What's your local-favorite food or drink that's hard to find elsewhere?
January 2, 2020 3:29 PM   Subscribe

In Seattle, everyone is proud to drink/tolerate Rainier and eat Tim's Cascade potato chips (preferably jalapeno). These brands can be difficult or impossible to find in other places. What are your local favorite items or brands that you crave when abroad or indulge in when visiting home?

On the Seattle/Pacific Northwest side I'd also add Olympia, Oh Boy! Oberto (more popular these days than before), and of course some of our local roasteries like Vita and Stumptown, off the top of my head. We also do the "Seattle dog," with sriracha and cream cheese — not sure if that counts.

Really curious about other local, limited-distribution delicacies are out there that I should be picking up or ordering when in town!
posted by BlackLeotardFront to Food & Drink (65 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
While on the subject of Chips. VERY local but Tri-Sum Chips. So good and never had any others like them. I can still remember the smell of them cooking as we went by the factory.

Pretty well distributed I think, but Fluff.

Treehouse Beer


Table Talk Pie
posted by beccaj at 4:00 PM on January 2, 2020

From the Delaware/Pennsylvania/New Jersey area, Tastykake!
posted by darchildre at 4:04 PM on January 2, 2020 [8 favorites]

St. Louis has many fine local foods (toasted ravioli and gooey butter cake being popular with most; our style of pizza being...popular with some) but in terms of brand-specific items I've always been partial to Red Hot Riplets chips. As far as I know, only distributed locally. Delicious, not REALLY that spicy, definitely worth a try.
posted by cpatterson at 4:07 PM on January 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

In Canada you can get Eat-mores, Old Dutch potato chips and Hawkins cheezies. Hawkins. So good.
posted by nanook at 4:08 PM on January 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Beccaj, where are you located, roughly? I'd like to keep this thread handy for when I visit places for work or what have you.

Thanks for the great answers already!
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 4:10 PM on January 2, 2020

Does it have to be a brand?

In NM and Southern CO, chile verde. Also tortilla chips suck east of Chicago. In the Middle South, those dry-ish smoked sausages and molasses-based BBQ.

Brandwise: In CA, Russian River's Pliny the Elder Imperial IPA. In the mid-Atlantic, crab-flavored Utz potato chips, (and half-smokes, branded or non).
posted by aspersioncast at 4:16 PM on January 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

The style of halfway-gringoized breakfast tacos that are available from carts and gas stations and whatnot all over Central Texas — small flour tortilla with egg and bacon, or egg and American breakfast sausage, or potato and bean, wrapped in tinfoil and kept warm in a crockpot until the fat renders out and permeates the tortilla — is weirdly hard to find elsewhere in the world. It's not a breakfast burrito, it's not a freshly made egg and chorizo taco, it's not a hipster foodie breakfast taco, it's its own weird trashy thing.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:16 PM on January 2, 2020 [11 favorites]

New England. Fluff is Somerville. Moxie is FROM Maine but we have it in many stores around New England. Treehouse Beer? Charlton Mass (I see people with license plates come from all over and wait in line and go off with a dolly full of beer). Tri-Sum Chips. Leominster. Table Talk? Worcester, MA
posted by beccaj at 4:19 PM on January 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

SF Bay Area: It's-It and Mission burritos.
posted by Lexica at 4:22 PM on January 2, 2020 [8 favorites]

In Rhode Island, but only in the warmer months and only from a truck or stand: Del's frozen lemonade. Not from their mix either. It's cold, refreshing and has chunks of lemon.
posted by Botanizer at 4:30 PM on January 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

Hog's Pudding. You can slice it and fry the little pucks until they're brown and crispy on each side, then eat them with bacon and stuff for breakfast.
posted by pipeski at 4:31 PM on January 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Carne Asada fries (sometimes called Super Fries) are basically ubiquitous in So Cal taco shops (Albertacos, El Cotixan, Sabrosada, etc. etc. etc.) but hard to find in other places.

I mean, if we want to talk about regional fast food: In-n-Out and Del Taco.
posted by sleeping bear at 4:31 PM on January 2, 2020

I asked a similar question a little while ago, and I think a lot of the answers will apply to your question too.

Some places I particularly seek out from previous places I’ve lived and travelled:

Central Ohio: Donato’s pizza.
Southwest Ohio: Skyline chili.
St. Louis: Fitz’s root beer, Ted Drewes frozen custard.
Buffalo: Jim’s Steak Out, Charlie the Butcher, Mighty Taco, Ted’s Hot Dogs, Anderson’s frozen custard.
Texas: Whataburger.
Virginia/Carolinas: Bojangles.
Michigan (and various other places in the Midwest, kind of at random): Blue Moon and Superman ice cream.
General Midwest: Culver’s, Steak n Shake, Jimmy Johns.
posted by kevinbelt at 4:33 PM on January 2, 2020

Vernors ginger ale and Better Made chips.
posted by praemunire at 4:50 PM on January 2, 2020 [4 favorites]

A proper cheese steak and soft pretzel are basically impossible to find outside of the greater Philadelphia region. You may have "sub shops" or "steak and cheese" but these do not compare to a proper Philly steak.

I also have not had an Italian hoagie since leaving south Jersey. There have been sandwiches with Italian meats and cheeses on them, but not an Italian hoagie. Jersey Mike's can go screw itself.
posted by backseatpilot at 4:53 PM on January 2, 2020 [5 favorites]

There are many knock-offs, but I haven't seen real Berger cookies outside of the greater Baltimore area.

(And, of course, you should never ever ever trust "Maryland-style" crabcakes anywhere outside of Maryland because they will taste Wrong).
posted by TwoStride at 5:08 PM on January 2, 2020 [8 favorites]

Dr. Brown's sodas (NYC and most Jewish delis)

Also Frank's Black Cherry Wishniak soda (Philly)

Also Green River soda (Chicago)

Also Bawls Guarana soda (no idea where but I'm always on the lookout)

I'm a big fan of soda, I guess.
posted by Mchelly at 5:12 PM on January 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

Also in the Southern MA/Eastern RI area is coffee milk which you can buy in the dairy case right alongside milk and chocolate milk. I don't drink it that often but I love that it's available. Polar Seltzer does a bunch of seasonal editions in New England (they are based on Worcester MA) and I really appreciate being able to get low cost seltzers in more flavors than whatever La Croix or bubly seems to think will sell in big box stores.
posted by jessamyn at 5:12 PM on January 2, 2020 [3 favorites]

It’s not possible to get Fanta Limón anywhere but Spain and I’m still mad about it.
posted by chainsofreedom at 5:12 PM on January 2, 2020 [3 favorites]

Their most famous variety is Spotted Cow, but any beer produced by New Glarus brewery is actually illegal to sell outside of Wisconsin.
posted by LionIndex at 5:17 PM on January 2, 2020 [8 favorites]

Southeastern Iowa, Sterzing's Potato Chips.
posted by Temeraria at 5:24 PM on January 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

Dot's Pretzels! And I don't even like pretzels.
posted by SamanthaK at 5:32 PM on January 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

Foxon Park birch beer, based in East Haven CT, and Pepe's pizza in New Haven. I haven't had a decent pizza since I moved to California.
posted by jesourie at 5:36 PM on January 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm from Michigan, Flint area The big ones tend to be Koegel's hotdogs, faygo pop, and better made chips. Flint has it's own style of Coney dog, though I think most people are happy with the Detroit style too. Many people will have a favorite, but it'll depend a but on why town they grew up in. On the subject of Coney islands, if you get. Greek salad in MI you'll get beers with it. Which is not universal?

My husband's from a suburb closer to Detroit, and he always wants Buddy's Pizza, Kruse and Muer bread/Charley's Chowder (local restaurant group), and Dessert Oasis (coffee roaster, relative new comer compared to the others. Side note, cafe Vita was my favorite in Seattle!)

There are some other things that we can generally get in Chicago but = Michigan to me: Bell's Oberon= Summer is here and Vernors Ginger Ale is pretty easy to find.

Bessinger pickels werenky absolute favorite for forever, but just recently seem to have closed down :-(
posted by ghost phoneme at 5:59 PM on January 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

What I would give to teleport Kossar's Bialys to Seattle.

And sure anyone can make a bacon, egg & cheese on a bagel, but they don't taste the same as the ones made in any corner deli in NYC.
posted by brookeb at 6:04 PM on January 2, 2020 [4 favorites]

If you are into soda and in Kentucky or Southern Ohio look for Ale81, it's a sort of ginger ale.
posted by arachnidette at 6:05 PM on January 2, 2020 [3 favorites]

backseatpilot gets three out of four for Philly, but left out water ice. (The “Italian ice” you can find in other places is a pale imitation.)

Now I live in Atlanta, and there doesn’t seem to be anything like this. It would be Coke except you can get that everywhere.
posted by madcaptenor at 6:08 PM on January 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

. Polar Seltzer does a bunch of seasonal editions in New England

Seconding this. I visit relatives in Western Mass yearly and trips to the grocery store are pretty great for getting flavors I can't get at home.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:27 PM on January 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Are you just looking for North American answers?

If not, Whittaker's chocolate in New Zealand. You can get a few varieties in Australia now too, but most of the flavours are NZ only.

Even more restricted, Mrs Higgins' cookies. Used to be you could only buy them from this one hole-in-the-wall bakery in Wellington. Then you could also buy them packaged in some shops in Wellington, and at the airport. Now I think you can occasionally find them in Christchurch and Auckland too.
posted by lollusc at 6:46 PM on January 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Montreal-style bagels. You can find them in Canadian cities other than Montreal, but that's a fairly recent development and the real thing is definitely better.

Also a Montreal specialty: Poutine.
posted by lizifer at 6:57 PM on January 2, 2020 [4 favorites]

I live in North Carolina, and Cheerwine the beverage is a popular local choice. It is very red and supposedly cherry flavored. I like to encourage visiting vendors to get it from the work vending machine. If Bojangles doesn’t satisfy your biscuit needs, you can also visit Biscuitville.
posted by jeoc at 7:20 PM on January 2, 2020 [7 favorites]

Peppermint stick ice cream in New England
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:39 PM on January 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Oh my god, I miss Polar Seltzer. You can get a few flavors out here now, but not the best one.

Central Texas: migas. Seriously I’m gonna cry if I think about it.
posted by less of course at 7:50 PM on January 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Was going to say Ale 8 because it’s so very regional and I will remember the jingle until my dying day but I don’t especially like it.
posted by less of course at 7:52 PM on January 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

In Wisconsin, get fresh cheese curds (they should be made the day you eat them for maximum deliciousness) and Spotted Cow beer.
posted by Weeping_angel at 7:56 PM on January 2, 2020

New Mexico:
Bizcochitos (crisp cookies flavored with cinnamon and anise)
Carne adovada (pork in chile sauce)
Calabacitas (dish featuring squash; includes chile, of course)
Chile rellenos (pepper filled with cheese and fried)
Green chile cheeseburger
Green chile stew
Horchata (rice-based drink)
Navajo taco (big; made with frybread instead of a taco)
Posole (pork, hominy, and green chile)
Sopapillas (fried pastries, usually served with honey to be squirted inside, but they can also be served savory)

Green chile is a given or optional item in many foods, such as pizza, etc., even in green chile beer.

And as a side note, sopapillas and Indian frybread are made from the same dough.

For brands, we have Blake's Lotaburger fast-food chain. In Albuquerque in particular, there these restaurants: Flying Star, the Frontier, Garcia's Kitchen, Weck's.
posted by NotLost at 8:09 PM on January 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

when I visit family on the west coast I stock up on cracked wheat sourdough
posted by brujita at 8:17 PM on January 2, 2020

I love Jucy Lucys (delicious, greasy burgers stuffed with cheese that comes pouring out like hot lava on the first bite) and have only ever had a proper one at one of the Minnesota hole-in-the-wall bars that serves them. Try Matt’s Bar or Runyon’s Nook for an authentic experience.
posted by WaspEnterprises at 8:18 PM on January 2, 2020

Thank goodness somebody else knows of Sterzing's potato chips. A family favorite for years!

Also if you're in Iowa, a tenderloin sandwich. I saw a video the other day promoting Cedar Rapids/Iowa City and why you should live there, and at the end, somebody hands the announcer an enormous tenderloin and I was filled with jealousy.

(I also think of ordering Happy Joe Special pizzas delivered overnight, but the shipping costs are astronomical)

Here in Stumptown, we have many delicious foods but I think it's Juanita's Chilipeño chips that I crave most often.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:31 PM on January 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

The compiled MeFi State Foods list should have some relevant entries.
posted by zamboni at 8:36 PM on January 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

Paczki! I think of them as a Michigan/Detroit specialty, although I am sure they are available in some other regions with large Polish immigrant populations. For an added level of difficulty, they're only available around Fat Tuesday.
posted by Preserver at 9:10 PM on January 2, 2020 [3 favorites]

Country ham.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:37 PM on January 2, 2020

West Virginia is definitely Pepperoni Rolls.
posted by mmascolino at 9:47 PM on January 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Even just trying to explain a California burrito anywhere else is just pointless.

Fried clams, and a lobster roll outside of northern costal New England. Although the chain Luke's gets it pretty right.
posted by Dashy at 9:50 PM on January 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Crab cakes in or near Baltimore.
Malasadas in Hawai'i.
posted by Dashy at 9:52 PM on January 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Austin vegan favorites: Popcorn Tofu Po'boys and vegan donuts from Wheatsville Food Co-op.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 11:16 PM on January 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

It’s not possible to get Fanta Limón anywhere but Spain and I’m still mad about it

Everywhere else in the world except the USA, Fanta is an excellent soft drink. I drink a ton of Fanta Orange whenever I’m in Germany. If you just say “Fanta” in any restaurant it’s immediately understood you want Orange flavor.

It’s light and refreshing, unlike the sticky syrupy version sold stateside. More like an Orangina without the pulp.
posted by JoeZydeco at 4:36 AM on January 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

New Jersey: Taylor Pork Roll.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:18 AM on January 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

club special a limey vodka/club soda/sprite drink.

my husband invariably forgets they are an Oklahoma thing and orders them random places that think he is making it up.
posted by domino at 6:49 AM on January 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

Having lived on Cape Cod for a while, I basically only like seafood that was swimming earlier in the day.

As far as I know, you can only get a Maple Creemee in Vermont, and they are like the best thing ever.

North Carolina barbecue (especially Eastern style) is so different from anything I ever had growing up in New England, I love introducing newcomers to it.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:48 AM on January 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

michigan: superman ice cream; squirt pop (soda); pasties

(these were all unfindable on the east coast for me)
posted by misanthropicsarah at 8:01 AM on January 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

Also New Mexico - Hatch green chiles, preferably straight from a street roaster during harvest (watch out for flying pieces of hot chile though - they sting if you get one in the eye).
posted by dbmcd at 9:28 AM on January 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

I would recommend some maple treats near Greenfield Mass if you were looking for some stops along the Mohawk trail. Hagar's or Goulds Sugarhouse.
posted by brent at 9:33 AM on January 3, 2020

Things I miss from Vancouver, B.C. are yam tempura rolls (like if you made sushi with yam tempura) and Nanaimo bars. (As soon as we've eaten up the holiday sweets, I'm going back to that ask about how to make them so I can make my own.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 10:31 AM on January 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

Southern Arizona is the only place you'll find Eegee's, a sub shop with pretty good sandwiches, really good crinkle-cut fries, and amazing and unique fruit slushees that are somewhere between a granita and an italian ice, with chunks of fruit, super-thick but drinkable (barely) through a fat straw and sold in horrible styrofoam cups with plastic lids. You have to regularly relocate the straw from the air pockets you create while sucking this thick thick ambrosia up, and that makes a horrible nails-on-blackboard screeching sound when the plastic of the straw scrapes against the plastic of the lid. There are 4 flavors (including a really tasty sugar-free one) and a rotating flavor of the month. When I used to visit Tucson regularly, Eegee's was always the first place I'd go on my way out of the airport area, and when I lived there I drank them all. the. time. You can buy the drink in sizes from 12 ounces to 32 ounces or more, or for parties you can get a big tub of it. Many people add vodka or tequila to the party size tub.

Back before the GUI web, I joined a Tucson usenet group and was lamenting the lack of Eegee's in the PNW. A friend of the owner of Eegee's was in that group and saw my post, and arranged to have a tub Fedexed to me. Another time, I brought a tub of it home to Seattle as my carry-on, before 9/11 and the prohibition on liquids. They did swab it for drugs, but finally let it pass.

I love Seattle, and there's not much I miss about my many years in Tucson, but God I would kill for a strawberry Eegee's right now.
posted by QuakerMel at 11:18 AM on January 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

I currently live in Denver but I am from Hartford, CT. The two foods I miss are both sugary junk foods OF COURSE:

--Drake's Devil Dogs, which are apparently a strictly East Coast thing, more's the pity.
--Dunkin Donuts in Connecticut prepares their jelly donuts differently from every other Dunkin location, even NYC and Philly--not sure why there's so much variation in such a close amount of geographical space--but they make their jelly donuts with powdered sugar on the outside instead of disgusting, gross granulated sugar. Why does no one else do this!? I love a powdered sugar jelly donut so much!
posted by zeusianfog at 12:08 PM on January 3, 2020

Also Seattle, though maybe not as much now as 20 years ago: teriyaki
posted by QuakerMel at 12:35 PM on January 3, 2020

If Bojangles doesn’t satisfy your biscuit needs, you can also visit Biscuitville.

Oh, Biscuitville!!!!!!! Leagues better than Bojangles, which is really saying something. I moved to a region of North Carolina where Biscuitville (weirdly) doesn't exist, and I miss it all the time.

We made a family trip out to Idaho last year and my North Carolinian stepkid found the restaurants really perplexing out there. Ordering a drink would go like this:

"Could I get a Cheerwine?"
"uhhh, I don't think we serve that? to minors?"
"Okay, how about sweet tea?"
[exasperated] "Just a plain Arnold Palmer then?"
"excuse me?"

Eventually we fixed up something with enough simple syrup to make him forget it wasn't the real thing, but he kept trying to find Cheerwine in Idaho and I really felt his pain.
posted by witchen at 12:47 PM on January 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

Having grown up in New England, I miss Greek-style pizza, though I fully understand why it hasn't caught on elsewhere.

Similarly, this may be too broad, but I miss the sub shops that are ubiquitous in most Northeast towns, and totally absent everywhere else.
posted by lunasol at 9:11 PM on January 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

When outside Canada: Tim Horton's coffee, which I sort of think of as less like real coffee and more just like this pleasant, warm, vaguely wet-dog tasting drink. Also Nanaimo bars.

From Montreal I miss steamie hot dogs with cole slaw on top.
posted by unstrungharp at 11:26 PM on January 3, 2020

Kentucky: Grippo's potato chips.

Ale8 One Ginger ale has already been mentioned.
posted by Giggilituffin at 5:35 PM on January 4, 2020

TastyKake Krumpets are available only DC thru NYC, as far as I know.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:39 PM on January 5, 2020

Having grown up in New England, I miss Greek-style pizza, though I fully understand why it hasn't caught on elsewhere.

It's not exactly the same, but if you have a place near you that serves Detroit-style pizza, it might scratch that itch.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:12 AM on January 7, 2020

It’s a drink, non-carbonated, made with water and Loganberry syrup. You can find it in and around Buffalo, NY.
It’s delicious with vodka, and I sometimes enjoy a splash of the syrup in my Prosecco.
posted by jen14221 at 5:01 PM on January 10, 2020

Response by poster: Way more answers than I expected. Thank you all for your contributions!
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:34 PM on January 11, 2020

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