Every state across the U.S. has its own dishes that are unique to its local flair and while Nebraska is a bit off the beaten path in terms of cuisine, it's one worth trying. It's not just the land of the Omaha steak, it's the land of creative dishes that play with flavors and hold tradition close. Each menu throughout Nebraska is bound to have something worth trying and while it's different, it's also something that makes this state, and each eatery in it, uber special.
If something as interesting and different as rocky mountains oysters captures your attention or the allure of a pie made solely out of raisins, then Nebraska is probably the place for you. Many of the state's local ingredients - as well as its local lifestyle - factor into its most iconic dishes. It might not be as flashy as New York or as down-home as Georgia, but Nebraska's most unique offerings are something worth giving a shot.
Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
Pork tenderloin means something different to many people. For some, it's the idea of a whole tenderloin that has been roasted to perfection and served as sliced medallions. For others, it's a base to pulled sport that's slow-roasted and pulled before being drizzled with a tangy and sweet BBQ sauce. In Nebraska, a pork tenderloin becomes a topping for a sandwich and if the idea alone doesn't intrigue visitors enough, then maybe it's the sheer size of the fried cutlet that will. This fried pork cutlet traditionally hangs over a plain bun, giving it quite a dramatic appearance. The sandwich is topped with mustard, pickles, onions, lettuce, and mayo, and it's a delicious favorite.
Rocky Mountain Oysters
Understandably, Rocky Mountain oysters are not everyone's bag in terms of dishes to try. However, that doesn't keep them from being delicious and in high supply considering the cattle population throughout Nebraska and the midwest. This dish has quite a long history with the cattle farmers of Nebraska and has managed to hang around, featured in the most long-standing restaurant menus. This dish also goes by the name of prairie oysters, cowboy caviar, or cattle fries. If you don't know already, these aren't actually oysters - they're the 'oysters' of the bull (a usually less-than-favorable body part) that are surprisingly tasty once tenderized and fried.
Also known as 'funeral pie,' this sweet dessert was traditionally given at funerals and was popular due to the fact that refrigeration wasn't needed. The pie holds at room temperature and this also allows its flavors to meld together beautifully, and while it's not overly popular on every menu nowadays, it is featured more prominently on some of the older restaurants in Nebraska. The recipe itself was hailed as a favorite by the Mennonites and the Amish, and if you can't find it, it's relatively easy to make at home.
Runza sounds like quite an exotic name for a dish that's as simple as this but nevertheless, it's a Nebraska favorite. The sandwich was first created in 1949 and has since been a staple in this state's cuisine. It starts with a fresh baguette that's filled with a surprising mix of ingredients: ground beef, a special, super-secret spice blend, onions, and cabbage. The whole thing is then baked and, for extra zip, there's usually some melted cheese in there just for good measure. It's almost like a cheeseburger and stuffed cabbaged all rolled into one delicious, hot, crusty baguette, and it's absolutely delicious. If you're not looking for one of these the second you enter Nebraska then you haven't really experienced its most beloved stuffed sandwich.
For some reason, cheeseburger pizza is also synonymous with Nebraska and its food offerings. This is in no way a bad thing because, quite honestly, it's delicious! Cheeseburger pizza combines the best of both worlds: a cheeseburger and a great pizza and the local pizza joints see more of this type of pie selling than any other. It's really the only true Nebraska-style pizza choice for those looking for a slice in this state.
Many BBQ fans will argue that Nebraska has the best ribs of any around and it's traditional to give them a little extra spice blend boost with a hefty smoke flavor. The testament to this is in the form of micro-smokehouses that allow pitmasters to smoke ribs to perfection with special attention paid to their flavor. It's a definite must for BBQ lovers and if you don't think you like ribs, try these first.