The Midwest is known as the heartland of the country. Not only because of its location, but because of the values its citizens possess. With their stereotypical thoughtfulness and businesses that help hold down the fort – with “fort” being our country, that is – the Midwest is often seen as the glue that helps hold America together. They’re that important. And did we mention they have some pretty good food? With such a broad span across the nation and roots that stick where they land, the Midwest has become home to some incredible dishes. Whether you’ve visited or are considering a trip just so you can test out the flavors, here are some Midwestern resident faves:
6. Deep Dish Pizza
Hailing from Chicago, the largest town in the entire Midwest (and one of the largest cities in the nation), this pizza is as filling as it is delicious. And when they say deep, they mean it. The crust is enough to fill you up on its own, let alone with all the toppings of choice. Just don’t be alarmed when it comes out red, sauce is traditionally placed on top, rather than underneath the toppings. Stop along a street stand for a slice on the go (though, in all reality, you’ll need a knife and a fork … and multiple napkins), or seek out a local favorite sit-down stop. Just know that, for the best stops, you’ll likely be waiting more than an hour!
5. Family-Style Meals
Because they’re known for families – often big ones – the Midwest is home to the “family-style meal.” This means large servings in bowls or large containers. Where dishes are all brought out at once and folks serve themselves … just like you’d eat at home. This can be found at both sit-down and fast-food restaurants, and is often a better deal for your buck. Generally you can choose the number of eaters, and a few sides as well, that way you’re getting a side sample, but still have a pick of your family’s (or friends’) favorites. Casseroles and salads – lettuce or otherwise – are often popular choices.
4. Wisconsin Cheese
They’re known for it, you’ve heard of it, and thousands eat it every year. And for good reason. This state offers up their favorite dairy dishes in all types of flavors and consistencies, and it’s delicious. If you haven’t yet graced your taste buds with their masterpieces, it’s high time you give it a try. There are even dairy tours for newbies to test out! So much cheese, and so much flavor; if you’re so inclined, pack some crackers for your tasting pleasure.
3. Loose Meat Sandwich
Often known as a sloppy Joe, the Midwest takes this classic dish to a new level. Which is to say they take out the tomato sauce, but not the mess. Depending on who’s cooking, the meal can come with various seasoning and breads, though it’s generally served on a bun, hamburger style, and served with traditional burger fare. Like pickles and onions. Brave your version and eat with your hands, or go the safe route (so as to not lose any food) and stick to a fork instead.
2. Juneberry Pie
Dark in color and very blueberry-esque, the Juneberry is a Dakota classic. They’re produced in the summer – hence it’s “June” name – and call for some seriously delicious pies to be made. (Other pastries are created, though pies remain as the local favorite.) Traditional Juneberry crust is made with almond flavoring for a nutty contrast with each bite. The real stuff even calls for almond slices for added texture and garnish.
1. Cincinnati Chili
Chili is known in all regions with its respective differences, and in Cincinnati, that means noodles. Much like spaghetti, the chili is topped with a heavy helping of pasta. Chili flavors and add-ins vary from cook to cook, but are most often topped with a handful of cheddar cheese to help send the dish home. Personal favorites, such as jalapeno slices or sour cream, and oyster crackers are also welcome.