Midwestern food and where to try it in Fargo

It’s no secret that Midwesterners love food. While most of us eat a variety of cuisines (not just meat and potatoes!), we still have a soft spot for the popular traditional dishes of the region.

A lot of it has been influenced by Scandinavian and German heritage, and man is it delicious.

But first, you may want to watch this video and learn how to pronounce (or how NOT to pronounce) the names of some of our food.

Knoephla soup

Unless you live in the Midwest or have visited, chances are you don’t know what on earth ‘knoephla’ is… or how to pronounce it. Essentially, it’s the German version of a dumpling. It tastes similar to chicken and dumpling soup (but in our opinion, much better).

How to pronounce it:


Where to find it:

Boiler Room

This basement “big city” bar (where the Boiler Room used to be for the building) has something for everyone. Get a cup of their knoephla with their award-winning scotch eggs.

Kroll’s Diner 

You can buy knoephla by the bucket at Kroll’s… literally, they sell buckets to go. Kroll’s will come up time and again in this list for German dishes like kuchen and fleischkuechle (stay tuned for what the heck that is).

Wurst Bier Hall

Wurst Bier Hall always has the option of knoephla soup on the menu. Order it alone or as a side to some delicious bratwurst. (Wurst has two locations: Downtown and West Fargo)

You can occasionally find knoephla soup at the local lunch favorite, the Cracked Pepper as well as Deaner’s Diner.


It’s America’s national mammal, the mascot for the Fargo area’s largest university (NDSU), and a much-requested food item by people who visit. Here are a few restaurants that have menu items featuring bison:

How to pronounce it:

BI-zuhn (with a ‘z’ not an ‘s’ sound)

Where to find it:

CRAVE American Kitchen & Sushi Bar

CRAVE makes a great Bison Burger that even includes fried onions and a sunny side up egg!

Granite City

Choose a pint from the Granite City brewery while enjoying their gastro pub bison burger with North Dakota bison.

Lucky’s 13

You could go for the traditional bison burger patty, or skip it in favor of Lucky’s 13 Bison Beatballs (which are just a fancy name for meatballs).


If you’re up for a fancier spot, Maxwell’s in West Fargo has a few Bison items on the menu – try the Bison meatballs or the braised Bison short rib egg rolls.

The Bison Turf

This NDSU stomping ground is a pretty great place to get a bison burger, considering you’ll be sitting among “Bison” (aka NDSU students) while eating the school mascot at a place named after it.

The Toasted Frog

With a Bison Reuben melt on the menu and a pot pie that graces it occasionally, The Toasted Frog is a great place to try some Bison options.

Urban 42

Right next to West Acres Mall, Urban 42 is a great place to try bison meatloaf if you want to try something other than a burger.


Kuchen might be another foreign word to some. It’s a German dessert, a sort of combination of cake, pie, and custard. It has a crust and usually some type of fruit and custard filling. Get any local talking about it, and they’ll probably tell you how good their grandma’s or mom’s kuchen is and which type of fruit is their favorite kuchen addition.

How to pronounce it:


Where to find it:

Kroll’s Diner

This is the 50s-style diner mentioned earlier that has the knoephla soup and some other German dishes. They offer a few different flavors of kuchen.

Wurst Bier Hall

Wurst Bier Hall serves kuchen to your preference (warm or chilled) and usually offers a couple of different flavors as well.

Karen’s Kuchens

Found at local Cash Wise Foods grocery stores, Karen uses her grandmother’s recipe to create 46 favors in 4 different sizes.


First off, in these parts, it’s called hotdish… not casserole. It’s a dead giveaway that you’re not from around here if you say you’re craving a good ‘casserole.’

Anyway, hotdish comes in many varieties, sometimes depending on what you have in your cupboards and refrigerator. Everyone’s got their favorites, but if there’s one type of hotdish you should try, it’s Tater Tot Hotdish. Macaroni/Hamburger Hotdish (or goulash to some) is another favorite.

How to spell it:

Spellcheck will tell you it’s two, but don’t let it fool you: hotdish is one word.

Where to find it:

Cowboy Jack’s

Cowboy Jack’s has both an entree version of the Tater Tot Hotdish or an appetizer option if you just want a taste.

Cracked Pepper

Cracked Pepper has a daily special and it’s often some type of hotdish — tater tot, chicken and rice, hamburger and potato, etc.

Marge’s Bar

This cozy lounge has a speakeasy-meets-mom’s-basement feel. “Marge’s Famous” Hotdish and even won the grand champion award at the Fargo Hotdish Festival. (plus if your name is Marge, you can drink free every Wednesday, you betcha!) You can also grab this Hotdish at Boiler Room.

Crooked Pint Ale house

There are TWO hot dishes on the menu at Crooked Pint Ale House, as if that weren’t enough of a draw, they also have Juicy Lucys.

Rhombus Guys

A pizza place that has combined two of our favorite things, hotdish, and pizza, is Rhombus Guys. Their Tater-Tot pizza comes with jalapenos on it, so if you’re a true Norwegian (or just someone that doesn’t appreciate spicy food), you may need to prepare yourself or order the pizza sans peppers.

701 Eateries – Prairie Kitchen

This brand new restaurant is the latter of the two at 701 Eateries. This Nordic-inspired cozy-styled hangout has a rotating selection of funeral Hotdishes.


Lefse is a Scandinavian sweet tortilla made from potatoes. Spread some butter on it, sprinkle it with sugar (white or brown), roll it up and enjoy! The best lefse is the stuff fresh off the griddle at grandma and grandpa’s house, but here are a few places in the Fargo-Moorhead area that are very good at making lefse.

How to pronounce it:


Where to find it:

Sons of Norway

The lefse from the Sons of Norway is as traditional as it comes. You can stop in to purchase lefse and they also serve lunch 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Occasionally they will do other special dinners too and sometimes they feature lutefisk, another Norwegian tradition, and delicacy.

Freddy’s Lefse

Freddy’s has been in the business of making lefse since 1946 so it’s safe to say they’re experts. You can purchase Freddy’s lefse by stopping in their store in West Fargo. It can also be found at many grocery stores in the Fargo-Moorhead area. It has also been added to 701 eateries‘ restaurant Prairie Kitchen menu in their lefse platter with homemade strawberry-rhubarb jam and cinnamon & sugar.

Carl’s Lefse

Located in nearby Hawley, MN, Carl’s Lefse also gets rave reviews for having lefse that’s almost as good as grandma’s. You can stop by their Hawley shop or call to have some shipped to you.

Borscht soup

This warm soup actually hails from Russia and Eastern Europe. Why is it in North Dakota? Many Germans actually immigrated to Russia before moving to the good ol’ Great Plains, and they brought some of the food with them.

The distinct red color comes from one of the main ingredients — beets!

Pro tip: This is best with a bit of fresh whipping cream poured in.

How to pronounce it:

Boarshht (basically just pronounce it as it looks)

Where to find it:


While primarily a Jewish-style deli, BernBaum’s also has local Scandinavian specialties like Borscht soup with a creme fraiche garnish.

Wurst Bier Hall

On the soup menu at Wurst, you’ll find borscht alongside the knoephla mentioned earlier.


Another Russian dish that traveled with immigrants to North Dakota is fleischkuechle (or just “fleisch” for short). Perhaps the hardest of all local foods to spell and pronounce, don’t let that stop you from tasting this delicious food, which is a type of seasoned meat patty surrounded with fried dough.

Most locals we know dip them in ketchup, so feel free to try that, too.

How to pronounce it:


Where to find it:

Kroll’s Diner

Kroll’s strikes again with their wide repertoire of local foods. You could get knoephla as an appetizer, fleisch for your main, and then kuchen for dessert… whatta meal.

Once you’ve gotten a taste of this Midwestern food and decided it’s actually quite good, you may want to check out our video series on How To Eat Like A Midwesterner, where you’ll find tutorials on how to make some of these Midwestern favorites.