Unusual Regional Specialties

This a thread about regional specialties. Things that are really good to eat which seem to thrive in a particular region or city, but not really elsewhere.

While the main emphasis will probably be on street food and sandwiches, we shouldn’t ignore sit down meals as well.

So what’s good in your town that you can’t get elsewhere?

To get things started I will give a few of my favorite examples.

  1. The Chicago style hot dog with tomatoes, neon green relish, celery salt, and sport peppers.

You can get a good one here:

Superdawg Drive-In
333 S Milwaukee Ave, Wheeling, IL 60090
(847) 459-1900

https://goo.gl/maps/6w8XEJobAcn

  1. San Diego Carne Asada Burrito. No rice, no beans, no chipotle crap. Just marinated chopped steak grilled on a plancha, with guacamole and pico de Gallo in a flour tortilla. So fresh, so delishus.

You can get a good one here:

Nico’s Mexican Food
5151 Morena Pl, San Diego, CA 92110
(858) 272-7907

https://goo.gl/maps/fbdg7bg8FAC2

  1. Rutgers fat sandwiches. You need to go to something called a grease truck to get one of these.

You can get a good one here:

R U Hungry
95 Hamilton St, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
(732) 246-2177

https://goo.gl/maps/KoXPG5CpZtR2

I’m partial to the number 16 which is cheese steak, gyro, mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers, French fries, lettuce, tomato and tzatziki on a bun.

In the SF Bay Area /Northern California:

Dutch crunch bread

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Right you are about sandwiches. Tampa Bay area: Fried grouper sandwiches at either Frenchy’s Original Cafe in Clearwater Beach or Dave’s Dockside in Maderia Beach.

http://www.frenchysonline.com/locations/frenchys-original-cafe/

http://docksidedavesgrill.com/index.html

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Primanti Bros sandwiches in Pittsburgh. Annas moms spanakopita at Fast Food on the island of Skiathos, Greece. Square cut thin pizza in Chicago.

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I’ll add traditional pressed Cubans (because they’re not the same anywhere else) and a deviled crab.

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A favorite regional specialty of mine are the softball sized crab cakes served at Faidley’s in the Lexington Market in Baltimore…

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Speaking of burritos, the departed and mourned La Imperial in Hayward, California, served a guacamole super burrito that was the picture of simplicity – two components. The mole chicken was also outstanding; and all the “supers” meant nearly the size of a football – if memory serves, the platter was served with a box-it-up kit.

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Agreed! I’ll add a Louis Papas style Greek Salad. Now it is how the area defines a Greek Salad but you can’t find it anywhere else.

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Another Florida regional dish is Minorcan Clam Chowder from the St. Augustine area. A key ingredient is Datil peppers which are quite hard to source elsewhere. I detour a few hours from the interstate whenever I can time it right just to have a bowl when I’m enroute to visit my parents.

I did manage to score the last sad Datil pepper plant at the now gone East Palatka Fruit Market (RIP). Unfortunately it didn’t survive me.

Oops! Here’s another West Florida specialty.

As a kid there was a shack selling smoked mullet at either end of just about every causeway. Rich, oily and full of smoke - all you needed was hot sauce and a slice of Burmuda onion and you had a meal fit for a king. As long as you didn’t mind smelling like smoked mullet for the rest of the day…

New bridges were built, roads improved, land values went up and the shacks are long gone. Fortunately Ted Peters is still going strong in in St. Pete. I’ve seen a couple of set-up on US 19 up Homasassa way but wasn’t able to investigate. Heard of one in Tampa near the Gandy but don’t know for sure.

Smoked mullet also is served as a fish spread. It’s a bit richer in flavor than most other fish spreads but not particulary novel these days.

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Try a Runza next time you find yourself lost in Nebraska.

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Yes ! You can get a good one here:

Vito & Nicks
8433 S Pulaski Rd,
Chicago, IL 60652
773-735-2050

https://g.co/kgs/ZtSsKR

I recommend the sassage and extra cheese pie. So good.

In Omaha, I also eally like the GI Forum in South O:

American GI Forum
2002 N St,
Omaha, NE 68107
+1 402-733-9740

https://g.co/kgs/TcSGjv

Get the tacos and the chili (avovado). So good.

Sadly, our Mullet man (who also made the best fried green tomatoes EVAR) passed away last spring.

I stopped by one rainy day and retreated to wait in my car. Steve ran my order to me in the.pouring rain…it was just the kind of guy he was.

The community is still trying to source mullet, and the turnout for his funeral was enormous.

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I’m so sorry - he was part of a dying breed.

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In and around Castroville, CA you will find breaded and fried fresh artichoke hearts. Sometimes served with tomato sauce/marinara for dipping but more often just salt and lemon and maybe a side cup of best foods mayo.

I’ve lived in nyc for a long time now and certainly lots of unique dishes here aside from the obvious bagel/bialy/pizza/cheesecake/jewish deli things.
The corner bodega "eggonaroll " isn’t the same elsewhere since they use nyc hard rolls.
I haven’t traveled extensively in the US but I’m fairly certain the hot street nuts here aren’t commonly found elsewhere.

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Me too:

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Growing up in central IL, one of our specialties was the Horseshoe: 2 slices of bread topped with a protein (hamburger, ham steak, cubed turkey, etc), topped with a bunch of french fries, and covered in cheese sauce. They even served them in our school cafeteria. I used to wait for Ham Horseshoe day in the cafeteria – it was my favorite school lunch. A version made with one slice of bread and one portion protein is known as a Ponyshoe.

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Sounds like St. Pete has another!

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold