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Fried Bologna Sandwich Or Other Unusual Midwestern Specialty

Seems there's a good bit of creative cooking going on in the heartland. Are there any places in the DC area that cater to midwestern transplants? What other specialties might be worth seeking out?

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  1. Bring on the fried sauerkraut balls!

    Toledo Lounge used to sell a fried onion loaf, but nobody bought it so they pulled it off the menu. It didn't help that it sucked either.

    I think Red Hot & Blue still sells theirs, but it was waaaay too greasy last time I had one.

    1. Corkie's in McLean has breaded pork tenderloins - I think the only in the area - but I haven't made it there yet.

      Any other specific items you're looking for?

      1. I've never been to the midwest, so I wouldn't know what to ask for. I have read about these breaded pork tenderloins before from this site:


        This corkie's place looks like a real winner. Is parking a problem during lunchtime?

        2 Replies
        1. re: NoVaDog

          Corkie's is in a strip mall on Old Dominion Drive. Parking is never a problem. The tenderloin isn't as good as in Indiana (where I grew up), but it does somewhat satisfy the craving. But when I've had it there, it has been hand cut, breaded, and fried, rather than frozen and dropped in the deep frier.

          BTW, do not believe that site. NEVER have melted cheese on a tenderloin.

          Another thing I had in the midwest was fried catfish. The fish is scored and fried whole on the bone, so you pick up the fish as if it was an ear of corn and eat the pieces. I haven't found that here, but Flavors in Falls Church does a very good version of fried catfish. For that matter, it is getting difficult to find in Indiana, as I've found out trying to identify a place to have it this coming weekend while there.

          The other Indiana favorite foods are fresh corn,steamed, with butter, and tomatoes, peeled(NOT in hot water)and sliced. This is served as an entire meal, with no meat accompanying it. So for that, hit the farmers' market.

          Other Indiana country favorites are fried chicken and dried beans cooked with ham (not necessarily together).

          The best thing in Minnesota is fried walleye, which I have not found here anywhere. Don't let the upscale folks from the Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul) tell you differently, but a country Minnesotan favorite is (still) hot dish, which is eaten at home and consists of a starch (e.g., packaged noodles or rice), cooked and combined with a vegetable (e.g., canned green beans, corn, etc.)and meat or fish (e.g., leftover chicken, canned tuna, etc.), typically cut with something like canned soup, mayonaisse, or the like. I don't think you'll find that here in a restaurant.

          1. re: bacchante

            I am a born and bred Southerner and though it hurts to say it, the BEST fried chicken I have EVER had was in Indiana, when they come out to parties or community gatherings and cook them in the steel drums. Good God!

        2. If you consider Louisville part of the mid-west (it is in fact), then you might be interested to know that Billy Martin's in G'town does a very credible hot brown.

          Fried bologna is my favorite sandwich, tho it's hard to find bologna any more that isn't so full of sweetners that it immediately blackens in the pan--not good. Does anybody know where to get bologna in DC that's made the old-fashioned way?

          Those catfish on the bone that bacchante was talking about are called "fiddlers" in the part of Indiana I'm from. The best single thing around there, tho, is turtle soup, and if anybody knows where that can be had around here please let me know. Jane and Michael Stern used to call my part of Indiana the "turtle soup belt."

          I'll be back there the weekend after next. This is an interesting thread. I'll keep my eyes open for possibilities.

          2 Replies
          1. re: johnb

            I'm from Missouri and am frankly a little afraid of the concept of fried bologna. And I'm not sure exactly what you're looking for, but have you tried either the Italian Store or (I know it's not Italian) the German Gourmet (Just thinking by chance they might have bologna).

            1. re: johnb

              I've tried a few different bolognas in search of that perfect sandwich and so far the best has been a German bologna at Russian Gourmet on Slater's Lane. They have three types, the one I liked was irregular shaped (as opposed to tubular) and had a brownish skin (rather than red). The staff said it was the better of the lot. If you give it a try, I'd like to here whether this one is the "holy grail."

            2. I've been to the Italian store many times. Good sandwiches. Why do you say it's not Italian (obviously it's American, Virginian, whatever, but that's not the point.)

              Where is the German Gourmet?

              1 Reply
              1. re: johnb

                That reference of not being italian was for the German Gourmet.

              2. Maybe Dennis meant that bologna isn't Italian, rather than the store. Actually, I've always thought that American bologna is an Americanized version of mortadella, which comes (originally)from Bologna, Italy. Whatever.

                Mortadella may in fact make decent fried bologna sandwiches, with all those good hunks of fat in there. But not being a fan, I'm not going to put it to the test.

                The German Gourmet is a deli on Lee Hwy in Falls Church, between Elevation Burger and Myanmar. They really are German in there, and they do have some pretty good meats. Particularly, they have real country-style braunsweiger (sp?) and liverwursts. They may in fact have some decent bologna, and they would be happy to discuss the ingredients with you. I've had some very good wursts from them. You can get hot brats for a snack, too.

                1. Dennis seemed to say that the German Gourmet was not Italian (he said it after the 'or' in his sentence.

                  1. several area A&Ws have deep-fried cheese curds ... a Minn./Wisc. thing.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: repete

                      I'm looking for deep-fried pickles. This is seriously one of the tastiest things to get your hands on. I'm from Ohio and we could get them at casual restaurants and county fairs. I miss them. They're so good.

                      1. re: navygirl7

                        Well, you're in luck. Clare & Don's in Arlington, a place which has been getting a lot of praise here recently (though not from me) has them.

                        1. re: Lowbar

                          That's exciting, although I say that with a bit of hesitation....as you say no praise has come from you. Nice to know I'm not a freak of nature though. Thanks.

                          1. re: navygirl7

                            No praise has come from me not because I disliked the place, but I just didn't think it was anything special and I generally only post if I have something positive or negative to say. It was fine. If they had something I was looking for in particular that was hard to find, such as fried pickles, I would go there in a heartbeat.

                            My experience: pretty good grouper sandwich, pretty bad fish taco.

                        2. re: navygirl7

                          Del Merei Grille in Alexandria has good fried pickles, they call them frickles. Very good food, although it's an upscale Southern place, not Midwestern.


                          1. re: navygirl7

                            Tim's River Shore on the Potomac River in Dumfries, VA has great fried pickles. Tim's is basically a river front crab shack. We were down there on Friday for fried pickles and fried oysters. Nice fried shrimp too. A little bit off the beaten path, but a nice stop if you're in that area. There's a web site that probably has directions.

                        3. I remember as a kid, my Mom and Aunt, both from Louisville, making chili. The style there was to mix chili and spaghetti. I am told that is still how you can get it there, but it has been years.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Johnlw

                            In the DC area is "Hard Times Cafe" (and some Cafe & Cue) that does spaghetti and chili

                            1. re: Johnlw

                              My mom is from Louisville and we always put spaghetti (or other pasta) in our chili while growing up. I had no idea that was a Louisville tradition.

                              1. re: Johnlw

                                Steak n Shake does it too. But I don't know where you are and if these are around you...

                              2. Well darn, I will check that out, thanks.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Johnlw

                                  Hard Times does "chile mac" style, meaning the chili meat sauce is served over spaghetti, sorta like bolognase. Similar to how Cincinnatti chili is typically served. I don't believe this style of service is particularly uniquely midwestern -- for example, I believe it was common around here for a long while back. On the other hand, in my hometown just west of Louisville in Indiana, "chili" refers to a soup which has a chili flavor but is thinner than meat sauce (hence, soup), and has spaghetti as an ingredient. If this is what your mom used to make, I've never seen it around here, but if you find some let me know.

                                2. The Dairy Godmother in Delray / Alexandria has great M'waukee style frozen custard -- but better yet -- once a month features a bratwurst night, complete with accordian player.

                                  Next one will be in September.

                                  1. I second (or third) the recommendation for the Frickles at the Del Merie Grille - they are AWESOME! I didn't realize that was a midewestern treat. The Del Merie claims southern roots - so I assumed the fried pickles were also a southern treat.

                                    My family is from the midwest and another childhood treat I recall is a rhunza or beerock. This was a bread pocket stuffed with a mixture of cabbage, onions and ground beef. The raw bread dough was stuffed with the browned beef mixture, then the pocket was baked (after being brushed with butter) until golden brown. My mom used to make these on cold winter days and they are really yummy. She talked of "bee rock huts" in the midwest that were drive-thrus for these little treats. We've taken them to an NC State tailgate in Raleigh, NC and they were perfect for a ballgame treat too!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: DC Gal

                                      I'm the Midwest Deep-Fried Pickle Girl from earlier. I've never heard of rhunza or beerock.

                                      Thanks to everybody for the pickle reports! :)