North Dakota is as diverse when it comes to food as its landscape is vast and varied. Throughout the windswept Badlands and within sprawling town centers, you'll find a refreshing choice of North Dakota restaurants to choose from during state tours. North Dakota's state food is difficult to define because of the many influences in its history. For some states, the state food is clearly defined. Boston has baked beans; Maryland is famous for crab cakes; and Philly for cheese steak. Milk is considered the official state beverage in North Dakota, and popular foods include numerous dishes from the state's German pioneers.
A large number of Scandinavians also settled in North Dakota, providing an additional impact on food in North Dakota over the years. In the early pioneer days, buffalo was a staple in the North Dakota diet, offering plenty of protein in its meat as well as a source for shelter and clothing. In the early days, the Native American population was largely dependent on the buffalo, which roamed in abundant herds over the sweeping plains. With almost 90 percent of North Dakota being used as farmland, agriculture has long played an important role in the state food supply. Many restaurants in North Dakota reply upon local farms to supply them with fresh produce and meat from hogs and cattle.
One particularly interesting influence on food in North Dakota comes from a cluster of Scottish Highlanders who arrived around 1812 and established a small settlement in the Red River Valley. They brought with them their own traditional foods, which were largely beef and salt pork, as well as shortbread, salt fish, and porridge. The Icelandic influence on state food can be found at some restaurants in North Dakota, particularly in the more rural areas. North Dakota was home to the largest Icelandic settlement in U.S. history, and its population still enjoys some Icelandic specialties such as skyr, a type of homemade yogurt served with fresh berries. This delicacy is served in some European-style restaurants in North Dakota. Homemade Norwegian pastries and cookies are still served in some family-run North Dakota restaurants and a few bakeries around the state. Together, these varied European cultures blend into a tasty influence on food in North Dakota.
North Dakota vacations always call for the typical meal stop, whether in rural areas eating at a homespun diner or in the city splurging at a top notch restaurant. North Dakota restaurants serve up an incredible array of dishes, from simple and delicious to exquisite and unique. Fargo is home to some of the most-frequently booked restaurants in North Dakota. From fine dining restaurants to casual eateries, laid-back diners, and open-air cafes, Fargo offers an array of choices when eating out. Many Fargo hotels are close to plenty of great dining options as well as numerous attractions.
Some of the best-reviewed restaurants in North Dakota are found in Grand Forks. Roadhouse grills, diners, delicatessens, steakhouses, and cafes serve it up with style. Visitors will find Italian, Mexican, Japanese, American, German, and Spanish cuisine to choose from in Grand Forks. Minot, Jamestown, and Bismarck are also notable for a large variety of excellent restaurants. In cities such as Wahpeton and Devils Lake, it can be more difficult, but there are always good choices available. No matter which part of the state you're visiting during North Dakota vacations, make sure to pop in and try a few local restaurants, for the most unexpected diner or café may just serve you the best meal you've ever had.