If you think it’s boring reading over and over again how you should travel to Maine for lobster rolls or Wisconsin for cheese curds or Arizona for Sonora dogs, imagine how boring it must be for the writers who have to rehash these cliches over and over and over again. So the staff at Conde Nast Traveler has decided to take another approach: “we wanted to go beyond the classics—the food everyone tells you to try when you visit—and highlight chefs and cuisines that have had a distinct impact or reflect a noteworthy community in the state.”
And so for Maine, they’ve written a recommendation for the Somali restaurants of Lewiston, and for Wisconsin the German dishes of Milwaukee (plus an honorable mention for the Scandinavian-influenced food of Door County), and for Arizona Navajo cuisine.
As a result, the list highlights various immigrant communities that have settled in parts of the U.S. that may seem unlikely (Bosnians in St. Louis, Cape Verdeans in Rhode Island), and it goes beyond cliches for a more complete picture of what the people who live in various places actually eat—as opposed to tourists. It’s also really fun to read about different food I didn’t know about before, even in the city where I live. But now, first chance I get, I’m going to head to Southside African Restaurant in Chicago to try suya, a Nigerian dish described as “beef cooked over a woodfire grill, seasoned with a spice blend of garlic powder, chicken bouillon powder, paprika, and crushed peanuts.” It sounds delicious.