What are some local specialties that I don't know about?
December 7, 2009 1:22 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for foods (dishes, sandwiches, entrees, desserts, salads, whatever...) that are unique to a particular region.

For example, many people have heard of Philly cheese steaks, Maryland crab cakes, and Chicago-style deep dish pizza. But, I'm interested in learning about lesser known (or well known to some, but not me) dishes.

For example, in central Illinois there is a sandwich called the horseshoe which made with the bottom of hamburger bun, then a meat (usually hamburger patty, ham or turkey) topped with french fries and slathered in nacho cheese sauce.

Another example is the "loose meat sandwich" which is popular in certain parts of Iowa. The most well known example of this sandwich is made by a restaurant chain called Maid-Rite.

I really want to know about the dish itself and the region that it is popular in.

posted by achmorrison to Food & Drink (51 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I know there's already a whole thread of these somewhere, I hope someone can dig it up for you.

*Starts rummaging*
posted by hermitosis at 1:26 PM on December 7, 2009

Depending on the obscurity you're targeting here, I have traveled out of the southeast United States and asked for either grits or sweet tea only to be met with blank stares.
posted by Chan at 1:27 PM on December 7, 2009

posted by jgirl at 1:27 PM on December 7, 2009

In Buffalo, NY, there's the beef on weck.
posted by troika at 1:39 PM on December 7, 2009

RI Island has the terror that is Coffee Milk.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:41 PM on December 7, 2009

Also previously.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:41 PM on December 7, 2009

I'm in Rochester, NY and we eat Garbage Plates.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 1:44 PM on December 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Baltimore has pit beef. New York City has egg creams.
posted by Lycaste at 1:48 PM on December 7, 2009

Quebec / Eastern Canada claims the artery clogging phenomenon that is poutine
posted by mizike at 1:49 PM on December 7, 2009

Forfar Bridie
posted by scruss at 1:52 PM on December 7, 2009

Iowa: Loose-meat (please, hold your guffaws) sandwiches. AKA a "MaidRite."
posted by webhund at 2:01 PM on December 7, 2009

Since they weren't mentioned in either of the two previously threads linked above:

Boiled peanuts -- Georgia

posted by bengarland at 2:05 PM on December 7, 2009

The Central Coast of California has Santa Maria Style BBQ.
The Mission Burrito has escaped it's native soil and can be found just about anywhere these days, but it was born in San Francisco.
posted by lekvar at 2:07 PM on December 7, 2009

New Jersey has Taylor Ham/pork roll - a breakfast meat product, used in egg sandwiches or as a side with eggs. The weird thing is that its footprint seems to be constrained by the state lines of NJ; in SE PA and NYC it's not on any menus and people generally haven't heard of it, but across the border in Trenton/Jersey City it's ubiquitous.
posted by yarrow at 2:07 PM on December 7, 2009

St. Louis has the St. Paul Sandwich, which is basically egg foo young on white bread with lettuce, tomato, & mayo. It's both disgusting & delicious.
posted by oh really at 2:15 PM on December 7, 2009

& how could I forget about gooey butter cake? Though surely that's made in places other than St. Louis, since I think I saw a Paula Deen recipe for it recently.
posted by oh really at 2:16 PM on December 7, 2009

DC's Half-Smoke sausages.

Grease Truck sandwiches, originating on Rutgers University campus. Now emerging everywhere (including Austin, TX). Basically take some greasy fast food order, throw it on a bun, making a meta-fastfood. Most varietys follows the naming convention of "Fat___" the first being "Fat Cat", which was a double cheeseburger and fries, shoved on a hoagie roll. (no hamburger bun, but yes fries)

Similar to the unfortunately named McGangbang.
posted by fontophilic at 2:19 PM on December 7, 2009

Also, Migas are a central Texas Tex-Mex breakfast dish. I say central Texas, but you won't really find them on the menu too far outside of Austin. There are other dishes that use the same name, similar things with different names, but that link pretty well describes the Migas I'm talking about. Fry yesterday's corn tortillas with onions, peppers in a skillet. Beaten eggs are poured over top and scrambled. Topped (or mixed in) with cheese, salsa and cilantro. Served with more tortillas.
posted by fontophilic at 2:33 PM on December 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

There's a horribly named breakfast dish in the Carolinas called livermush, or alternately liver pudding. It's the leftover parts of the pig ground up with cornmeal and spices and fried up like sausage patties. Sounds like the worst thing you can imagine but tastes just like some kind of breakfast sausage. It's a descendant or cousin of the more northerly scrapple, which from descriptions sounds very similar and in some cases identical. Some say liver pudding is distinct from livermush because it uses rice or other grains instead of cornmeal. Other times they're just different names for the same thing. Bon apetit.

It's interesting to read about regional barbecue styles in terms of the kind of meat used, the prep, the cooking method, the sauce style, and the sides. I like learning about the history of how and why each developed.
posted by Askr at 2:42 PM on December 7, 2009

Parmos in Middlesbrough, U.K. (and thereabouts).
posted by galaksit at 2:46 PM on December 7, 2009

From Adelaide: the Pie Floater
posted by pompomtom at 2:53 PM on December 7, 2009

Louisville's Hot Brown is already well known, but the Brown Hotel also used to offer the Cold Brown. I don't know any place around here that has the Cold Brown on the menu these days, but folks certainly do eat it:

1 piece of thin-sliced rye bread
Bibb lettuce
1 slice of roasted chicken or turkey, about 1/4 inch thick and
large enough to cover the bread
1 large slice of ripe, peeled tomato, 1/2 inch thick
1 hard-boiled egg, sliced in rounds
Thousand Island dressing

Place the bread on a large plate. Cover with lettuce. Lay the meat on the lettuce and the tomato on the meat. Arrange the egg slices around the tomato and use more lettuce as garnish around the edges. Serve with plenty of dressing on the side, to be poured on the top. Serves one.

Henry Bain Sauce Great over beef tenderloin.

Reportedly, Benedictine spread was created by Jennie Benedict, a caterer and restaurant hostess in Louisville between 1893 and 1925.

The Bristol has been a Louisville staple for over twenty-five years, and their green chili wontons are as much a part of local food lore now as Benedictine spread or the Hot Brown.
posted by magstheaxe at 2:55 PM on December 7, 2009

In Southern Arizona/Sonora Mexico:

Sonoran Hot Dog - Hot dog wrapped in bacon, smothered with onions, tomatoes, beans, jalapenos, mustard and mayo.

Caramelos - two corn or flour tortillas with cheese and carne asada or pork in between.
posted by nestor_makhno at 2:57 PM on December 7, 2009

You already have the Hot Brown up above (and I'm assuming that recipe is for a Cold Brown). There's also burgoo, and from the other side of the river there's Cincinnati chili.
posted by dilettante at 3:02 PM on December 7, 2009

Syracuse, NY has salt potatoes.
posted by rikschell at 3:14 PM on December 7, 2009

Wikipedia has a whole page on hot dog variations. I can't attest to the validity of all the entries there. However, I can vouch that the so-called "Seattle-style" variation does include cream cheese and is a common option among street dog vendors. It is also gross.

Certain aspects of Quebec cuisine are essentially unknown outside of Quebec, particularly tourtiere and pouding chomeur. Poutine, however, is becoming known Canada-wide.

Speaking of french fry mutations, I recall having something called "all-dressed french fries" or maybe "french fries with dressing" in the Canadian maritimes (Newfoundland). It involved french fries, gravy, peas, and Stove Top stuffing (or some reasonable facsimile).
posted by mhum at 3:32 PM on December 7, 2009

If you feel inclined to track it down, the PBS documentary Sandwiches That You Will Like covers quite a few regional specialities, somewhat unsurprisingly focusing on sandwiches (most of which have been mentioned in the two previous threads linked above, albeit in less detail).
posted by Captain Najork at 3:33 PM on December 7, 2009

In New Orleans there is the almighty muffuleta.

Also poboys, which is fried seafood with slaw on a French loaf.
posted by bradbane at 3:56 PM on December 7, 2009

Colorado Green Chile.

A sort of soup/gravy hybrid with pork and a certain kind of green chile. You can use it on a topping or eat it from a bowl. Mmm.
posted by kathrineg at 3:59 PM on December 7, 2009

bradbane is correct that poboys are pretty much only found in Southeast Louisiana, but he's got the makeup a little bit wrong. The filling doesn't have to be fried (although fried shrimp is a very popular one), and I've never had "slaw" on it. "Dressed" means lettuce, tomato, mayo and pickle. The loaf is a particular soft baguette.

We also have this weird but delicious sausage-like item called boudin, which is a pork and rice dressing stuffed in a sausage casing.

Fried green tomatoes aren't as popular as the movie and book would have you think, but they're available.
posted by radioamy at 4:04 PM on December 7, 2009

Indian Pudding is a traditional New England dessert, and all my non-New England friends say they've never heard of it.
posted by min at 4:25 PM on December 7, 2009

Lobster Roll from Maine (or maybe New England in general).
posted by solipsophistocracy at 4:26 PM on December 7, 2009

The hillbilly-Chinese hybrid dish cashew chicken is very popular in the Ozarks, especially Springfield. Fried chicken, meet fried rice and oyster sauce (thickened with cornstarch, appropriately.)
posted by joechip at 5:05 PM on December 7, 2009

Italian Beef sandwiches are very popular in the Chicago area - and not so easy to find outside of it. And they're so delicious...
posted by SisterHavana at 5:29 PM on December 7, 2009

Spiedies, in Binghamton, New York.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:33 PM on December 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

Chicken Vesuvio is another very Chicago dish.
posted by SisterHavana at 5:33 PM on December 7, 2009

Poutine in Quebec
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 6:25 PM on December 7, 2009

I know they came from Cornwall, but in the Unites States pasties are associated with Michigan. And they're delicious.
posted by paulg at 6:35 PM on December 7, 2009

From my dad's hometown, Evansville, Indiana: Fried brain sandwich.

posted by MadamM at 6:54 PM on December 7, 2009

Another one from St. Louis -- the crispy snoot sandwich!
posted by oh really at 7:29 PM on December 7, 2009

Oh wow! This is exactly what I was looking for! Can't believe that I didn't find the previous questions, but I'm glad I asked anyway, since there are some amazing answers here that weren't in the previous threads.

(Also, I can't believe I never thought of poboys...one of my favorite eats in NO.)

I'd mark best answers, but they ALL deserve them.

Keep them coming!
posted by achmorrison at 7:34 PM on December 7, 2009

West Virginia has the Pepperoni Roll.
posted by ThatSomething at 7:42 PM on December 7, 2009

The Juicy Lucy was invented in Minneapolis. Although the restaurant of origin is in dispute. Both Matt's Bar and the 5-8 Club claim to have originated this culinary delight.
posted by marsha56 at 7:45 PM on December 7, 2009

Texas Caviar is something my family makes on the regular and eats at fish fries.

Also homemade chow chow.

We often have syrup pie or buttermilk pie at church, funerals, etc. in East Texas.

Homemade pickled okra, but you can buy it commercially, too.

The Collin Street Bakery's fruitcakes and pecan cakes are so legendary, the Aga Khan is a client.

King Ranch Chicken Casserole.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:50 PM on December 7, 2009

Washington DC: wings with mambo sauce
posted by citron at 11:12 PM on December 7, 2009

Donairs in Eastern Canada.
posted by smalls at 1:08 AM on December 8, 2009

I take one day off and see what I miss... Southern food is a great source of all things weird and worth seeking out.

My favorites from around the south:
Nashville's Hot Chicken
Northern Alabama's White Barbecue
From Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee: Slugburgers
Mississippi Tamales

And from my home state, South Carolina, the following, in no particular order: Liver Nips, savory (not sweet!) conrbread, boiled peanuts (the folks on the coast add Old Bay seasoning, here in the upstate, we just use salt water), shrimp & grits, fried mullet, Hopping John (especially on New Year's Day), barbecue sandwiches with cole slaw inside, the holy trinity of pulled pork barbecue (Vinegar, Tomato and from-God's-hand-to-your-mouth Mustard), cooking with Cheerwine is a category into itself (cakes, sauces and ice cream), the ubiquitous meat and three lunch, cured country ham, and pickling anything you can fit in a mason jar (eggs, okra, green beans, beets, peaches, sausage and tomatoes, for starters).

Whew, now I'm hungry.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:13 AM on December 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

Here in Utah they put vegetables in Jell-o. There was even a pin celebrating that during the Olympics. It is not something I will ever understand. Why put shaved carrots in Jell-o? I mean, is it to get kids to eat their veggies? Surely all that sugar negates the benefits.

I think it's a Utah Mormon thing. I am Mormon, but not raised in Utah. I have never seen this in any part of the industrialized world, except here.
posted by TooFewShoes at 10:41 AM on December 8, 2009

The spiedie is a kind of shish-ke-bob sandwich that is native to Binghamton, NY and its environs.
posted by Philbo at 12:33 PM on December 8, 2009

Something I don't see in the other threads is butter mochi from Hawaii (learned about it from a Hawaiian classmate in my Japanese class):
It makes a kind of rich and delicious cakey substance. I've made it for a couple potlucks and parties and it never fails to astonish my Japanese friends (they usually love it despite themselves, haha).

Something you can find in my town in California (and probably lots of other towns in California and likely places in the US and UK and Canada etc. with similar populations?) is Indian pizza---chicken masala pizza, aloo gobi pizza, palak paneer pizza, etc. Man, it's really good (see pizzaandcurry.com for one example). I have no idea what pizza in India is like, though, so if that's just standard real Indian pizza, than never mind.
posted by wintersweet at 2:06 PM on December 8, 2009

In Pittsburgh, the breakdown is pretty much french fries + X = Pittsburgh X! The most famous example is the Primanti Brothers "frywich," a diner-y sandwich cooked in stovetop grease with french fries stuffed inside it. Pittsburghers also love pierogi pizza. That's right, brick-oven pizza...topped with pierogi cheese and potatoes. Mmmm carbs.

Lovely people upthread already mentioned upstate New York's garbage plate, so I'll mention the upstate New York lakeside hamburger style too. It's a thin, charred patty of beef on a distinctive style of roll (raised swirled center, not as soft, more like a dinner roll or kaiser roll kind of) with a ton of onion, mustard, ketchup, and most importantly, our style of "hot sauce" which is really more like clove-cinnamon-nutmeg-y chili, the stuff on a chili dog. We slather our burgers with that stuff. Divine. Tom's, Vic n' Irv's, Don's, Bill Grey's all serve it...

The way people do pizza regionally is of course a big part of this kind of regional style distinction...all I have to say about that as someone raised in New York is, St. Louis, you are freakin' travesty.
posted by ifjuly at 10:34 AM on December 24, 2009

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