Food in the Northwestern United States centers on many things: culinary traditions carried over by immigrants from Europe (chislic and kuchen), a strong ranching industry (steaks) and the natural bounty of the land and sea (huckleberries, salmon, crab).
As part of our exploration of iconic dishes across the country, we're looking for the best versions of iconic foods in 8 Northwestern states. Vote once per day for your favorite restaurant in each state until voting ends on Monday, October 15 at noon ET. The winning restaurants will be announced on Friday, October 26 on 10Best.com.
Click on each category below to vote:
Best Buffalo Steak in Wyoming
Many steakhouses in Wyoming serve buffalo alongside beef — Photo courtesy of iStock / Sergey Nazarov
The bison has long been an important food source for the people of the American plains. It's also the state mammal of Wyoming. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that the state is famous for its steakhouses, but not just because of the beef served. Hungry travelers will often find game meats, like elk and bison in restaurants around Wyoming.
Best Chislic in South Dakota
Chislic was likely brought over by a German-Russian immigrant — Photo courtesy of Travel South Dakota
During the 1870s, a German-Russian immigrant arrived in Hutchinson County, South Dakota. The man, John Hoellwarth, is credited with bringing a dish to the state that has become an icon of South Dakotan cuisine: chislic. This Russian-inspired dish comprises cubes of seasoned meat, either lamb or beef, deep-fried to medium rare.
While most commonly found in the tiny town of Freeman and the "Chislic Circle" around Sioux Falls, the dish has made its way onto menus across the state.
Best Dungeness Crab in Oregon
Dungeness crab pops up at seafood restaurants across Oregon during crab season — Photo courtesy of iStock / evgenyb
In Oregon, much of the seafood served at restaurants across the state is pulled directly from the ocean, including a local favorite: Dungeness crab. Crab season typically lasts from December to August, but succulent and sweet crab meat features on menus throughout the year.
It’s often served simply with drawn butter for dipping, or pulled as a crab cocktail. You might find it tucked between bread slices in a melt sandwich, or in the form of a seasoned crab cake.
Best Finger Steaks in Idaho
Finger steaks are a popular bar food in Idaho — Photo courtesy of iStock / LauriPatterson
While Idaho might be best known for its potatoes, spuds are hardly unique to the state. A dish you’re unlikely to find elsewhere, however, is finger steaks. According to local lore, the finger steak was born at Milo’s Torch Lounge during the 1950s.
The juicy, crispy, tangy morsels – short strips of sirloin breaded and deep-fried – often come in a basket with a dipping sauce or two. Popular options include cocktail sauce, fry sauce or a tangy barbecue.
Best Geoduck in Washington
Geoduck might look funny, but it's a delicacy in Washington — Photo courtesy of iStock / cementjungle
It may look a bit funny. And its name isn’t the easiest to pronounce ("gooey-duck"). But this Pacific Northwest saltwater clam is a tasty treat served at seafood and sushi restaurants up and down the Washington coast.
The meat is slightly sweet with a delicate, crunchy texture that sets it apart from other mollusks. Many places only serve it seasonally, either as sashimi, crudo or sliced atop seafood pasta.
Best Huckleberry Pie in Montana
Huckleberry pies are made from wild Montana huckleberries — Photo courtesy of iStock / MeganBetz
Native to Montana, huckleberries thrive at elevations over 3,500 feet and dot the state’s high-altitude valleys and hills. These blueberry-like morsels are not cultivated commercially, so they must be foraged in the wild.
They’re highly sought after and often find their way into a range of baked goods, including pies. Due to the rare nature of the berry, huckleberry pies are often served seasonally, and often mixed with other fruits within a flaky crust.
Best Kuchen in North Dakota
Kuchen is German for "cake" — Photo courtesy of iStock / juefraphoto
The word kuchen is German for "cake," but in North Dakota, it refers to a specific type of cake that’s more like a thick custard in a crust of sweet dough, cut into triangles like a pie. When Germans immigrated to the U.S., many of them brought the tradition of kaffeeklatsch – afternoon coffee, cake and conversation – with them.
Today, the dessert continues to be a staple at holidays and community gatherings throughout the Dakotas.
Best Salmon in Alaska
Alaska is famous for its wild-caught salmon — Photo courtesy of iStock / Strevell
Fish farming is illegal in Alaska state waters, and that means salmon served in restaurants across the state is wild-caught and among the healthiest and freshest available. The state’s five species of salmon – king, silver, chum, pink and red – are caught and served throughout the year and are a dietary staple for many Alaskans.
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, October 26.