Every state in the U.S. has an iconic dish to call its own.  Georgia has its peach pie, Louisiana its gumbo, and Pennsylvania its scrapple.  But not all plates are created equal.  I imagine that some came late to the party and, after finding out that ribs and brisket were taken, just threw up their hands and simply went with vinegar fries.  Anyway, here is my list of the Top 5 Best and Top 5 Worst State Dishes.


August 23, 2014: State Dishes – Best And Worst!

5. The Lobster Roll (Maine)

I discovered a newfound appreciation for the lobster roll two years ago when my buddy, Martin Gero, hired a lobster food truck to cater his birthday party.  Akemi was so enamored that she has taken to perfecting her own version.

August 23, 2014: State Dishes – Best And Worst!

4. Mud Pie (Mississippi)

I love my desserts decadent and chocolatey, and this one offers the very best of both worlds.

August 23, 2014: State Dishes – Best And Worst!

3. Philly Cheesesteak (Pennsylvania)

In terms of sandwiches, it doesn’t get any better than this: beef, green peppers, and cheese!

August 23, 2014: State Dishes – Best And Worst!

2. Ribs (Kansas)

Tender, juicy ribs smothered in the state’s classic sweet and tangy tomato and molasses-based sauce.

August 23, 2014: State Dishes – Best And Worst!

1. Ribs (Tennessee)

But as much as I love sauced rubs, there’s nothing quite like the delicious dry rub variety.


August 23, 2014: State Dishes – Best And Worst!

5. The Buffet (Vegas)

Mediocre jack of all culinary trades, master of run.

August 23, 2014: State Dishes – Best And Worst!

4. Funeral Potatoes (Utah)

Where the following ingredients go to die: hash browns, onions, cheese, potato chips, corn flakes, and cream soup.

August 23, 2014: State Dishes – Best And Worst!

3. Hot Dish (Minnesota)

“Hoddish” is a hot mess of ground beef, pasta, tomato, and cheese.  Variations include versions with green beans, cream of mushroom soup and sauerkraut.

August 23, 2014: State Dishes – Best And Worst!

2. Vinegar Fries (Delaware)

Why would you do that to a french fry?

August 23, 2014: State Dishes – Best And Worst!

1. Deep Dish Pizza (Illinois)

The picture alone triggers my gag reflex.

51 thoughts on “August 23, 2014: State dishes – Best and Worst!

  1. Canadian provinces also have their speciality foods – P.E.I muscles, Newfoundland Jig’s Dinner, Nova Scotia lobster, New Brunswick Fiddleheads, Quebec Poutine, Ontario Beaver tail, Manitoba Prairie Oysters, Saskatchewan cabbage rolls and perogies, Alberta beef and Butter tarts, British Columbia = Naniamo bars, salmon and wine.

  2. 4. Funeral Potatoes (Utah)
    Where the following ingredients go to die: hash browns, onions, cheese, potato chips, corn flakes, and cream soup.

    OH MY GOSH I make that!! And it’s pretty good too! 🙂

    3. Hot Dish (Minnesota)
    “Hoddish” is a hot mess of ground beef, pasta, tomato, and cheese. Variations include versions with green beans, cream of mushroom soup and sauerkraut.

    What’s wrong with you Joe? I would love to try this! Anybody got the recipe? 🙂

    Joe you are a serious snob. You need to chill. 😉 Not every dish has to be a Masterchef party in your mouth. 😉

    (sorry but, you might have pushed one or two of my buttons when you didn’t list any great Texas BBQ – ribs, brisket, beef, sausage, chicken, etc) Geesh.

    1. I listed the Philly cheesesteak in my Best Of list. Not exactly Masterchef either.

      I considered brisket (Texas) but the truth is I’ve had brisket of wildly varying qualities. When it’s done right, it melts in your mouth. When not done right, it’s a powdered brick.

  3. And still no feedback on the ceci…

    I don’t know why I even bother. 😉

    Also, vinegar on fries, or chips? Delish! I actually prefer French’s yellow mustard on my french fries. Yummy! 🙂


  4. I’ve had a lobster roll in Maine and dry rub ribs in Tennessee. Both delicious. But I will take TX BBQ any day. We have to take a class in the 8th grade in the public schools here on how to prepare grilled and smoked meats. We take our beef very seriously.

  5. Thank you for attributing “The Buffet” to Las Vegas and not Nevada. Contrary to what most Las Vegas inhabitants think, Nevada extends well beyond the city limits. Next time you travel to the ‘Old West’ you might want to:
    1) eat a steak/Prime Rib from local beef – Nevada’s third largest industry is cattle ranching;
    2) experience one of the many delicious Basque restaurants, served family style – remnants from early sheep farming;
    3) try a real chorizo – better than any other sausage sandwich you could eat;
    4) snack on some roasted pine nuts – which are actually seeds from pinion pine trees.

  6. Clearly you need to try *Tater Tot* Hot Dish. Every version I’ve had has left me wanting more.

  7. Ponytail: I’m with you, some of those “worst” dishes look pretty good.

    I live right across the state line next to Memphis and you find all kinds of BBQ there. However, that vinegar version in other areas is not bad either. The only bad kind of BBQ I’ve had is when it’s full of fat with bits of gristle, yuck! My favorite BBQ is the messy tomato sauce kind. It’s one of the few foods I’ll break my pescatarian diet for. BBQ yum!

    Funny but I’ve lived in Mississippi for almost ten years and I’ve NEVER seen a restaurant here offer the mud pie. Looks good though.

  8. 2. Vinegar Fries (Delaware)

    Why would you do that to a french fry?

    Maybe add some Old Bay and try them as “Boardwalk Fries”? Delaware only uses vinegar because Old Bay is from the Baltimore Spice Company (now McCormick) and it’s not in Delaware. 😉

  9. I’d never had vinegar on fries until I met a friend who introduced me to that wonderful combination. Jennifer from Vancouver, B.C. hehe

  10. @ das – Here you go…try it, you’ll like it…

    Hash Brown Casserole (Funeral Potatoes?)

    Mix together:
    1 can Cream of Celery Soup
    1 cup Sour Cream
    1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar Cheese
    1/4 cup chopped onion
    32 oz Bag frozen Hash Browns

    Put mixture in 13×9 glass pan
    Drizzle 1 stick melted butter on top of mixture.
    Top with crushed Corn Flakes

    Bake at 375 for 1 hour

    Great dish for office breakfasts or luncheons. Joe take it to the office some morning. They will love you.

  11. @ PBMom – Our BBQ is great, but our chili is even better? Wow! That’s some good eat’in here in Texas! Mmmmm, mmm.

  12. My mom used to make hot dish and she is from …..Minnesota :p

    You might have a Chicago mob heading your way as I type. They take their pizza pretty seriously 😀

  13. and i agree that putting vinegar on fries is a terrible idea.

    about the deep dish pizza: i’m reminded of jon stewart’s comment about it being like a casserole. it kind of look like you need a spoon to eat it.

  14. I can’t believe no one has called bullshit on my comment regarding all 8th graders having to take a class on how to cook beef.

  15. quoting Alexis:
    You might have a Chicago mob heading your way as I type. They take their pizza pretty seriously

    there may yet be a war between chicago style & new york style pizza fans.

  16. @ Jenny Horn – I had cooking in the 6th grade. We did not learn to make Texas BBQ. We made… chili, and I kid you not. PBMom was right.

  17. Vinegar on Fries is a Brit thing, comes attached to the Battered Fish – [The Newsprint ink is for extra flavour] – Usually a Malt-Vinegar [better tasting]. I grew up on it. Didn’t get around to trying ketchup until much later. – [oh.Look.what one of the ingredients to Ketchup is…]

    However, Anyone who likes Mustard on Fries should be *mashed*! — And don’t get me started on *POUTINE*!! – even the “word” makes me want to *HURL*!!

  18. Those funeral potatoes are calling my name. I love that it’s a state dish!

    Where, pray tell, was that lobster roll food truck located? Please say Vancouver!

  19. 1. @ Joe – Thanks for answering my question! I appreciate it very much.

    2. @ Sparrowhawk – Thanks for the head’s up about Joe answering my question. See? Sometimes it pays to wine whine. 😉

    3. @ Ponytail – Thanks! Now…to figure out how to make that GF. JUst gotta find a GF cream of celery soup – or a substitute (looks like most GF recipes just call for more sour cream, and ranch dip mix). Also…I’m thinking bacon would taste mighty good in this… 🙂

    4. @ Joe – I dare you to take Ponytail’s hash brown casserole challenge! 🙂

    5. @ Jenny Horn – I thought you were serious. 😛

    6. @ Ganymede – Mustard on french fries is very good. Mustard is also better on onion rings than ketchup. I think – and this is just my opinion – but I think the higher vinegar content in mustard helps to counteract the grease in the fries (even though I only eat oven-baked ‘fries’ now, they still contain oil). However, I will give you that it’s an acquired taste. I find that as I’ve gotten older I prefer the salty tartness of mustard to the sweetness of ketchup. I still use both, but find myself enjoying mustard more (and plain ol’ yellow mustard, at that).

    7. @ Joe – I still dare you to take Ponytail’s hash brown casserole challenge! (In case you missed it the first time. 😉 )


  20. PS: For the record, I also eat raw onions slathered in yellow mustard…so maybe I’m just really, really weird. 😛


  21. Sorry Joe, but I would never put a pepper of any kind on a cheesesteak and I’ve lived in SE PA (never Philly though) all my life. Onions get cooked in with the meat.

  22. Here in Texas, brisket is mandatory. You’re right about melt-in-your-mouth wonderfulness. Some dry rub, slow smoking, and a dash of sauce on the side – terrific. Anyone who turns it into a “powdered brick” should be run out of the state!

  23. Yeah…Chicago deep dish is good stuff. The picture you used is not representative of some of the better deep dish selections.

    Have had vinegar on fries…as part of fish & chips and also because of close proximity to something with a vinegar based dressing/sauce. and it is fine.

    Have had variations of the potatoes and hot dish…and liked them.

    Am not fond of green peppers in anything…but would have a philly cheesesteak without them.

    Cannot argue the ribs, or chocolate yum pie.

    Otherwise…me thinks you pushed a few buttons…LOL.

  24. If you don’t like your chips, sorry fries, with vinegar then I suggest you never go on a night out in Britain………..would now also be a good time to mention Cheesy Chips and Chips with curry sauce ?;))

  25. My mom occasionally makes potato casserole, though I’ve never heard them referred to as funeral potatoes, and none of us are at all from Utah. It’s actually pretty tasty.

  26. Vinegar fries? I heard the British used Vinegar on fries or is it chips. Why? British cuisine is world renowned.

    Hot Dish “Minnesotan” (Ja, don’t cha know) for casserole contains many things, but sour Kraut? Pasta, too complicated. Tater tots crisp and golden brown! True it is not intended for the Foodi, but fast, easy and feeds many.

    I have had many a pizza in Chicago (work provided). It would make me hope for a slice of deep dish. Have yet to have a deep dish here. Joe, not sure what you consider great pizza.

  27. G’day

    Love vinegar on my hot chips.
    Deep dish pizza is the best kind of pizza.
    I am going to try Ponytail’s Hash Brown Casserole. If I can find a can Cream of Celery Soup. Might have to use Cream of Mushroom. Yes, Das, adding bacon sounds good.

  28. How about a good gumbo recipe?? My husband like mustard with his fries, he was looking for ways to have less sugar, and he really likes this.

  29. I love South Carolina’s Slaw Dog. Thrasher’s fries with Apple Cider vinegar are so good. Wish I had some right now.

  30. I love those funeral potatoes. My wife hates that name so she calls them cheesy potatoes. That and some ham? Wow.

    Yes, I’m from Utah.

  31. Anyways, I thought Utah’s state dish was the Navajo Taco. Which is way better than Funeral Potatoes.

  32. For Funeral Potatoes (My wife hates that name, and insists on calling it potato casserole), you have to have a good recipe. We had one batch at a church dinner that smelled like spew and had bizarre ingredients that had no business in funeral potatoes. (I suspect something had happened like the beef trifle in the Friends episode!). My favorite way to eat funeral potatoes is to stir in diced ham. Delicious!

  33. Don’t knock Chicago deep dish pizza until you have tried an “authentic” one. They are AMAZING (I say this hesitantly, I am a New Yorker after all!)

  34. I just heard a radio story yesterday about “Detroit-style frog legs” and how they were THE foodie sensation about a 100 hundred years ago. President Grover Cleveland went on record saying Detroit-style frog legs was his favourite dish. Detroit literally went through TONS of frog legs per season, exporting some to Chicago and the east coast.

    I had no idea Detroit had a signature dish at one time that completely vanished from the city’s consciousness in a matter of a few decades. There’s a description of the dish (and the radio interview transcript) here:


    “They were basically very simple. They would roll them in egg wash and then roll them in cracker crumbs and fry them in butter; those were called roadhouse style.”

  35. Ah, Chicago deep dish… At the University of Chicago Law School, every single lunch-time meeting (club meetings, administrative announcements, anything you wanted people to show up to) was accompanied by multiple deep dish pies at the back of the room as the inducement to get students to come listen to what is was you had to say. I ate SO MUCH DEEP DISH. Too much, in fact. Enough for a lifetime.

    My first semester of first year, I was a novice and thought going back for seconds was a good idea. It was not. After about the 4th or 5th meeting during which I had to give half of my second piece to a friend to finish for me, I realized that it’s just not possible, no matter how hungry I might think myself to be, to physically fit 2 whole slices of deep dish in my stomach. That stuff is so dense that each slice is the equivalent weight of like 4 slices of regular pizza. And almost all that weight is cheese. There must be like 2 whole bricks of mozzarella on one pizza. After one of those lunch-time meetings, I wouldn’t have to eat for the rest of the day.

  36. One addendum it is Mn State Fair time. One of the many items on a stick (because most every thing can be found on a stick) is Hot dish on a stick, at OLE & LENA’S booth on Liggett St. Or, you can go to Lulu’s House and have • Breakfast Juicy LuLu – An English muffin with two American cheese-stuffed sausage patties – served until 11 a.m. • Deep-Fried Lobster On-a-Stick – Canadian lobster pieces poached in butter, dipped in a corn batter, deep-fried and served with a spiced dipping sauce. • Prime Rib Taco – Sliced rotisserie prime rib served in a flour tortilla with sautéed onions and peppers and topped with chili con queso.

  37. I am so sad that you don’t like hot dish. I understand it doesn’t look all that appetizing, but provided it doesn’t have sauerkraut (eww), it’s delicious.

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