These famous ethnic dishes were actually invented in the U.S.

Put away the passport! You may not have to leave the country to get the most authentic ethnic food. We found six popular ethnic dishes that were actually created in the US. Of course, you’re still free to eat your way through Tuscany.

Cuban Sandwich

If you dream of wandering through Old Havana, munching on a Cuban sandwich just like a local, you’ll be surprised to know that this dish is American made. While the sandwich may be influenced by an actual Cuban meal, the version we know best originated in Tampa, Florida.


Popular in Tex-Mex restaurants, chimichangas are neither Texan nor Mexican. Tucson, Arizona, lays claim to the dish’s birthplace with a few different restaurants rumored to have invented it.

Chop Suey

Chop Suey is a staple on Chinese restaurant menus across the US. But did you know the dish is relatively unknown in China? While its origins are murky, most stories identify it as an American concoction created by combining leftovers in a wok. Bon appétit!

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Few dishes are more iconically Italian than spaghetti and meatballs. Unfortunately, this meal is wholly American. Meatballs are actually pretty uncommon in Italian cooking and tend to be smaller. Italian-Americans in New York introduced this creation in the early 20th century.

German Chocolate Cake

The name is a bit of false advertising—it actually refers to Samuel German, the creator of a dark baker’s chocolate used in the recipe. A homemaker in Dallas created the cake that would become an American favorite. If you’re still hoping for a chocolate cake on your next trip to Germany, try a Black Forest Cake.

Fortune Cookies

Completing your meal with a light dessert and a message of luck is a common experience at Chinese restaurants in the US. You’ll be hard pressed to repeat the experience on your own Chinese excursion. This tradition originated in San Francisco and was influenced by a similar cookie in Japan. Oranges are a more authentic Chinese dessert and symbolize good luck.

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