hearing about bacon-cheddar-filled donuts may be to ask, “Why?” But skeptics turn into fanatics after taking their first savory bite at Holy Donut in Portland. The addiction quickly develops and suddenly you’ve forgotten all about the maple bar or jelly donut that has been your favorite breakfast treat since childhood. Welcome to donut nirvana. Once again, bacon has proven there really isn’t any food it can’t make better.
One of the best decisions you can make when in Baltimore is to meet friends for the monthly Bacon and Beer Happy Hour at Bad Decisions where free bowls of bacon are distributed with cocktails. While celebrating the eternal awesomeness that is free bacon, you will no doubt work up an appetite for dinner, and Bad Decisions has you covered on that front too. The menu changes each month, but what doesn’t change is that bacon is always prominently featured.
What happens when you have something awesome on your menu involving bacon and one day you decide to take it off the menu? People get angry, they start petitions, and they ultimately get what they want. Irish Nachos started as a seasonal item at Harry’s Bar and Grill in Brighton. But when that “season” came to an end, restaurant patrons were not pleased and a grassroots campaign was launched. It wasn’t long before waffle fries topped with bacon, sour cream and a cheddar-jack blend returned to the menu.
No one knows bacon better than the team behind Zingerman’s Delicatessen in Ann Arbor. Through the book “Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon” and an annual Camp Bacon, this team is on a mission to help people understand where and how to acquire the best bacon possible. Featured bacon brands can be acquired through Zingerman’s website where a Bacon of the Month Club subscription is also available. Or you can visit Zingerman’s deli in-person to enjoy bacon for breakfast, as a B.L.T., or as part of a salad for lunch (there are multiple combinations to choose from).
The winters may be long and cold in Minneapolis, but the Brown Sugar Babies at Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge will make you feel warm and fuzzy every day of the year. Bacon-wrapped smokies in a brown sugar and bourbon reduction are best paired with a mai tai (or another equally potent tropical drink) at this tiki-themed bar and restaurant.
‘Lard have mercy’…The Elvis at Big Bad Breakfast in Oxford is no joke. Inspired by the gluttonous sandwich made famous by The King, the Big Bad version features their signature spicy breakfast bacon along with peanut butter, bananas, and mayonnaise on white or wheat toast. This is a bacon experience that separates casual bystanders from hardcore fans.
Nothing symbolizes America’s recently renewed interest in bacon better than the Bacon Explosion. Handcrafted and sold by Kansas City-based BBQ Addicts, this meaty creation consists of a pound of basket-weaved bacon wrapped around two pounds of sausage filled with a pound of fried bacon crumbles. Each Bacon Explosion is seasoned with a BBQ rub and slow-smoked over a special blend of oak and hickory. It’s then packed and delivered to your doorstep – all you need to do is reheat it. Mind blown? It should be. You won’t believe how good it tastes until you try it.
In Whitefish, the best way to start your day is with the Ketchum Buffalo Pie at Buffalo Café. Bacon, green chiles, sour cream, cheese, and two over-easy eggs are piled on top of a hash brown base. If this meal doesn’t put you into a food coma, it will give you the boost you need for a great day of outdoor adventure in Big Sky country.
A fitting appetizer when you find yourself in the ‘Gateway to the West’ is the Chicken Fried Bacon at Omaha’s Twisted Fork Grill and Saloon. Served with peppercorn white gravy for dipping, this appetizer is the perfect warm-up for a cowboy-inspired culinary experience.
Get ready to bacon-up when you drop into Boulder City’s World Famous Coffee Cup for breakfast. Settle in with their Famous Bloody Mary (served with a strip of bacon) while you consider options such as the Downtown Omelette (bacon, tomato, onions, cheddar cheese), 123 Special (1 biscuit & gravy, 2 eggs, 3 strips of bacon), B.L.T.E. (bacon, lettuce, tomato, egg), Peanut Butter and Bacon Waffle (Elvis would be proud), or just some good ol’ bacon and eggs.
While specialty flavors such as jalapeno bacon have become popular in recent years, sometimes you just crave the kind of traditional-style bacon that humans have been eating for many generations. Fox Country Smoke House in the small, rural town of Canterbury operates out of an old stone building using a cure that was developed in the 1960s and hasn’t changed since. Smoked meats from Fox would make a great gift for friends and family of all ages.
Do you know what’s better than bacon? Bacon with a view. Gilchrist Restaurant is an Atlantic City landmark, and breakfast on their waterfront deck is the best place to enjoy strips of bacon with the famous hotcakes they’ve been serving since 1946.
In New Mexico, restaurants are judged by the quality of their green chile. And a green chile cheeseburger is one of the best ways of experiencing this Southwest delicacy. The Owl Bar and Café in San Antonio has been serving their version since 1948. Not that you need to do anything to make a green chile cheeseburger better, but adding bacon makes this the ultimate culinary delight.
Embracing the ‘bacon and bourbon makes everything better’ mantra, Bacon Bar in Manhattan serves some of the highest quality bacon from around the country in creative and inventive ways that extend way beyond just wrapping a bunch of different foods in bacon. And then they pair it with a great selection of bourbons and whiskies. What more do you need in life, really?
Biscuits just taste better in the South. And North Carolina is one of the largest pork-producing states in the nation. So it only makes sense that, when in the Tar Heel State, you would feel compelled to track down a delicious bacon biscuit. At the Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen in Chapel Hill or Louisburg, a simple bacon biscuit is all you need to be satisfied. But if your appetite is bigger, you can add egg and cheese or try it as a B.L.T.
Peacock Alley American Bar and Grill is located in the historic Patterson Hotel building, a Bismarck landmark since 1911. Peacock Alley opened following the end of Prohibition, and since then they’ve been serving good food and drinks in a unique, historic setting. Bacon is prominent through the restaurant’s menu on popular items such as the caramel bacon fritters, B.L.T., prime bourbon steak sandwich, avocado bacon burger, bacon grind burger, and bacon-wrapped filet mignon.
At this point in our country’s history, we’ve not only established that bacon isn’t just for breakfast anymore, but we’ve also made it clear that bacon in dessert is a completely normal thing. The 6 am Special at celebrity chef Michael Symon’s Lola Bistro in Cleveland celebrates this new American tradition with a combination of brioche French toast, maple-bacon ice cream, and caramelized apple.
Eskimo Joe’s is a classic college town eatery in Stillwater, home of Oklahoma State University. Before (and after) a big game, Cowboy fans load up on Joe’s special sweet peppered bacon which can be enjoyed on cheese fries, in a cheeseburger, on a Caesar salad, embedded in a turkey melt, as a B.L.T (obviously), on a chicken sandwich, or as standalone strips.
Bacon maple bars have moved from being an underground movement to a mainstream pleasure thanks to adventurous entrepreneurs like Kenneth “Cat Daddy” Pogson and Tres Shannon of Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland. The concept is simple: a raised yeast doughnut, maple frosting, and bacon. It’s a complete breakfast experience in one bite and definitely worth searching for in the small towns in Oregon.
If your idea of a good time is a chocolate-covered bacon cheeseburger on a glazed donut bun, Philadelphia’s PYT is for you! Craving bacon and fried chicken sandwich with pickled green tomatoes and chipotle aioli? PYT can do that. How about an adult milkshake made with bacon, peanut butter, and vodka? Yep, that’s on the menu. PYT also has standard bacon burgers and sandwiches. But what’s the fun in that?
Legions of pork devotees flock to The Wurst Kitchen, a ‘restaurant within a restaurant at Providence’s Chez Pascal. Menu items such as a bacon-wrapped pork meatloaf sandwich and hotlink with bacon onions and bacon jam are just a couple of examples of what you’ll encounter at this pork-friendly restaurant.
Smoky is the scent and sizzle is the sound that gets bacon lovers excited. At Sizzle Bacon Eatery and Pub in Columbia, bacon appeals to your senses through nearly every item on the menu. Whether you’re in the mood for a bacon-wrapped hot dog, pork belly steak topped with bacon jam, or just a simple bucket o’ bacon, there’s a little something on this menu for every bacon lover.
Whether you’re huddled indoors for warmth watching basketball on the big screen during winter, or enjoying beautiful patio weather in the summer while cheering on your favorite baseball team, the “OT Bites” at Over Time Sports Grill & Bar in Sioux Falls satisfy the hunger of sports fans throughout the year. Chicken breast cubes and jalapeno slices are given a big meaty hug from a wrapped slice of crispy bacon, served with ranch or blue cheese dipping sauce. This is how bar food should be done.
As a proponent of Southern cuisine, Chef Sean Brock has created many bacon masterpieces over the years. So it’s completely natural that Brock would partner with the Godfather of Bacon, Allan Benton, to serve a skillet of bacon cornbread that has developed a devoted following of its own. You can taste it yourself at the Nashville outpost of Husk Restaurant.
It’s hard to imagine there was ever a time when a craving for chicken-fried bacon would make you seem like you’d gone off the deep end. But Sodolak’s Original Country Inn in Snook was pushing the envelope when they put this creation on the map. By encouraging an American appetite for bacon concoctions that extend beyond our traditional knowledge of the Best Meat Ever, Sodolak makes us appreciative of the pioneers who placed bacon in the national spotlight as more than just breakfast meat.
After a long day of skiing in Park City, it feels good to saddle up to the bar at High West Distillery and order a whisky. Since you’ve been burning calories all day, you’re also going to want a snack, and nothing will hit the spot better than Corn & Chips, a unique combination of bacon, cashew, and caramel popcorn served along with salt and vinegar potato chips. This is a flavor adventure that will get your muscles fired up for the next trip up the mountain.
Cob-smoking is a bacon preservation process unique to New England. Dakin Farm has been smoking ham and bacon this way for over 200 years and they continue to follow the same recipe that produces bacon with a distinct sweet and smoky flavor profile. They also feature a maple-coated bacon product … because that’s just what you do in Vermont. Dakin Farm bacon can be purchased through their website or in-person at their stores in Ferrisburgh and South Burlington where you can acquire cob-smoked and maple-coated bacon by the pound (or two or three).
Early Virginia settlers evaporated seawater to obtain the salt needed to cure meat. How’s that for dedication to the process? Nowadays, salt is much easier to obtain, but the traditional methods used to preserve meat that has made bacon so delicious for hundreds of years still guide the curing process at Edwards of Surrey. Smoked over smoldering hickory wood, Edwards’ bacon consistently takes home the top prize at the Virginia State Fair and has been loved by Virginians for decades.
The Swinery claims to be Seattle’s first and only sustainable butcher and meat shop. Animals are sourced and purchased whole from within 300 miles of the store. The bacon is smoked using old-school methods and also finds its way into other products at the shop including bacon bratwurst and bacon dogs (which can also be ordered from The Swinery’s Courtyard grill, along with B.L.T. sandwiches and bacon cheeseburgers).
The free-roaming pigs of Tudor Hall Farm in Jefferson County are the generous source of delicious, thick-cut bacon sold at the farm’s market. Farmer Bill also makes his way around the farmer’s market circuit in the region and sets up shop outside the post office in Shepherdstown on Sundays. You can also call Farmer Bill and he’ll leave your bacon in a cooler at the end of your driveway – all you have to do is leave him a check. This is bacon service at its best.
If you can’t buy good bacon, make it yourself. That was the motivation for R.C. Nueske in rural Wisconsin in 1933. His homemade solution was so tasty that he was soon selling it to anyone who could get their hands on it, despite the financial challenges of the depression. Nueske’s continues to be a beacon that is high in demand, available through their website and at fine restaurants throughout the United States.
The Million Dollar Cowboy Steakhouse is a Jackson institution that should be on every visitor’s list. After you climb into a saddle at the bar (literally), order the Bacon Wrapped Elk and Foie Gras Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers. This spicy marriage of regional game meat and luxurious foie gras wrapped in good ol’ American-style bacon sums up the Jackson experience in one bite.