U.S.A. Food Bucket List! At Least One Local Dish for Each State You Must Try
Table of Contents
U.S.A. Food Bucket List! At Least One Local Dish for Each State You Must Try
- Take a Food Vacation and Eat The Most Iconic Foods From Each State
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Dakota
- Take a Food Vacation and Eat The Most Iconic Foods From Each State
Take a Food Vacation and Eat The Most Iconic Foods From Each State
We’re enlisting our readers, friends, family, and fellow bloggers as we try to make the most complete list of food known in every state. We want to know what the food is called, a little about what it is, its history, and of course where we can try it. Do you have a local food that you can recommend? Please let us know.
Click on each state to see what foods our local experts have recommended. Which are your favorites?
Where: San Diego (primarily)
Like any good food, you’re going to have local versions that take things to a completely new level and that’s what you find here in San Diego with the “California Burrito” and it’s close brother simply known as the Carne Asada Burrito. Both can trace their origins back to the 1980s though there’s some debate about who the exact originator was since while “Roberto’s” started in the 1960s other “-berto’s” quickly followed and as many that have come have also gone. This includes names like: Alberto’s, Adelberto’s Filiberto’s, Hilberto’s, and Rigoberto’s. What people can agree on is that the California Burrito is a perfect example of fusion border food since it combines a traditional Mexican food item (burrito) with an American favorite (fries).
A “California Burrito” is generally smaller than a Mission Style Burrito that originated in San Francisco and spread nationally and is what people think of as a burrito – rice, beans, sour cream, cheese, salsa, meat etc. Instead, the focus of a California Burrito is strips of carne asada, sour cream, cheddar cheese, onions, guacamole, pico de gallo, and French fries. It is the perfect high calorie and easy to eat food for a day at the beach and doesn’t fall apart as easily as one made with rice and beans might. For those preferring fries as a side instead of being wrapped in the burrito, you can also get the Carne Asada Burrito. Both styles became extremely popular with the 1980s surf culture and have become one of San Diego’s most iconic foods.
Recommended by James of Man Tripping
Where: San Francisco Bay
Unlike clam chowder, cioppino isn’t known worldwide but it is a food that was born and bred in the city of San Francisco in northern California. Cioppino originated from Italian immigrants who settled in the area of North Beach. During the late 1800s, Italian fishermen returning from the sea would create a fisherman’s stew with seafood remaining from the day’s catch. The tomato-based seafood stew would include a variety of seafood such as crab, shrimp, clams, fish, and herbs like garlic and onions. This came to be known as cioppino.
It initially began as a homestyle dish, mainly eaten on the boat while at sea or in the home, but soon it became so popular that restaurants were sprouting up all over the wharf serving cioppino to the public. Legend has it that Alioto’s was the first restaurant in San Francisco to actually serve cioppino to customers. But if you want to try the best cioppino in San Francisco, you’re going to have to get it at Sotto Mare. They don’t call it “the best damn crab cioppino in San Francisco” for nothing!
Recommended by Constance of The Adventures of Panda Bear
Rocky Mountain Oysters
Rocky Mountain Oysters, also known as cowboy caviar, prairie oyster, swinging beef, or dusted nuts, are a novelty food that you can find along the Rocky Mountains. In my hometown of Denver, Colorado, they come up in conversations occasionally, usually resulting in a knowing chuckle among the group. Most locals know what they are, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is brave enough to try them. If you aren’t familiar, Rocky Mountain Oysters are testicles, usually from bull, bison, or sheep.
When I was younger, I swore that I would never try them. While adventuring in Estes Park, I finally tried them at The Wapiti Pub. They were served sliced, fried, and with a side of cocktail sauce, which is common. In Denver, you can find these Western delicacies at The Fort, The Buckhorn Exchange, or Willy’s Wings. If you head to Severance, Colorado, Bruce’s Bar has been serving the dish since 1957.
Traditionally eaten by cowboys looking for easy sustenance, the testicles were removed as the calves were branded and used in a “nut fry”. The castration made the bulls tamer and allowed for a good meal for the cowboys!
Are you cowboy enough for a taste?
Recommended by Shelby of The Wayfaring Foodie
Scrapple is a Pennsylvania Dutch specialty, but since Delaware is so close, we consider it one of our local foods! It’s not very fancy. A mash of pork scraps combined with cornmeal, flour, and spices, the name “scrapple” comes from the fact that it’s comprised of scraps. You can pick up a loaf of scrapple in the refrigerated section of the supermarket. It comes in a rectangular loaf, which you slice into thin pieces and griddle or pan fry for a few minutes on each side. It’s traditionally served as a breakfast food, with ketchup or eggs. Some people even make scrapple sandwiches.
In addition to buying a loaf of scrapple at the grocery store, you can also usually find it at Delaware diners or places which serve breakfast. But if you’re keen on trying a lot of it all at once, there’s an annual festival in Delaware called the Apple Scrapple Festival every fall. If you’re ever in Delaware and want to try something you can’t find anywhere else outside the Mid-Atlantic states, order scrapple if you see it on the menu. If you like bacon and sausage, you’ll probably enjoy this local specialty!
Recommended by Stephanie of https://therovingfox.com
Miami is famous for its Cuban pastries and cafecito windows, found as you drive along the popular street that runs through little Havana known as Calle Ocho. The windows, or ventanitas, are meant for people to pass through and grab a Cuban coffee and pastry to go, but beyond their facade lies a thriving community. People go here to spark conversation, celebrate political victories (or lament the losses) and occasionally have a celebrity encounter.
If you’re looking for the perfect accompaniment to your coffee, try a croqueta. Sometimes known in other countries as a croquette, the Cuban version has ground ham inside and is covered in breadcrumbs before being deep fried to perfection. Different bakeries have different styles; some offer plump, overstuffed croquetas and others are bite-sized. You can’t go wrong tasting and comparing them for yourself at local favorites like Karla Bakery (open 24 hours) and Versailles Cuban Bakery.
Croquetas are popular throughout Spanish-speaking countries but the filling, breading and method of preparation can vey depending on the origin of the recipe. Those looking to make the dish at home will need finely diced ham, milk, flour, butter, breadcrumbs and eggs as the main ingredients. They can be made in advanced and frozen until you’re ready to fry. They’re also TSA-friendly, so feel free to take some back with you from the ventanita on your next Miami vacation.
Recommended by Jen of https://www.jenonajetplane.com
Key Lime Pie
Where: Key West
A visit to quirky Key West just wouldn’t be complete without sampling its namesake dessert – Key Lime Pie. Depending on who you ask, the very first Key Lime Pie came from Aunt Sally at Curry House in the 1890’s. Today Curry House is a Bed and Breakfast and they’re still serving slices up to locals and travelers alike.
Other takes on this delicious dessert can be found at Kermit’s Key West where you you can get a slice frozen on a stick and then dipped in chocolate, Bagatelle with their impossibly-high meringue, or Key West Key Lime Pie Company. Yet another interesting version called Hooker Pie involves a saltine cracker ‘crust’, lime juice, and rum with a few other ingredients.
For the ultimate in gluttony, do what we did and sign up for the Key Lime Pie Hop during Key West’s annual Key Lime Festival! Participants get to sample five unique recipes from competing shops around town and, if you can survive the sugar overload, pick a winner at the end. The tour is great for families, and is quite informative. The pie, of course, is divine. There’s no better way to sample this local delicacy! The festival typically runs during Independence Day weekend each July.
Recommended by Carrick of Along for the Trip
Cobblers, by their very nature, are messy and utterly un-Instagrammable–and also ridiculously delicious. The iconic peach cobbler served across the American South can be found just about everywhere in the foodie heaven of Savannah, Georgia–and you should never leave the city without trying it.
Believed to date back to the 19th century as an easier-to-make alternative to fruit pies, cobblers are traditionally made from fruit topped with biscuit dough and then baked into a sticky, delicious, carb-loaded concoction. Given that Georgia peaches are world-famous and that the Georgia Peach Council (which, yes, is a thing that exists) has named an official National Peach Cobbler Day (it’s April 13), it should come as no surprise that peach cobbler is practically a necessity to eat when visiting Savannah.
Today, you’ll generally find peach cobbler in Savannah served warm and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, though it’s wonderful both with and without the extra topping. You can find peach cobbler on just about any menu in the city, but if you’re looking for a great one, consider visiting the iconic Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room, Sisters of the New South, or Columbia Square.
You should 100% order peach cobbler at any time of year (canned Georgia peaches are still tasty), but if you’re lucky enough to be visiting Savannah during peach season in the spring, drop everything immediately and head to the closest peach cobbler you can find. You won’t regret it.
Recommended by Kate of Our Escape Clause
Where: 7/11 (Statewide)
While Hawaii has many bucket list-worthy dishes due to its myriad of international influences, one of the most iconic foods of Hawaii is a spam musubi. To put it simply, a spam musubi is a rectangle of sushi rice topped with a lightly seared slice of spam, all wrapped in a thin piece of seaweed (commonly called nori).
This simple food eaten by many locals on a daily basis highlights the fusion food culture present in Hawaii. Spam was introduced to Hawaii by the U.S. government during World War II for rationing purposes. To create a spam musubi, elements of Hawaii’s ubiquitous Japanese culture, including sushi rice and seaweed, were combined with the spam. The combination of these three simple ingredients created a delicious blend of two completely opposite cultures.
While spam musubis can be found at several grocery stories and even a handful of restaurants across the Hawaiian Islands, the best spam musubis are either homemade or from 7/11. I know, it sounds a little bit sketchy to get food from 7/11, but any Hawaii local will tell you the same thing: 7/11 is the place to get a fantastic musubi. If you find yourself in Hawaii, a spam musubi is definitely worth a try!
Recommended by Sarah of Borders & Bucket Lists
Deep Dish Pizza
People love to debate whether Chicago deep dish pizza is actually pizza. As a native Chicagoan, Tim of Luxe Adventure Traveler grew up eating this Chicago specialty. To him, the only debate is which pizza joint serves up the best Chicago deep dish.
Chicago deep dish, sometimes also called Chicago-style pizza, was invented by two Italian-American immigrants in 1943. The pair, Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo, wanted to stand out from the crowd of all their fellow Italian-Americans that were opening up pizza shops to serve up the thin crust pizza of the home land. They opened up Pizzeria Uno which couldn’t be more opposite of traditional Neapolitan pizza – literally. The thin crust was pressed into an olive-oiled deep pie pan and the pizza fillings and cheese placed inside to create a savory pie. Fresh, sweet crushed tomatoes were slathered over the top of it all in order to protect the cheese and fillings so that they wouldn’t burn while being baked in the pizza oven.
Sewell and Riccardo certainly achieved their dream. The Chicago deep dish wasn’t considered an immigrant tradition, but rather a Chicago-born food icon.
When it comes to where to find the best Chicago deep dish, just about every Chicagoan will give you a different answer. It’s a futile debate, because there are several really, really good options including the original Pizzeria Uno (now called Uno Pizzeria & Grill and with many locations around the world), Malnati’s Pizzeria, Gino’s East and Giordano’s. You can go on a Chicago pizza tour to try them out and decide for yourself. Tim and Jennifer also recommend the VIP Skydeck experience for a truly special way to enjoy your Chicago deep dish pizza. After hours, head up to the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower, where a checkered table awaits with the twinkling lights of Chicagoland stretching out beyond. A piping hot Giordano’s deep dish pizza with the fillings of your choice soon arrives for you to share. It will definitely be the best Chicago deep dish pizza of your life and a memorable experience.
Recommended by Jennifer and Tim of Luxe Adventure Traveler
Hot Dog, Chicago-style
One must try dish when visiting Chicago, Illinois is a Chicago-style hot dog or Chicago Dog. A classic Chicago-style hot dog is an all-beef hot dog served on a poppy seed bun and topped with yellow mustard, pickle, relish, sliced tomato, sport peppers, onions and celery salt (ketchup is absolutely not allowed!) and is said to be dragged through the garden because of its many toppings. The hot dog is usually steamed but some restaurants grill it over charcoal and call it a char-dog.
Thousands of restaurants in Illinois serve Chicago–style hot dogs (but some vary the toppings) from hot dog stands to a few fancy restaurants. There are numerous lists which name the best spots for a Chicago Dog and while those lists differ certain establishments are consistently included. One of the most well-known places to try a classic Chicago-style hot dog is Portillos which has numerous restaurants throughout Illinois. Another well known hot dog spot is Wieners Circle in the Lincoln Park neighborhood in Chicago where part of the fun is the crude humor and verbal abuse from the employees towards the customers. I also recommend Superdawg, an old-school drive-in on the Northwest side of Chicago, which serves its own version of a Chicago-style hot dog.
Recommended by Patti of Savvy Globetrotter
The Hot Brown
The Hot Brown is Kentucky’s most famous dish, but if you’re not from the Bluegrass State, chances are you’ve never even heard of it!
The Hot Brown was invented at Louisville’s Brown Hotel in 1927. The hotel was a hot-spot during the Roaring 20s and the hotel chef wanted to create a unique dish for the guests. The Hot Brown was born and quickly became a favorite dish of Louisvillians before spreading to the rest of the state.
A hot brown is an open-faced sandwich made of thick-cut bread, turkey, bacon, and tomatoes covered in a rich, cheesy Mornay sauce. Many local restaurants have their own unique take on the hot brown, adding different cheeses, vegetables, or even creating a vegetarian version of the dish.
Visiting Kentucky and want to try a Hot Brown for yourself? Visit the Brown Hotel in Louisville to try the original recipe Hot Brown at its birthplace. Other spots in Louisville with delicious takes on the famous sandwich are The Village Anchor and Goose Creek Diner. Visiting Lexington? Ramsey’s Diner has a delicious version of the traditional Hot Brown, the Lexington Diner has a breakfast take on the sandwich, and Stella’s Kentucky Deli is home to a vegetarian take of the dish.
Recommended by Sydney of A World in Reach
Where: New Orleans
While there are many unique things to eat in New Orleans, the Po-Boy is definitely one of the most famous dishes in the city. This sandwich has an interesting history. As the story goes, the Po-Boy was created way back in 1929 when the city’s streetcar drivers went on a strike and the Martin Brothers who owned a restaurant supported the ‘poor boys’ by putting together a cheap and basic sandwich of gravy and roast beef. And that’s how the sandwich gets its name.
The Po-Boy quickly became available in many varieties and soon became standard fare in restaurants. Today, the Po-Boy is available in roast beef, fried oyster, fried shrimp, fried catfish, fried soft shell crab, and many other styles. It comes dressed – meaning with lettuce, tomatoes, mayo, and pickle – or bare. I recommend trying the dressed half oyster and half shrimp Po-Boy at Mahony’s on Magazine Street or the fried soft shell crab one at Stanley’s in Jackson Square. The seafood Po-Boys are my favorite for a couple of reasons: the crispy fried seafood compliments the fresh, chewy French Bread in a way that roast beef never can! These huge sandwiches are usually served with crunchy French Fries and together they make one of the best meals in NOLA.
Recommended by Ketki of Dotted Globe
Where: Cape Elizabeth (and other coastal towns)
Nothing is more classic Maine than lobster! Maine Lobster is one of the oldest continuous operating industries in the country, dating all the way back to the 1600s. Lobster was originally only eaten by the poor and was considered a low-class food. But as tastes changed and prices increased in the state, it became more and more desired. This delicacy didn’t become popular until the mid-nineteenth century. Now you can only get lobster at a premium, and it’s no different for the Lobster Roll!
While the Lobster Roll was technically invented in Connecticut, it is now most popularly associated with Maine and is served all over the state. A good lobster roll consists of large chunks of fresh lobster drenched in butter or mayonnaise and stuffed into the top of a bread bun. It’s like combining a hot dog and lobster to create a flavor explosion that is hard to beat!
During our times as *digital nomads* (anchor text), we tried MANY Lobster rolls in my lifetime from all over the country, my absolute favorite one comes from The Lobster Shack in the small town of Cape Elizabeth. This place has been around since the 1920s, so you know they’re the real deal. Only open during the lobster season, they guarantee that the lobster is fresh and the rolls are delicious, and they sure deliver! You can’t beat the view from the outdoor seating area too!
Recommended by Vanessa of Wanderlust Crew
Where: Chesapeake Bay
If you reside in Maryland or anywhere along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, a love for blue crabs is nearly mandatory. All around the Chesapeake Bay, you will find traditional crab houses. The kind where tables are covered in paper and you pick (clean) your own crabs using a mallet and the tools God gave you.
Consuming crabs is more than just a meal, it is something of an event. A feast if you will. Because of the intensive labor involved in eating crabs they are not a week night meal. They are something you do eat on a weekend or holiday with loved ones when you have hours to dedicate to the experience. Picking crabs is better when savored.
The best way to enjoy this delicacy is with family and friends along with a cold beer. Crabs should be steamed with ample Old Bay Seasoning and served with coleslaw and fresh corn on the cob. There is debate over whether they should be refrigerated or served hot. It really comes down to preference. But if they’re hot you know they haven’t been sitting around.
In Maryland crabbing is both an industry and a hobby. Crabbing sustains fishermen and provides leisure activity for the dabbler. But, today, unless you are a fisherman, boater or enthusiast, you are probably purchasing your crabs at the local seafood store where they can be purchased by the dozen, half bushel or bushel.
On a warm summer day, there’s nothing like bringing home a bushel of fresh crabs, lining the picnic table with brown paper and settling in for an afternoon of picking crabs and interesting conversation.
Recommended by Susan of Gen X Traveler
Juicy Lucy Burger
Where: Twin Cities
Minnesotans have been debating for decades whether Matt’s Bar or the 5-8 Club actually created the first Juicy Lucy (or whether there’s an “i” in juicy). Even today, this is a divisive and emotional topic. I think, though, we can all agree that Juicy Lucy burgers are delicious.
What is this culinary delight? Imagine two thin hamburger patties molded together with a layer of melty cheese in the middle and then grilled. Juicy Lucy’s are served simply on a bun with pickles so don’t expect to customize. At Matt’s Bar, the only option is to add grilled onions (which I highly recommend).
There’s an actual strategy to eating a Juicy Lucy, though. Don’t make the rookie mistake of burning your mouth with that melty cheese! Hold the burger with both handles and take a small bite on one side, then the other. This allows the steam from the cheese to release and cool to a manageable temperature. Let it cool off holding it upright for a couple of minutes while you devour some french fries before diving in again.
Whether you go to Matt’s Bar or the 5-8 Club, half of the experience is in the ambiance of the place. Both are hole-in-the-wall small neighborhood bars. The tables and decor are just what you’d expect and there will always be a line (but it moves quickly). If you go to Matt’s Bar, bring cash or your ATM card!
While you will see Juicy Lucy’s on many menus throughout the Twin Cities, there’s no substitute for the original. And, since we can’t decide who created it first, you’ll just have to visit both Matt’s Bar and the 5-8 Club to choose your favorite!
I’ll give an honorable mention to the Blue Door Pub for it’s Blucy Burger with blue cheese and garlic in the center. There are four locations now, but I recommend visiting their original location in St. Paul.
Recommended by Susan of This Big Wild World
Where: Kansas City
Cooking meat outdoors over a fire is known universally as American as apple pie. But once you peek under the grill cover, you’ll quickly see that barbeque has many regional varieties. Kansas City barbeque is dry rubbed, slow smoked, and smothered with thick, sweet, and tangy barbeque sauce. It got its start in the early 1900s when Henry Perry (AKA the father of KC BBQ) slow cooked meat on an open pit near the Garment District.
From tender chunks of beef to saucy pork ribs, Kansas City is proud of its barbeque. While pork and beef are the most commonly used barbeque meats across the nation, any meat is fair game when it comes to Kansas City barbeque. In this cowtown, look for barbeque turkey, chicken, sausage, and even salmon in addition to pork and beef. Prove to your taste buds why KC is the Barbeque Capital of the World with a visit to one of these five barbeque joints in Kansas City.
Fun Fact: Over the course of history, there have been more than five accepted spellings for this cooking style. But since the Civil War, Americans have settled on two ways to spell the word, barbecue and barbeque. In Kansas City, we follow the Kansas City Barbeque Society’s lead and use a q.
Recommended by Sage of Everyday Wanderer
You can’t visit Albuquerque, or indeed the state of New Mexico, without trying Green Chile. This is a staple of pretty much every New Mexican dish, and even comes with the breakfast burritos and hamburgers.
The history of chile in New Mexico dates back to the native Pueblo people, who cultivated chillies for use in cooking. When the Spanish arrived in the area, they incorporated chiles into their cooking too. Today, the variety of chile grown in New Mexico is specific to the state, first cultivated at the New Mexico state university in 1894.
Green chiles are served in a variety of ways, with one of the most popular being roasted. In Autumn, which is the harvesting season, the whole state seems to fill with the delicious aroma of roasting green chiles, which can be eaten as is, or, more commonly, turned into a sauce and added to most New Mexican dishes.
Whilst green chile is very well known, it’s also possible to get red chile sauce, and a common question when ordering a meal in New Mexico is if you want it red or green. You can also order your food “Christmas style”, and have both! Nearly every restaurant you visit will have chile – see our guide to the best restaurants in Albuquerque for some ideas as to where to try it.
Recommended by Laurence of Finding the Universe
Beef on Weck
I grew up in Buffalo, New York, home of the world famous Buffalo Wing. But there is more to the Buffalo food scene than just the mighty hot wing. Sponge candy, orange chocolate, perogi and beef on weck will give you a more well-rounded taste of Buffalo.
Let’s do a deep dive on one of my favorite Buffalo foods. Have you heard of beef on weck? Beef on weck is a special variation of a roast beef sandwich and is another food that Buffalo is famous for. What makes beef on weck truly special is the bun which is crusty and salted with caraway seeds for a spicy rye flavor. Beef on weck is optionally served with horseradish if you like your meal with that extra kick. Charlie the Butcher’s in Cheektowaga is the original home of beef on weck and made the sandwich famous in Western New York.
Pair your beef on weck with fresh grilled corn on the cob and a loganberry pop. In Buffalo, soft drinks are pop not soda. Get that right or you’ll immediately stand out as a tourist. What’s loganberry? It’s a hybrid of a blackberry and a raspberry. Buffalo is the only place in the world where I’ve seen the humble loganberry turned into a sweet non-carbonated soft drink. If you’re looking for an authentic taste of Buffalo, this is it!
Recommended by Jennifer of Sidewalk Safari
What a lot of people might not know about Rochester, New York, is that it’s all about the food. Rochestarians love to cook and love to eat out. There is one dish, in particular, that became an icon in Rochester–The Garbage Plate. I know it does not sound very appetizing with a name like Garbage Plate but, like the saying goes, “don’t know knock it till you try it”.
The Garbage Plate was introduced around 1918 at Nick Tahou’s Restaurant in Rochester, NY. Originally the dish was called Hots and Potatoes. People fell in love with it and were going in large numbers to get a Garbage Plate at Nick Tahou’s. Since then many restaurants and diners have created their own version of the Garbage Plate throughout the city and surrounding area.
So are you now wondering what’s in a Garbage Plate? Get ready for this-
the following are typical ingredients used: fried potatoes, home fries, french fries, Mac and cheese, pasta salad, cheese, baked beans, hot dogs, hamburgers, ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, onions. Or anything else you want. Hot dogs should be Zwiegles. If you have a problem with your food touching each other the Garbage Plate will be a problem, because after choosing your ingredients they are piled up on top of each other. Yup, piled and piled onto a plate. My understanding is it makes a great late night meal after having a night out on the town. Enjoy!
Recommended by Sherrie of Travel By A Sherrie Affair
Where: New York City
No trip to New York City would be complete without a pastrami sandwich. Preferably on rye. Perhaps with mustard. And, definitely with sour pickles.
Pastrami is beef brisket that is soaked in spices and then smoked. It was brought to the US by Eastern European Jewish immigrants. In the “Old Country” brining and smoking meat was done to keep meat from spoiling. Now, we eat it that way because it just tastes good.
My favorite place for pastrami is Katz’s on the Lower East Side. The pastrami is sliced thick, juicy and brimming with flavor. I go back and forth on mustard—sometimes yes, sometimes no—but my mother slathers on the mustard. Katz’s offers sour and half sour pickles. For me, full sour is best.
There are some other places in New York to get good pastrami. The Second Avenue Deli (which is now actually on 33rd Street) makes pastrami. Harry and Ida’s, not far from the 9/11 memorial, has a more modern take on pastrami. You can also get it in some of the diners and delis in New York, but I still recommend Katz’s for the best pastrami sandwich. Just don’t go on a weekend—it’s too crowded and you will wait for hours.
Recommended by Sue Davies of Travel For Life Now
Where: Jamestown (and statewide)
What is knoephla soup and how do you say the “k” word?
Knoephla soup (pronounced neff-lah) is unique to North Dakota. Ask any North Dakotan about it and they’ll probably tell you their grandmother made the best knoephla soup in all of North Dakota. And no, you cannot have her recipe.
My first encounter with the soup was at the end of my first school year in North Dakota. About a week before finishing 8th grade, the teacher sent home a permission slip to take us on a field trip to get soup for our last day. In Michigan we got an ice cream field trip, the idea of soup to celebrate summer was ridiculous! But it was delicious!
The origins of the soup are unknown, though many North Dakotans will tell you it is a German soup. However, if you ask someone in Germany if they’ve heard of it before you’ll be met with a look of confusion.
If you ever find yourself in North Dakota and wanting to try knoephla almost every locally owned restaurant in every town has their own variety of the soup. Kroll’s Diner, one of the more well-known restaurants located in several cities across the state, has an award-winning knoephla recipe that has a very unique flavor. The Depot Cafe in Jamestown is my favorite place to get the soup.
And if you want to make it yourself, I finally took the time one day to write down my knoephla soup recipe and publish it. Enjoy!
Recommended by Niki of Chasing Departures
Marionberry Pie (and shakes)
The Marionberry is native to Oregon. Its name comes from the county in the Willamette Valley where it was first developed and continues to be produced: Marion County. It’s actually a variation of blackberry that’s a bit larger and longer in shape. While it appears black when ripe on the vine, the inside is a deep purple.
Marionberry is only available fresh from mid to late summer, and they are too soft to ship across the country. This is why it’s popular to preserve it in jams or liquors, or freeze it for milkshakes and pies. The slightly tart flavor of the berry also makes it ideal to combine with sugar. According to NPR, Oregon grows 28 to 33 million pounds of Marionberries a year, which is mostly “devoured before the rest of the country ever gets a taste.”
Look for Marionberry pies and ice creams locally made in many Oregon grocery stores. You’ll also find the fresh, purple Marionberry shakes in local ice cream parlors, farm stands, and the regional Burgerville chain during the summer.
Recommended by Michelle of Roam Redmond Oregon
If I had to choose one thing I miss the most about Austin, TX, it would be all the breakfast tacos! It’s hard enough to find really good tacos outside of Texas, let alone in Germany, where I live now. And breakfast tacos? Mostly people just act surprised that tacos can be consumed first thing in the morning.
There are two things I want to say upfront. First of all, although breakfast tacos are a big part of Austin culture, they were not invented in Austin. The earliest mention of the term “breakfast tacos” online can be found in “The Arizona Republic” by a correspondent who describes trying breakfast tacos on a culinary tour of San Antonio.
A few years ago Eater Austin published an article “How Austin Became the Home of the Crucial Breakfast Taco,” and it didn’t go very well. The people of San Antonio (Austin’s main rival when it comes to tacos) were so outraged with the article that they started a petition asking the author to leave Texas for good. The petition got over 500 hundred signatures. True story.
Second of all, when we talk about breakfast tacos we mean a certain type of tacos, not just the tradition of eating tacos for breakfast which was common in Mexico for centuries. In Austin, breakfast tacos are usually made with scrambled eggs, chorizo, bacon, and potatoes (that’s right, potatoes!) and other “breakfasty” ingredients. If you are planning to spend a weekend in Austin, some of the best places to try breakfast tacos are: Taco Deli, Torchy’s Tacos, and my personal favorite — Tyson’s Tacos.
Recommended by Yulia of That’s What She Had
Within a few days of my move down to Houston, my friends were already urging me to indulge in Texas BBQ. Since BBQ was a norm on summer evenings back home in Toronto, I didn’t know how unique the experience was, until I gave it a go at City Market in Luling, Texas. Using a very traditional Texan style of preparation, the dishes were hearty and delicious. Whether it be a slice of bacon or a stack of ribs, these palatable meats were tender to the point of falling off of the bones. Briskets are generally a BBQ favorite when visiting any Texan joint. These thick slices of beef are cooked slowly over charcoal or wood, enhancing its flavor. Some sauces may be added for preference, and a piece of bread can turn this dish into a hefty sandwich. Due to its long history in Texas, smoked brisket is often seen as synonymous with Texas culture and lifestyle.
The restaurant experience was just as enticing. Standing in line with a tray in my hand, I only placed my order after reaching a table full of different cuts of meats. The chef placed my choices on my plate and I went onwards to grab some salad in a buffet-style setting. City Market was small and crowded. The heat from the kitchen oozed in through the doors and wooden, cowboy-inspired decorations lined the walls. Combined with the food and chitchats, I felt like I experienced Texas in its most genuine form.
Recommended by Daisy of Beyond my Border
Where: Milwaukee (and statewide)
If you are a cheese lover you have to head to Wisconsin. They don’t call us cheeseheads for no reason, Wisconsin knows their cheese. We suggest spending the weekend in Milwaukee where you can get your fill of cheesy delights from fresh squeaky cheese curds at the Wisconsin Cheese Market or gooey deep-fried cheese curds with ranch dressing at just about any restaurant. We think the fried cheese curds pair well with a local Milwaukee brew, Milwaukee is also known as Brew City.
There are tons of Milwaukee attractions to check out but our personal favorites are all the local microbreweries to check out and sample. Our favorite breweries are Lakefront Brewery & MKE Brewery. The best place for cheese curds in Milwaukee is the Milwaukee Ale House located right on the Milwaukee River. Always ask for some ranch dressing too, there is nothing more we crave from home than fried cheese curds dipped in ranch!
Recommended by Adam Lukaszewicz of Getting Stamped