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4 Classic Midwest Dishes to Try on Your Trip

The Midwest isn’t exactly known for its distinctive cuisine. You won’t find Midwest restaurants in New York City as you would Mexican, Chinese, Cajun, or Southern-style restaurants. However, you can find some dishes that got their start in the Midwest. If you’re on a trip through the area, you can try some for yourself if you know where to look.

Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza

A Chicago deep-dish pizza is an experience you have to try at least once in your life. While a regular pizza is a flat plane of dough covered with tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings, a deep-dish pizza is dough in a deep pie pan. You add cheese and the toppings of your choice, and on top of the pizza, you pour a thick layer of chunky tomato sauce. The best place to find a Chicago deep-dish pizza is in Chicago, but you can find restaurants that serve it throughout the Midwest.

Quad City Pizza

The Quad Cities in Illinois and Iowa along the Mississippi River have their own take on the classic pizza. The crust is the usual shape, but the crust contains malt that adds a nutty sweetness, and the tomato sauce is spicier than usual. You’ll also find toppings placed under the cheese, with the pizza cut into strips instead of wedges.

You may find it difficult to locate Quad City pizza outside the Quad Cities themselves, so it may be worth the time to book a hotel in Moline, Illinois, to stay at so that you have an excuse to eat this type of pizza for dinner.

Cincinnati Chili

Don’t let the name fool you: Cincinnati chili has little to do with the Mexican-style chili you eat as a meal. They both use tomato sauce and ground beef, but the resemblance ends there. Cincinnati chili is the creation of Macedonian immigrants, and it uses cinnamon and cloves, and maybe some onion and cheese, served as a sauce on spaghetti or hot dogs. The easiest place to get some is Cincinnati, but you can also find it on menus of restaurants in Ohio and in parts of Indiana.

Wisconsin Brats

Bratwursts look similar to the grown-up version of a hot dog, and they’re the tube meat of choice in Wisconsin. Different parts of the state and different cooks have their own interpretation of how to serve the perfect brat, but a few common choices exist throughout the state. Say no to ketchup but yes to spicy mustard; use a sturdy bun that can handle a juicy brat, and top it with warm sauerkraut and raw onion. Wisconsin brats are available at German restaurants and sports stadiums throughout the state, such as the parking lot of Milwaukee’s Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Thanks to all the individuals who settled in the American Midwest and all the city centers that developed their own take on classic foods, the Midwest is home to all types of dishes you’d have a hard time finding elsewhere. You may not find a Midwest restaurant on the East Coast, but if you head through the region itself, you’ll find plenty of delicious regional favorites.

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