Missing the Midwest? Here are 6 dishes to enjoy in Charlotte restaurants

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Matt's Chicago Dog
Photo by Sara Kendall

If you hail from Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, Nebraska, South Dakota or Wisconsin, some of your favorite hometown meals can be found in local Charlotte restaurants.

Here are 6 Midwestern dishes to hit the spot when homesickness strikes:

(1) Brats

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Wisconsin is where the largest group of Germans settled in the late 1800s. Naturally, brats become a household meal in this state. At the AvidXchange Music Factory, stop by VBGB Beer Hall and Garden to get your brats fix. At this German-inspired pub, Wisconsinites can dine on a variety of brats served with house-made sauerkraut, sautéed peppers and onions on a signature pretzel roll or a soft traditional roll. Wash it all down with one of the German beers on tap.

VBGB Beer Hall and Garden
920 Hamilton St.
(704) 333-4111

[Related: Your guide to the AvidXchange Music Factory, from concerts, to drinks, to dining]

(2) Cincinnati-style chili

Back in the 1920s, Greek immigrants are credited for inventing this Ohio staple while living in Cincinnati. Sweet and hot-spiced ground-beef chili is spooned over noodles and then topped with beans, cheddar cheese and onions. In Grier Heights, one of Lupie’s Café most popular dishes is their Cincinnati-style chili, served with a side of cornbread.

Lupie’s Café chili
Photo by Sara Kendall
Lupie’s Café chili

“One of our customers researched online Cincinnati-style chili when her husband was homesick from Ohio. Lupie’s Café was the first restaurant that popped up. On his birthday, they had our chili, and now they are regular customers,” owner Larkin Duran said.

Lupie’s Cafe
2718 Monroe Road
704-374-1232

[Related: Get a taste of the Northeast, in the form of 7 Charlotte restaurants]

(3) Kuchen

South Dakota’s state dessert is kuchen, the German word for cake. This dessert is a cross between cake and pie crust that comes in a variety of fruit flavors. You can order this favorite South Dakotan treat at — again — Lupie’s Café. Their kuchen is peach flavored and topped with whipped cream.  

Lupie’s Café kuchen
Photo by Sara Kendall
Lupie’s Café kuchen

Lupie’s Cafe
2718 Monroe Road
704-374-1232

(4) Chicago-style hot dog

Photo by Sara Kendall
Matt’s Chicago Dog

The Windy City is famous for many things, especially their Chicago-style hot dog. It has been said many times, “This hot dog has been dragged through the garden.” In Uptown Charlotte, Matt’s Chicago Dog makes them daily. They start with a poppy seed bun, add a beef frank, then top it all with chopped onions, tomato wedges, green relish, yellow mustard, a pickle spear, peppers and a dash of celery salt. According to Stevie Wolf, manager of Matt’s Chicago Dog, “Every day we make about 45-50 Chicago dogs, and about 25-30 percent of our customers are from Chicago or people who have visited there.”

Matt’s Chicago Dog
435 S. Tryon St.
704-333-3650

(5) Detroit-style pizza

It’s all about the pan — a rectangular one. Back in 1946, Buddy’s Pizza added Sicilian-style pizza to their menu in Detroit. It’s baked in a square pan that makes a crispy, thick crust, which is the distinguishing difference from other pizza styles. From Michigan, Jet’s Pizza is the place to devour thick, square pizza slices. It has three locations around Charlotte: in south Charlotte just off of Park Road, in Pineville and in University City.

Jet’s Pizza
1607 Montford Drive and other locations
704-522-3767

(6) Reuben Sandwich

This classic sandwich traces its roots back to its inventor, Reuben Kulakofsky, a Jewish grocer residing in Omaha, Nebraska. Back in the 1920s, his creation was first placed on the lunch menu at the Blackstone Hotel. In South End, you can order this Nebraskan creation at Tyber Creek Pub. This pub’s Reuben — stacked with braised corned beef, tangy sauerkraut, melted cheese and Thousand Island dressing on marbled rye — will surely transport you back to Omaha with your first bite.

Tyber Creek Pub
1933 South Blvd.
704-343-2727

13 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for this list, however you neglected the Most Unique Midwestern US Food Item – The Breaded Pork Tenderloin!

    • As a Chicagoan, there are several types of pizza that hail from the city. I presume you are referring to deep dish. Mike’s Chicago Dogs Lake Norman is reputed to make the real deal. That’s the only place that can claim to do so.

  2. The sandwich looks ok but there a lot of good Reuben’s in this town: Carmella’s, Katz Deli, Rustys, even Jasons Deli come to mind

  3. Need intel on where to find a Chinese restaurant that serves Almond Boneless Chicken like they do in Michigan (tempura breaded and served on lettuce with savory sauce). Please help!!!

  4. Culver’s down by Carowinds is very far from its Wisconsin home. Looking for deep fried cheese curds? Pot Roast sandwich? Cheddar ButterBurger? Frozen custard?

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