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MSP - Minnesota and Western Wisconsin Originals

Since the top 10 list thread started to run into a little trouble why don't we leave that one for restaurants and start another for Minnesota and surrounding area originals. The dishes or ingredients that started here, are best here, or simply can't be found elsewhere. Maybe it's a particular dish at a restaurant or may be it's something that can only be found at Lund's. Let's limit the discussion to things we truly love and why. I know we've probably mentioned all of them on other threads but let's collected them here.

For me the only Minnesota original that I love is probably the Jucy Lucy. Sure it's just and inside out cheeseburger but I love how the cheese is dangerously hot and the creamy texture it give the burger. But more than that I don't think they could be made anywhere other than South Minneapolis or St. Paul. Something about a fairly blue-collar urban scene that kind of fascinated me when I first moved here from a small town when I was 18. I guess it's like an Urban Legend that everyone around here knows what a Jucy Lucy is and it's some kind of shared memory.

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  1. I love, love, LOVE square cut thin crust pizza. Like Dulono's. Oh so good. I'm not sure it is just MN and WI, but it is upper midwest.

    I love cheese curds from the state fair. Greasy, salty, and filling, they have everything.

    I love Mock Duck. I know you can get it other places, but we have it everywhere and use it in creative ways. The Mock Duck BBQ sandwich at Grumpy's is spectatular.

    Grumpy's Bar & Grill
    1111 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55415

    Dulono's Pizza
    607 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408

    1. Kind of you to start this thread. I think I shall list herein the restaurants I would miss most if I moved somewhere else. ;-).

      Seriously, I too love the jucy lucy--particularly the Nook's-(in St. Paul) - and pizza cut into squares (though, my pizza of choice is Carbone's on Raldolph in St. Paul, haven't yet had the pleasure of trying Dulono's...).


      2 Replies
      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        I've given Carbone's a chance, but their pizza is always drenched in grease. Square cut pizza is definitely a Midwest original, but I'd go to Savoy's if you want square cut pizza in St. Paul.

        1. re: BellaMN

          Ah, but the grease is the essense of MN style square cut pizza, and Savoy's certainly meets the standard. Personally, I think it's a toss-up as to which is greasier, Carbones (and I'm referring specifically to the Carbone's on Randolph--there are several Carbones around town that aren't associated with the one on Randolph) or Savoy's. I've actually always found Savoy's to be greasier, but I suppose it's a matter of personal preference. Nevertheless, If it's not greasy, it's not right.


      2. Lutefisk supper.

        Put on once a year (in late October) at a tiny church at a rural crossroads in Wisconsin where I own a piece of land. As you wait (and you DO wait) in the pews, the Pastor shares hours worth of Ole and Lena jokes. For me, it has become the tangible signal of the start of the long fall/winter and couldn't possibly be recreated anywhere else.

        1. Deep Fried Cheese Curds.
          Wild Rice Soup or Wild Rice Hot Dish.
          Hot Dish....well, at least calling it Hot Dish.
          Fresh Walleye...breaded and fried within minutes of being killed. For 18 years, I avoided this, then I went fishing with some friends. It's amazing how good it is when it's fresh. Forget frozen or grocery Walleye, it's just a mnemonic aid.

          Head to Northern Minnesota, Northern Wisconsin or the UP for Pasties or Shore Lunch.

          2 Replies
          1. re: JimGrinsfelder

            If you really want wild rice pay extra and get the native variety that is grown truly wild in Northern Minnesota and not the packaged kind grown on farms most likely now in California. There is a major taste difference and generally you cannot get the native kind outside Minnesota.

            1. re: JimGrinsfelder

              My vote for best cheese curds in the Cities is at Town Talk Diner. My god they are delicious - better than the state fair.

            2. Not to compare, but Toast, in the warehouse district, has square-cut thin-crust pizza, with truly amazing toppings. And a fab wine selection to go with it.

              1. The Norske Nook, of course! It's been supplying Osseo, WI with excellent pie for the last 20+ years and it's become a staple of the wisconsin-to-MSP drive for everyone I know.

                If you're into the blue-collar local restaurant scene, Tiny's hot dog shop/tobacconists in Northfield, MN is the place to be. It was once a place of ill-repute (fights, drag races, girlie magazines), but it's cleaned up and they make a damn fine dog. I recommend a Tiny's Classic with sauce. Trust me.

                1. I haven't lived in Minnesota in years, but I still miss the Wild Rice Soup and poppyseed muffins from Lund's They have the soup recipe on their site, so I can make that when the hankering strikes, but I have yet to replicate the heavy denseness of those wonderful muffins they used to serve at their restaurants. If anyone has the recipe, I would be much obliged!

                  1. How about some of the far Northern Minnesota "originals"?

                    On the Iron Range, the Italian influence brought a certain kind of porketta which from what I've read has its own distinct style. (For demonstration purposes): http://www.cooksrecipes.com/pork/ital... . I don't know where to find in it in a restaurant though. Any suggestions?

                    There's also "potica". Saw a sign for it when I was in Virginia (MN). Can't remember where it was and never tried it.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: tvdxer

                      I don't know of a restaurant source, but the porketta roast at Ready Meats in Minneapolis is pretty much what your link described. And ever so tasty, if you're willing to cook it at home.

                      1. re: tvdxer

                        Potica is the Iron Range version of an Eastern European sweet bread, a buttery dough wrapped in spirals around a mixture of ground walnuts, sugar and, I think, cinnamon. The dough should be quite thin. I order mine from Andrej's European Pastry in Chisholm, owned by a man who moved to Chisholm from...Czechoslovakia, I think it was. He also makes a poppy seed version.

                        1. re: clepro

                          Andrej makes a great version but it isn't typical Iron Range. He did not grow up there and came from Slovakia. Enter potica into the chowhound search engine. There's also an interesting discussion on Hibbing MN when you do that.

                      2. How about sylta? That's one that never gets mentioned.

                        The nearby (closest - 2 mi!) convenience store / butcher sells it. It's Swedish in origin. Probably not easily find in places outside the Upper Midwest.

                        2 Replies
                        1. Another one that seems to be unique to here, particularly the Duluth area: the "Chinese" dish "chow champagne". Searching for it on Google, the only mentions of it are on three Duluth-area Chinese restaurant menus and one from Thief River Falls. I think another menu I have from around here that's not on the internet has it too. According to the local Jade Fountain menu, it is described as "Roast pork, shrimps, chicken, mushrooms, peapods, bok choy, water chestnut seasoned with white wine"

                          Now....what about SE MN / SW WI specialties? You hear a lot about U.P. and Iron Range favorites (there seems to be something of a connection with pasties), and some here have mentioned a few of the Minneapolis ones, but how about down there? Or maybe further out west? I never hear about that region.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: tvdxer

                            My guess would be that the dish originated with the Chinese Lantern in Duluth. It was a Duluth institution for decades until it burned down a few years ago. Anyone else remember this?

                          2. Wikipedia has an interesting article about the Upper Midwest Food Specialties. It talks about corn dogs being invented here and that we eat more ice cream per capita than anywhere else.

                            It also talks about booya, which I've heard talked about here, but I don't know what it is.


                            2 Replies
                            1. re: churchka

                              booya is a big stew, made seasonally (cold weather), for fundraisers usually, that has just about everything you can think of in it except non-local seafood type things.