And I was really looking forward to making my homemade version of a Primanti sandwich while watching the Steelers at the Super Bowl this year.
Well, that didn’t happen, but I refuse to let the disappointing end of the Steelers season get me down. I keep going with my plan of eating Primanti’s as I watch Kansas City and Tampa Bay compete on Sunday.
Let’s call it sports self-care: even if your team has been closed, your menu will give you a successful night. Here’s a list of local foods to celebrate every team that made the playoffs this year. Calm down by eating a favorite from your hometown and remember – there’s always next year.
Thick, sweet, and flavorful are the hallmarks of Kansas City barbecue sauce, which is slurried on everything, including slow-smoked pork ribs, brisket, and seared ends. This tomato and molasses-based sauce is one of the American classics.
Make loads of homemade Kansas City BBQ sauce and serve a grill platter of your favorite meats. Not a smoker? Do not worry! Try oven baked ribs or slow cooker brisket.
Tampa Bay, Florida: Cuban Sandwiches
Tampa is one of three cities in Florida (alongside Key West and Miami) that calls itself the American birthplace of the Cuban sandwich. But Tampa’s version of the hearty pressed pork sandwich has a special addition: sliced genoa salami.
Make a Tampa-style Cuban sandwich at home like the city’s famous Columbia Restaurant. Replace the Cuban bread with a crusty elongated bun and pile it up with ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, yellow mustard, and dill pickle slices.
Buffalo, New York: grand piano
This Super Bowl favorite is a popular bar food across the country these days. However, there’s no denying that Buffalo is the town that put Chicken Wings on the map. Homage to a basket of crispy, cheeky drumsticks and flats with a side of celery sticks.
Just make sure your wings drip with the simple, flavorful sauce that turns any wing, whether fried or oven-roasted, into a buffalo wing. Frank’s RedHot is the hot sauce of choice that is whisked with melted butter.
Green Bay, Wisconsin: Fried Cheese Curd
There is no wrong way to eat cheese. But Midwestern cheese heads know there is a really wonderful way to eat it, and it’s like fried cheese curd. These fresh milk bites are made from the squeaky, unripened curd cheese that is part of the cheese making process. You are the pride of Wisconsin.
Dip fresh curd cheese in batter and fry it on the stove or make it in the air fryer.
Cleveland: Slyman’s Corned Beef
A kilometer-high pile of corned beef is the hallmark of Slyman’s Restaurant, which has smashed those swaying towers since 1964. Each sandwich contains at least 3/4 pound meat between rye bread. So prepare your toothpicks if you want to recreate this beast. Add a slice of American cheese to do it the Slyman way, or if you want to combine two Cleveland institutions into one, sneak up on a splash of brown mustard – either Bertram Original Ball Park or Stadium.
New Orleans: Muffuletta and king cake
In the indulgent New Orleans spirit, why should you choose between sweet and savory? Have you both with two delicacies large enough to serve the whole family. Muffuletta (or muffaletta) fills a round loaf of bread with three types of meat and two types of cheese, plus pickled peppers and olive spread to make up for it. And since it’s almost fat Tuesday, it’s the season for Königskuchen, the colorful Danish pastries in the style of cream cheese or cinnamon and luckily a plastic baby somewhere in there. If buying or making a whole king cake is too much, make king cake donuts.
Los Angeles: street tacos
A city as diverse as Los Angeles has as many iconic foods as zip codes, but avocado toast is off the table for game watching (but I love it) and dodger dogs should be saved for baseball season.
Instead, make street tacos, inspired by the many taco stands, taquerias, and trucks across town. Both the filling and topping options are endless, but why not try Instant Pot Birria (Spicy Steamed Beef) or Pork Pastor?
Fill small warmed corn tortillas with meat and top them with chopped white onions, fresh coriander and a few dashes of hot sauce or a dash of lime wedge.
Baltimore: Berger Cookies
Is it a cake or a cookie? When you eat one of Baltimore’s locally famous Berger biscuits, you wonder if it’s a bit of both. Soft, fluffy sugar cookies, almost like small round cake, are topped with a rich, fudgy brownie frosting. They are a Charm City classic.
You can buy the original biscuits at Berger’s bakery, which uses the same recipe from 1835, or make a homemade version.
Pittsburgh: Primanti Bros. sandwiches
Whether you choose Capicola, the Pitts burger (the “# 2 best seller” on the menu)), Kielbasa or even tuna salad, there’s the spicy vinegar-coleslaw and fresh skin-on French fries on every Primanti Bros. sandwich making it one of Pittsburgh’s most famous foods.
This Steel City icon is easy to make at home with fresh Italian bread, tomatoes, provolone, and this coleslaw. (Oh, and the # 1 best seller at Primanti? It’s beer!)
Tennessee: hot chicken
Nashville takes fried chicken to a new level with its famous hot chicken. It comes from renowned Black Community restaurants like Hattie B’s and Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack. Marinated in hot sauce and buttermilk, then dredged in a spicy flour mixture and fried, then coated with a hot and sweet sauce, is not for the faint of heart.
Do you feel sharp? Make your own hot chicken from scratch using this recipe.
Chicago: Deep Dish Pizza
The Big Shoulders City has a solid reputation for deep dish. Pizza delivery men like Lou Malnati, Gino’s East and Giordano attract enthusiastic fans. The crispy and flaky crust is key to weighing thick layers of melted cheese, chunky tomato sauce, and sausage in each wedge.
Make it at home and grab a knife and fork for the first bite. A high sided cake pan replaces a deep pizza pan.
Seattle: salmon sushi
The fish can only fly by the roadside at Pike Place Market these days, but it just goes to show that salmon is still king in the Pacific Northwest. And while you can grill, smoke, poach, or sauté it, salmon sushi is a lot easier to eat in front of the TV. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can try rolling your own sushi or just order your favorite salmon-based maki roll to nibble on.
The Chesapeake waterways around Washington, DC, have historically been a popular breeding ground for oysters, leading to the area’s longstanding “oyster wars”. Today’s oyster farmers are more peaceful and offer a number of varieties that can be delivered to your doorstep. Order Virginia oysters and Maryland oysters for a comparison and contrast plate of fresh lemon wedges.
Indianapolis: Pork Fillet Sandwich
A Hoosier standard, a pork tenderloin sandwich is simple but satisfactory. The pork loin is beaten on a thin slice, then breaded and fried in the pan. The jagged, golden fillet extends beyond the bun for a challenging first (and second) bite.
At home, you can bread it with something crunchy, from traditional breadcrumbs to saltines to butter crackers. Wash it with a Coca-Cola in a real glass bottle designed in nearby Terre Haute, Indiana.
Casey Barber is a food writer, photographer and illustrator. the author of “Pierogi Love: New Takes on an Old-World Comfort Food” and “Classic Snacks Made from Scratch: 70 Homemade Versions of Your Favorite Brand-Name Treats”; and editor of the website Gut. Eat. Stories.