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America’s Worst Food

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Anyone is going to quibble with a list ranking state signature foods. And I have my quibbles too. First, lobster rolls are awesome. What a lobster roll means is that New England has such good seafood that it’s no big deal to eat lobster, so we are going to put it on a split roll with some lettuce and mayo and crappy fries on the side and the rest of you wish you could do that too. Also, what’s with ragging on Texas BBQ. Fail. On the other hand, New York pizza is the most overrated food in the country.

But we can all agree on the nation’s worst food:

For the mercifully unacquainted, “Cincinnati chili,” the worst regional foodstuff in America or anywhere else, is a horrifying diarrhea sludge (most commonly encountered in the guise of the “Skyline” brand) that Ohioans slop across plain spaghetti noodles and hot dogs as a way to make the rest of us feel grateful that our own shit-eating is (mostly) figurative. The only thing “chili” about it is the shiver that goes down your spine when you watch Ohio sports fans shoveling it into their maws on television and are forced to reckon with the cold reality that, for as desperately as you might cling to faltering notions of community and universality, ultimately your fellow human beings are as foreign and unknowable to you as the surface of Pluto, and you are alone and always have been and will die alone, a world unto yourself unmarked and unmapped and totally, hopelessly isolated.

But wait! This abominable garbage-gravy isn’t just sensorily and spiritually disgusting—it’s culturally grotesque, too! What began as an ethnic curio born of immigrant make-do—a Greek-owned chili parlor that took its “Skyline” name from its view of the city of Cincinnati—is now a hulking private-equity-owned corporate monolith that gins up interest in its unmistakably abhorrent product by engineering phony groups of “chili fanatics” to camp out in advance of the opening of new chains, in locations whose residents would otherwise see this shit-broth for what it is and take up torches and truncheons to drive it back into the wilderness.

Whatever virtue this bad-tasting Z-grade atrocity once contained derived from its exemplification of a set of certain cherished American fables—immigrant ingenuity, the cultural melting pot, old things combining into new things—and has now been totally swamped and consumed by different and infinitely uglier American realities: the commodification of culture; the transmutation of authentic artifacts of human life into hollow corporate brand divisions; the willingness of Americans to slop any horrible goddamn thing into their fucking mouths if it claims to contain some byproduct of a cow and comes buried beneath a pyramid of shredded, waxy, safety-cone-orange “cheese.”

Cincinnati chili is the worst, saddest, most depressing goddamn thing in the world. If it came out of the end of your digestive system, you would turn the color of chalk and call an ambulance, but at least it’d make some sense. The people of Ohio see nothing wrong with inserting it into their mouths, which perhaps tells you everything you need to know about the Buckeye State. Don’t eat it. Don’t let your loved ones eat it. Turn away from the darkness, and toward the deep-dish pizza.

Not sure what one can add to that. Also not sure how one could disagree.

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  • snarkout

    Every word about Skyline there is true, but I think you and Deadspin really undersold the disgustingness of lutefisk.

    • Warren Terra

      When I was a kid in Seattle, the Norwegian neighborhood Ballard (or, really, the Norwegian-for-tourist-purposes neighborhood, mostly, happily welcoming Norwegians of all nationalities and ethnicities) dropped the Lutefisk-Eating Contest from its annual street fair for several years. The popular story was that the health inspector refused to certify that the Lutefisk hadn’t gone off. How could they tell, after all?

      • Jon H

        Is it even *possible* for lutefisk to go off?

      • (the other) Davis

        I wish they had never brought it back. I watched that contest once back in the noughties, and it was one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever seen.

        • Warren Terra

          I thought I’d heard they did bring it back?

          • (the other) Davis

            They did–I was simply wishing they hadn’t. I still can’t wash away the mental image of actual humans chugging a huge bowl of that disgusting slurry. (Not to mention the ensuing embarrassing display when the second-place finisher accused the top finisher of cheating.)

    • fka AWS

      I wasn’t aware that lutefisk was a signature food of any state in the union, thankfully.

      • It sort of was in Minnesota, maybe 50 years ago. Anybody who eats Lutefisk now is over 70. I was raised in rural MN in those days and am half Swedish and half Norwegian (so, a product of an inter-racial marriage in my grandparents’ eyes). Now you just encounter the vile stuff at ethnic pride sort of affairs. Plus still in the Lutheran holiday fests. My brother once tried to make lutefisk in a microwave for my great uncle; we had to throw the microwave away since nothing could get the smell out.

        • I’m not gonna go look now, but PZ Meyers has posted before about his kids coming home for the holidays and insisting on making lutefisk (Because Tradition) complete with pictures of horrifying radioactive-green goo.

    • Jon H

      Yes. There’s no way a steamed cheeseburger could possibly be worse than lye-soaked fish.

    • Hank

      I came to the comments to see how long it would take for lutefisk to raise its ugly head. And it was in the first comment I saw!

      My grandparents always insisted that properly prepared lutefisk was tasty, but I could never get them to tell me where one might obtain properly prepared lutefisk. I was always presented with cold fish jello.

      • Hurling Dervish

        Lutefisk cannot fail – it can only be failed.

        • Anna in PDX

          I have nothing to contribute, only that this is a clever nym.

  • slocum

    From having lived there for a bit, I always assumed the state dish of Ohio was lead-based paint.

    • James E. Powell

      Sadly, I am always called upon to remind the geographically challenged that Cincinnati is in the lower left-hand corner of Ohio and is really the cultural capital of Kentucky and the more KKK-friendly sections of southern Indiana.

      Ohio’s northern counties, in contrast, are filled with Democrats and Catholics and pretty good food. Central and northern Ohio has multitudes of Amish, the original locavores. None of them have anything to do with Cincinnati.

  • rea

    Oh, hell yes–they’ve far understated its awfulness (speaking as a naive boy who grew up in New Mexico, who made the mistake of thinking, a couple of hours before oral argument in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, that a nice bowl of chili would just hit the spot)(I’ve had nightmares involving noodles ever since).

    • DrDick

      Having grown up in Oklahoma, where chili is a religion, and having eaten Cincinnati chili, I have to agree that it is an abomination that should never be allowed. On the other hand one should not overlook the horror that is Wisconsin chili (think Tomato soup with catsup, canned beans, hamburger, no seasonings, and pasta).

      • Brien Jackson

        Conversely, Oklahoma has never struck me as anything other than an exurb of hell…and that includes most of the things I’ve eaten there.

        • DrDick

          They have really good chili and BBQ, but otherwise not much to brag about.

          • GoDeep

            Oklahoma Joe’s!

            (Of which there’s not a location in OK that I know of, but they know how to BBQ a brisket!)

      • That wasn’t Wisconsin chili; that’s a joke we play on visitors. We keep the good stuff for ourselves.

        • Also, the Minnesotans seem to like it.

        • DrDick

          Oddly, I have only ever seen Wisconsites eat it (I won’t touch the stuff).

          • how were you able to tell the difference between Wisconsinites and Minnesotans?

            • DrDick

              They proudly advertised it.

      • MAJeff

        think Tomato soup with catsup, canned beans, hamburger, no seasonings, and pasta

        You’ve just described the cuisines of Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Wisconsin. I refer to it as the Midwestern Allergy to Flavor.

      • Buffalo Rude

        Some of the best chili I’ve ever had was when I was passing through Tulsa or Oklahoma City.

  • Hanspeter

    Anyone who disses NY style pizza has never had St. Louis pizza.

    • somethingblue

      The worst pizza I have ever had, by a country mile and then some, was in Columbus, OH. A dollop of Cincinnati chili would have improved it.

      • Chet Manly

        Ohio is a freaking culinary wasteland. They must have the blandest palates on God’s green earth. I lived there four years and the best Mexican food I could find was still horribly depressing. There were a couple of nice mom and pop Asian right by Wright Patterson, but otherwise it was like the whole state was allergic to spice racks.

        • rea

          Ohio grows lots of beets, though . . .

        • Brenda Johnson

          Anything south of Cleveland is going to blow goats, food-wise. “Amish style” is as ethnic as it gets. Cleveland, on the other hand, is another story.

        • djw

          Happy to report that the greater Dayton area now has several places to get pretty good tacos. Immigration is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

          • Chet Manly

            That’s good to hear. I’ll probably be back there for a class next spring and in the late 90s Chili’s was by far the best Mexican food in southwest Ohio.

      • GoDeep

        Then try ordering the pepperoni pizza in London. That pizza in Columbus would seem like caviar.

        • (the other) Davis

          A friend likes to relate a story of his time in Japan from before he could speak Japanese. He walked into what looked like a perfectly cromulent pizza joint with a hearty craving for the taste of home, not realizing until his first bite that the perfectly browned “cheese” was cleverly disguised mayonnaise.

          I’ve stopped complaining about pizza ever since I heard that story.

    • Brandon

      Florida pizza is, by far, the worst pizza I’ve ever had. Unless you’re going to a restaurant that you know is run by a NYC or Chicago transplant, stay far, far away.

      • Rigby Reardon

        But there is no regional style called “Florida pizza.” There are shitty pizza joints everywhere, and we definitely have our share – but when it comes to cuisine in Florida, I think that your advice is more accurately applied to Chinese food. Always awful, even when prepared by actual Chinese people who know how to cook. Must be something in our water.

        • Warren Terra

          Chinese Food on the East Coast is a pretty chancy thing in my experience. Especially the “Crab Rangoon”, which few Chinese Restaurants in New England would be without, and which I’ve never seen on the West Coast.

          • fka AWS

            Chinese Food on the East Coast anywhere is a pretty chancy thing in my experience.
            There is a China Wok restaurant in every hamlet and village from Portland, Maine to San Diego, California.

          • BigHank53

            Asian food is not a bad bet in many of the urban centers on the East Coast. Check for a menu or a specials board that isn’t written in English. Wheaton, MD (DC suburb) actually has an amazing selection of ethnic places, most of them in ratty strip malls.

            • Cheap Wino

              Calvin Trillin has an essay in one of his Tummy Trilogy books that laments about eating in one of his favorite Chinese places and having had everything on the menu yet seeing a Chinese person at the next table eating something he’s never had before. Great stuff and all three books are well worth the read.

              And yeah, a key in finding a good Chinese hole-in-the-wall is seeing dishes on a handwritten piece of paper on the wall in Chinese with a price next to it.

              • njorl

                And yeah, a key in finding a good Chinese hole-in-the-wall is seeing dishes on a handwritten piece of paper on the wall in Chinese with a price next to it.

                I can just imagine trying this. I’d wind up buying the owner’s snowblower that he’s trying to get rid of.

                • redrob64

                  Hot coffee burns the sinuses. Thanks for helping me learn that.

            • Gene

              I can’t tell you how excited I am to see a shout-out to my neighborhood! You’re totally right about our restaurant options here. One of the benefits of living in such a wildly diverse community. We’re all feeling very cautious about the upcoming “redevelopment” efforts for the town and the possible impact on all these small businesses.

          • You need to know where to eat in the various Chinatowns.

            For instance, take NY. If you eat at Wo Hop’s, you need to eat downstairs.

            That’s where the neighborhood folks eat. Upstairs is where the tourists eat.

            I know this because I dated the daughter of a competitor and her father told me about the “back room” restaurants. They all have them, a dedicated immigrant seating that you need to either know about or get invited to.

            • Sherm

              Ho right. And downstairs is where you eat after you’ve been out drinking all night!

            • LeeEsq

              I love Wo Hop. I work near there. There soft-shelled crabs and Chinese-style steak are delicious.

          • DocAmazing

            Crab Rangoon is pretty common in the Bay Area, with possibly the best example being found at Trader Vic’s in Emeryville. (Get a mai tai while you’re there. It’s got nothing to do with the canned-pineapple-juice-and-store-brand-rum concoctions most places serve.)

            • djw

              In Seattle, curiously, it was only seen on Thai restaurant menus. (In Dayton, it’s everywhere Asian. Even sushi places.)

              I feel like I heard or read somewhere it was invented in SF.

              • DocAmazing

                Possibly Trader Vic’s. If their PR is to be believed, they were pioneers of haute cuisine.

            • sparks

              I don’t think I’d ever seen it in SF’s Chinatown. I only go to certain spots I know/have been taken to by friends. It’s been about five years, though.

      • Hanspeter

        St. Louis pizza: thin crackly unleavened crust (actually the only bearable part of it), tomato sauce that’s a mixture of ketchup and oregano, and Provel cheese, a processed cheese mixture made only for the St. Louis market that makes Velveeta seem sophisticated.

      • isbp

        Florida has mauled another cuisine, as well. On a trip to Cocoa Beach to see the penultimate shuttle launch we went in search of Mexican food and found a place called Azteca Two in the first floor of one of the hundreds of beachfront-gobbling hotel/condo monstrosities.

        Pump cheese on an enchilada? Are you kidding me? Limp, barely warmed meat? Warm draft beer? Cockroaches behind and below our booth? Garbage strewn about? Windows smeared opaque with unknown substances?

        I checked out a review on Y*** and see that they are rated as 3/5 stars. Somebody must be paying the extortionist’s fee for the deletion of the authentic reviews.

    • junker

      Oh man, I like to try local versions of pizza when I travel, and the St. Louis style pizza I got was the worst pizza experience of my life.

  • Corey m

    Claiming that NY pizza is the signature food of New York is just downstate bias. The signature food of NY is obviously Buffalo Wings.

    • ajay

      The Empire State (which doesn’t have an empire) also doesn’t have buffalo, and, if it did, they wouldn’t have wings. Corey’s argument is therefore unassailable.

      • rea

        The historic range of the American bison extended well into upstate NY:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bison_original_range_map.svg

        • ajay

          As did the range of the Arctic ice cap. http://academics.smcvt.edu/vtgeographic/textbook/glaciers/Vermont_glaciers.htm

          Nowadays, however, no ice cap, no buffalo. (zoos etc aside)

          • “No ice” would explain why the Sabres suck.

            • John (not McCain)

              [shakes fist impotently]DAMN YOU REALITY![heads for xbox where the Sabres DO NOT SUCK]

          • rea

            The historic range of the ice cap did not extend to upstate NY–you’re thinking prehsitoric.

            There were bison in upstate NYC during recorded history, e. g., after people with writing settled the region.

            • Bas-O-Matic

              Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

        • DrDick

          They were also in Florida. Woods bison (a slightly smaller subspecies) ranged throughout the eastern woodlands, though were not generally very numerous.

    • Ronan

      Do you eat here Corey

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anchor_Bar

      I was lucky to once
      what a day it was beautiful

      • bluefoot

        In Buffalo, there are two schools of thought on wings: Anchor Bar or Duff’s. Me, I’m Duff’s all the way.

        • Ronan

          GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!
          I have no idea of the difference, but it feels like something Im going to pontifiate endlessly on for the next 10 hrs!

        • Anchor Bar Suicide Wings and a bucket of Genny Ales.

          That is all.

        • jimmy6

          Duff’s but only the original on Sheridan.
          wings, fries n gravy, loganberry

    • Decrease Mather

      Beef on Wick for the traditionalists.

      And then there’s the Garbage Plate.

      • Turkle

        Oh man, I was in Buffalo for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and I must have eaten a dozen beef on weck sandwiches. Stunning when done right, especially after 4 or 5 cold ones.

      • John (not McCain)

        Raw meat on a roll covered in rock salt. What could be more Buffalo?

        Except, of course, for the pizza, which is the best pizza the world has ever known.

        • bluefoot

          Now I’m getting hungry. There’s a place here in Cambridge that has beef on weck on its menu, but I haven’t tried it yet. (Like trying to find *good* wings outside of Buffalo, I’m afraid I will be disappointed by beef on weck anywhere else.) But now I’m craving La Nova pizza….

          • John (not McCain)

            The original La Nova location is within walking distance of my house.

      • This.

        And I say that as a native New Yorker who has eaten nearly every local delicacy (still think speidies ought to be the runner up, then city pizza)

      • Jon C

        The Garbage Plate does not, to my knowledge, exist east of Rochester, and Jeebus willing that line will stand.

        • Macho Burger, Cortland

          Sorry for the bad news. On the bright side, it tends to suck and take a long time for them to make.

          • Jon C

            Things fall apart; the center cannot hold …

            In seriousness, I can understand it as an off-menu curiosity, which it looks like it is there. But ultimately it’s just a cheap delivery system for meats and starches with a particular history. And that’s great, but not really a regional food.

            • Decrease Mather

              No, it’s not really a regional food, more of a rite of passage for Rochester suburban teenagers. While drunk, go to Nick Tahou’s in the city (horrors!).

        • TribalistMeathead

          At least one place in Manhattan does a Garbage Plate.

      • Michael Sullivan

        Definitely the garbage plate.

        I never had a standard buffalo wing in Rochester. 2 or 3 different places to get sweet mustard sauce hot wings that were very tasty though, and nothing like I’ve had anywhere else.

        Also, the wings available from backdoor pizza (late night orders from the kitchen of the UR dining hall) were actually really good, plain dry fried wings with a tomatoey-buffalo style sauce on the side. Can’t recommend the pizza however. Even if you are from the school that says even bad pizza is still pizza, it’s barely pizza. Or at least that’s the way it was c. 1990.

    • CJColucci

      What, no love for the salt potato[e]?

      • Not filling enough.

        Now, salt potatoes and Hartmann’s brats. Now THAT’S a meal

      • Decrease Mather

        I was going to mention those. But they’re really just heavily salted potatoes.

      • Sherm

        You must be from central new york. Salt potatoes are great. As are Hoffmann’s franks and snappy grillers.

    • Sherm

      As a native upstater who lives downstate, I say flip a coin. They are both great, although you can’t get downstate quality pizza upstate and you can’t get upstate quality wings downstate. And anyone who questions the quality of New york Pizza has never been taken to a good New York pizzeria.

      • Halloween Jack

        There is good pizza in NYC, which is only what you’d expect from a city that is constantly infused with smart, talented people from somewhere else. The problem that New Yorkers have is that they believe that all the pizza there is better than any pizza from anywhere else. They see pizza that can’t be folded up lengthwise like a goddamn paper airplane and they’re confused and a little scared.

        • Sherm

          I like a good New York style pizza better than a good version of any other style of pizza, but I’ll take a good alternative style of pizza over a mediocre New York pie.

    • GoDeep

      Can you really go wrong with either one?

  • Snarki, child of Loki

    Try scrapple. I dare you.

    • CaptBackslap

      My once-stepmother, who grew up in Philly and apparently had some sort of Stockholm Syndrome version of nostalgia, bought a brick o’ scrapple for Sunday breakfast one morning when I was a kid. I wisely refused to eat it after I saw and smelled it cooking, and she and my dad had exactly one bite each before they threw it away.

      • mollweide

        Must have been defective scrapple.

        • there’s another kind?

          • njorl

            People who think it is like breakfast sausage and make thick patties out of it are lucky to escape with their lives. Thinly sliced and fried to crispness, it’s tasty.

            • Halloween Jack

              Thinly sliced and fried to crispness, almost anything is tasty. (The main exception is what comes out of a butthole, although buttholes themselves are exempt, as McDonald’s well knows.)

    • Anonymous

      My dad and uncle love this Iowa Dutch thing that I can’t spell, but it’s like some kind of fried liver pudding served with Karo syrup.

      Utterly vile.

    • Richard Hershberger

      Meh. I’m not saying scrapple is good. Far from it. But it fundamentally is just low-grade sausage with lots of filler. My objection is not that it is disgusting. It is merely mildly unpleasant. My objection rather is that if I am going to eat ridiculously unhealthy food, I want it to be tasty. This is why I never buy bacon in the supermarket. As an occasional treat I go to a butcher and buy a slab. Good or bad, the stuff will kill you. I don’t want to lie on my deathbed regretting having wasted precious moments of life on substandard breakfast meats.

      • Brien Jackson

        Scrapple is pretty disgusting. But to each their own.

    • Hogan

      My wife keeps threatening to cook that for me. (Well, I think of it as a threat.)

    • BigHank53

      Jeez, hasn’t anyone had scrapple prepared properly? You’ll need the following implements:

      1. Cast-iron skillet.
      2. Pork fat: lard or leftover bacon grease.

      Use medium-low heat. Use about five times as much fat as you’d first assume. Fry slices of scrapple (no more than 3/8″ thick, and 1/4″ is better) slowly until well done. The edges must be crispy. Up to you if you want the whole thing crispy.

      Now, I’m not claiming that this will be good. But it’ll at least be edible. Of course, preparing used bicycle inner tubes and pieces of cardboard this way would likely make them edible too.

      • njorl

        You can do that with cardboard, or possibly even eggplant, and it will be OK.

    • Jim

      I think anytime it’s mentioned, someone’s obligated to post this:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HazgL0SLQzg

      • Jim

        Damnation. Out-Fulksed by Western Dave.

    • GoDeep

      I once got tricked into eating scrapple on a 1st date. There wasn’t a 2nd date.

  • Brandon

    Very happy to see that they went with deep dish pizza over a Chicago-style hotdog for Illinois.

    • Halloween Jack

      Well, let’s face it, with extremely few exceptions, hot dogs are just sausage-shaped bologna. Chicago dogs at least allow that there might be more variations in condiments than tomato ketchup, yellow mustard, and sweet pickle relish.

      • Linnaeus

        When I lived in Ann Arbor, I used to get Chicago dogs at a place called Red Hot Lovers, which has since closed and reopened as Ray’s Red Hots. Haven’t tried the food yet under the new regime.

  • Colin

    In my 22 years in NE Ohio, I not only never saw Cincinnati chili; I didn’t even know it existed. Clearly, the northeastern part of the state’s attempt to stave of Cincinnati’s hegemony by simply ignoring I was, in hindsight, the correct choice.

  • junker

    As a CT resident, I don’t know why they picked the steamed hamburger and not our signature dish, the Apizza. Pepe’s pizza is a lot more famous than Ted’s.

    • Hanspeter

      If they chose CT apizza, the author would have had to downgrade the deep dish pizza, and this was his way around it.

    • Apizza really is something anyone who finds herself near New Haven ought to make a point of eating.

    • calling all toasters

      Clam pizza is probably the most overrated foodstuff I have ever encountered. To be fair, it’s just a really dumb-sounding idea that didn’t work out any better than it should have.

      • junker

        Oh, clam pizza is really not good. But the clam pizza with white sauce isn’t the original Apizza model.

        • I’ve only ever had clam pizza at Pizzeria Mezza Luna in Woonsocket, RI, but I like theirs.

    • Jon H

      They could also have picked the regular hamburger, which supposedly was invented in New Haven.

  • JMG

    1. Steamed cheeseburgers are OK, as long as you remember to get the honking big slice of onion on top.
    2. I prefer Duff’s to the Anchor Bar when I’m seeking out wings in Buffalo.
    3. Crab cakes should be ranked first, not fourth.

    • bluefoot

      It’s funny, everyone talks about the Anchor Bar, but I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t prefer Duff’s.

      • John (not McCain)

        That’s because the Anchor Bar has been mainly a tourist trap for YEARS now. I’ve never had Duff’s, but I have had Anchor Bar wings – wings from just about any corner pizza/wings place are better.

        • bluefoot

          If you ever get a chance, definitely try Duff’s. The wings are meaty, nice and crispy under the sauce, and the sauce is authentic Buffalo.

          I’ve been trying to replicate the blue cheese one gets in Bflo, and I’ve never had blue cheese outside of Bflo that comes close. Any suggestions?

          • John (not McCain)

            I hate the blue cheese part of the wings experience, but when I first met Buffalo natives in Kentucky many years ago they used Marie’s. I don’t know if it’s because that’s the best they could get and they didn’t really like it, though.

            • bluefoot

              I don’t like blue cheese on wings (people who dip their wings in blue cheese baffle me), but I do like blue cheese with my carrots and celery. My brother lately also mentioned Marie’s as a passable substitute.

  • ironic irony

    NY pizza overrated?! Lies!!11!1!1!1!

    The mom and pop pizza joints are the best.

    • I feel I have to defend the NYC pizza, too.

      It’s obvious the critics have never had the real NY Mom & Pop thing – just some knock-off wanna-be’s, and people making “NY-Style Pizza”* ‘on-the-cheap.”
      Even in NYC, too many pizza places make sh*tty pies, and provide ‘guilt by association’ to the place that know how to do it right!

      There’s little better than a hand-made-in-front-of-you, thin-crusted pie, with some fresh tomato’s, some hand-sliced mozzarella cheese, with some fresh herbs, a drizzle of olive oil, some fresh garlic – sliced, or chopped – and shaved sprinkles of either real parmesan or romano cheese – baked until the crust is crisp enough to fold, and cracks, but doesn’t break when you fold it in half.
      If the slice doesn’t crack when you fold it, then it ain’t done. And if it breaks in two – it’s overdone.
      And if it ain’t done right, then that pizza place doesn’t know how to make pizza.
      Oh, and note to tourists: No one, NO ONE, in NYC eats pizza with a knife and fork!
      NO ONE – that is, except Donald Trump.
      And ask yourself do you really want to be associated with him, in any way?
      HELL NO!!!

      PS: I didn’t get enough abuse the last time, so I’ll say it again – NO FRUIT ON PIZZA!
      Except, the tomato, of course. Olives, are also acceptable.

      Now, fruit may taste good on bread, with or without cheese – but please refrain from calling it a “pizza.”
      Call it a “Fruitzza,” or something…

      Fruit on a pizza, is an abomination before The Great FSM!
      Not as great as Cincinnati chili is – but it’s up there!!!

      *No matter where you are, if you’re not IN the particular place of origin for that food, always beware – to the point of running the other way – of any dish offered with the suffix “-style.”

      • Ronan

        they eat mars bars with a knife and for though?
        agreed on the fruit on pizza
        why would you?

      • rea

        hand-sliced mozzarella cheese

        I always prefer to use a knife, myself.

        • Why?

          If you’ve lost your mind like I have, and have emulated the only thing you can afford to do that Howard Hughes did, which is grow long, talon-like finger-nails, hand-slicing mozzarella is preferable – as long as you don’t slice your other hand along with the cheese!

          That stuff under the fingernails?
          I call that, “fiber!”

      • Fruit on a pizza, is an abomination before The Great FSM!

        Shouldn’t that be the FPM?

        • No. The PM has a terrestrial, riparine habit. (Also, none of that “noodly appendages” stuff: extra toppings. Lots and lots of extra toppings.)

      • ajay

        I didn’t get enough abuse the last time, so I’ll say it again – NO FRUIT ON PIZZA!
        Except, the tomato, of course. Olives, are also acceptable.

        What other fruit is there that you’d conceivably put on a pizza? Serious question. Peppers? Is that an abomination?

        Or do people go around putting sliced banana on pizza or something peculiar like that?

        • Barry Freed

          Pineapple. It’s a thing. Never tried it; never will.

          • ajay

            Pineapple? For the love of God, Montresor!

            • Halloween Jack

              In one of the books on Apple’s early days, one of the Macintosh team said that one of Steve Jobs’ criteria for hiring team members was that they like pineapple pizza, because they ate the stuff every night.

            • Djur

              You’ve never heard of Hawaiian pizza? It’s terrible.

        • sparks

          Pineapple. With Canadian Bacon. They called it a Hawaiian pizza here, haven’t seen one in years but I assume it still can be had. A good pizza joint should never serve that.

          • Anna in PDX

            This is not a thing anymore? I no longer eat pork but it was actually a thing I liked as as kid. (hangs head in shame)

            • DocAmazing

              When I was a wee li’l thing, there was a pizza place in Portland called The Organ Grinder that had pretty decent pizza and a gigantic Wurlitzer. They had Canadian bacon and pineapple pizza (as I recall, they called the combo the Hula Lula). Are they still there? For that matter, back in those bygone days, the best pizza in all Oregon was Galucci’s in Lincoln City–are they still there?

            • sparks

              The topping is associated with some painful memories for me, so I never ate or sought out that pizza after about 1982. I never saw anyone order or eat one since then. I assumed it was a fad, but a menu from a chain place affirms that pineapple is still a thing they put on pizza.

            • Hawaiian pizza is still most def a thing, at least around the northwest. And one of the best pizzas I ever ate was chicken, pear, and gorgonzola, so I’m open to fruit as a pizza topping. Oh yeah, I also get roasted red peppers and bacon all the time too, so maybe I’m just weird.

              • anthrofred

                Pizza My Heart’s “Big Sur” wins for me. 40 Cloves of Roasted Garlic, Organic Tomato Pizza Sauce, Pepperoni, Sausage, Portobello Mushrooms & Green Onions.

                The garlic, oh, the garlic… suddenly I miss living on the coast.

          • anthrofred

            They sell that all over the place. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a city where you couldn’t find it, though most, erm, “authentic” (cringe) small pizzerias don’t have it on the menu.

        • ADHDJ

          Figs. Preferably with some goat cheese and prosciutto. It’s fucking awesome, which is probably why you all hate it so much.

          • DocAmazing

            This crew don’t do nouvelle cuisine, which is the reason for the California hatin’. Personally, I prefer my pizza vegetarian with lots of artichoke hearts on a whole-grain crust, but the LGM bunch would find that twee at best.

            • sparks

              IKWYM. This burg is East Coast biased to a terrible degree. It’s like reading old vaudeville routes where their idea of “West” is Chicago.

            • Sherm

              vegetarian with lots of artichoke hearts on a whole-grain crust,

              Great food, which I make at home, and I love it, but its not Pizza.

            • ADHDJ

              Oh, far from it. Pizza e fichi (pizza bianca with figs and prosciutto) is very traditional in Rome. Figs have been going on pizza for a lot longer than tomatoes have.

              (Cue the standard joke about Americans thinking 100 years is a long time and Europeans thinking 100 miles is a long distance…)

          • That’s something on flat bread that might be a Middle East delicacy.
            And it sounds GREAT – just don’t call it some form of pizza.

          • Halloween Jack

            It is a little-known fact that goat “cheese” is not made with its milk, as with other species, but its semen.

            • Djur

              Wait, really?

              Do you know Mickey Kaus’s phone number?

      • nixnutz

        The problem with pizza in New York is that in Manhattan, particularly around midtown, terrible pizza places outnumber decent ones like five or six to one. The good stuff is still worthwhile though. I’m lucky enough to live near Di Fara and that’s truly a peak culinary experience, Dom DeMarco can stand with any chef on the planet in my opinion. It spoiled me for mediocre pizza but that’s no loss really.

        • ALL of the boroughs have their own great places.

          Too many Manhattan pizza places, are tourist traps.

          Sorry, “Original Rays” on the island of Manhattan – you suck! ALL OF YOU!!!!!
          Or, at least all of the OTHER “Original Rays” do.
          I haven’t eaten in the original “Original Rays” since the mid-90’s – and it was still pretty good then, but not as good as it was back in the late 70’s – so, for all I know, that place sucks now too.

          Anyone know if Stromboli’s on 1st Ave and 7th Street’s still open – and good?
          Man, back in the early 80’s, they made a MEAN slice o’ pizza!

          • Barry Freed

            There are also some truly excellent ones out on Long Island that I’d put as equal to or even better than the best Manhattan joints.

            • Sherm

              Which ones?

              • Barry Freed

                Ciro’s off of the Smithtown Bypass in Hauppauge has the best Sicilian pie I’ve ever had anywhere, ever. And their regular pie is pretty damn good too (they’ve won some recent LI Press “best of LI” award for something like 2 or 3 consecutive years). In the Stony Brook area Via Pizza in East Setauket off of 25a is great. I also have fond memories of Giuseppe’s in Huntington Station, they do this sesame crust thing which is unique and very good.

                • Barry Freed

                  Damn, now I’m hungry.

                • Sherm

                  Pietro’s on East Meadow Avenue in East Meadow and Little Vincents in Huntington Village are my favorites. Pietros does the sesame crust as well, but I order the garlic crust instead. To me, the sesame crust seems to remove the taste of pizza from your mouth. I’d prefer if it lingered. My wife works in Hauppaugue. I’ll have to remember Ciro’s.

                • Barry Freed

                  Yes, Little Vincent’s is excellent.

                  Re Ciro’s, it’s the one on the bypass where 111 and 347 meet and not the one on Wheeler Road (I don’t even think they have the same owners)

                • Sherm

                  My five year old’s favorite food — a slice from “LV’s.” I’ll check out Ciro’s sometime, or at least tell my wife to do so. Thanks.

          • nixnutz

            The two good “Ray’s” that I knew of, the Prince street one and the one at 6th and 11th are both gone or have changed their names so I think it’s safe to say just avoid all Rays now.

          • Decrease Mather

            IMO, that place near Madison Sq Garden is good: Pizza Suprema.

            • Towns along the Jersey shore also have some terrific pies!

              They’re just a wee bit different than the NY pies – maybe it’s the water they use.
              Still – DELISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

              There’s one in Ocean Gate, near Toms River, but I can’t remember the name of the place (Linda’s ?), and I have to go to a PT appointment, so no time for da google!

        • dahil

          If you lived near Di Fara’s ten years ago you could have had that peak culinary experience instead you got crazy Dom and rat shit.

      • LeftWingFox

        PS: I didn’t get enough abuse the last time, so I’ll say it again – NO FRUIT ON PIZZA!
        Except, the tomato, of course. Olives, are also acceptable.

        P.S. GO FUCK YOURSELF!

        (piles on the pineapple)

      • Caepan

        This. Very much this.

        I once took a Canadian co-worker to one of my favorite pitza places (yes, this place was so old-school, they spelled pizza with a “t”), and he tried to order some with pineapple and ham. The people near us overheard him, and looked at him as if he had three heads – and they don’t like guys with three heads and funny-sounding accents, eh?

        I had to inform him that what he wanted was not pizza in any form – particularly in a place like that – and that he could get beaten up by the staff and patrons for asking for such an abomination. Plus, I’d gladly hold him while they physically provided him with this “education”.

        • Djur

          So, you see, this kind of stuff is why people in the rest of the country like to talk shit about NY pizza. Because you treat greasy cheese-bread like a holy sacrament.

          • +eleventy to this. I mean I like a greasy slice of pepperoni or whatever as much as the next guy, but variety isn’t a bad thing.

        • anthrofred

          Canadians have something called “Pizza-ghetti”. I’ll let you look that up.

          They have no say in this.

          • The only thing I will say about canadian cuisine is that poutine is a good cure for a hangover.

            • DocAmazing

              Hey, two of the best eating towns I’ve ever visited were Victoria BC and Quebec.

              • Linnaeus

                Montreal is a great food city, too. For less money than you’d expect.

    • Brien Jackson

      I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t love the food of angels New York pizza.

      • Barry Freed

        Indeed. This is yet more Loomis trolling of the blog. New Haven pizza (or “apizza”) is its own thing and very good but New York pizza done right is awesome. I can eat it every day. And frequently do.

        • sparks

          Yes. I find Chicago pizza a bit heavy for me and much prefer New York style.

          • If you don’t like Chicago-style, may I mention another GREAT pizza that none of us brought up, that you might like?

            And what a tragic oversight THAT IS!!!

            SICILIAN Pizza!!!

            A thicker, more bubbly crust, made in a rectangle – though still crisp if done right.
            With all of the same toppings you love on a regular NY slice – which, should, to be honest, limited.

            And I’d love to see anyone go to an old pizza joint that specializes in Sicilian, and ask them if they have any pies with pineapple and bacon or ham on them!

            That person, like Luca Brasi, will also be found, “sleepin’ wid da fishes.”
            Uhm…
            Make that, “NEVER found sleepin’ wid da fishes.”

            • Sherm

              The only acceptable topping on a real New York Pizza is sausage, and it has to be real sausage, not sliced sausage links.

              • Yes, sliced Italian sausage, another modern atrocity!

              • sparks

                I get off the bus here. I regularly ate a great pizza with linguica, which is definitely not Italian. Didn’t miss Italian sausage at all.

            • Uncle Ebeneezer

              Good Sicilian is every bit as good as NY-thin, imo. I just have to be in the mood for something heavier.

              Also great is Tomato Pie, which I discovered when I lived in Philly (not sure if it extends to NY.) A very different thing in that it has no cheese and you eat it cold. Sauce and crust, how can you go wrong…great for breakfast.

            • ironic irony

              If you are ever upstate (and why the fuck would you be, lol), check out LaBella’s Pizza on Canal Street in Ellenville, NY. Hands down the best sauce on the best Sicilian slice you’ll ever have. Actual Sicilians get real creative when stuck in the Borscht Belt.

              Speaking of the Borscht Belt, matzo brei and potato knish with mustard. Oh yes.

      • The best pizza in the country comes from California.

        • wicked trollin, sir.

          • Barry Freed

            That was my initial thought as well, but truly effective trolling has to be at least partially believable.

            • I like beer

              Yeah, he must be devoting his energies to the upcoming book. His half-hearted trolling get the responses anyway… so why waste the creativity?

        • nixnutz

          When I lived there I did think that the foo-foo California-style artichoke and leek or whatever pizzas were far preferable to any of the attempts at regular pizza I tried. Mostly I just didn’t eat pizza though, and I never ever ate bagels, I’d rather wait until I visited the east coast and have the real deal.

          • sparks

            Jeez, you think there were no large Italian communities in CA? Not as much now, but in the ’70s it was easy to find excellent pizza here.

            • nixnutz

              Well I never got outside of S.F. much, there was at least one perfectly fine place in North Beach but I never lived in their delivery area. I’m sure there are good places but part of my point was that the California-style gourmet pizzas I had were really excellent, better than B+ level New York-style pizza.

              • sparks

                Okay, but as noted above, once you stray that far from tradition, those gourmet “pizzas” are not pizza. This from an almost/not quite lifelong Californian. I lived and went to school in a heavily Italian CA neighborhood (bocce was played in the nearby park) through my teens which has something to do with my view.

                Also, delivery? I still have never had a pizza delivered, not even when I was in college. Part my cheapness, part my wanting to see it so I can send it back if it’s not right.

        • LeeEsq

          You can get some great gourmet pies in California but the entire states is completely lacking in great slice places.

          • Linnaeus

            I thought Blondie’s in Berkeley was pretty good.

            • DocAmazing

              Arinell’s in Berkeley can be good–highly variable.

              Best pizza in California is ersatz Chicago deep-dish–try Zachary’s on the Berkeley-Oakland border.

              • Linnaeus

                Hm. I’ll have to try that if I’m ever in that neck of the woods again.

        • Decrease Mather

          Yep. Alfafa sprout and tofu on a multigrain crust. You know how to pick ’em, Erik.

        • PSP

          The worst pizza I’ve ever had was in California, just off I-80 coming down from Donner pass. Lured off the highway by a giant neon sign, I sought sustenance after a day of skiing. I think they were selling rejects from a school lunch program. I doubt they had ever met an Italian. It was worse than frozen. With all the great asian food in California, I would never risk pizza there again.

          • DocAmazing

            You ate something near the Donner Pass and are surprised that it was starvation-quality?

            • + 10,000.
              Feet.

            • PSP

              I’m pretty sure the Donner party would have gone back to eating each other before eating that pizza again.

          • sparks

            It’s moronic to think that a place sited just off an interstate is going to have good food. You could dine just off I-80 from one end to the other and find little that wasn’t swill. My brother can attest to that.

            • Hey! Just the other week I reported on a place in Madison, CT, just off I-95 (I confused the issue by conflating the US route on which it was, US 1 AKA the Boston Post Road, with a US route on which it was not, US 6) that, back in the late 1970s/early 1980s (and somewhat later than that), had an incredible garlic pizza. Thin crust, not overmuch cheese or tomato, plenty of olive oil, and (I would estimate) about 3 heads of garlic per pie. (It was run by a Greek family.)

              But, yeah, generally anywhere just off an Interstate that isn’t even following an old US route is likely to be … wanting in many amenities.

      • GoDeep

        Chicagoans don’t. They think its puny, weakling pizza. LOL.

        I’m not a huge fan of my adopted hometown’s pizza, but Bacino’s on Wacker makes the best pizza anyplace ever. No, really.

        • Since I grew up in both New York and Chicago I figure I’m allowed to like both.

      • Halloween Jack

        In the year and change that I lived in NYC, I ate at all sorts of great restaurants, many of which I saw fit to frequent as often as I could afford to, but the only pizza place that I ate at twice was the Pizzeria Uno at South Street Seaport, which had, of course, Chicago-style.

        • Sherm

          That’s a nice alternative to real pizza. :)

    • xaaronx

      I tried Juliana’s–Patsy Grimaldi’s place in the original Grimaldi’s spot and with his old coal oven–when I was in the city last month. I’d read that it can be inconsistent if Patsy himself isn’t there, but he was and it was fantastic. If I lived in the city like my brother, I probably wouldn’t wait on line for it very often but it was totally worth it.

      Sacco’s in Hell’s Kitchen was also a really good old school slice place. I don’t know how many like it are left in the city. There was one other spot where I had a really good nonna slice, but I don’t even remember what part of town it was in.

      Point is, anybody that dismisses New York Pizza because of all the crap joints is really missing out.

    • Pizza is a lot like sex. Even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.

  • Brien Jackson

    Ranking deep dish pizza in the top 25, let alone first over all, makes the list invalid from the get go.

    As for Cincinnati chili…just don’t eat Skyline! I mean, saying that Cincinnati chili is terrible because of Skyline’s shitiness is like declaring cheeseburgers to be awful because of Burger King.

    • Sean

      Totally agree. Good Cincinnati chili – with all the spices, but made with something other than the Grade F circus animal meat Skyline uses – is freakin’ delicious. It’s going to be a niche taste, I’d imagine, as the spice mixture is truly eccentric, but I love it. And I hate Skyline and Gold Star both.

      • Brien Jackson

        Right. Skyline/Goldstar use shit meat, and the stuff is so thin it looks/feels like gruel (and Skyline’s cheese, in particular, looks more like plastic than food). Make it with good meat and hearty enough to resemble chili and it’s, well, chili.

        (The best Cincinnati chili I ever had, incidentally, was in Alexandria).

        • AlexD

          Chili’s John’s in Burbank, CA serves Cinnci-style chili which is awesome. Good enough yo make Gold’s 99 Essential list now and again.

          I can’t understand the spaghetti thing, though. Get it with beans.

      • rea

        Noodles in chili, though, the noodles are an unspeakable atrocity, a blasphemy before Tlaltecuhtli.

        • Brien Jackson

          The chili goes on top of the noodles so if you don’t like it…don’t serve it over noodles.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Chili over noodles is, in theory, a perfectly excellent idea. It’s just that the execution is bad.

          • Jon H

            Some other form of pasta might be better. Maybe something with nooks to hold chili.

            • I like pasta

              Why not on an Thomas’ English Muffin — It has nooks and crannies!

          • I like pasta

            Especially if the noodles are Ronzoni brand, right?

    • Woodrowfan

      Thank you! Cincinnati-style chili is GREAT! just not Skyline’s. Ugh. I do confess, however, that I like Texas-style chili (without the beans) served Cincinnati-style.

      And deep-dish pizza over New York City style? that’s just crazy talk.

    • Richard Hershberger

      I have no opinion on Skyline or Cincinnati chili, but it occurs to me to wonder why people often hold up as exemplars a particularly shitty version of a local food. I am thinking specifically of Gino’s for Philly cheese steaks.

      • Brien Jackson

        Well, in fairness, Skyline is so synonymous with Cincinnati chili that the terms are almost interchangeable, and to an unfortunate set of people who actually really like it it’s the “authentic” version which is…appalling.

        Don’t know about Gino’s, though. I think that’s one of those “thing people who don’t live anywhere close to Philly think is the gold standard” or whatever. But yeah, the phenomenon of taking some foods and linking them only to the worst versions is kind of weird. It’s not like people pretend Oklahoma Joe’s doesn’t exist to denigrate Kansas City barbecue or something.

        • Cheap Wino

          Some people think White Castle hamburgers are delicious when everybody knows they are objectively the most vile thing the FDC allows to be consumed by humans.

          • DocAmazing

            They require the correct seasoning. It must be administered via a bong twenty minutes before the White Castle burgers are consumed.

      • Adolphus

        I have often wondered the opposite. When I lived in Philly I was not impressed with the cheese steaks I was eating. Everyone always said to go to [fill in favorite cheese steak place here] to get a TRUE Philly Cheese Steak. And I slowly formed the opinion that for a food to become an iconic staple of a region, state, or city you should be able to pick up good example of that food just about anywhere. You shouldn’t have to go to a specific purveyor of that food because then it becomes iconic of that restaurant, not the whole region. For example, Primanti Brothers in Pittsburgh makes a pretty iconic sandwich with fries right on the sandwich (no Burger King did not invent it). That is iconic of THEM, not the whole city.

        I think the same could be said of holding one provider of a food to be THE example for negative reasons as well.

        • Brien Jackson

          It’s especially weird because Skyline/Goldstar are just shitty, cheap fast food chains. No one says “deep dish pizza is awful because Pizza Hut.”

        • Hogan

          In my experience the difference between a really good cheese steak and a really bad cheese steak is not very big. I’m not schlepping to 9th and Passyunk when I can walk two blocks to a lunch truck and get something about as good.

          • Brien Jackson

            My largely random sampling suggests that Wilmington, DE has much better cheesesteaks than Philly as well.

            • Eduardo Ramirez

              As a resident of Wilmington, I can confirm this. While the prevalance of crappy imitation joints and tourist traps in Philly makes it tricky to grab a cheesesteak at random and have it be more than acceptable, in northern Delaware your randomly selected sandwich is likely to be a masterpiece from Casapulla’s or Cappriotti’s, a brilliant example like from personal favorite Olympic Subs, or at the least a decently made steak from the likes of Seasons.

              Beware of random pizza, though. While excellent pizza is available (Dimeos and Cafe Palermo are the best in the city limits) the crime that is Grotto’s is frequently foisted on the unsuspecting. Thanks to its ubiquity it even wins most best of Delaware surveys! Interestingly, their cheesesteaks fall into the decently made category.

              • Uncle Ebeneezer

                I never really found a whole lot of variation in Cheese-steaks between Delaware (mostly Newark-Wilmington) and the NE suburbs of Philly. Obviously they are very close, geographically. Pudge’s in Blue Bell is probably the best I ever had, but it was pretty hard to find a bad cheese-steak anywhere in the region, imo.

              • Jon H

                That makes sense. The place and its customers need to have at least a decent notion of what they’re supposed to be serving, but the restaurant can’t have enough one-time business from clueless tourists that they can get away with serving crap.

              • Brien Jackson

                Capriotti’s chicken cheesestake is heaven on a roll.

          • djw

            In my limited experience the cheese steaks in PHL that are worth the bother are the ones that but broccoli rabe on it (one of the famous places does this, I forget which one). In general, the widespread tendency to off a big pile of garlicky sauteed broccoli rabe as a sandwich topping is one of Philadelphia’s most attractive features.

            • Hogan

              I see that offered with roast pork more often than with cheese steaks.

              And really, if we have to have an iconic food, why can’t it be roast pork with broccoli rabe and provolone?

        • Richard Hershberger

          “When I lived in Philly I was not impressed with the cheese steaks I was eating.”

          Truthfully, I am not a fan of the cheese steak. I understand why other people like them, but they don’t do it for me. Fortunately, the cheese steak is but one leg of the Philly cuisine triad. I am a huge fan of the other two: hoagies and soft pretzels. All three are death on the hoof, so I go for the ones I actually like.

          • Uncle Ebeneezer

            I SOOOO wish somebody out here (LA) would get soft-pretzels. Even simple Wawa/7-11 types would do the trick. There’s a couple gastropub/breweries that do pretzels but they are more the Bavarian type.

        • TribalistMeathead

          I liked every cheesesteak I ever tried in Philly, but man, a friend recommended a place in Northeast Philly called Steve’s Prince of Steaks (?) and it was life-changing.

    • Nick Z

      Seconded. Our friends are from NE Ohio and they make a delicious Cincinnati chili (the recipe they use is from America’s Test Kitchen).

      • ADHDJ

        If you’re getting your chili recipes from New Englanders, you’re doing life wrong.

    • RMC

      Deep Dish pizza isn’t pizza. It’s a casserole, or to quote the great Ron Bennington, lasagna soup.

  • Todd

    1. Crab Cakes
    2. NC/TN/MO/TX BBQ options
    3. Deep-Dish Pizza
    4. Most everything else
    5. A State that has to settle for a dessert
    6. A State that has to settle for some form of hotdog

    • Karen

      I agree with this, but would rank New Mexico green and red chili dishes above even my own state’s beloved barbecue. New Mexico cuisine is some of the world’s most delicious, and they try to keep it all to themselves.

      • Ronan

        What are we talking here, out of curiosity, cuisine wise?
        Primarily Mexican dishes with a US slant
        Ive always wanted to have an actually nice chilli
        never been so lucky unfortunately
        its a major regret (really)

        • Ronan

          should be a ? after slant

        • Karen

          New Mexican cuisine is its own thing. They grow a particular variety of pepper – the Hatch – and roast it. The flavor depends on whether they roasted the pepper when it’s green or allow it to ripen to red. They also use a different kind of pinto bean, and less beef and more prk than Tex Mex.

          • Ronan

            Googling pictures of new mexico it looks nice
            all these stone house villages etc
            partiularly Santa Fe
            ill have to start saving and get over there

            • GoDeep

              Yeah, NM food is the bomb. I like it better than Tex Mex & I LOVE Tex Mex.

              • Ronan

                Thanks GoDeep
                If I ever get to go there will you join me for a chilli?

        • rea

          Those houses aren’t stone, they’re adobe.
          And it’s not Mexican cusine with a US slant–it’s the food eaten by the people who settled in what is now New Mexico before the Pilgrims landed back east in Massachusetts.

          But by all means go there.

          • Ronan

            Please god I will rea

            and now I wont make a fool of myself by saying ‘I LOVE this stonework’ .. or .. ‘what kind of food fusion is this?’

            • rea

              Santa Fe was founded a few weeks before Jamestown, which seems counterintuitive to a lot of people.

        • Even “Mexican” dishes vary quite a bit depending on where you are in Mexico.

          • DocAmazing

            This, a thousand times. There is no “Mexican” cuisine, any more than there is an “American” cuisine. It’s very regional. Go to coastal Jalisco for seafood (manta tacos are very tasty) and to the Yucatan for cochinita pibil (suckling pig roasted in a banana leaf). Heck, the “Mexican” dishes we get in the US aren’t recognizably Mexican most of the time.

            • Ronan

              Yeah someone said that to me before, that everything I conceive of as a Mexican dish doesnt actually exist in Mexico itself but is from the Mexian diaspora in the US (Im thinking of the most well known foods, burritos, tacos, nachos etc I think)

              Thats what Tex Mex is, I assume?

          • Ronan

            Of course

      • Uncle Ebeneezer

        My wife recently introduced me to Hatch chilis (she lived in Taos for a bit as a kid.) They are one of the yummiest flavors and nicest use of heat that I can imagine. So far I’ve only really had huevos rancheros and green chili stew, and both are incredible. (A couple supermarkets here in LA have started bringing in Hatch chilis and doing roasts…you couldn’t get them here until just recently, I believe.) Anyways, I’m looking forward to eventually having authentic sopapillas (though they are also hard to find in SoCal.) And of course, Frito-Pie was an instant winner for my junk-tooth.

        • And of course, Frito-Pie was an instant winner for my junk-tooth.

          I stumbled on an Anthony Bourdain show about New Mexico recently and he had Frito Pie — I thought it looked great, and my wife was horrified.

      • I live in Santa Fe, but the absolute best smothered green chili burritos are to be had north of us at Orlando’s in Taos. I’m told the burrito actually is Tex-Mex in origin, but comparing smothered burritos (meaning a burrito covered in chili sauce — green, red, or both (Christmas) is a good way to assess the New Mexico cuisine chops of an eatery. And the chili’s must be from Hatch, of course.

        Frito pie is an abomination. I have no idea how it weaseled into somehow being iconic New Mexican, but it’s horrible.

        • rea

          Most Hatch chilis aren’t actually from Hatch, which is a very small town.

      • ironic irony

        There is only one question in NM/El Paso: “red or green?”

        Beware, both are hot.

        Oh, and the Chico’s Tacos on Montana Ave. in El Paso? Never ate there cuz it looked like a nasty place.

        Also, barbacoa is not what you think it is!

        • Linnaeus

          The answer is green.

    • Warren Terra

      I have had some very good crab cakes. I’ve also had some truly terrible crab cakes. I suspect other things on your list might be similar, and merely reflect your unfortunate luck or your lingering grudges, from encounters with the inferior variety.

      • Lingering culinary grudges from Loomis?

        Unthinkable.

        • Aaron B.

          The man prefers mayo to ketchup as a fry condiment.

          Why would we take anything he says about food seriously?

          • sparks

            Are we taking pool bets on the age Loomis will be when he first needs a stent?

  • Hanspeter

    New Jersey should also have gone with the pork roll and not saltwater taffy (that’s just a shore thing). Not great by any means, but at least not in the 40’s where taffy does belong.

    • Tom Servo

      The problem with that is I think PA also has a pretty good claim. I say that guiltily as someone from Jersey.

      And it’s more of a South Jersey thing. I can never get a pork roll egg and cheese up here in North Jersey. When I go to the shore they’re everywhere-including Wawa, whereas my Wawa doesn’t have one.

      That said, the in laws live in Monmouth County. Central, or North if you are one of the dbags who insists there’s no such thing as Central Jersey. Anyway, there’s one dumpy little place that has pork roll egg and cheese but for the most part Monmouth isn’t South enough, no one else seems to have them. And Taylor rolls are goddamn hard to find too. They’re in every dumpy little store on long beach island but none around me. I love those damn things but they don’t love me back.

      • Hanspeter

        Back in school, pork roll and cheese on bun used to be on the lunch menu every week or two (at the least), and this was way up north (where we considered anything south of I-80 to be South Jersey). I was never big on it, but I know my brother has found it for sale in some supermarket or other around there.

      • JRoth

        Taylor pork roll was (and I assume is) pretty ubiquitous in Morris County, including with cheese and egg on a hard roll from a convenience store.

  • Dang that thing about fried okra was straight up bullshit. Fried okra is the best.

    • fka AWS

      Most people’s exposure to fried okra comes from cafeteria food battered and frozen. corn meal is the way to go.

      • Brien Jackson

        Or Cracker Barrel.

        • fka AWS

          potato-potahto

          • Aaron B.

            No, OKRA.

            • GoDeep

              Church’s Chicken does a nice job w/ okra. Not a fan of Cracker Barrel’s. The further you get from the South, tho, the worse it gets. Kinda like gumbo.

              • I did not know that. I’ll have to try theirs next time I’m home.

      • That would explain the picture of a mound of blobs that look nothing like fried okra. I mean, placing it bellow fried green tomatoes- fine, but saying it’s just ok- no.

        Also

        corn meal is the way to go.

        yes.

    • Cheap Wino

      It’s almost impossible to find good fried okra, mostly you just get mushy, mealy crap. Finding fresh lobster is a breeze comparatively and I live in the midwest. But when it’s good it’s super delicious.

      • MattT

        But it’s so easy to make. You don’t need batter, just cut up the okra and toss it in cornmeal, and the stickiness will hold it on. Then just quickly fry it in a really hot cast iron skillet.

        • Cheap Wino

          Most people make it far, far too greasy.

          • MattT

            Agreed. If your cast iron skillet is well-seasoned, you can do it without any oil at all, or just a small amount. Deep fried to sogginess is far inferior to the cornmeal getting all toasted and crunchy.

            • Cheap Wino

              . . . the cornmeal getting all toasted and crunchy.

              And getting that right also gives the exact right texture to the okra.

              Yuummmmmmm!

              • GoDeep

                Hey, we all know that its the hot sauce that matters. Soggy, not soggy, corn meal, white flour, just use the right hot sauce!

  • Western Dave

    Clearly Green Chile Stew from NM should have been #1.
    Lobster roll should have been #2.
    Crab cakes #3.
    BBQ ties for fourth.

    Who cares about anything else. If I just eat that it’s fine. And I love me some scrapple, but Robbie Fulks nailed it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08iJW-7xIzk

    • Yeah, if I was putting together this list, New Mexico definitely would have been #1. Probably gumbo #2 and then lobster rolls, Texas BBQ, KC/Memphis BBQ, and crab cakes.

      • I like this list.

        • humuhumunukunukuapuaa

          sure if you add lunch plate

    • Best green chili stew you’ll ever find is at the Tesuque Market in Tesuque, NM (just north of Santa Fe).

  • Karen

    The absolute worst thing in that list was the attribution of the corny dog (NOT “corn dog” NEVER!!!) to Iowa. Corny dogs were invented by the Fletcher brothers at the Texas State fair in 1938 or 1939. That is the Gospel from my grandmother and nothing will change it!

    • Adolphus

      But for the purposes of that list it doesn’t matter where something was invented. Just where it currently most associated.

      Though I hold no opinion on the Corn(y) Dog issue.

      • sparks

        How does something served at every damn state fair in the country be tied to one state?

        • Gabriel Ratchet

          Well, every election cycle we’re confronted with news photos of assorted would-be presidential candidates pretend to enjoy one to up their [wo]man-of-the-people cred. That’s bound to color people’s perceptions of the things..

  • Cheap Wino

    List invalidated because something make with a hot dog is ranked #11.

    And gumbo, folks. A good, Louisiana gumbo. It doesn’t get any better than that.

    • And gumbo, folks. A good, Louisiana gumbo. It doesn’t get any better than that.

      True, but find two cooks (or their mommas or aunties) in the entire state of Louisiana who agree on how gumbo is made (apart from the roux and the trinity), and I’ll be amazed. I’ve been making this shit in various restaurants for the past five years, and I’ve seen fights almost break out over when one puts in the andouille. And file? Leading cause of divorce in some parishes, I’m told.

      • Cheap Wino

        Of course, fortunately both cooks in the end make delicious gumbo. They’ll just be a little different.

        I prefer it without the andouille but I’d sooner cut off my left hand than turn down a bowl of authentic gumbo just because it had andouille in it.

        • GoDeep

          That’s the beauty of gumbo. The way you make it is the way its supposed to be made! :-) Every bowl is a unique piece of artwork!

          For my money there will never be any better gumbo than that of the beloved secretary of my college dorm. Venora would only make it every other year for her husband’s birthday, but man was it good. Andouille, crab, chicken, and stuff I can’t even remember.

          The bad thing abt gumbo tho, is you can’t find a decent bowl more than a 45min drive from La.

  • Brien Jackson

    Also too, it’s difficult to take a list like this seriously if the thing the author associates with Maryland is a fucking crab cake. After they’ve ranked deep dish pizza number one to boot.

    • Wait really? What do you think of when you think of Maryland before crab cakes?

      • Brien Jackson

        Well, if you’re going to go with crab dishes…it’s clearly a plate of steamed blue crabs (and quite possibly crab imperial, but that’s not really a dish). I’d also make an argument that pit beef is a much more distinctive local food than crab cakes (and several orders of magnitude better), which are what non-Marylanders think of when they think of Maryland crab.

        • JRoth

          Do they really have pit beef anywhere but Baltimore? I’ve certainly never seen it in Western MD (where I haven’t spent a ton of time, but I’ve eaten there several times).

          • Brien Jackson

            I’ve had pit beef in Western Maryland (Cumberland area) and…wouldn’t see why it wouldn’t be there. On this side of the state it’s ubiquitous.

            • Anonymous

              The author (Albert Burneko) is Marylander, and he actually agrees with you on all this: he mentions often that Maryland blue crab is his single favorite food on earth (he’s rather vehement on this point), and that most crab cakes are garbage. He picked crab cakes not because it’s the *best* regional dish, but because he was trying to pick the dish that’s most distinctive and specific to a particular state.

    • Richard Hershberger

      Eh? Maryland and crab cakes is one of the more plausible associations on that list. I moved from Pennsylvania to Maryland some ten years ago and quickly learned that Marylanders associate crab cakes with the state.

      I also learned to be careful to specify no mayonnaise when ordering a hoagie. That is the sort of mistake you only make once. Better yet is the occasional run up to Philly for a hoagie in its native environment.

      • Brien Jackson

        My experience is that crab cakes are something people associate with the state (well, really, the non-Western part of the state), but none of the locals actually, you know, eat all that often. I can probably come up with ten superior uses of leftover crab meat in the next 40 seconds.

    • Adolphus

      Wow, as a native Marylander of 40 years I think you are absolutely wrong on all counts on this. We ate crab cakes all the time. When I lived in Baltimore there were deep rivalries between local bars about who had the best crab cakes and don’t even get me started on the fried versus broiled issue or the cracker versus bun issue. I have even seen local cooks argue about who served their cakes on the best cracker fer GSD’s sake. We even had them in our school cafeteria a few times. (whether they used real crab cake meat was debatable) I have seen “Maryland Crab Cakes” on menus around the world and never “Maryland Pit Beef” or “Maryland Crab Imperial” or even “Maryland Soft Shell Crab” which would semi-logical. (I have seen Maryland Fried Chicken on menu’s before, but I have no idea what that’s about).

      And you are right, it is more the parts of MD that are Chesapeake adjacent, so maybe they aren’t as popular in Western Maryland, but my college roommate from Cumberland had an awesome recipe for crab cake which he was very proud of, so I don’t even know about that.

      If they have dropped in popularity it is only because the drop in crab catches in the Chesapeake have made local crab meat more scarce and more expensive. In local restaurants you are more likely to get Vietnamese or Gulf crab.

      You may not personally like crab cakes, fine. But they are the food most associated with Maryland whether you like it or not.

      • Gene

        As a native Marylander of 36 years, I both agree and disagree. I can totally see how crab cakes would be viewed (mostly by non-Marylanders?) as the iconic state food. But as far as personal experience goes, I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve eaten crab cakes. Steamed crabs, on the other hand, dumped out on a table with no utensils other than a mallet and a knife… THAT is a regular occurrence.

      • Brien Jackson

        Basing a decision on the distinctive regional food of a state on what you can get in other states seems to rather defeat the purpose. In any case, I don’t really see how anyone locally could view crab cakes as the more definite food of the area than steamed fucking crabs.

        Also, you don’t know what Maryland fried chicken is? Really?

        • Gene

          I’m a born-and-raised Marylander and I’ve never heard of MD fried chicken. What makes it specific to Maryland? I Googled and learned only that no two people seem to agree on what defines “MD fried chicken.” And that chef Michael Landrum says that every MD family has their own recipe, but I guess mine didn’t get the memo?

    • Chet Manly

      Well, Maryland has less room to complain than we do in Iowa. Best pork in the world and we get corn dogs?

      • Hogan

        You have to do something with all that corn.

      • GoDeep

        You have a lot of pork. But the best? North Carolina might quibble with you abt that. ;-)

    • RMC

      Pit Beef is horse shit.

      • Brien Jackson

        Your opinion is invalid.

        • DocAmazing

          His hair is a bird.

  • Cody

    1) What is burgoo? I’ve spent my whole life living less than 30 minutes away from Louisville, KY and I’ve never heard of this thing. Now, his description sounds an awful lot like “stew” that poor people eat – you just put whatever you got in there. Is this really that delicious?

    2) Tenderloin is great. Why does he hate Indiana!? Okay, maybe not that great. It’s better than vegetable stew though.

    • Brien Jackson

      1) That’s been my experience with it: it’s basically a catch all name for stew. So…it can be delicious, or not so much.

      2) Fried pork tenderloin sandwiches are indeed delicious, but in fairness to him, odds are that most people you might buy it from didn’t put much effort into it, so it’s going to come out dry and chewy. If you get it from a local sandwich shop that brined the pork and didn’t just drop it in a tub of hot oil and forget about it for 15 minutes it’s delicious as all hell.

    • JRoth

      It is a catchall, but it tends to feature mutton and/or lamb. The vegetable mix is a little unusual (that is, it’s not just potatoes/onions/carrots/mushrooms), but I can’t recall specifics.

      Also, I went to an award-winning PTS place in Iowa (way off the beaten path, not a Geno’s-style tourist trap)) and was quite disappointed.

    • JL

      Is this really that delicious?

      If you do it well, it can be. It’s a thick stew, so it can cover a range of quality.

    • Adolphus

      I am not from Kentucky, but have spent a good bit of time there. I would have thought a Kentucky Hot Brown would have been the better food for that state.

      • Kentucky Hot Brown

        We’re talking about restaurant menus, not brothel menus.

        • Barry Freed

          Where do I send you the bill for the new keyboard?

  • Steve LaBonne

    Where I come from we would call that crap “why the f**k did you put cinnamon and onions in my pasta fazool”?

  • JL

    Ugh, Skyline. When I was a kid and we first moved to Kentucky, we ate there once. Never again. We referred to it as “Skyline Puppy Chow” from then on.

  • Brien Jackson

    Also occurs to me that New England boiled dinner is delicious. This guy might be the dumbest writer Deadspin has.

    • Rugosa

      Only if you make it with gray corned beef.

    • JRoth

      Well, come on, now. A food doesn’t actually get to be iconic if it’s not, on some level at least, tasty. The whole premise of a list like this is crapping on widely-loved foods (with, I suppose, a few stunt items like bull balls).

      • Brien Jackson

        Bull testicles are great as well, if fried properly. >_>

    • Linnaeus

      Yeah, he’s kind of a dick.

      • nixnutz

        I did chuckle at “51. Hit by a car, 52. Cincinatti chili” but yeah, this is at least half trolling. It’s OK at that but sloppy at its ostensible purpose. For instance the idea of a “Mission-style” burrito is bullshit, you can’t even get a decent one half a mile north or west, and the notion that what pizza needs is for someone to do something “interesting” with it… I don’t think this guy and I have a lot of common ground.

      • sparks

        He did get that California has great Mexican food (as long as you stay away from chains), but that’s been true for so long it’s uninteresting. Otherwise the article’s a lot of bad snark.

      • Jon H

        I enjoyed this bit:

        The favorite foodstuff of Northern Virginia is the gluten-free white-soy-chocolate-macadamia-nut biscotti at every insufferable chain coffee joint in the world; in southern Virginia, the most popular thing to cook, by far, is a large wooden cross.

  • JustinV

    I was born and raised in Colorado. I have never even seen a cowboy cookie. How did that end up our state food?

    Buffalo burger? Breakfast burrito in green chile? These seem like far superior choices.

    • Dirk Gently

      Same here: grew up in Colorado, never heard of a cowboy cookie. The writer couldn’t even give us the Denver omelette? Colorado got hosed on this one.

      Although, the truest signature dish of Colorado doesn’t actually exist, to my knowledge, but really should because it would perfectly encapsulate the state: Rocky Mountain oysters (preferably from bison or elk) slathered in green chile and served with blue corn tortilla chips.

  • Davis

    Entertaining, but his description of most Maryland crab cakes as crab-flavored bread wads is completely ridiculous. No place in Baltimore can get away with anything but lump back fin.

  • Icarus Wright

    Cincinnati chili is the worst, saddest, most depressing goddamn thing in the world. If it came out of the end of your digestive system, you would turn the color of chalk and call an ambulance, but at least it’d make some sense.

    Gads.

  • Clearly, Erik, you’ve never had Totonno’s pizza. Or Lombardi’s. Or Grimaldi’s. Or Patsy’s.

    Do not judge what you do not know. We in NYC are what you’d call “experts”.

    • We in NYC are what you’d call “experts” provincialists.

      FTFY

    • Sherm

      Or Deninos.

    • I wasn’t all that impressed with Lombardi’s. Can’t speak for the other places.

      • Sherm

        Lombardi’s is overrated, although its crust is quite good. There are dozens of pizzerias in the NYC metro area better than Lombardi’s.

    • ADHDJ

      No, you’re experts in New York pizza, which is fucking garbage.

      You named 5 places in a city of 8 million people that don’t make terrible pizza. Wow. Don’t ever confuse that with something actually good.

    • Halloween Jack

      I speak from some experience when I say that there’s a certain kind of New Yorker that will never admit that their city doesn’t necessarily have the best of everything, because they’re spending a shitload of money just to exist there.

      • nixnutz

        I don’t disagree with that and certainly there are rivals in art, theater, comedy, sports, music and pretty much everything else but thin-crust pizza and Jewish delicatessen are perfectly legit sources of pride.

    • Djur

      The thing is, proponents of New Mexico green chile or most forms of southern barbecue don’t tell people to ignore 90 to 95 percent of the product because only this one place in the back room of a laundromat has the real true authentic stuff, while you hear that all the time for NY pizza, Chicago pizza, cheesesteak, and Cincinnati chili. If only a tiny occult cadre of food wizards are capable of making a superb representative of the dish, that says something about the quality of the dish overall.

      • To be fair, I cook a lot and some things give you a lot more room for error than others.

        Some things are so simple that they’re difficult because there’s nothing to cover up your mistakes.

        New Mexico green chili is pretty hard to screw up, although the quality of the chilies makes a big difference.

        Southern barbecue is mostly about taking the time to do it properly.

  • Seitz

    There is so much delicious fresh seafood in Alaska that it’s kind of a shame they chose a dish that you will probably never eat on a trip to Alaska. I go up there to visit my brother every so often and it’s pretty much non-stop fish. There are restaurants in Homer and Seward that will bag a filet of halibut that you spent the day catching and cook it up for you that night. At Moose’s Tooth in Anchorage, you can halibut on pizza! Last time we were in Homer, my sister in law ordered a plate of steamed clams. The waitress told us they were out, but to wait about a half hour, because they had some guys digging some up and would have more in soon. Doesn’t get a lot better than that.

    • Seafood like that is a pretty common northwest thing in general though. Maybe some of the crabs you only get up there?

  • Linnaeus

    I’m not convinced of this “signature food” concept. I mean, I know the article was written to be fun, and there’s some room for authorial license there, but there’s a lot of diversity within states as well as between them. Not to mention that foodways cross state boundaries as well.

  • LeeEsq

    People, people. The regional food of New York is not a New York slice of pizza or buffalo wings. Its a properly boiled New York bagel with cream cheese and lox. Its difficult but you can find great NY-style pizza and buffalo wings outside of New York. The bagels outside of New York are an abomination to the Lord.

    • Steve LaBonne

      Except for the somewhat different but also excellent bagels in Montreal. (Not meaning to start a religious war here…)

    • nixnutz

      Where would you recommend? I’ve had good bagels but nothing better than what I grew up with in Boston (Kupel’s is about a hundred yards from my dad’s house). I suspect it’s like the pizza situation where the best Boston pizza places are way better than the average New York place but the best New York places are even better.

      And of course Montreal has its adherents but I’ve never had the opportunity to try one. This article is really making me want to take a long food-based road trip. There are so many dishes where I’ve never had the real, regional, deal.

      • LeeEsq

        I like Bagelsmith on Bedford Avenue, its near the L stop.

      • xaaronx

        Ess-a-Bagel on 1st Ave. and 21st is my favorite when I’m in the city and it’s not too out of the way. Murray’s on 6th Ave. a couple blocks from Union Square is pretty good, too.

    • DocAmazing

      What little time I spent in New York was devoted to the worship of knishes. Guys with carts on the sidewalk next to subway stations purvey this most sublime of comestibles.

    • Djur

      If you can’t make a good New York-style bagel outside New York, can you really say it’s a great food? Or is it just a mass delusion?

      • LeeEsq

        The problem with a lot of bagels outside NYC is that they forget to boil the dough before baking it. The other issues is that everybody puts these awful topics on it. It shouldn’t be hard to replicate a NY pizza outside of NYC, its not exactly a complicated recipe, but finding a decent slice place can be a quest.

        • The other issues is that everybody puts these awful topics on it.

          That’s on blogels, not bagels.

        • Djur

          There are boiled bagels outside New York, though. I agree I don’t see much of a point to steamed bagels.

      • (the other) Davis

        Since moving to the Bay Area, I’ve started pretending that bagels don’t exist. The nightmares labeled “bagels” here can only be explained away as figments of a crazed mind.

  • Roger Williams’ mustache

    Rhode Island. A freakin’ hot dog? What ever became of the humble yet tasty clam cake?

    • The clam cake is not (as far as I know) associated to Rhode Island particularly. Now jonny cakes…which, however, I don’t like (either thick or thin).

      But what about calamari with hot pepper slices? It nearly became the official state appetizer, for goodness sake! And at its best it’s very, very good.

    • Gabriel Ratchet

      Though the weiners at Rod’s Grille in Warren are excellent (and I have many a fond college memory of the ones from Haven Brothers in Providence).

      However, while clam cakes are fine, the state’s real signature food is of course the stuffed quahog.

  • Apocalypse Tom

    As a Texan transplanted to Seattle by way of Chicago, I must say that assessment of chicken fried steak is idiotic. Furthermore, this is clearly someone who’s never actually eaten Pacific salmon.

    • Uncle Ebeneezer

      Yeah. I love chicken-fried steak. And when I finally had the real deal in Ponder, TX, it was like culinary crack. Already looking forward to going there again for Thanksgiving.

      • When I had a gig in Huntsville, TX, at Sam Houston State, one of my hosts took us out for dinner to the place downtown where (he said) foreign journalists in town to cover executions at the state prison would always be taken to have chicken fried steak. I didn’t particularly like mine.

        • DocAmazing

          Well, of course not. You didn’t get a side order of capital punishment.

    • Djur

      He definitely hasn’t had good Pacific salmon. Plus the entry is a cop-out, since for the other states but Vermont he wouldn’t use “local ingredient cooked plain”.

      I don’t know what the real state food of Washington is. Meth?

  • DocAmazing

    Spent enough time in Hawai’i to know that the signature dish isn’t Spam-eggs-and rice breakfast; it’s plate lunch, which is generally one or two scoops of white rice (in Kauai, I got noodles instead), macaroni salad (often macaroni-potato salad), and the Main Event, which might be lau lau (pork steamed in taro leaf), kalua pork (pit-roasted), chicken katsu curry, or fish. Plate lunch is sufficiently popular that Hawai’ian barbecues are opening up all over Northern California (I am reliably informed that they are also to be found in SoCal and western Arizona) to bring the plate lunch to da mainland.

    Had a roommate from Ohio–Dayton, I think. She worked in a chili place. Had stories to tell. I must admit, I fell out laughing at the thought of people in a chain restaurant ordering a four-way.

    • djw

      For a brief period of time last year, they had a specialty product; instead of the plastic orange cheese, you could get “extreme” cheese, which was plastic orange cheese with alleged bits of jalapeno in it.

      This produced, I’m quite certain, food no more or less edible than normal Skyline cuisine, but ad campaign teetered on the line between hilarious and disturbing. (Thinks a lovely, smiling young woman attempting to interest a middle aged couple, teenage children in tow, in ‘trying an extreme three way.’

    • I had plate lunch earlier this week from a great Hawai’ian joint that’s been here for years, owned by some very nice Hawai’ian folks. I don’t know why I like that boring-ass mac salad so much — I swear they put crack in it or something.

      • mixplate genius

        mac salad add tuna
        potato salad add macaroni
        cole slaw add ramen

    • Djur

      Hawaiian barbecue is good stuff. It’s an interesting cuisine in general, a fusion of indigenous, Japanese, and middle-American staples. I hear Okinawan cuisine has similar qualities.

  • Halloween Jack

    Iowa shouldn’t be judged on fair food; I had some great food there, although granted that was on RAGBRAI, which will make you hungry enough to eat the ass out of a dead bear (if the two thousand people that passed it first hadn’t eaten it already). One of the pass-through towns in ’12, Orange City, has a bakery with this thing called a Dutch letter–a flaky pastry filled with almond paste that is sweeter and less dense than marzipan–that I could have noshed on all the way across the state. That having been said, I also had a deep-fried Snickers bar there as well, and I don’t give a shit what anyone else says, that’s like nursing at the bosom of the Virgin Mary.

  • 10. Marionberry pie (Oregon)

    Oh man. Nobody tell any Oregonians how high their state food is ranked, though. They can’t fit any more self-congratulation into their busy schedules.

    I know I’m way late, but I’ve lived in Oregon my whole life and never eaten, or even seen, a marionberry pie. I see marionberries all the time, and love marionberry jam, but this was the first I’d heard of this pie. I evidently travel in the wrong pie circles.

    I will admit their blurb about the pie was funny.

    • Linnaeus

      Interesting. I ate it multiple times when I was living in Oregon.

    • MAJeff

      The Portlandia episode where they raved about marionberry pancakes, I didn’t know there was an actual thing as a marionberry. I thought the were making fun of the former DC mayor.

    • Djur

      Lifelong Portland resident here: going berry-picking in the late summer and early fall and bringing back marionberries, loganberries, and raspberries was a yearly ritual for my family and a lot of families I knew growing up. And marionberry pie was the most common use of the berries (aside from just eating them plain until you got sick). Sometimes it’s just called blackberry pie, but it’s usually made from marionberries.

      And I have heard more than once from people out of state that blackberry/marionberry pie wasn’t really on their radar before coming out here.

  • andersonian

    Like anybody’s gonna see this comment, coming as it does as number eight thousand, but I lived at the Skyline a mile from my eastern Cincinnati high school back in ’68-’69. Plate of three for a buck and a half. I moved away shortly thereafter and I can’t say what might have happened to the brand, but back in the day the dogs were awesome. I did hear a rumor about chocolate being a secret ingredient in so-called “Cincinnati chili,” but I can only hope that that rumor is vicious and unfounded.

    • Djur

      I believe it’s a non-secret ingredient, along with cinnamon.

  • Ruckus

    When I worked in Columbus my “friends” wanted to eat at Skyline. The concept that they could call that crap chili boggles the mind. Every word of the post is correct. It is bad and I was in the military so I know bad food. BTW with very few exceptions military food was better, and never was worse.
    Now Chinese, best ever was in a mom/pop place in Rota, Spain but haven’t eaten there in 40 yrs.

  • Their choice to have the corn dog be the representative of any place other than Texas precludes that list from being worthy of being taken seriously. The best corn dogs are Fletcher’s, served at the Texas State Fair, period.

  • Elly

    Sigh… missed this ’till now. But it brings back memories, lol.

    Back in 2000, we (temporarily) moved from Corvallis, OR to a ‘burb in the Dayton, OH area. Since my kids were in elementary school, I joined the parent-teacher organization, as a way of keeping tabs on the new school and how they were doing.

    I ended up serving as the treasurer. At one point, we served a lunch for the folks from COSI (the science museum in Columbus), who presented a science demo/assembly for the students. Afterwards, I went to collect the receipts from the woman who organized the meal. As she handed them over to me, I idly asked: “what did you make for lunch?” She responded: “chili and spaghetti.” Without thinking, I replied: “oh, how nice! You served two entrees.”

    She looked at me like I had two heads, and slowly replied in a voice you might use to explain something obvious to a supremely dim child: “noooo… you put the chili ON the spaghetti.”

    My initial reaction was one of (mild), you-have-got-to-be-effing-kidding-me shock: I felt embarrassed that the PTO ended up serving the culinary equivalent of fried bologna sandwiches to the museum staff. I’d never heard of “Cincinnati Chili,” let alone that it was a staple that floated two separate fast food chains (Skyline and Goldstar).

    It was one of my many “culture shock” moments during the 8 years we lived in SW Ohio. Needless to state, I’m happy to be back in the Pacific Northwest.

  • joshua moore

    Boo.
    Skyline’s great.
    Yes, it’s a crazy food, yes, it has very little to do with traditional chili, and yes it’s piled with heart-stopping yellow death cheese, but it is fast food, and much more appealing than a sad Mcburger. Being a chili connoisseur is fine, but if you’re working in the back room at a Barnes and Noble and want to go out with your family for a low-cost sit down meal in a clean and friendly environment, Skyline’s the place to go. Forget the chili part if the nomenclature is so offensive, it’s a great family institution, and a boone to the community. And… it actually tastes good.
    The Greek side of Skyline is still strong – in addition to good tempered college kids giving unbelievable table-side service, one is still very likely to work with someone who’s name begins with a ‘Z’. And hey – I can get a Greek salad with my meal and maybe some Baklava, which is a nice departure from a Wendy’s garden salad with the date stamped on it and cherry pie-pod. Skyline is the backbone of the region, very, very involved with the community, and corporate monolith is an absurd characterization. The whole article is absurd, and that’s fine if that’s your thing.
    “Transmutation of authentic artifacts of human life into hollow corporate brand divisions” – give me a break! As if there were dancing costumed Greek people jumping around their billboards! It’s a great brand that caters to families and they do it respectfully and well.
    The saddest, most depressing food in the world is food that is prepared and served by uncaring people in sad, depressing environments. Skyline is the opposite, and it is the case in every location I have dined at, and, living in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, I’ve dined at quite a few.
    Boo.

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