There are many reasons to visit Fargo-Moorhead. Awesome attractions and museums, great local shopping, active nightlife, and the “North Dakota nice” people. But one of the top reasons – and one that you probably wouldn’t expect – is the food. We like to eat… a lot!
With over 200 local restaurants in Fargo-Moorhead, the flavors are vast! European, Hawaiian, Japanese, Persian, the list goes on. The culinary culture in Fargo-Moorhead alone is worth the trip.
If you’re wanting to eat something authentic, order one of these dishes at a Chinese restaurant in Fargo-Moorhead.
Sweet and sour pork: A bright orange-red meat dish with a (you guessed it) sweet and sour flavor.
Kung pao chicken: This famous Sichuan-style dish is made up of diced chicken, dried chili, and fried peanuts.
Ma po tofu: One of the most popular Chuan cuisines, Ma describes a spicy flavor derived from pepper powder.
Wontons: Since the Tang Dynasty (618-907), it’s been customary for people to eat these traditional Chinese dumplings.
Dumplings: Popular in North China, dumplings consist of minced meat and veggies inside a thin piece of dough that is boiled, steamed, or fried.
Spring rolls: It’s believed that these little rolls of veggies, cabbage, and sometimes meat wrapped in a thin pastry originated in China, and were eaten during the Spring Festival.
Fun facts about eating in China
> Food is usually served family-style in China, meaning large bowls are placed on the table and diners dish up from those. > Chopsticks are the main utensil… try to forego the knife and fork! > Each region of China serves its own variety of cuisine, and none of them are the buffets Americans have come to know.
Of all the world’s cuisines, Japanese food brings to life the fifth flavor profile, umami. What’s umami? You’ll know it when you taste it, but our best description is that content, warm feeling you get when you eat a really amazing savory dish.
Sushi: The most famous food to come from Japan, sushi was originally made to preserve fish in fermented rice. Today, it’s made with vinegared rice and fresh fish and comes in several varieties. The rolled seaweed kind you probably think of is actually called makizushi, while shaped bits of rice with fish draped over the top is called nigiri sushi.
Sashimi: Before rice was added, the Japanese were eating raw fish without it. Sashimi actually refers to any thinly sliced raw food (including beef, chicken, and even horse), but we commonly associate it with fish.
Tempura: This term refers to any dish that’s been battered in special tempura mix and then fried.
Miso soup: If you’ve eaten at a Japanese restaurant, you’ve probably been served miso soup. Made from miso paste (fermented soy beans) and dashi broth (fish or kelp stock), this savory soup is meant to help enhance the umami of the main dishes that come with or after it.
Udon or Soba noodles: Outside of sushi, Japanese noodle dishes are a must-try. Udon noodles are dense and chewy and made from wheat flour, while soba noodles are long, thin, healthy, and made from buckwheat flour, giving them a slightly nutty and earthy flavor.
Ramen: You may think of the cheap, microwavable noodles you bought in college, but traditional Japanese ramen is much, much better. It’s high-quality wheat noodles in savory broth, and then topped with delicious meat, protein, and veggies.
Fun facts about food and eating in Japan
> Being a qualified sushi chef can require up to 15 years in training. > The Japanese drink miso soup straight out of the bowl… try it next time! > Go easy on the soy sauce. The flavor of the sauce should not overpower your sushi. Oh, and don’t mix wasabi into your soy sauce, just add a little directly onto your sashimi after you dip it into the soy sauce.
Thai food is known for its aromatic components and its spicy edge. We promise you’ll be addicted after you try it.
Tom Yum Goong (spicy shrimp soup): This iconic bowl of steaming goodness includes all the classic Thai ingredients: lemongrass, chili, galangal, kaffier lime leaves, shallots, fresh lime juice, and plenty of fish sauce. Be warned: it does have a kick.
Gaeng Daeng (Thai red curry): Thai curries have a different flavor profile than the Indian versions bearing the same title. Thai red curry is mild, sweet, and delicately fragrant with red curry paste, smooth coconut milk, and tender morsels of meat.
Pad Thai: If you’ve never tried Thai food, Pad Thai is an excellent place to start. This world-famous noodle dish is rice noodles stir fried with tofu (or chicken), bean sprouts, eggs, and onion, and frequently finished off with finely ground peanuts.
Khao Pad (fried rice): This basic dish still manages to be incredibly tasty. It’s literally just rice fried with egg and onion, often times with veggies and sauces mixed in.
Gaeng Keow Wan (Thai green curry): You may think that red curry would be spicier than green, but think again! Thai curries hold a different kick than Indian curries, but tread lightly with green curry if you’re not a spice lover.
Thai tea: This sweet Thai drink is the perfect thirst-quencher when it’s hot and humid. It’s a delicious mix of tea and sweetened milk.
Thai rolled ice cream: One of the trendiest desserts in the nation, the cream mixture is poured onto a cooling table, where it is spread and then scraped into decadent rolls.
Fun facts about food and eating in Thailand
> Use a spoon to eat. You’ll see Thai people using a fork to push food onto a spoon (and chopsticks are only used for noodles!). > Sugar is a common ingredient in Thai food… even savory dishes. > There is very little distinction between breakfast, lunch, and dinner foods. So go ahead, eat that Pad Thai for breakfast! > Thai people are a group after our own heart. They love to dream about their next meal, and may even greet you with “Gin Khao Yung” meaning “Have you eaten yet?”
Vietnamese cuisine is simple and fresh. Lemongrass, mint, coriander, fish sauce, and rice vinegar are common ingredients you’ll encounter as you explore the food of Vietnam.
Pho: This national staple is made with flat rice noodles, a warming broth, and usually chicken or beef.
Bánh mì: Traditional Vietnamese sandwiches that reflect tastes from Vietnam and France. A crispy baguette is filled with your choice of meat, fresh vegetables, and a sweet sauce.
Bánh cuốn: Rolled up rice flour pancakes served piping hot, with a savory minced pork and wood ear mushroom filling and a fishy dipping sauce on the side.
Gỏi cuốn: Similar to Chinese spring rolls, these fresh rolls are packed with crispy salad, prawns, and pork. Dip them in a sweet-and-spicy sauce topped with peanuts.
Bánh xèo: A crispy crepe bulging with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts, plus the fresh herbs that garnish most authentic Vietnamese dishes.
Chè: Best described as a sweet dessert soup, this is a must-try Vietnamese dish. Variations include anything from kidney beans to grass jelly to tapioca fruit.
Fun facts about food and eating in Vietnam
> Vietnam is the second largest producer of coffee in the world (after Brazil!), so have a cup before or after your meal. Traditionally, the Vietnamese add sweetened condensed milk to their coffee. > Very fresh herbs are a huge component of Vietnamese food… expect to taste them on your dishes! > Street food is incredibly popular in Vietnam. You can stop at food stalls and get restaurant-quality food for a fraction of the price.
INDIA & NEPAL
Known for their spicy curries, India and Nepal serve some of the most flavorful dishes in the world (and you can find mild ones if you can’t handle heat!).
Where to try Indian & Nepali food in Fargo-Moorhead:
Curry: A complex mix of spices and herbs create these Indian sauces of all varieties, from mild (korma) to very, very spicy (vindaloo).
Naan bread: This leavened flatbread is perfect alongside a curry. Rip off a piece, scoop curry onto it, and use it as a sort of edible spoon.
Tandoori: This term encompasses any food made in a tandoor clay oven. Marinated meats are sealed in the oven and cooked over the course of several hours, leaving you with delicious, tender meat packed with flavor.
Samosa: These fried or baked snack foods/appetizers are triangular in shape, filled with a potato, onion, and pea stuffing, and usually served with a mint chutney.
Chapati: The unleavened version of naan bread, chapati (also called roti) are a lighter bread that goes perfectly with curry.
Chutney: You’ll find this style of sauce served with many Indian foods. The best way we can describe it is like a savory jam. The most common flavors you’ll find are mango and mint.
Fun facts about food and eating in India and Nepal
> No country in the world produces as many varieties of spices as India, so you’re in for a flavorful treat when you eat at one of Fargo’s Indian restaurants. > The incredibly popular Chicken Tikka Masala was actually invented in Glasgow, Scotland, not India! > Indian food is great for vegetarians, as you can always opt for veggie versions of traditionally-meat curries.
England is one of the four countries that make up the United Kingdom (the others are Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland). Three of those (Wales, Scotland, and England) make up Great Britain.
All of them eat hearty comfort foods full of meat, potatoes, gravy, and roasted veggies. Read on to find out more.
Fish and chips: This iconic dish is the first in people’s minds when they think of England. It’s a fried piece of cod or halibut served with fries (the English call fries “chips”… they call chips “crisps”, just to confuse you). Traditionally, the fries are eaten with salt and malt vinegar sprinkled over them. That’s right, folks. No ketchup.
Bangers and mash: Another oddly named dish, this translates to “sausages and mashed potatoes” and is a classic British meal.
Full English breakfast: For the most important meal of the day, the English know how to fill you up. A “full English” consists of bacon, sausages, eggs, baked beans, toast, mushrooms, tomatoes, hash browns, and black pudding. The English pile a little of each onto each forkful and dip it in HP Sauce (also called brown sauce)… in the states, you can replace it with ketchup. Don’t know what black pudding is? We’ll let you explore that one on your own.
Sunday roast: While eaten on more days than Sunday nowadays, in the past families would gather round on Sundays for a meal of roasted meat, roasted potatoes, stuffing, roasted vegetables, gravy, and Yorkshire puddings (a traditional type of puff pastry).
Toad-in-the-hole: Sausages (the toads) are placed in Yorkshire pudding batter (the hole) and baked, then served with gravy and vegetables.
Shepherd’s pie or cottage pie: This comfort food could be likened to a Midwestern hot dish, instead of what you’d picture when you think of a pie. Lamb or beef mixed with vegetables are layered on the bottom of a pan, and then topped with mashed potatoes and baked.
Steak and kidney pie: More similar to what we consider pies in the U.S., a savory meat filling of steak and kidneys are baked inside a crispy pastry crust.
Fun facts about food and eating in England
> The national dish of Great Britain is actually the Indian curry, Tikka Masala! Britain has a huge Indian immigrant population, and Indian food is widely eaten. > English pies (like the steak and kidney pie described above) were designed so that workers could take their meal with them without needing a container to put it in. > Britain produces over 750 different types of cheese… that’s 400 more than France!
The Irish eat very similar foods to England, with a few signature dishes (read about them below).
Irish stew: Throw lamb or beef in a pot, add in some veggies, potatoes, and a touch of Guinness and there you have it… a delicious, Irish stew.
Boxty: The Irish get crafty with their potatoes, and boxty is a result of this. Used in potato dumplings, potato pancakes, and potato bread, the recipe calls for grated potato to be mixed with mashed potato and then mixed with flour and salt and boiled (dumplings), added to a pancake-like batter and fried (pancakes), or added to a batter and baked in a pan (bread).
Soda bread: This traditional brown bread can be eaten for every meal of the day. Smother it in butter and marmalade for breakfast, use it for your lunch sandwich, or dip it in your side of soup at dinnertime.
Colcannon: The Irish are known for their love of potatoes, and no dish encompasses that more than Colcannon (which has a song written about it). Long before kale became known as a superfood, the Irish were mixing it into bowls of potatoes with milk, butter, and scallions for a creamy, delicious dish.
Fun facts about food and eating in Ireland
> An Irish household buys 250 pounds of potatoes per year (an American household just 140 pounds). > Add some whiskey and whipped cream to your coffee and make it an “Irish coffee” to start your day. > We highly recommend ordering a Guinness alongside your meal.
One of the most widely-eaten and well-known cuisines in the world, Italians never skimp on carbs, and we love them for it!
Pizza: In Italy, you’ll find two types of pizza: Neopolitan-style (made in Naples, which is said to be the birthplace of pizza) that has a thick, fluffy crust, and Roman-style, which has a thin crust and the slightest crunch.
Pasta: There are more than 600 shapes of pasta produced worldwide. Try stuffed tortellini or ravioli, long and skinny spaghetti, linguine, or fettuccine, shaped pasta like penne, rigatoni, or macaroni… the varieties feel endless.
Lasagne: Another dish that most people recognize, lasagne (spelled lasagna in the States), is made by layering pasta, meat, cheese, and sauce.
Risotto: A creamy rice dish cooked in a broth with saffron, butter, wine, and onion, and the occasional vegetable or meat mixed in.
Carbonara: Deceptively simple, a truly good carbonara can take years to master, with its perfect mix of spaghetti pasta, eggs, pecorino cheese, cured guanciale (a type of Italian cured meat), and black pepper.
Tiramisu: This layered dessert consists of layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers (a type of cookie) and mascarpone cheese mixed with eggs and sugar, and sprinkled with cocoa dust for a delicious finish.
Gelato: A richer version of ice cream, gelato has twice the sugar of its American counterpart, and none of the air and water that’s added to ice cream to give it more volume.
Prosciutto: Dry-cured ham served uncooked and cut into thin slices, you’ll find this type of meat all over Italy.
Fun facts about food and eating in Italy
> The average Italian eats more than 51 pounds of pasta every year. > Before you eat, say “Buon appetito!” to your dining companions (the Italian version of the common French “Bon appetit!”). > Beyond pasta and pizza, Italians love their wine and Italy is the world’s second highest producer of it. Sip on a glass with your meal to feel truly Italian.
The Fargo-Moorhead area has a rich German heritage (40% of the population can trace their roots to German ancestors), so we love our German food. Here’s what to try and where you can try it.
Bratwurst: Sausages and Germany just go hand-in-hand and this variety of grilled sausage is the most popular one. It’s fresh sausage seasoned with ginger, nutmeg, coriander, or caraway.
Sauerkraut: While its origins are Eastern European, sauerkraut is hugely popular in Germany. Finely cut cabbage is fermented, so it has a long shelf life and a distinctive sour flavor that makes it a good complement to meat dishes.
Bavarian pretzels: Pretzels were originally considered a sign of good luck in Germany. In the Bavarian version of this German snack, the arms are left thicker so that they do not bake to a crisp.
Schnitzel: Technically Austrian, schnitzel – a cutlet of meat coated in breadcrumbs with cheese and ham sandwiched within – is another popular food in Germany.
Spätzle: Made by scraping long, thin strips of dough off of a wooden chopping board and boiling them, these bread-y noodles are served with a large amount of cheese… just how we like our food.
Kuchen: The German word for “cake”, the Germans around Fargo-Moorhead know kuchen as a custard-like filling with a yummy crust and fruit toppings.
Fun facts about food and eating in Germany
> Traditionally, the main meal of the day is eaten at lunch, so fill up at Wurst Bier Hall over the noon hour. > Bread and beer are German staples. Try a wheat German hefeweizen beer along with your meal. > Germans do not cut an entire piece of meat at once. They cut off a bite and eat it before cutting off another.
Greek food is fresh and rarely spicy, and well-known from the popularity of the Mediterranean diet (heavy on the fats, proteins, and veggies, low on red meats).
Moussaka: Layers of sauteed eggplant, minced lamb, fried pureed tomato, onion, garlic, spices, a bit of potato, and a fluffy bechamel sauce and cheese topping make moussaka oh so irresistible.
Tzatziki: A traditional dip made of yogurt, cucumber, and garlic.
Souvlaki: Small pieces of meat and sometimes vegetables grilled on a skewer make up this Greek ‘fast food’.
Gyros: A large spit of meat is roasted vertically, and pieces are shaved off, placed in a pita, topped with delicious sauces and veggies, and then rolled into the perfect Greek lunch option.
Olives and olive oil: Olives are closely connected to the traditions and culture of Greece. Heck, they devote 60% of their cultivated land to olive growing and are the world’s top producer of black olives and the third largest olive producer overall.
Baklava: Nuts, butter, sugar, and the very delicate filo pastry make up the layers of this decadent Greek dessert.
Fun facts about food and eating in Greece
> Greeks use olive oil on everything. We’re not mad about it. > Traditionally, Greeks also eat the entire animal, including the liver, brain, heart, kidneys, and sometimes even the eyeballs! > It’s easy to eat vegetarian in Greece and at Greek restaurants.
SCANDINAVIA (+ Jewish deli food)
Scandinavia – made up of Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Estonia – has a food culture befitting its northern, coastal location with plenty of cured meats, fish, and pickled foods (for storage during the dark winter months).
Gravlax or lox: Raw salmon cured with salt, dill, and sugar… we promise it’s much tastier than it sounds.
Latke: This traditional Jewish pancake is made of matzah meal (unleavened wheat flour) or potato mixed with egg and flavored with garlic or onion. And. They. Are. Delicious.
Matzah ball soup: This Jewish soup is similar to a dumpling soup with matzah balls (made of unleavened wheat flour, eggs, fat, and salt) in a chicken and veggie broth.
Meatballs: We all know meatballs, but we had to list these staples of the Scandinavian diet.
Smørbrød or smörgåsbord: Hearty, open-faced sandwiches served on rye bread and topped with a variety of options including fish, meat, veggies, and herbs.
Fun facts about food and eating in Scandinavia
> If you get the chance to try something with lingonberries, do it. These Swedish berries work with anything from meatballs to pancakes to porridge. > Fish, fish, and more fish make up the Scandinavian diet. > Lutefisk – cod preserved in lye – is still eaten by many people in Fargo-Moorhead with Norwegian heritage. It doesn’t look or sound appealing, but it’s worth a try if you get the chance.
Finishing off the European continent, we’d be remiss not to mention dessert! Head to Nichole’s Fine Pastry for delicacies from France, Italy, Spain, and more.
Fargo-Moorhead has tons of great cultural foods, but it also does good ol’ American food, and does it well (if we do say so ourselves). These are some great places in the city to eat local American food.
Tater tot hotdish: Ground beef, cheddar cheese, onions, and cream of mushroom soup all mixed together, topped with tater tots, and baked.
Green bean casserole: Green beans + cream of mushroom soup, topped with crispy fried onions and baked. Sounds weird, tastes amazing.
Potato salad: With no lettuce in sight, this “salad” is made from potatoes, hard-boiled eggs (optional), onion, mustard, mayo, and various seasonings.
Macaroni salad: Again, forego the lettuce for a salad made of macaroni noodles, hard-boiled eggs (optional), celery, veggies, mustard, mayo, and seasonings.
Sloppy Joe sandwiches: These loose-meat sandwiches are as sloppy as the name suggests, with ground beef mixed with a BBQ-ketchup sauce slapped on a bun and perfect for a summer lake day or barbeque.
Chicken wild rice soup: Minnesota grows a ton of wild rice, and have perfected its use in this creamy soup.
Scotch-a-roos: A dessert that doesn’t require baking, these “bars” (as Midwesterners call them) are the ultimate treat, made with rice crispy cereal bonded by chocolate, peanut butter and butterscotch.
Traditional Germans from Russia food to try
The Fargo-Moorhead area has a huge proportion of “Germans from Russia” or German immigrants who farmed in Russia and moved here in the late 1800s. They brought a distinct food culture that can’t be found in Germany or any other part of the Midwest. Here are some foods you should try:
Knoephla: This dumpling soup has a creamy base, plus veggies, dumplings, and sometimes ham.
Fleishkuechla: If you can’t pronounce this, don’t worry, only locals can. It’s basically a beef patty encased in a delicious pastry casing and fried.
Kuchen: Though Germans mean “cake” when they say “kuchen”, Germans from Russia mean a specific kind of custard-and-fruit filling on a pastry crust that has been baked. Try it at Kroll’s Diner or Wurst Bier Hall.
Fun facts about food and eating in the Midwest
> Lunch is called dinner, dinner is called supper. Breakfast is still called breakfast. > We call side dishes “salads” even if there isn’t a piece of lettuce in sight. For instance, Apple-Snickers Salad is a Midwestern favorite consisting of apple slices, Snickers candy bars, and whipped cream. > What others call casserole, we call hotdish. It’s just the way it is.
We’ve separated Hawaii from the rest of the U.S. because it serves food so different to the lower 48. While you’re in Fargo, you have to try Poke, which can be best described as deconstructed sushi. It’s diced raw fish (or tofu for vegetarians!) with rice and your choice of veggies. Try it at Poke Bowl if you’re in Downtown Fargo or Ginza Ramen & Poke in the West Acres Mall. You won’t be disappointed.
With a different kind of spice than Indian food, getting authentic, delicious Mexican food is always a good goal to have. Let us help you.