Local fast food
October 15, 2017 6:17 PM   Subscribe

I'm interesting in your local fast food traditions.

I recently started a job in Andover, Massachusetts, and as a result, I've had the opportunity to discover a local sandwich, the Chicken Barb. Apparently it's pretty famous on the Merrimack Valley, and unheard of anywhere else (even a few miles away).

Dishes like this are no surprise to me. I grew up in southwest Ohio (home of Cincinnati-style chili) and lived in St. Louis (provel cheese), and my wife is from Buffalo (wings, of course, but also beef on weck, sponge candy, and loganberry). I've also been learning about regional barbecue styles (Alabama white, who knew?) Now I'm interested in finding other such local delicacies.

Ideally, I'm looking for things no one outside your area has ever heard of. Maybe even something that grosses outsiders out. So a po' boy from New Orleans or a lobster roll from Maine aren't obscure enough. A Jucy Lucy from Minnesota or a loose meat sandwich from Iowa are, though. Bonus points if one of the first search results is a Chowhound thread starting with "WTF?!" I don't really care if it tastes good or not, just that it's a niche thing.
posted by kevinbelt to Food & Drink (179 answers total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
Spiced beef. It isn't an Irish thing; it's a Cork thing. It is normally served at home at Christmas but you can get sandwiches all over town.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:24 PM on October 15 [3 favorites]

Southern Idaho: Finger Steaks. Small, breaded, deep-fried bits of steak.
posted by Hatashran at 6:25 PM on October 15 [5 favorites]

Baltimore pit beef (somewhat similar to BBQ, like your example)
Baltimore lake trout
posted by seesom at 6:29 PM on October 15 [3 favorites]

Chow mein sandwiches are a thing in the Fall River area of Massachusetts. Coffee milk is also a thing in that same general area. Don't know if Apple Pie With Cheese counts as esoteric enough, but it's a thing on menus up here in Vermont and here's a Chowhound thread. At one of the local diner places I eat up here, fiddleheads are one of the standard veggies you can get on the side. And as someone who is interested in New England cuisine, I'm always amused by things that sound like they're from here and aren't such as a Boston cooler.
posted by jessamyn at 6:30 PM on October 15 [6 favorites]

Binghamton, New York: spiedie.

(I'm not in Binghamton now, but my uncle lived there. He had an opinion on where to get spiedies -- I think it was a particular bar -- but unfortunately I don't remember what place he recommended and he's gone.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:30 PM on October 15 [5 favorites]

Only fast food, or food food?

Shrimp De Jonghe is on a lot of restaurant menus in Chicago.

Disco fries are a New Jersey diner favorite that can now be found on New York menus, too.
posted by zorseshoes at 6:30 PM on October 15 [4 favorites]

It's become slightly more well-known over the years, but when I first moved to Salt Lake City, UT, I was surprised by being offered fry sauce, which I'd never even heard of before.
posted by rhiannonstone at 6:31 PM on October 15 [4 favorites]

Rochester, NY: Garbage Plate
posted by ManInSuit at 6:31 PM on October 15 [10 favorites]

Rochester, NY garbage plates.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 6:31 PM on October 15 [10 favorites]

Just a few miles east of you, on the Massachusetts North Shore, we have the tradition of the roast beef sandwich. I mean, a roast beef sandwich doesn’t sound like that specific of a food, but it’s a specific type of roast beef sandwich, sliced thin and served on a soft roll. Kelly’s Roast Beef in Revere is the most famous, but my favorite is Supreme Roast Beef in Danvers.
posted by mskyle at 6:32 PM on October 15 [6 favorites]

Oh and where I grew up in NC, we had delicious, delicious livermush.
posted by rhiannonstone at 6:32 PM on October 15 [2 favorites]

Also a St. Louis thing: the St. Paul sandwich. An egg foo young patty on cheap white bread with mayo, lettuce, pickle slices, and tomato.
posted by zsazsa at 6:33 PM on October 15 [2 favorites]

Stuffed quahogs and stuffed clams generally.
posted by vrakatar at 6:36 PM on October 15 [4 favorites]

Everyone knows about poutine in Canada, but in Newfoundland, fries, dressing and gravy is king. Some places add a sprinkle of peas, so you can claim it has nutritional value, but those places are best avoided.
posted by peppermind at 6:37 PM on October 15 [5 favorites]

Oh, another St. Louis thing! The slinger, which is hamburger patties covered with eggs, hash browns, chili and onions. Best eaten after the bars close at an all night diner.
posted by zsazsa at 6:37 PM on October 15

Chicago's hot dog stands will serve you a mother-in-law sandwich (a chicago dog with a steamed tamale and chili in place of the wiener), and during Lent you can get a pepper and egg sandwich (scrambled eggs and grilled green peppers on an italian bread roll)
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:43 PM on October 15 [6 favorites]


Halal snack pack. Chips covered with kebab meats, various other kebab internals (I hesitate to call them salad fixings), cheese, and, if you are sensible, hot chilli sauce and garlic yoghurt.

Chiko roll. I don't believe anybody has eaten one of these for about 20 years but they still exist. Imagine the spring roll reinvented in Bendigo by a boilermaker in 1950 and...there you go.

Pie floater. A meat pie that has been submerged in mushy peas. More accurately a pie drowner.

Battered sav. A battered and deep-fried savoury sausage. In the same family as dagwood dogs, which are similar to corn dogs.

Finally, the cheesymite scroll.

Also, chips covered with tomato sauce and white vinegar, but I think this is possibly a commonwealth thing. It's certainly British.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:44 PM on October 15 [12 favorites]

Fast food or any food?
posted by maurreen at 6:50 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]

You don't state US traditions only so I'll add the Pie Floater into the mix. It started in Adelaide South Australia where it is sold in only a few locations. The pie cart that started it was the sort of place you go for a late night snack after the pubs close.

I now think there is a pie cart in Sydney that also sells it, but it's been a while since I've been to Sydney so I can't be sure.
posted by wwax at 6:52 PM on October 15 [2 favorites]

Steamed deli sandwiches are a huge thing in Knoxville, TN. I guess they’re kind of an abomination as far as deli sandwiches go, but that messy, soft explosion of meat, bread and melty cheese? SO DELICIOUS, especially alongside a big ol’ pickle.
posted by timetoevolve at 6:56 PM on October 15

Louisville has the Hot Brown and Benedictine.
posted by chaoticgood at 6:58 PM on October 15 [5 favorites]

Maine, esp. Portland, has Italian sandwiches. Bun similar to a hot dog bun, meat-usually ham, cheese-ideally provolone, tomatoes, sour pickles, onions, green peppers, black olives, dressed with olive oil, salt, pepper.

I grew up in Ohio, and miss Cassanos pizza with the thin chewy crust. We usually got pepperoni & green olive and all that salt required a few Schoenling Little Kings.
posted by theora55 at 7:11 PM on October 15 [2 favorites]

You already know about loose meat sandwiches, but Iowa also dukes it out with Indiana for claim to pork tenderloin sandwiches. Nebraska has runzas, which are pierogi-esque.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:11 PM on October 15 [5 favorites]

The East Coast of Canada has created two of the greatest regional fast foods: Halifax donairs and garlic fingers. The Halifax donair is my favorite as a regionalism because a) it's fantastic and b) who else in the world has ever come up with a sauce for meat based on sweetened condensed milk?

The only issue with these for the purposes of your question is that, thanks to the spread of East Coasters across Canada, they're not unknown. I doubt you'd ever find them outside Canada, however.
posted by ZaphodB at 7:14 PM on October 15 [4 favorites]

NEPA (Northeast Pennsylvania) - scrapple and porketta
posted by Sassyfras at 7:17 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]

Horseshoe sandwich. It’s bread with a hamburger patty, French fries, and cheese sauce. It’s supposedly native to Springfield, Illinois, but I grew up in Springfield and didn’t know about it until I was in high school.
posted by FencingGal at 7:19 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]

Besides poutine, Montreal has smoked meat sandwiches, Montreal shish taouk and the Boustan Creation.
posted by zadcat at 7:28 PM on October 15 [3 favorites]

Growing up in rural Pennsylvania in the 70s, everyone ate Lebanon bologna and horseradish sandwiches on Sunbeam Bread. As a kid I thought this was as normal and generic as ham and cheese but I've never seen this sandwich since. All these things --the bologna (from Lebanon County PA) and the horseradish (some family horseradish factory) were local, and the Sunbeam bakery/factory was also from Pennsylvania. It was an astonishing bit of accuracy when I read Fun Home, set in the same area, to notice from the illustration that the truck that hit Alison Bechdel's dad was a Sunbeam Bread truck.
posted by flourpot at 7:32 PM on October 15 [6 favorites]

The controversially named Hot Dago is primarily served in two neighborhoods in St Paul Minnesota. A few bars scattered outside of those neighborhoods and even a couple places in Minneapolis serve them but it's the official sloppy sandwich of the East Side and the Levee/West Seventh.
posted by littlewater at 7:37 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]

From the Bronx, the Chop Cheese.
posted by LizardBreath at 7:42 PM on October 15 [2 favorites]

Los Angeles:
The french dip sandwich
The chili size--a hamburger patty submerged in a bowl of chili.

The Oki dog

machaca con huevos, I haven't seen it at Mexican restaurants anywhere else.
posted by brujita at 7:44 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]

I've never bought fries in Canada from a place that doesn't have white vinegar on hand. McD et al have it in little plastic packets like ketchup; chip wagons often have a bottle, and will often ask "Half-way?" while filling your bag (usual packaging is a cardboard carton in a small paper bag), which means, "Do you want me to hand you the chips when the bag is half-full, so you can add in salt/vinegar/ketchup at that level as well as on top?" Some chip wagons have it in spray bottles; some drill holes in the top of the bottle, restaurants bring you a glass cruet with a metal top that lets it dribble out at a reasonable rate.

Malt vinegar is also seen, but white vinegar is king here.

Shawarma fast-food joints are ubiquitous in Ottawa, almost as much as the chip wagons.

Also of interest: Dutch kapsalon.
posted by kmennie at 7:56 PM on October 15 [9 favorites]

Olneyville New York System and other "New York System Wieners" in Rhode Island.
posted by Seeking Direction at 7:59 PM on October 15 [2 favorites]

Where I’m from on the Mississippi coast, French dressing is the default dipping sauce for pizzas. Many local pizza places even have bottles on the table. I didn’t even realize it was weird until college, when people an hour away were shocked when I asked for French dressing at a pizza joint.
posted by itsamermaid at 8:00 PM on October 15 [7 favorites]

We encountered "Chicken George" in Sterling / Rock Falls, Illinois on a trip a few years back. I think just the one local restaurant chain makes it, but it's apparently very popular. Relevant Chowhound thread.
posted by gueneverey at 8:06 PM on October 15

California burrito. Carne asada burrito with fries inside, mostly found in San Diego.
posted by wsquared at 8:08 PM on October 15 [4 favorites]

The Chipped Chopped Ham BBQ Sandwich is traditional at picnic and tailgates here in Pittsburgh but I'm not sure if I've ever seen it in a restaurant.
posted by octothorpe at 8:14 PM on October 15 [2 favorites]

Chicago is also the (American?) home of the jibarito. It's a sandwich with flattened fried plantains instead of bread.
posted by bassooner at 8:32 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]

Detroit has its own style of deep dish pizza, which is distinct from Chicago's. Buddy's is the originator of the style.
posted by kindall at 8:41 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]

From SoCal:

Bacon wrapped hot dogs, only from a cart.

Dodger dogs.

How about a Cactus Cooler to wash it all down? Or a Ray's Mistake, the best drink in the world, available only at Tiki-Ti.

brujita: The Oki Dog

posted by Room 641-A at 8:56 PM on October 15 [2 favorites]

Massachusetts (and some other parts of New England) has "Greek Pizza." No, not the kind of Greek pizza you're thinking of. This is a pizza cooked in a cast-iron pan, with a buttery, crispy crust and slight tangy, very greasy cheese. It's so named because it was traditionally served at pizzerias owned by Greek immigrants.

For some reason, cream cheese on hot dogs is a big deal in Seattle.

There's also Seattle-style chicken teriyaki, which is different than teriyaki you get elsewhere - basically sliced rubbery chicken thighs with a super-sweet sauce. I really don't like it but it's very popular.

All the burrito places in San Jose seem to serve "orange sauce." Basically a spicy mayo sauce.
posted by lunasol at 8:57 PM on October 15 [2 favorites]

The Pittsburgh fish sandwich. A hold-over from the large Catholic population not eating meat on Fridays, but now enjoyed by all. There are variations, but a generous fried piece of white fish that hangs over the margins of the bun is required.
posted by quince at 9:07 PM on October 15 [2 favorites]

An Australian hamburger "with the lot" consists of: the usual bun and meat; grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese, pickled beetroot, a pineapple ring, bacon, and a fried egg, with either barbeque sauce or tomato sauce (or something fancier, like tomato relish, or sweet chili mayo if you go somewhere that fancies itself). I'm not sure I ever ate one more than once in my whole Australian life, but I've been in Canada for a couple of months, and I think I'd just about kill for one.

Chips sometimes come with gravy, but I like brown vinegar more than white; and I like plain salt better than chicken* salt.

*contains no chicken. A lot of things in Aus seem to be "chicken" flavoured in ways I don't see in other places.
posted by glitter at 9:09 PM on October 15 [4 favorites]

I've never heard of a fish boil anywhere other than Door County, Wisconsin.
posted by AFABulous at 9:15 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]

Barberton chicken
posted by aws17576 at 9:27 PM on October 15

Basically a spicy mayo sauce

This is a filthy filthy lie, propagated only by the filthiest people.

...mayo involves egg. Orange sauce does not.
posted by aramaic at 9:50 PM on October 15

I don't think fast food places are the usual places to get it, but 10 Places to Get Chicken Bog in Myrtle Beach demonstrates some fast food availability for Chicken Bog of the Pee Dee Region. Many takeout BBQ places would also have hash and rice, which isn't the hash most people know: see Carolina Hash. It's a normal side dish for pulled pork with mustard-based BBQ sauce (i.e. BBQ in some areas).
posted by Wobbuffet at 9:55 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]

San Francisco:

Humphry Slocombe's Secret Breakfast; cornflakes and whiskey flavored ice cream

Kouign Amann at Tartine, b.patisserie, etc.

Cragel (croissant and bagel had a baby) at House of Bagels

Crab Sandwich anywhere like Fisherman's Wharf, but especially AT&T park during baseball season.
posted by blob at 10:14 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]

California burrito. Carne asada burrito with fries inside, mostly found in San Diego.

Had to do a CTRL F to make sure this was mentioned.

I would also like to nominate carne asada french fries. Which is a giant platter of fries, carne asada, guacamole, sour cream and cheese. Sort of a SoCal garbage plate.
posted by zabuni at 10:18 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]

We could also go with In and Out, for California in general, with their Animal Style Fries. Adds cheese, grilled onions, and thousand isle dressing. Best way to have their fries IMO.
posted by zabuni at 10:23 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]

In Oklahoma, there's the onion burger.
posted by neushoorn at 10:32 PM on October 15

More L.A.:

Revolutionario North African Tacos.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:43 PM on October 15

Austin, Texas has the traditional Tex-Mex hangover food, migas. The farther you go from Central Texas the more nobody has ever heard of it. There are other Mexican dishes called "migas" (which just means "crumbs") -- often some kind of soup -- but I'm talking about the Austin specialty: stale tortillas, scrambled eggs, chorizo, onions, tomatoes, jalapeños, hash browns ... sheesh, I'm making myself hungry.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 10:44 PM on October 15 [7 favorites]

Ok the Kouign-amann is super not a Bay Area thing. They're from Brittany.
posted by Smearcase at 10:51 PM on October 15 [16 favorites]

Ah, Scotland, home of so many oddities (which are often great):
- Macaroni Pie (do not mess with the macaroni pie)
- Deep fried pizza (unbattered)/pizza supper (battered and then deep fried)
- Haggis Pakora

And then there's what you put on your chips - "salt and sauce" in Edinburgh (odd brown sauce mix), vs curry sauce in Glasgow.
posted by Vortisaur at 11:08 PM on October 15 [3 favorites]

Toronto: peameal bacon sandwich
posted by crazycanuck at 11:20 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]

Taco Time in the Pacific Northwest calls standard Sysco tater tots "Mexi-fries" and sells a burrito that contains them. If you think this is offensive, I'm with you 100%, but locals seem to have a sick fondness for the place. Go figure
posted by potrzebie at 11:21 PM on October 15 [4 favorites]

Pleased to see fry sauce already mentioned; Salt Lake City is also the birthplace of the pastrami burger, if you go in for that sort of thing.

Honorable mention to Utah at-large for the "dirty soda" -- we certainly didn't invent mocktails/additions of flavor shots to soft drinks, but no one else is so dementedly creative nor so viciously litigious in their approach.
posted by armeowda at 11:25 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]

Oregon has jo-jos, which are pretty much just fried up potato wedges. I don't understand the charm.
posted by SLC Mom at 11:27 PM on October 15

Canada has Nanaimo bars, which are pretty wonderful. They are pretty well known though.
posted by SLC Mom at 11:29 PM on October 15 [6 favorites]

Oh, oh, oh!!!
Bakersfield, California has Dewars' candy, which is wonderful. One of my patients used to bring a few boxes of them when she came to her appointments. She was a doll. They are the best taffy so ever.
posted by SLC Mom at 11:33 PM on October 15 [1 favorite]

Okay, I'm done now.
posted by SLC Mom at 11:34 PM on October 15

Vancouver has Japadog, a food cart serving hotdogs with Japanese style toppings. The original just had teriyaki sauce, seaweed and Japanese mayo but they have a rather mind boggling array of choices now.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:14 AM on October 16 [2 favorites]

I don't think most of these really count since they're brands, not regional cuisine, but the Bay Area has It's-Its ice cream.

Massachusetts has Polar Seltzer, which is the regional equivalent to La Croix except one million times better. Also the lobster roll.

Vermont has maple creemees and Moxie Soda flavored with gentian root for a true old-style medicinal "drinking this is a delightful chore" taste.

Pittsburgh has the nationally famous abomination Primanti Bro's. french fry sandwich, and for pizza, Beto's in the South Hills, where they add the cheese after the pie comes out of the oven.

BTW, speaking of regional gems, one of Southwestern PA's own is Rick Sebak, a roving documentarian of mildly weird, i.e. palatable, regionalia. I'm sure his film Sandwiches That You Will Like, a rollicking good time for septuagenarians and octogenarians alike, is full of exactly what this thread needs. (And though that one is national, there's almost certainly a Pittsburgh-specific one somewhere in his lineup.)
posted by tapir-whorf at 2:10 AM on October 16 [4 favorites]

Seconding Kapsalon. It's the #1 Dutch example of fast food that makes people (even Dutch people) go 'WTF? Who ever thought THIS could be a good idea?!'
Here's a recipe in bad English so you can roll your own, if you fancy soggy fries and lukewarm lettuce.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:12 AM on October 16 [1 favorite]

The Appalachian regions of West Virginia up through Western Pennsylvania have pepperoni rolls, which are plain white bread stuffed with cheese and pepperoni. I grew up in Erie, PA, at the northern tip of that region, and pepperoni rolls there were smaller and ball-shaped and never had cheese in them, in fact I never knew that the pepperoni rolls as most people knew them had cheese. You can often find these in heated cases on the counters at convenience stores.

Erie, PA is also one of the scattered regions of the rust belt where you can find ox roast (it's also available in random parts of western New York, eastern Ohio and Michigan), which is similar to beef on weck. I grew up eating it with the meat roasted dark, sliced very thin and served on hoagie rolls, sometimes with the sauce poured in; additional dressings are superfluous -- aside maybe from grated horseradish -- but other people like ketchup, mustard or cheese on it I guess. In less culinarily enlightened areas it's served on a kaiser roll. It's more or less a fast food, although you're more likely to see it at church fundraisers (where the event will be called an Ox Roast) rather than in dinors (which is the correct spelling in Erie).

Erie is also the home of Smith Hot Dogs and Troyer Farms chips, but those are more like regional brands than actual regional specialty foods. Anyway, since Troyer Farms got bought by some larger snack food company bags of their stuff can be occasionally found in other parts of the country, and my folks say the chips aren't as good as they used to be.

Similar to ox roast, sponge candy is a thing I've found in random small cities and towns in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York and be scarce elsewhere. It will be the local favorite of East Fumbuck even while the people in neighboring West Fumbuck have never heard of it.
posted by ardgedee at 2:19 AM on October 16 [6 favorites]

Oatcakes from Stoke-on-Trent. I grew up with them and you simply can't find them outside of the area - each little town or suburb has its own oatcake shop and you'll find people who swear blind that their local oatcakes are head and shoulders above those from neighbouring areas. The only thing everyone agrees on are that the ones in the supermarket are awful and you should only ever get them from an oatcake shop!

You can get them filled with anything - usually cheese, sausage, bacon, egg, etc. Oatcake shops started to close down over the past few years but along with a lot of local foodstuffs in different areas they seem to be enjoying a bit of a recent resurgence as I think people are getting a bit fed up of finding the same McDonald's, Greggs, Starbucks, Pret and so on in every single town. You can even find an Oatcake Boat on the canal close to Stoke City's football ground on match days.

I don't live in the area at present but I always buy a load and freeze them whenever I'm back in town - they make a great breakfast on lazy Sunday mornings. :)
posted by winterhill at 3:06 AM on October 16 [2 favorites]

Also for Vermont there is Sugar on Snow best served with a sharp dill pickle to cut the sweetness.
posted by koolkat at 3:19 AM on October 16

Is it true that no one has mentioned Korean tacos, which originated in LA?
posted by tapir-whorf at 3:21 AM on October 16

A fresh kapsalon on a plate is a thing of beauty. The take away variety with indeed soggy fries and lukewarm salad is a disaster which a lot of people don't seem to mind anyway.
If you ever visit Rotterdam and want to try the decent version of this dish, Jaffa in de Witte de With straat is the place to be.
posted by Kosmob0t at 3:24 AM on October 16

Seconding white vinegar on fries, which is a Quebecois thing that has also infiltrated Northern Vermont (Al's French Frys in Burlington has it on the table, last I checked). Another Vt/Canada thing is the Hamburg Sandwich, which is basically a hamburger but with gravy; for authenticity it should be served on toasted white bread (when I was young there were restaurants in the NE Kingdom that served hamburgers on sliced white bread- actual restaurants where you sat at a table and paid money for food! It didn't seem so remarkable at the time).

Here in Brooklyn there are a number of 'Mexican' fast-food places that are actually run by Chinese immigrants- Yummy Taco being the most prominent. The Yummy Taco on Flatbush (now closed, the Doughnut Plant took it's place) used to have two menus- the Mexican menu and a Chinese food menu, which was on the counter by the register. It's an interesting amalgam- the ingredients are all there but it's not quite right. Tasty, though, and cheap!
posted by Admiral Viceroy at 3:40 AM on October 16 [3 favorites]

Sliced linguiça rather than pepperoni as the default pizza topping is something I've only encountered in southeastern Massachusetts (New Bedford in particular), which has a significant Portuguese immigrant population. I don't know if it's as much of a thing these days as I recall it being years ago; hopefully the national pizza chains haven't rendered extinct the mom-and-pop shops there.
posted by ardgedee at 4:01 AM on October 16 [2 favorites]

> Vermont has maple creemees and Moxie Soda flavored with gentian root for a true old-style medicinal "drinking this is a delightful chore" taste.

So you'll definitely find Moxie in the dustier sections of grocery stores in VT, MA and other regions of New England, but the true hyper-local location of Moxie love is in Lisbon, ME where they have had a whole freakin' Moxie festival each year since 1982.
posted by jeremias at 4:20 AM on October 16 [3 favorites]

In New Zealand one thing from my childhood that I think is pretty regional is a Vegemite chippy sandwich. You put Vegemite and potato crisps between two pieces of crappy white bread. You have to press it down so it goes crunch. The crisps should be plain salted flavour. If you are fancy you can add lettuce.

Another similarly horrifying culinary experience from NZ is the practice of making pizza with canned spaghetti instead of a tomato base.
posted by lollusc at 4:28 AM on October 16 [2 favorites]

Oh and Dunedin has cheese rolls, which are not what they sound like.
posted by lollusc at 4:31 AM on October 16

Tampa bay has 2:
1) deviled crab (not what you think. Spicy tomatoey crab inside a football shaped dough ball made of bread and deep fried. Delish.
2)smoked fish spread. Usually amberjack but works with anything. Mixed with cream cheese etc and then served with jalapenos, hot sauce, and saltines.
posted by chasles at 4:41 AM on October 16 [1 favorite]

North Carolina has the fried bologna sandwich. Places with fried bologna biscuit sandwiches on the menu will also usually have fatback as another meat option (e.g. Wimpy's Grill in Durham, Big Ed's in Raleigh).

Big Ed's also has eggs scrambled with pork brains in their menu.
posted by research monkey at 4:45 AM on October 16 [1 favorite]

Grand Rapids, Michigan has Wet Burritos. Mmmmm.
posted by Stewriffic at 4:46 AM on October 16

chaoticgood: "Louisville has the Hot Brown and Benedictine."

Pittsburgh has an almost identical sandwich to the Hot Brown called the Turkey Devonshire although it seems to have been developed independently. Unfortunately, with the death of so many "Old Pittsburgh" restaurants, there aren't many places left that serve one these. I think that the Union Grill in Oakland still does but don't know of anywhere else.
posted by octothorpe at 5:04 AM on October 16 [1 favorite]

So many elegant solutions to the question of "How shall we sop up the the grease?"!
posted by bendybendy at 5:16 AM on October 16 [4 favorites]

Every region has got some variety of breakfast sandwich, but New Jersey is especially well-known for the pork roll, egg, and cheese. Preferably served with 'saltpeppaketchup' and wrapped up in a sheet of aluminum foil.
posted by rachaelfaith at 5:54 AM on October 16 [2 favorites]

Booyah in Green Bay, but I've seen it offered in the Twin Cities suburbs, too.
posted by Floydd at 6:13 AM on October 16 [1 favorite]

Perhaps it's too well known to make your list, but I at least had never heard of a "half-smoke" before moving to the DC area.

Where I’m from on the Mississippi coast, French dressing is the default dipping sauce for pizzas.
Hello fellow Coastie! People in Oxford, MS, thought it was crazy, too, but not because they balked at the idea of salad dressing on pizza; they just thought it was weird I wasn't asking for ranch instead.

There's also mullet, aka "Biloxi bacon," which was in the past a pretty rare find in restaurants outside the Gulf Coast (in my experience, at least, and it makes sense - they have a particularly strong fishy taste, and they're a funny in-between size that's a pain to filet but weird to serve whole), though I feel like that has changed somewhat over the past five-ten years.
posted by solotoro at 6:39 AM on October 16 [1 favorite]

(Oops, not to abuse the edit, but fried and smoked mullet probably aren't fast food. Half-smokes are though!)
posted by solotoro at 6:40 AM on October 16

In New Orleans, ya ka mein is a soup sold at parades and groceries, and the city has its own take on sno-balls.
posted by Leontine at 6:51 AM on October 16 [3 favorites]

Bierocks are a pretty delicious Wichita, Kansas staple.
posted by galvanized unicorn at 6:56 AM on October 16 [1 favorite]

In addition to chili, Cincinnati also has goetta, which is analogous to NE PA's scrapple except it's mixed with oats.
posted by coppermoss at 7:03 AM on October 16

Carne asada fries and Cactus Cooler are California-wide and two of my favorite things.

(I'd break my sobriety for another Ray's Mistake - and probably pick up smoking again as well - so it's good I'm never in LA.)

Almond butter filled Dewars are the best.

Originally from Placerville but often found in San Francisco and occasionally in other places in NorCal, is the Hangtown fry.

Did someone mention Mission burritos yet?
posted by elsietheeel at 7:07 AM on October 16

Corinth Mississippi has the slugburger, which you can now try at Hugh-Baby’s.
posted by oomny at 7:11 AM on October 16 [1 favorite]

San Francisco:
Kouign Amann at Tartine, b.patisserie, etc.

As already noted, the Kouign Amann is super not Bay Area, but I suspect this was conflated here with the morning bun, the orangey croissanty cinnamon roll type pastry popularized by Tartine in SF.
posted by KatlaDragon at 7:15 AM on October 16

My area serves tiny hot dogs with meat sauce. My favorites since childhood are Hot Dog Charlie’s.
posted by metasarah at 7:34 AM on October 16

This is starting to shade into North American State Food, so I"ll link to my roundup of State Foods according to MeFi from 2009. I might do the same for this thread and see what differences turn up.
posted by zamboni at 7:40 AM on October 16

Michigan's Upper Peninsula pasties.
posted by garbanzilla at 7:59 AM on October 16

Vermont's maple creemees
posted by carrioncomfort at 8:06 AM on October 16

Santa Maria BBQ (with a link that goes to Sunset Magazine, of course.)

There are subs and hoagies all over, but no one else has The Godmother.

I kept thinking of things that turned out to have expanded outside the area, like Hot Dog on a Stick and Fatburger.

So L.A. is a hot dog town? I never noticed. Let's add Pink's, mostly for the tourists.

Is it true that no one has mentioned Korean tacos, which originated in LA?

I was going to, but thought they may have become to ubiquitous to count. It should be mentioned.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:10 AM on October 16 [1 favorite]

The Appalachian regions of West Virginia up through Western Pennsylvania have pepperoni rolls, which are plain white bread stuffed with cheese and pepperoni.

I suspect this is an artifact of the Italians brought in as mining labor around the turn of the century, however pepperoni rolls like this are ubiquitous in many regions with a larger immigrant-Italian influence. (I stop and get one at my favorite local bread bakery in South Philadelphia about once a month.)
posted by desuetude at 8:28 AM on October 16 [1 favorite]

Honey dill sauce (to go with chicken fingers) is a uniquely Manitoban thing.
posted by toby_ann at 8:33 AM on October 16

I'd argue that Mission burritos and Korean tacos aren't really local cuisines any more.

I mean, I'm not going to argue whether the best Mission burritos are still found in San Francisco and the best Korean tacos are found in Los Angeles. I'm only arguing that valid and satisfying executions of the style are readily available nation-wide, in contrast to foods you'd still have to travel for, like a cabinet, garbage plate, or pepperoni ball.
posted by ardgedee at 8:34 AM on October 16 [1 favorite]

patatje waterfiets (french fries water bicycle style) This pre-kapsalon creation survives in some smaller towns in The Netherlands. It is an open box filled with fries, the sides are lined with frikandellen (think minced meat hotdogs). The sauce used is 'speciaal': raw onion, frietsaus & curry sauce. There's another variety available called patatje sewage bike, served with peanut sauce.
posted by ouke at 8:36 AM on October 16 [2 favorites]

I'd agree re: Korean tacos and Mission burritos, although I'd remove the pepperoni ball/roll from the list of examples. My old local pizza place in Folsom, CA had them.

Oh speaking of pizza, I miss grandma pizza/nona pie from my old neighborhood in Astoria/Woodside. And the white pie from my other old neighborhood in Forest Hills/Corona. Probably not strictly Queens or even NYC local, but I haven't found either of them in CA.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:39 AM on October 16

Now I'm going to dance around what I just said w/r/t what "local" means and mention johnny cakes. There's a hyper-specific version of it that's native and traditional to the western Rhode Island/Fall River/Dartmouth area. The recipe is dependent on one specific grain mill and the ingredients are corn meal, water and salt (and, controversially in some families, sugar). No flour, milk or baking soda, sometimes served topped with cheese rather than syrup or honey.

The reason why I feel like this is an exception to my rule is that despite having a name in common with similarly-named corn-based flapjacks common to a lot of the eastern US, it's a distinctly different food and the common name can mislead your expectations. Similar to how if you order a milkshake in Fall River, you're not going to get the same thing you'd get anywhere else in the U.S.
posted by ardgedee at 8:45 AM on October 16 [2 favorites]

Mumbo sauce in Washington DC, as well as the previously mentioned half smokes.
posted by exogenous at 8:48 AM on October 16 [5 favorites]

San Francisco has garlic fries, although I'm not sure if this is a "real" thing or something that the AT&T Park concession stands made up.

Re: pepperoni rolls:
I suspect this is an artifact of the Italians brought in as mining labor around the turn of the century, however pepperoni rolls like this are ubiquitous in many regions with a larger immigrant-Italian influence. (I stop and get one at my favorite local bread bakery in South Philadelphia about once a month.)

Seconding this. From South Philly originally and didn't realize I missed these until just now. (Also, are there other places where people draw a distinction between a "bread bakery" and the kind of bakery that makes sweet things? It's a useful distinction to have.)
posted by madcaptenor at 8:51 AM on October 16

Oh speaking of pizza, I miss grandma pizza/nona pie from my old neighborhood in Astoria/Woodside. And the white pie from my other old neighborhood in Forest Hills/Corona. Probably not strictly Queens or even NYC local, but I haven't found either of them in CA.

Come to Santa Monica! They have all that at Joe's, which is a branch of the Brooklyn Joe's.

San Francisco has garlic fries, although I'm not sure if this is a "real" thing or something that the AT&T Park concession stands made up.

Those look exactly like the garlic fries at Staplea Center.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:15 AM on October 16 [1 favorite]

Chicago has the Italian beef sandwich, which is distinct from a French dip or anything else. I take mine dipped with easy hot peppers, and it is a very very very good thing. Also: Maxwell Street Polish and the Gym Shoe.
posted by hijinx at 9:33 AM on October 16 [5 favorites]

Denver: wet burritos, but the sauce covering it is green chili instead of enchalada sauce

SF: chili relleno burritos
posted by ananci at 9:34 AM on October 16

> Seconding this. From South Philly originally and didn't realize I missed these until just now. (Also, are there other places where people draw a distinction between a "bread bakery" and the kind of bakery that makes sweet things? It's a useful distinction to have.)

If you're assuming I was referring to Sarcone's, by the way, you'd be correct. ;)

I guess "bakery" versus "pastry shop" is the most common distinction, but pastry shops to my mind don't necessarily make the pastries that they sell. And the pastry shops here call themselves bakeries anyway, though a few of the old Soufphilly businesses still have"pasticceria" on their signs.
posted by desuetude at 10:26 AM on October 16

If you grew up around Chicago, you grew up eating pizza puffs.
posted by jabes at 10:32 AM on October 16

Cook's Country magazine features items like these almost every issue.
posted by freezer cake at 10:55 AM on October 16 [1 favorite]

I guess "bakery" versus "pastry shop" is the most common distinction

That seems clear enough. I got bogged down on the question of whether "pastry shop" was sufficiently inclusive to include cake.
posted by madcaptenor at 11:27 AM on October 16

Canada has a few, poutine and maybe beaver tails are the most ubiqiuitous across the country but there are a few regional ones that are perhaps not as well known outside of their geographic location.

Quebec, in general, but Montreal especially has whole tradition of hot dogs different then you'd find in the US. Firstly, the hot dogs are usually steamed (that's why they are usually called steamé or Steamie) and the bun is different. The main style I grew up with is the Michigan Hot Dog, a hot dog topped with a sauce that's kind of like ground meat chili or old school spaghetti sauce. So kind of like the Coney Island Hot Dog. Toppings are mustard and/or diced onions. There are also the Supreme (Hot Dog with cheese & bacon) and the All-Dressed (mustard, onion, vinegar dressed coleslaw (rather than creamy), no relish and no ketchup).

Winnipeg has the Fat Boy, which is a hamburger where the patty is topped with ground meat chili or depending on the place the whole of the burger is topped with chili meat sauce. It's almost like a Coney Island Hot Dog in burger form. Super messy to eat. It also has the honey-dill sauce, which was originally invented by Mitzi's Chicken Finger Restaurant (its real name).

Thunder Bay has the oddly named Persian, A cinnamon sweet roll/bun (not a doughnut!) that has an icing flavoured with strawberry or raspeberry.
posted by Ashwagandha at 11:27 AM on October 16 [4 favorites]

Tucson has a couple hyper-local specialties based on ice, of course. Sonoran SnoCones were once a trailer south of the university and have now gotten fancy. And Eegee's is a local sandwich chain that makes slushy drink things that were a staple of high-school football-game fundraisers and, in a totally coincidental way, are really good with a splash of rum in them. They also do a half-and-half with iced tea (teagee!) or soda (strawberry and Diet Coke is really great). Earlier this year, the mayor requested an early release of their watermelon flavor, to make the ridiculous heat more bearable. I miss Eegee's with all my soul.

Southern Arizona is also the only place you can find the very best flour tortillas, the kind that are 18' in diameter and thin enough to read a newspaper through. My preference is St. Mary's Tortilla Factory, but this is sometimes a matter of contention. When I visit, I buy a few dozen, freeze them, and fly them home in a carry-on.

Oh! and green corn tamales! Made with the green feed corn that you can buy cheap on the roadside. The proper way to make them is to round up your whole family and have your grandma and great-aunts direct everyone in the shucking, de-kerneling, grinding, scraping, mixing, wrapping, and steaming of the multiple dozens of tamales. If you can't swing that, these are also good and will ship.

Now I'm hungry and homesick.
posted by MsMacbeth at 11:49 AM on October 16 [6 favorites]

There's also Sudbury, Ontario's (childhood home of Alex Trebek) Porketta (note that it isn't spelled Porchetta). Like regular Porchetta, Sudbury's porketta is slow cooked pork roast but the difference is in the flavouring. Porketta is heavily flavoured with dill seed and/or dried dill. At the Italian bakeries in Sudbury you can get sandwiches made with it and I've had sausages made with it. And yes you can play a card game in one of the local bars to win a pile of porketta to take home.
posted by Ashwagandha at 11:55 AM on October 16 [3 favorites]

Omg puffy tacos from San Antonio. Inexplicably, there is only one place I know of in SoCal that does this, Arturo's in the OC. (Arturo's links to Yelp.) Puffy taco is the best.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:15 PM on October 16 [2 favorites]

Cook's Country magazine features items like these almost every issue

Another good source is Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. I learned about many of the dishes here from that show.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:18 PM on October 16

The Sonoran Dog of Tucson, which we get from our neighbors to the south in Hermosillo. This is a hot dog wrapped in bacon, served in a bolillo roll, topped with beans, onion, tomato, salsa, mustard, mayo, and accompanied by a grilled chile pepper. Best purchased from a truck.

Not fast food, but often eaten at barbecues or picnics: salt potatoes of central New York. These were born from salt production workers boiling potatoes in the brine for their lunch. Tiny young white potatoes boiled in VERY salty water and served with melted butter. My mother's people were from Utica and we ate these growing up. There was a special pitcher for pouring melted butter over your potatoes at the table. I guess I just wanted to share this because of the "pitcher of butter" part.
posted by vortex genie 2 at 12:32 PM on October 16 [8 favorites]

New Mexico Green Chiles -- found in western Texas and Eastern Arizona, but not far beyond that sphere of influence. Fall is peak chile season, but it's canned and put on everything. Not just spicy, but also earthy in a magical sort of way. The state question is "red or green," referring to your choice of chile (sauce), where the 3rd option is "Christmas" (red AND green).

Wikipedia says that Frito Pie is popular in the Southern, Midwestern, and Southwestern U.S. states, but the first I've seen of it was in New Mexico, where it's as simple as dumping chili and cheese into a bag of Fritos.

New Mexico state cookie: Biscochitos - delicious, crumbly, anise-flavored cookies, which can include orange juice and rum.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:07 PM on October 16 [3 favorites]

Canberra was, dismayingly, the orignal home of the freakshake.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 2:58 PM on October 16

Unique to my neck of the woods, is a tripe sandwich you buy from street carts (this one is a short walk from home).
The meat, which I believe is called the "reed" tripe, is boiled until tender (a few hours) in a broth with some carrots, onion, celery, tomatoes - then thinly sliced on order and placed in a crispy, fresh roll; condiments vary from salt and pepper, to a green garlic/parsley sauce, to hot sauce - or a combination of the above.
The cognoscenti will ask for a "bagnato" (wet) as the top half of the roll is skewered by the cook's fork and quickly dipped in the steaming soup. A quick hearty lunch, low in fat, and a steal at €3.50 a pop. 4.50 with a glass plastic cup of red wine.
oh, and it fulfills your requirements: it's a city only thing, never found carts more than 10 miles out - plus, it's tripe so a lot of people go "eww, gross"!
posted by _dario at 5:36 PM on October 16

Lunasol> For some reason, cream cheese on hot dogs is a big deal in Seattle.

The Seattle Dog is usually cream cheese and grilled/caramelized onions. Sriracha goes great on one.
posted by Sunburnt at 6:08 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]

Arkansas Mexican joints often offer the Steven Special, which is a very mild plate of cooked chicken with rice that's been mixed with creamy queso blanco. This is right at home with the local tendency to take as much heat out of any ethnic food as possible and replace it with as much processed cheese as possible.

Also, biscuits with chocolate gravy.

Delta tamales are pretty standard in Arkansas and Mississippi along the Mississippi River Valley.

Fried pickles are everywhere now but growing up that was always the weirdo food out of towners would be stunned by.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 6:22 PM on October 16 [3 favorites]

When I was a kid and my family visited my granny in Tampa, before leaving to drive home, Dad would always get a bag of those hot deviled crabs that chasles mentioned above. Also cuban sandwiches from the Silver Ring in Ybor City.

In south Alabama, we eat a lot of boiled peanuts (fresh green peanuts, boiled in the shell for a couple of hours in salty water).
posted by TwoToneRow at 8:51 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]

The Arkansas Mexican "Steven Special" has been previously asked about on Metafilter.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:54 PM on October 16

Where I used to live in Sydney had a pie factory with a (literal) hole in the wall shop that sold hot pies to passersby. Their take on the pie "floater" was thus:

- select your pie (steak and mushroom for the win, but curry beef was also good)
- huge dollop of mashed potato on top
- slightly smaller dollop of mushy peas on top, using the scoop to leave behind a good size impression in the peas
- fill said impression with gravy (dark brown, and probably beef related)
- condiments (tomato sauce, ketchup, chilli sauce, brown sauce, steak sauce, mustard etc) at will over than.

THAT was a meal, and much easier to eat than a floater.
posted by ninazer0 at 9:22 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]

You know about the Philly Cheesesteak (overrated) and the Italian hoagie (underrated), but the beat sandwich in Philly is actually the roast pork - with broccoli rabe and sharp provolone. John's Roast Pork under the overpass by the rotting hulk of the SS United States is the best.
posted by blahblahblah at 9:36 PM on October 16 [4 favorites]

In Albuquerque, one can occasionally find a Navajo Taco or Frybread as fast food.

Driving through reservation land it's not unusual to come across a place selling them.

Around New Mexico you might encounter people walking around selling tamales out of a box or bucket in parking lots at everyday places like grocery and hardware stores. These are considered a good and wonderful thing to purchase and eat.
posted by yohko at 10:02 PM on October 16 [1 favorite]

Clam Dip. I remember as a child every cookout had potato chips and clam dip. This is the Rhode Island side of Connecticut.

Nowadays there's sour cream and onion flavored powder dusted over your chips. That used to be uncommon. You had to dip plain chips into the sour cream and onion dip. Clam dip's like that, only with hacked clams.

It's a shame chip dip is gone. Those powdered flavorings are not the same.
posted by cotterpin at 6:24 AM on October 17

Another Iowa diner food that I've never seen in other places is the Cheese Frenchy.

It's like a grilled cheese sandwich, but battered and deep fried (like a Monte Cristo). Served sliced into 1/4 width strips with tomato soup.

Some googling suggests that it was invented in Omaha and diffused across the border with the former King's Food Host chain.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 7:29 AM on October 17

Around New Mexico you might encounter people walking around selling tamales out of a box or bucket in parking lots at everyday places like grocery and hardware stores. These are considered a good and wonderful thing to purchase and eat.

We have that all over LA, too. But my reason for commenting is to thank you for reminding me that it was early enough to grab a few veggie tamales from the woman at the bus stop around the corner who sells them on the DL because she runs out of them very early.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:23 AM on October 17 [1 favorite]

The blaa, a soft, white bread roll introduced to Waterford, Ireland by French Hugenots in the 17th century.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 8:38 AM on October 17

The Spice Bag, popular Chinese-based post-pub drunk food in Dublin and surrounding areas. Features chips (fries), chicken balls, shredded chicken, peppers, chilis, onion, spices and enough MSG and salt to fell a horse.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 8:41 AM on October 17 [1 favorite]

Everybody knows poutine now and the dish has been tarted up in a million different ways, but you can't go wrong with the two classic variants:
- Italian poutine, where you replace the brown gravy with a kind of "bolognese" pasta sauce that's weirdly cinnamon-y like Cincinnati chili.
- Galvaude, a cross with the hot chicken sandwich (Quebec-style, not Nashville), where you throw in rotisserie chicken and green peas. THE PEAS ARE MANDATORY!
posted by Freyja at 9:05 AM on October 17

Italian poutine, where you replace the brown gravy with a kind of "bolognese" pasta sauce that's weirdly cinnamon-y like Cincinnati chili.

In Philadelphia that's called "pizza fries" (although you'd use mozzarella instead of cheese curds).
posted by madcaptenor at 10:39 AM on October 17

Nthing the Seattle style hot dog: cream cheese and caramelized onions. So good. Especially found at hot dog carts parked outside bars late at night.
posted by purple_bird at 1:12 PM on October 17

California burrito. Carne asada burrito with fries inside, mostly found in San Diego.
The best California burritos use chopped fried seasoned potatoes (almost like home fries). French fries are good, but kind of the cheap-out option.
posted by Krawczak at 1:46 PM on October 17 [1 favorite]

How about the phoritto at Kimodo? Like it says on the tin, it's basically pho wrapped in a burrito, and it's shockingly good. I was going to mention that's it's a seasonal special that has been gone for a while, but when I was grabbing the link I saw that it just came back yesterday. (If you're in LA near a restaurant or truck you should try it.)
posted by Room 641-A at 3:17 PM on October 17

Buffalo, NY: steak + chicken fingers covered in melted cheese = Stinger!

(not just a sandwich, it's also available as a platter. Also it's not exclusive to Jim's, though they are the most famous in my understanding)
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 5:35 PM on October 17 [1 favorite]

Rhiannonstone, in the NY area we call ketchup + mayonnaise "Russian dressing." We don't add worcestershire though.

I'll try it on some fries!
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 5:40 PM on October 17

People have covered several of Chicago's less-famous foods, but here's two worth mentioning:

Giardiniera isn't strictly Chicago, but is quite popular here, particularly on the previously mentioned Italian Beef. Good in sandwiches and pasta.

Melrose Peppers are still pretty obscure, but making a comeback. Named for the Chicago suburb of Melrose Park, they are an heirloom variety of pepper brought to Chicago by Italian immigrants. They are typically skinny and twisty, looking like hot peppers, but are entirely without heat, and supremely sweet.
posted by notoriety public at 8:00 PM on October 17 [1 favorite]

Since Seattle's stand byes of teriyaki chicken, Taco Time and cream cheese dogs (yum! also, almost every hot dog cart in Seattle has good vegan dogs or sausages.):

My favorite local fast food is probably smoked or candied salmon and wild berries. Oh, and apples. While blackberries and their siblings are a complete scourge around here, it's pretty awesome to be able to go for a hike or bike ride in the summer and just eat lunch from wherever you end up. Seriously, when the berries are in full swing you can pick a pound or more of blackberries just standing in one good spot.

There's also Oregon grapes, cherry trees, tons of random wild apple trees that are quite edible and more easy to pick and eat stuff.

There's also Dick's Drive-in, which lends itself nicely to the Seattle-friendly phrase "Go eat a (greasy) bag of Dick's!"

Dick's does a unique low frills menu featuring a couple of affordable burgers, fries, soda and an odd sort of milkshake or malt that comes pre-dispensed in a cup and stored frozen and then blended before serving.

Dick's is odd these days because everything is premade and there are no custom orders, relying instead on constant customer flow and smart planning and scaling for rushes. In fact, if you get to the front of the constantly busy line and make a noob mistake like trying to get a burger with extra anything or hold the whatever, people behind you will likely hiss in irritation for spending even one more word than necessary placing your order and getting the hell out of the way to go pick it up seconds later at the pickup window.

Onions are one of the only extras you can order and they cost extra and come on the side in a plastic cup. The burgers are a bit quirky and odd, somewhere between a slider and a 1960s era McDonald's cheeseburger. In fact, their burgers are basically like a plain McDonald's cheeseburger done with better ingredients and larger.

One of the other only custom or secret options is that you can get your shake frozen and eat it with a spoon like ice cream.

Local recent tradition has discovered that if one were to, say, buy too many cheeseburgers at 2 AM after staying out all night partying, and some of those cheeseburgers made it home to one's fridge, you can take one or more of those cheeseburgers and smash them and grill them in a waffle iron for breakfast and it's one of the best things, ever.

We also have legal cannabis brownies and snacks of all kinds, which may have something to do with the above.
posted by loquacious at 3:03 AM on October 18 [2 favorites]

Eastern CT - the unique properties of the cheeseburgers at Shady Glen in Manchester, CT. Technically it's just a cheeseburger, but it comes with tailfins of fried cheese. (Zippy has a dissection of same on his Flickr feed, if you're of a scientific bent. Or you can just eat 'em.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:44 AM on October 18

Minnesota (also WI and MI, but it doesn't seem to be as big of a deal as in MN) has the Walleye Sandwich which is a pretty standard fried fish sandwich, but specifically made with walleye which is fairly local (and our state fish). It is nearly always beer-battered and fried and usually served on a soft bun with tartar sauce, lettuce, and tomato. You're more likely to find it than not on a restaurant menu here and fast food places have them as well. I don't actually know if they're available more widely, but when people visit from out of state I'm asked very often where they can get a walleye sandwich ASAP.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 7:10 AM on October 18 [1 favorite]

In the NYC metro area (NYC, Long Island, Westchester, etc.) rainbow cookies are extremely common & sold everwhere. You can find them in rare spots in the rest of the country/world but most people have never heard of them.
posted by bleep at 7:33 AM on October 18 [2 favorites]

Having a slice of Tomato Pie will give you more Philly cred than any cheesesteak.
posted by cmfletcher at 9:21 AM on October 18 [1 favorite]

I saw a posting in a local forum from someone who had moved from Philly to here in Pittsburgh and was looking for a local place to get tomato pie. No one knew what he was talking about.
posted by octothorpe at 9:45 AM on October 18 [2 favorites]

In the NYC metro area (NYC, Long Island, Westchester, etc.) rainbow cookies are extremely common & sold everwhere. You can find them in rare spots in the rest of the country/world but most people have never heard of them.

This is funny coincidence. I remember these from when I was little and we lived in Brooklyn, and it was a treat I'd get when we went to the bakery. I don't think I've had one in 40+ years but I knew they sold them at an Italian deli near me. Last week my mom's board and care arranged as little pizza lunch for me and my mom, and I thought this would be the perfect excuse to buy them. Well, I never knew my mom didn't like them, and they were so sweet I couldn't take more than one bite so I ended up giving them to my friend who is from Queens and she was really excited!

I've always thought they were Italian, but I'm sure we bought them at a Jewish bakery, and I'm pretty sure you can find them at a few Jewish bakeries here, but I agree this is very much a NY thing.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:53 AM on October 18 [1 favorite]

In Chile there's Chorrillana, a big mess of meat (or sausage) with one or more fried eggs, french fries and fried onions. It's bar food, cheap and calorie rich.
For extra authenticity, it should be accompanied with a Terremoto, a mix of (bad) wine and pineapple ice-cream served in a one-litre glass.
They are both pretty gross.
posted by signal at 1:51 PM on October 18 [2 favorites]

Central Texas has Czech kolaches and klobasneks. Kolaches are a sweet bread filled with a fruit-type filling, whereas a klobasnek tends to be a pig-in-a-blanket with a brioche-type bread. If you go to Buckees, one of the less authentic purveyors, you can get more unique versions, such as klobasnek's stuffed with boudin.

Boudin hasn't been mentioned yet either, has it? I had it for breakfast about once a week when growing up in Louisiana. It's a sausage made out of pork casing that's primarily filled with rice and ground pork. My favorite ones were the ones with so much cayenne that they were visibly red. There's a place in Mamou, Louisiana that I bet is the only place in the world serving boudin made with cauliflower rice, for all those paleo cajuns.
posted by tofu_crouton at 3:24 PM on October 18 [3 favorites]

Springfield-style Cashew Chicken -- I grew up in the Midwest and never realized that we lived in a bubble where cashew chicken was anything other than deep-fried chicken with oyster sauce, cashews, green onions, and served on brown rice. When I moved away in my 30s, I discovered that the world was missing out.
posted by jefftriplett at 3:38 PM on October 18 [3 favorites]

Leipzig, Germany: the Leipziger Lerche, basically a little marzipan tart with a cherry at the bottom. "Lerche" means "lark"; before the sweet pastry, they used to make songbird pies. The cherry is supposed to be like the heart of the bird.
posted by the_blizz at 8:55 PM on October 18 [2 favorites]

Sorry, forgot, and it doesn't seem to have made the list so -- in Ottawa -- I do not know how far in Canada or elsewhere this might be -- two pizzas showing up on a LOT of pizza menus are "poutine pizza," with (surprise) gravy, fries, and cheese curds as toppings, and "butter chicken pizza," with...the pseudo-, if I understand correctly, "Indian" dish of butter chicken topping the crust. Both are found even in the exurbs; if an Ottawa thing makes it to the little farming villages outside the city, it is not a fleeting trend limited to a few spots but A Thing.

Also seen as a pizza topping here, though far less common than fries, which occasionally show up as just a topping option and not necessarily part of a pouting pizza: onion rings.

Less common than pouting/butter chicken (not seen in the exurbs, yet): nacho pizza, which is what it sounds like, and "Irish nachos," which use potato something, most often waffle-cut fries, instead of tortilla chips.
posted by kmennie at 10:41 PM on October 18 [2 favorites]

We have the Pierogie PIzza if you're really into carb-loading. Cheddar cheese and sauteed onions over a layer of mashed potatoes on the pizza shell.
posted by octothorpe at 4:50 AM on October 19 [1 favorite]

We have the Pierogie PIzza if you're really into carb-loading. Cheddar cheese and sauteed onions over a layer of mashed potatoes on the pizza shell.

Where we is Pittsburgh?
posted by zamboni at 6:45 AM on October 19

Yes, sorry. Pittsburgh.
posted by octothorpe at 6:52 AM on October 19

kmennie: New York Fries (here in SW Ontario, no idea about anywhere else) does a butter chicken poutine which is completely wrong, but so delicious I don't want to be right.

Another delightful Australian thing is the spider: like an ice cream float, but upside down, appropriately. You put the ice cream in the bottom of the glass, and top up with your soft drink of choice. Lime is the most traditional, but raspberry or orange is good, sarsaparilla is my favourite.
posted by glitter at 9:52 AM on October 19 [1 favorite]

There are a couple of snowball flavors like skylite and egg custard that I think are local to Baltimore (at least, I live in DC and we don't have them here -- I can only get them when I go up to B'more). OOOOH and Berger Cookies. My god. Berger Cookies. They're basically an inch thick layer of fudge smeared across a tiny overwhelmed little cookie-thing and they are THE BEST. I went to the factory once, and almost didn't come back.
posted by speedlime at 2:07 PM on October 19 [1 favorite]

Another one for Vermont the Chesster.

Essentially an ice cream sandwich, but made with chocolate chip cookies instead of the brown cake like graham crackers.
posted by koolkat at 10:15 AM on October 20 [1 favorite]

Nestle long ago stole the Chesster and now distributes it nationally.
posted by kindall at 3:25 PM on October 20

I live in the northeastern corner of Tokyo, where there is (was) such a thing called a Bunka Fry (Japanese links, the first one is the city's official website), in which a flat, oblong clump of batter made from wheat flour and water and a bit of "gomme syrup" is tossed in bread crumbs and deep fried then served with something similar to Worcester sauce. It's an incredibly local food (I'm not from these parts and only heard of it recently, never tried one) that was served at stalls in summer festivals and basically now extinct (nobody is that poor anymore).
posted by misozaki at 5:47 AM on October 21

Chicago street vendors sell corn on a stick, slathered in mayo, and then covered with parmesean cheese (the powdered kind, i.e., not freshly grated). Because the corn has been steaming all day, it's very mushy. To my dismay, my adult kids still have fond memories of chewing/sucking the mayo and cheese covered corn off the cob and consider properly cooked* corn "too hard".

*Classic recipe: put a pot of water on the stove. When it comes to a full boil, go out to the field and pick the corn. Run back to the kitchen, shucking along the way, and drop the fresh corn in the water for about 2 minutes, give or take.
posted by she's not there at 7:37 PM on October 21

Corn on the cob with mayo and grated hard cheese (usually cotija), plus spices, is a Mexican street food called elote. I'd be curious to find out which came first...
posted by elsietheeel at 7:43 PM on October 21 [1 favorite]

New England has the frappe, which is different from a milk shake and god help you, is NOT a frappuccino. In 'n Out Burger in California has a "secret" menu and you can order your burger or fries "animal style".
posted by Toddles at 7:55 PM on October 21

South Korea has an amazing variety of street food I've not heard of anywhere else (granted, I'm not sufficiently well-traveled to qualify that statement well). My favorite is probably the french-fry-coated hot dog deep fried on a stick and thoroughly doused in ketchup and mustard.

Despite being seemingly the most American food possible, it is thoroughly a Seoul-area thing and most Americans are horrified by it.
posted by ardgedee at 6:56 AM on October 22 [2 favorites]

Fat Cat Sandwich and is variants in central New Jersey. Started at Rutgers, but spread out.
posted by pyro979 at 8:03 AM on October 22

Ithaca, NY: Hot Truck's French bread pizza.
posted by zamboni at 8:15 AM on October 22

In Moorea, Tahiti I discovered the steak au poivre sandwich, served on half a baguette with French fries inside the sandwich. I've never seen any references to this, but it was definitely a thing served at cheap/casual places and probably my favorite thing I ate there.

Hawaiian shrimp trucks

Maybe poi?
posted by Room 641-A at 8:32 AM on October 22

In the western suburbs of Toronto there are a whole lot of South Asian people, so it's reflected in the pizza toppings: butter chicken, tandoori chicken, tandoori fish, ginger, coriander, paneer. One of the biggest pizza chains (if not the biggest) even offers samosas now.
posted by emeiji at 2:50 PM on October 22

Not hyper-local, but typically unknown to people not from the south are hush puppies (always served with fish and occasionally bbq) and Brunswick stew (what you serve/sell at your fall dinner fundraiser, kinda like a pancake breakfast but people take home quarts and quarts to freeze after they've had a big bowl and socialized.

Also, YUM livermush. rhiannonstone knows what's up. My great grandma always made liver pudding for us instead. BLEGH. Considered uncorrectable due to age, we couldn't complain and suffered thru that foul gelatinous ordeal with silent horror every Thursday morning visit.
posted by congen at 4:51 PM on October 22

Cart foods have a local feel to them. In Los Angeles you can get paletas, which are Mexican style popsicles. And also tamales and roasted corn on the cob. And of course the bacon wrapped hot dogs.

Zushi, Japan, in the late 60s, had push carts that sold hot roasted sweet potatoes. My sisters were nuts for them.
posted by SLC Mom at 11:09 PM on October 22

In Paris it appears that bo bun was the secret food nobody knew was so popular here.
posted by SageLeVoid at 3:59 AM on October 23

The US Southwest version of the sopaipilla is distinctly different from the Latin American versions, often served with chile verde/rojo.
posted by aspersioncast at 3:26 PM on October 23

Macau's Pork Chop Bun is pretty good.
posted by awfurby at 4:17 PM on October 23 [1 favorite]

Scotland: Square Sausage and Tattie Scone
posted by Jakey at 3:41 PM on October 29

Yakima, WA: Cheese Zombies . Basically a story of government cheese and lots of flour.
posted by KingBoogly at 12:50 PM on October 30 [3 favorites]

Eastern North Carolina/Southeast Virginia: Tom Thumb/Dandoodle sausage. It goes by either name. If you think of it as a pork haggis, you're not far off.
posted by Vhanudux at 10:20 AM on November 2

Thunder Bay has the oddly named Persian, A cinnamon sweet roll/bun (not a doughnut!) that has an icing flavoured with strawberry or raspeberry.

Damn, I remember those. Excellent!
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 1:35 PM on November 3

Re: cheese zombies.

That's totally bizarre...I grew up eating these in and around Sacramento, CA, but my mom was a cafeteria manager (lunch lady) and my dad was born and raised in Yakima. I'll have to ask her where her knowledge of them came from.
posted by elsietheeel at 1:53 PM on November 3

San Francisco has garlic fries, although I'm not sure if this is a "real" thing or something that the AT&T Park concession stands made up.
-- madcaptenor

I don't know if it was invented there, but most consider them to be first popularized at the Gordon Biersch restaurants in Palo Alto and San Jose, though I'm betting they could be found for years at the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival, where all things garlic can be found (including ice cream and wine).

Definitely crab sandwiches in San Francisco--best with sour dough bread. They even had them at a few McDonalds for a week last year and, believe it or not, they were delicious.
posted by eye of newt at 11:05 AM on November 5

Just confirmed that AT&T Park's garlic fries are from Gordon Biersch.
posted by eye of newt at 11:08 AM on November 5

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