As part of our exploration of iconic dishes across the country, we’re looking for the best versions of iconic foods in these 10 Midwestern states.
Vote once per day for your favorite restaurant in each state until voting ends on Monday, June 3 at noon ET. The winning restaurants will be announced on Friday, June 14 on 10Best.com.
Click on each category below to vote:
Best Barbecue in Kansas
Burnt ends are a specialty of Kansas ‘cue — Photo courtesy of iStock / bhofack2
The barbecue cultures of Kansas and Missouri meet in Kansas City, but you’ll find delectable smoked meats throughout the state. Barbecue here is typically cooked low and slow in large pits. While burnt ends – the crusty, fatty end of a smoked brisket – are somewhat of a local specialty, menus will often feature beef brisket, pulled pork, ribs, chicken, turkey and sausage, all served with a thick and sweet tomato-based sauce.
Best BBQ Ribs in Missouri
Which is better, St. Louis or Kansas City-style? — Photo courtesy of iStock / Fudio
There are two main styles of barbecue in the state of Missouri, Kansas City-style and St. Louis-style. No matter where in the state you get your ‘cue, chances are you’ll see ribs on the menu. Spare ribs are so ubiquitous in the St. Louis area that they’re often referred to as St. Louis ribs and are typically grilled rather than slow smoked, as is standard practice for KC-style ‘cue. Our barbecue expert Ardie Davis recommends ordering the sauce on the side, as some places can overdo it (i.e. “baptize it”).
Best Breaded Pork Tenderloin in Iowa
Who makes the best BPT? — Photo courtesy of iStock / DarcyMaulsby
The breaded pork tenderloin (BPT) is a point of pride in the state of Iowa, the biggest pork producing state in the nation and home to its very own Iowa Tenderloin Trail. Hundreds of restaurants serve the dish, but the best ones use fresh Iowa pork, cut daily, tenderized and breaded by hand, often to order. A great tenderloin can be eaten plain, but this Iowa specialty is often served on a bun with lettuce, tomato, pickles and onions (sometimes ketchup and mustard).
Best Buckeyes in Ohio
Ohio is famous for this sweet treat. — Photo courtesy of iStock / jatrax
Named after their resemblance to the nut from the buckeye tree – the state tree of Ohio – Ohio’s favorite candy combines creamy peanut butter and chocolate into a bite-sized sweet treat. Come the holiday season, buckeyes are rolled and dipped in household kitchens across the state, but candy shops and bakeries continue to make buckeyes the old-fashioned way as well, offering a sweet tooth fix throughout the year.
Best Cheese Curds in Wisconsin
There’s a reason Wisconsinites are called Cheeseheads — Photo courtesy of iStock / LauriPatterson
Wisconsin natives proudly call themselves Cheeseheads, as the state leads the nation in cheesemaking. Cheese curds, a springy, squeaky byproduct of the cheesemaking process, get battered and fried until they’re crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside – an irresistible Wisconsin treat. Just about every restaurant, bar and bowling alley in the state serves them, though not all curds are created equal.
Best Chicago-Style Pizza in Illinois
Illinois is best known for its cheesy deep dish pizza — Photo courtesy of iStock / ShaneKato
Chicago’s version of pizza is a true indulgence – a thick cracker-like crust with equally thick layers of gooey cheese, meat (typically Italian sausage) and tomatoes cooked in an oiled steel pan. This style dates back to 1943, when Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo opened Pizzeria Uno in Chicago’s Near North Side. Today, you’ll find the dish on pizza menus across the state, along with thin crust, crispy crust and stuffed pizzas.
Best Chicken & Noodles in Indiana
In Indiana, chicken and noodles are always served over mashed potatoes — Photo courtesy of Shipshewana Trading Place Auction & Flea Market
Indiana’s beloved chicken and noodles (sometimes called Amish noodles) is a comfort food favorite made with just three main ingredients: chicken, egg noodles (often made from scratch) and mashed potatoes. It’s carb-heavy, hearty and nostalgic.
Best Coney Dog in Michigan
How do you take your coney dog? — Photo courtesy of iStock / chas53
A common misconception is that the Coney dog comes from Coney Island. While its origins can’t be traced back to any one specific place, the all-beef frankfurters covered in chili, diced onions and mustard have been showing up on Michigan diner menus since the early 1900s. It’s thought that Greek immigrants popularized the dish, as Detroit institutions American Coney Island and neighboring Lafayette Coney Island – opened in 1917 and 1924 respectively – were started by a pair of brothers who’d immigrated from Greece. Detroit-style Coneys use a meaty chili sauce, while Flint-style Coneys feature a dryer loose meat sauce, often called Coney sauce rather than chili.
Best Hotdish in Minnesota
These restaurants are elevating hotdish — Photo courtesy of iStock / ALLEKO
Love it or hate it, hotdish has become the unofficial state dish of Minnesota – a comfort food staple of church potlucks and family gatherings across the state. The first “hot dish” recipe on record came from a 1930 cookbook as a one-dish meal featuring hamburger, tomato soup and canned peas. While hotdish ingredients and sophistication have grown in recent years, especially at the hands of creative Minnesota chefs looking to reinvent a classic, you’ll still often find it topped with crispy tater tots.
Best Steak in Nebraska
Who cooks the best steak in this cattle-producing state? — Photo courtesy of iStock / Sergey Nazarov
Nebraska ranks second in the United States for cattle inventory, with an average of 2.3 million head of cattle on feed at any given time. So it should come as no surprise that Nebraskans love a good steak.
Remember, you can vote once per day in each category. The 10 nominees with the most votes in each category will be announced on 10Best.com on Friday, June 14.