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What is your city's specialty and why is it the best?

I am from Kansas City and I believe that we have, overall, the world's best barbeque. From all the restaurants to all the backyards, no place can beat our barbeque. I am not looking to start a fight, I am merely looking for spirited opinions about your city/regional specialities and why you feel that they are the best. Thank you, fellow Chowhounds.

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  1. There are lots of threads on this topic, but I always think it's a fun one. Especially when people bring out the hidden specialties. I live in Western New York state, near Buffalo, and while we of course have the best Buffalo chicken wings on the planet, we also have 2 other specialities that are hard, if not impossible, to find elsewhere:

    Roast Beef on 'Weck: Sliced roast beef served on a kimmelweck roll(kaiser topped with coarse salt and caraway seeds), best topped with a healthy dose of horseradish.

    Sponge Candy: Light honeycomb candy, made from sugar, vinegar, and baking soda, covered in chocolate. Other places call something very similar "seafoam" candy or "honeycomb" candy, but sponge candy is lighter, and more delicate.

    10 Replies
    1. re: RosemaryHoney

      Western NY also has white (hot)dogs and whistlepigs (which are francheezies) -- additional to some Canadian specialties, like that 7 gazillion types of fudge -- the cranberry opera fudge is haunting.

      1. re: SGFoxe

        Back in the 80's I was introduced to white hots and Italian sausage (I had never heard of it), and would import them to Texas. They came from a meat market in Rochester, while the white hots were quite good, I was blown away by the Italian sausage. We would grill it over mesquite, add bell peppers and onions, and serve on tortillas with hot sauce. Don't knock it until you try it. Also, the best pizza I've had to this day was in a mom and pop place in downtown Oswego. About the same times Buffalo wings started to become popular nationwide, fajitas were popularized, not invented, at Ninfa's on Navigation in Houston. Why were they the best, superior meat, marinade, grilling, tortillas, and hot sauce, plus an anything goes atmosphere with super potent and delicious margaritas.

      2. re: RosemaryHoney

        White Hots are hard to beat, but how can you forget to add the Garbage Plate to your list?

        1. re: JungMann


          tell me what these things are!!
          I have never heard of white dogs or whistlepigs...or a garbage plate!!!

          and cranberry fudge sounds incredible!!

          1. re: NellyNel

            White Hots are a type of uncured/unsmoked sausage made of pork, veal and beef with a rich taste vaguely reminiscent of a light weisswurst.

            The Garbage Plate is the most disgusting and at the same time the most amazing dish I've ever eaten. It is a tower built upon a base of home fries and macaroni salad, topped with 2 cheeseburgers, a gravy made of ground beef and your choice of condiments. It's mostly popular with University of Rochester students looking for something to soak up the alcohol after a night on the town, but I have to admit that even while sober, I somewhat enjoyed eating a week's worth of carbohydrates in one siting.

            1. re: JungMann

              In Hawaii we have the LocoMoco, two scoops of rice in the bottom of a bowl, top with one or two hamburger patties, a fried egg on top of that, all smothered in brown gravy.

              1. re: KaimukiMan

                I loved the LocoMoco when I was there. Was in Hawaii for 11 days and ate it 12 times

                1. re: KaimukiMan

                  There's something to be said about that wonderful smell that blasts me in the face when I arrive, fresh off the plane from the mainland, and the swaying palms directed by the trade winds.
                  Then driving directly to pick up LocoMoco....it just all makes sense collectively.
                  Love Hawaii.

          2. re: RosemaryHoney

            And Ted's Hot Dogs, Anderson's Curly-Q fries (without that powdery seasoning other town's drench theirs with).

            1. stamford, connecticut is the home of the hot oil pizza.
              imagine a cracker thin crust topped with a spoonful of sauce of indeterminate origin, mozzarella and splashed with peppery/spicy hot olive oil and baked (incinerated?) in a pizza oven. add pepperoni and you'll agree that this pie is both tasty and unique.
              the colony grill is the only place in the world where you can get this gem. cash only. keep the napkin dispenser in front of you.

              7 Replies
              1. re: steve h.

                I would try the white hots.... but um...not so keen to try the garbage plate!!

                However the hot oil pizza sounds AMAZING!!!

                I live in Jersey City, but grew up in Brooklyn.
                The big thing in Hoboken and JC is Hot roast beef sandwiches with fresh mozzerella and brown gravey!
                I grew up in an Italian area in Brooklyn - but I never heard of this "Italian" specialty till i moved to Jersey!
                People line up on Saturdays to get 'em when the mozz is still warm.
                I had to try it -so I joined the line one day...and sadly I was quite disappointed!
                Yuck actually> I can't see the big attraction but there it is! If you're ever in Hoboken or JC - try one for yourself!

                1. re: NellyNel

                  hot oil pizza with pepperoni is addictive.
                  it gets into your head. one visit is interesting but not special. the second is satisfying. after the third visit, you're hooked. be sure to eat the stingers. beer is essential.

                  1. re: steve h.

                    Middletown, CT was once a great place for scacciata--a.k.a. spinach or broccoli (or potato) pie--pizza dough wrapped around a filling of the veggies, with or without sausage and/or sauce, garlic, capers...yum! It is a Sicilian specialty--Melilli, Sicily is our sister city--and something I took for granted as there were two really fantastic places in town that made it until recent history. Now that no restaurant in town makes it anymore, I had to learn how to make it from my hairdresser (who is also Sicilian, of course). So, we "were* the home of the scacciata, but now are only so in the kitchens of home cooks!

                    1. re: kattyeyes

                      MIddletown was at one time famous for steamed hamburgers. Are there any still around?

                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                          You got that right, Passdumkeg. I still need to have one over at Brian's. My uncle used to make them at Alfredo's Riverside...he's gone now, so is the restaurant. But those steamed cheeseburgers were kick@$$.

                  2. re: NellyNel

                    I live in Hoboken and have to agree. I'm from New Orleans, home of the roast beef poboy, which in my opinion is the greatest sandwich in the world. When I moved to Hoboken everyone told me I HAD to try the roast beef and mozz from Fiore's. I tried it and have not had one since, I just don't get it.

                    So to answer the OP question, I would put a New Orleans Roast Beef Poboy as my submission to what my hometown does best, along with red beans and rice.

                2. Maine (we're only a million). Red hot dogs and beans (B&M is in Portland) w/ brown bread.
                  Lobster, fried clam, fried shrimp and fried scallop rolls. Chowders. Bean hole beans.
                  Canned sardines.

                  New Mexico: stacked enchiladas, soppapillas (stuffed too), posole, Frito pies and Navajo tacos.

                  1. Do they serve Kansas City BBQ with sauce on the meat?

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: James Cristinian

                      It is smoked dry, then sauced. you can hold the sauce if desired.

                      1. re: bbqboy

                        My brother moved to Kansas City and sent some sauce from Arthur Bryant's, pretty tasty indeed.

                        1. re: James Cristinian

                          Calvin Trillan write eloquently about KC BBQ.

                          1. re: James Cristinian

                            What'd he do, eat the meat and send you the sauce? Tell him to send you a couple of racks of ribs next time!

                      2. In Honolulu Plate Lunch is King. Definitely more foodie than houndish, it still captures the history and culture of the islands as much as amost anything else and is the foundation of much of the present day Hawaiian cuisine at places such as Roys, 3660, etc. A blend of cultures, a blend of foods, simple, complex, and satisfying.

                        While there are many variations the traditional plate lunch is based on a simple formula:
                        2 Scoops White Rice (Calrose, medium grain)
                        1 Scoop Macaroni Salad (macaroni and mayo, not much else)
                        A meat/fish/chicken preparation
                        hamburger patties (hamburger steak)
                        chili con carne ,with or without a hot dog (chili or chili dog plate)
                        chicken katsu
                        mahi mahi (breaded and fried)
                        roast pork
                        etc., etc., etc.
                        Sauce (most often brown gravy, generously ladled over all or parts of the dish)

                        1. In Maryland we start with all things blue crab:
                          Crab cakes, softshell crabs, steamed crabs, cream of crab soup, crab Imperial...

                          Also good:
                          Maryland fried chicken - cast iron skillet fried chicken served with cream gravy.
                          Pit beef sandwiches - beef roast slow cooked over an open pit until medium rare, sliced thin and served on a kaiser roll with horseradish sauce.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: CDouglas

                            Bermuda Local Flavors

                            Bermuda Fish Chowder - Everyone has there own way of making this island favorite

                            Grilled Wahoo – (olive oil, salt and pepper is all it needs)

                            Codfish and Potatoes – Traditional Sunday Breakfast served with tomato or butter and garlic sauce with hard boiled eggs, bananas and avocados, sounds weird but it works!

                            Shark Hash – St. David’s islanders favorite

                            Dark and Stormy’s – Goslings Black Rum and Ginger beer

                            Bermuda Rum Swizzle

                            1. re: bermudagourmetgoddess

                              Deep Dish Pizza. There's nothing else to say.

                            2. re: CDouglas

                              Don't forget french fries with gravy. I don't know if it's specific to Baltimore though; I lived there ~ 20 years ago and it was the first I'd heard of this cardiologist's delight.

                              These became more known in the movie "Diner".

                            3. Boston, of course, is known for its Chowdah. Unfortunately, it's been destroyed over the years of commercialization. Restaurants, in order to keep it from separating while sitting all day on the stove, add tons of flour and oil to the mix, thickening it up into almost a paste. They thin it with cream periodically, but it's still a thick goop - for some reason, the tourists eat this stuff up and think it's what chowder is supposed to be. It's like eating bechamel out of a bowl. A few places still do it right - with milk and butter floating on top and little or no flour at all. A thin broth with the flavor of clam (or fish) stock in tact, started with fat back - no smoked bacon please... Smokiness may be ok in a finnan haddie, but not in a chowder.

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: applehome

                                amen, applehome!
                                and let's not forget about "scrod", because i don't think i've ever seen that word outside of NE.

                                1. re: dinaofdoom

                                  Double amen. Scrod sham too.
                                  Fish ckaes and beans for breakfast; a tradition in Maine getting hard to find. Even more so for salt fish and potatoes with pork scraps. The demise of the golden cod.

                                  1. re: dinaofdoom

                                    "Scrod" is used on menus in other places. A number in Chicago. What it actually is is a different matter, but it's there. I think a server told me once it was "baby cod".

                                    1. re: Whosyerkitty

                                      I hope it's not baby cod..(oops yes it is http://dictionary.reference.com/brows... )...one of the reasons why cod is on the decline is because of the nets used that catch even the smallest fish, before they reach adulthood. Where i'm from (Newfoundland), it's been rare lately to see large cod, something I saw all the time while growing up. It's sad that it's on the decline.

                                      Passadumkeg, we call the pork scraps "scrunchions" where I come from ! Fish cakes for breakfast is also a nice treat there. I rarely eat seafood anymore ( more of a rare treat for me ), but I had fish cakes and beans for breakfast X-mas morning. Salt cod with boiled new potatoes and drawn butter....(or even just potatoes and drawn butter ) is equally as wonderful . BTW, drawn butter i read around here is the melted butter served with lobster etc....where I come from it's almost like a gravy...butter, onions, flour and water.

                                      1. re: im_nomad

                                        The national dish when I lived in Norway was boiled cod, boiled potatoes and boiled carrots all with drawn butter. I made cinnamon honey carrots once for Norsk friends and it was as if I had blasphemed.

                                        1. re: im_nomad

                                          So it's sort of like fish veal? The young ones differ that much?

                                          1. re: Whosyerkitty

                                            When I was a chef in Boston, two definitions for schrod were offered - baby cod or cod from the top of the catch. (Because they are fresher and less squished.) Considering the huge sizes of the schrod I saw being filleted by the filleting wizards on the the docks I'd have to say that at least the latter is also correct.

                                            1. re: Whosyerkitty

                                              if the young ones haven't reached sexual maturity, yes.

                                      2. re: applehome

                                        I'd say that fried whole soft shell clams (with the "belly") and steamed soft shell clams are other great Boston specialties. I'll also mention Maine shrimp and Nantucket Bay scallops.

                                      3. I live in New Jersey, close to Newark. That city's specialty is the Newark Style Italian Hot Dog. This sandwich is very regional, limited to 2 or 3 counties in the state that do it right. In other parts of the state many places make a bastardized version of this sandwich. An authentic Italian Hot Dog consists of round bread called pizza bread (similar to a pita) stuffed with fried or sauteed all beef hot dogs and topped with mustard, peppers, onions, and potatoes either sliced thin or in chunks. Places (mostly pizzerias) that make what I consider a bastardized or non authentic version use a sub or hoagie roll, french fries rather than potatoes described above, and grill rather than fry or saute the ingredients. A pizzeria sells mostly pizza, so for them it is hard to determine demand for Italian Hot Dogs. This is why they use sub rolls which they always have on hand and won't go stale like unused pizza bread.

                                        There are places in Jersey that specialize and only serve Italian Hot Dog and Sausage sandwiches. Jimmy Buffs (which invented this sandwich in 1932), Tommy's Italian Hot Dogs and Sausages, Charlies Famous Italian Hot Dogs, and Dickie Dees are examples of some of the better known places. The latter is also a pizzeria, but they are famous for, and sell much more Italian Hot Dogs than pizzass.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: hotdoglover

                                          I have been waiting for you to post this. Thanks. Jfood would add the NJ Sloppy Joe. I'm adding the Taylor Pork Roll sandwich on a Kaiser. Tomato pie and in the south panzarotti. The stromboli that made Mario famous. Rutger's grease trucks???? What a lot of food for a little state.

                                          1. re: hotdoglover

                                            Holy smokes - i've never heard of these!!
                                            And I live in Jersey!!
                                            I gotta try the real ones!!

                                          2. In the Lowcountry, our most widely known specialties are shrimp and grits, she crab soup, and Frogmore stew (Lowcountry boil).

                                            Off the radar to most visitors, are these Lowcountry specialties (some harder to find than others):
                                            Red rice
                                            Roasted local cluster oysters
                                            Benne seed wafers
                                            Curry (many people don't realize America has had its own curries for a couple of centuries--Country Captain is perhaps the most famous)
                                            Chutney (ditto my comment for curry. Green tomato chutney is especially popular)
                                            Rice bread
                                            Chicken bog (A type of pilau/perloo. Some would argue this is more a Pee Dee region dish than a Lowcountry one--depends on your definiton of Lowcountry I guess)
                                            Tea punch

                                            1. I doubt I'll ever give up a taste for hot browns because I was born and raised in Kentucky. Every year I look forward to turkey leftovers at Thanksgiving so that I can make that open face sandwich with cheese sauce and turkey bacon. (I can't eat pork.) They're soooo good, even without the pork bacon.

                                              I live outside KC now, and though I can't eat ribs, I will say I like KC style brisket better than anywhere else I've lived, which includes North Carolina and Texas. It's just incredible here, so flavorful even without sauce, and that's the sign of great bbq, IMO.

                                              1. I've never had a better garlic burger than in Salt Lake City. An apres-ski of garlic cheeseburgers and Cutthroat pale at the Cotton Bottom cannot be beat.

                                                1. Well Sarasota, FL, not sure if I can take credit just for Sarasota but ...

                                                  Grouper sandwich, a little coleslaw, tarter sauce, on a great roll
                                                  Stone crab claws with melted butter and lemon
                                                  And all of FL is key lime pie.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: kchurchill5

                                                    How is that grouper cooked? I could get some really nice grouper in Galveston before Ike wiped everything out. I'm going down in two weeks to see if any of the seafood places have reopened/rebuilding. I'm also going to check out my fishing spots to see if I can get to them. I love my fried speckled trout.

                                                    1. re: James Cristinian

                                                      Being from Michigan, we had bass and pearch and walleye, usually pan fried. Down here ... Grouper is usually grilled, but you can order it 3 ways. Blackened, fried or grilled or broiled. All three are great ... I love just the grilled or broiled but enjoy them. My favorite place put just a little Old Bay on it, a dash of paprika, salt and pepper and then grilled (my favorite), a squeeze of lemon, a light spoon of coleslaw, nice piece of lettuce, sometimes a tomato which I like, a little thin onion slice and some tarter on the bun. Amazing!!

                                                      Me ... I love trout too, Also whiting is good, flounder, any. I pretty much enjoy any seafood. Hopefully some places will be rebuilt and opened. Anytime storms come through the Gulf, even though it may or may not hit it really affects the fishing.


                                                  2. And no one has mentioned San Francisco and Dungeness crabs. Or sourdough bread. Sheesh, guess we're too busy eating them.

                                                    1. Ok, couple of things to toss out. I don't know from cities, most of the things I've experienced have been regional things, not city-specific.

                                                      I've lived in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota (all before the age of 18), Alaska, and Vermont (after the age of 18). That's a fair amount of exposure, I guess I'll just ramble here...

                                                      Indiana and Michigan:
                                                      Fresh lake fish (blue gills are best) filleted and dredged in cornmeal, then fried in either lard or veg oil. I have never had fresh lake fish cooked this way anywhere else, though it's probably not only found where I had it. :)

                                                      Pork fritters, pounded flat and huge, breaded, deep fried, served on a bun that leaves around 1/2 inch of the fritter hanging out, served with dill pickle slices and mayo. This is something I can't find ANYWHERE else. I've even tried looking into getting some frozen pork fritters from somewhere but they won't sell them to me without a wholesale business thing. ;D

                                                      Also Iowa:
                                                      Maidrite sandwiches (AKA loose meat sandwiches). I've never, ever, seen or heard about these sandwiches anywhere other than Iowa. Basically it's ground beef that's been sorta well, boil/steamed and crumbly. There are two schools of thought regarding putting onion in with the cooking meat. Also, what they should be served with is hotly debated (ketchup, mustard, pickle, onion, or nothing). But they're served wet on a bun, everyone agrees to that much. :)

                                                      Lefse (you eat the lutefisk, *I* will take the lefse, fresh with butter please). This is an import from Norway or Sweden or some place like that. But it's still a regional favourite in Minnesota!

                                                      Halibut, my god the fresh halibut. *drool* Halibut fresh off the boat cooked that night... *daydreams for about an hour*

                                                      Maple syrup. I never understood why people liked maple syrup until I got me some Grade B from someone who sugars as a hobby after we'd moved here. I will never, ever, EVER accept imitation maple syrup on anything, ever again. :)

                                                      We visit Maine at least once a year, so just to add to this:

                                                      Fresh lobster, caught that day, steamed on the dock, and served with real butter. Lobsters from tanks in grocery stores simply can't compare.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Morganna

                                                        Hey Morganna, those Iowa pork fritters are also known as pork tenderloin sandwiches, and there are some threads on the midwest board about where the best place in Indiana is to get them. My husband used to work in a little restaurant here in Dayton that's no longer in business, and he learned to make them (slice boneless pork tenderloin into 1/2 inch slices, then pound flat, then dip in egg, then in seasoned flour, then dip again in egg and seasoned flour, then let them set up for a bit, then fry in lard or peanut oil). They are WONDERFUL! From the posts on the board about the tenderloins in IN, think they'd be the same thing.

                                                      2. Seattle: fresh salmon prepared any way (but mostly broiled or barbecued--traditionally on a plank); steamed clams or mussels, oysters on the half shell, wild huckleberry or blackberry pie; lattes (not just in chains--the theory is that it's so cold and raw and damp up here that we all have to drink these to stay warm). The seafood is the best because it's fresh! And Starbucks, rather than beating down mom and pop coffee places, spurred their growth.

                                                        Good luck finding the pie--especially the wild huckleberry-- except in private homes. Simply Dessert in Fremont has a nice berry pie that's the closest thing to homemade I've found.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: PAO

                                                          I had a terrific wild huckleberry pie at a little place outside Glacier National Park in Montana while I was on my cross country drive en route to Seattle.

                                                        2. Hey Powillie!

                                                          I just wanted to thank you for posting this ! What a fascinating subject!

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: NellyNel

                                                            NellyNel, thank you. This really has been fascinating. I would like to thank everyone that has responded for their input, it has been truly enlightening. We have all learned much about our world; I would love to experience it all. Thank you everyone, I am grateful.

                                                            1. re: powillie

                                                              Gotta give a shout to Buffalo, even though I live in Orlando now.

                                                              Wings, of course.

                                                              But underrated is Buffalo pizza. It's a thicker crust than NYC (it doesnt flop) but not a Chicago deep dish. The sauce is usually a little sweeter, the pepperoni spicy. Lots of real, usually SLICED (not shredded) mozzarella cheese. Bocce pizza is one of the best examples to cite.

                                                              1. re: powillie

                                                                This post has made me feel very naive about my own country!

                                                                I thought I knew all there is to know about my country's food - and I now I realize I know nothing! Even spcialties in my own state! There are so many regional specialties that I never even knew existed!
                                                                I too feel like I want to experience it all!
                                                                One day I'll have to get an RV and drive across the states seeking these foods out!!

                                                                Thanks Powillie and everyone else for your input!

                                                            2. Burlington Vermont has some pretty good Montreal style bagels, but as the name indicates they are not really from here.
                                                              The real gem is the wonderful range of heirloom apples that are available every fall.
                                                              Roxbury Russetts, Ananas Reinettes, Black Oxfords, Sheep’s Nose, Esopus Spitzenburgs, and Rhode Island Greenings among them.