Special Report

Signature Dishes from 50 American Cities

Detroit
> Signature: Coney dog

A beef wiener in a steamed bun, topped with chili (no beans), diced onions, and yellow mustard. It was probably first made in the south-central Michigan city of Jackson, west of Detroit, in 1914, but arrived in Detroit a few years later and has become most strongly identified with that city.

Source: Vitalii Kholmohorov / iStock via Getty Images

Evansville, Indiana
> Signature: Fried brain sandwich

Breaded and fried pig’s brain on a bun or toasted marble rye, garnished with pickles, onions, and mustard. It is said that the sandwiches were first made in St. Louis, about 150 miles northwest of Evansville, in the 1880s but became the signature offering of Evansville’s 1888-vintage Hilltop Inn.

Source: Gomboc2008 / Wikimedia Commons

Freeman, South Dakota
> Signature: Chislic

Cubes of marinated, salted lamb or other meat, usually deep-fried but sometimes grilled, served on skewers or impaled on toothpicks for snacking. Freeman, a small town southwest of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is considered to be the central point in what has been called the Chislic Circle. The term “chiclic” is a variation on “shashlik” — Russian kebabs — and the dish is said to have been imported to South Dakota by Russian-German immigrants in the late 19th century.

Source: Lisovskaya / iStock via Getty Images

Houston
> Signature: Ph

The emblematic Vietnamese beef soup with rice noodles; pronounced “fuh.” Houston has the nation’s third-largest Vietnamese population, and ph has become its latest signature dish. The Houston Chronicle proposed several years ago that the city was home to the best version of the soup in America.

Source: ramonailumuscom / iStock via Getty Images

Kansas City, Missouri
> Signature: Barbecue

A style characterized by the use of many different meats, poultry, sometimes even fish, and by sweet barbecue sauces. The pioneer of KC barbecue was a pitmaster named Henry Perry in the early 1900s. The most famous purveyor in the latter 20th century was Arthur Bryant, whose restaurant was proclaimed by New Yorker writer (and Kansas City native) Calvin Trillin to be the best in the world.