17 Legendary Restaurant Rivalries Across America

Mike's Pastry vs. Modern Pastry

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Mike's Pastry vs. Modern Pastry
Krystal A./yelp.com | Kristin J./yelp.com

Food Fights

It's a tale as old as time: Two restaurants duking it out over the same food, often one that's a local icon, fighting for the devotion of local patrons. Some of these rivalries are even decades old, giving hungry diners plenty of time to cement their allegiances. We've tracked down some of the nation's most well-known food feuds, and now there's just one question: Which side are you on?

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The Juicy Lucy, Matt's Bar vs. The 5-8 Club, Minneapolis, Minnesota
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Matt's Bar vs. The 5-8 Club

Battling over: The Juicy Lucy
For the uninitiated, the Juicy Lucy (or "Jucy" Lucy, depending which side you're on) is a burger with the cheese stuffed inside the meat; it's also a Twin Cities specialty. Matt's Bar, a cash-only dive that's reached icon status, says it invented the burger, but the larger 5-8 Club a few miles away begs to differ, and offers several different versions of the famous dish. Whichever side you choose, the restaurants aren't complaining about the business the rivalry has drummed up.

Related: Local Burger Chains the Rest of the Country Needs

Chimichangas, El Charro vs. Macayo's, Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona
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El Charro vs. Macayo's

Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona
Battling over: Chimichangas
Who invented the chimichanga? It depends on who you ask. Tucson's El Charro, opened in 1922, claims its founder invented them by accident by dropping a burrito into a fryer and covering up an almost-curse with "chimichanga" (which roughly translates to "thingamajig"). Macayo's, opened in 1946, tells a very similar story, saying its own founder dropped a burrito into a deep fryer, too. Either way, the restaurants joined forces in 2011 in a thus-far unsuccessful attempt to press Arizona lawmakers to declare the chimichanga an official state food.

Related: Signature Cheap Eats From Every State

Cheesesteaks, Pat's vs. Geno's, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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Pat's vs. Geno's

Battling over: Cheesesteaks
What's likely one of the famous restaurant rivalries in America, Pat's King of Steaks versus Geno's Steaks, might not be much of a rivalry after all. The battle for the hearts of the cheesesteak faithful is "largely a media invention," but both restaurants, occupying opposite sides of a triangular intersection in South Philly, have happily played along. After all, the feud, real or not, continues to draw food tourists to eat at both restaurants back to back in an effort to declare their own winner.

Graeter's vs. Jeni's
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Graeter's vs. Jeni's

Columbus, Ohio
Battling over: Ice cream
Ohio has always had a lock on some of the nation's best ice cream shops, and two of its most notable are Cincinnati-based Graeter'sone of the oldest shops in the country — and Columbus-based Jeni's. Both have scoop shops outside Ohio and sell pints in supermarkets across the country. Traditionalists typically choose Graeter's, which churns out creamy small batches with huge chocolate chunks. Foodies live and die by Jeni's, which has made its name with locally sourced ingredients and inventive flavors. Whether you decide you're down for Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip (Graeter's) or Salty Caramel (Jeni's), Buckeyes will insist that you can swear allegiance to only one.

Pizza, Grimaldi's vs. Juliana's, New York City
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Grimaldi's vs. Juliana's

New York
Battling over: Pizza
There are pizza-shop rivalries all over the Big Apple, but the one between Grimaldi's and Juliana's has an extra level of intrigue. To make a long story short, Patsy Grimaldi opened Juliana's to directly compete with Grimaldi's, his old pizzeria. He'd sold Grimaldi's several years ago, and his relationship with the new owner had soured, so there was one way to get even: by getting back in the game and baking a better pie. Though Grimaldi's remains popular, glowing reviews and accolades seem to indicate that Juliana's has accomplished its goal.

Related: Best Hole-in-the-Wall Pizza Joints Across America

Coney Dogs, American Coney Island vs. Lafayette Coney Island, Detroit
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American Coney Island vs. Lafayette Coney Island

Battling over: Coney dogs
Two of Detroit's most famous Coney joints spring from the same family. A Greek immigrant, Gust Keros, opened American in 1917; he brought his brother to the States a short time later, and the brother opened Lafayette right next door. Today, the flashier American has expanded, and some observers say it has the edge on taste; however, for gritty, old-fashioned atmosphere, devotees say Lafayette can't be beat.

Related: Where to Order the Most Extreme Hot Dogs Across the Country

Barbecue, Kreuz vs. Smitty's, Lockhart, Texas
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Kreuz vs. Smitty's

Lockhart, Texas
Battling over: Barbecue
There may be few foods as ripe for entrenched allegiances than barbecue. In Texas' "barbecue capital," Kreuz and Smitty's spring from the same smoky branch of the barbecue family tree. After some family feuding, longtime icon Kreuz moved to a new location just a half a block down the street, and Smitty's started a new business in the old digs. Though those storied spots are still battling it out for customers (Kreuz scored a very narrow victory in a Travel Channel "Food Wars" taste test), the family buried the proverbial hatchet by opening a joint venture, Schmidt Family Barbecue, a few years ago.

Related: Best Hole-in-the-Wall BBQ Joints Across America

Pizza, Pepe's vs. Sally's, New Haven, Connecticut
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Pepe's vs. Sally's

New Haven, Connecticut
Battling over: Pizza
Much to the chagrin of New Yorkers, some pizza aficionados say the best pies are actually the product of New Haven, a couple hours up I-95. In New Haven, the war within the war for coal-fired pizza supremacy is between Pepe's, founded in 1925, and Sally's, founded in 1938 by Pepe's own nephew. Reviewers on TripAdvisor and Yelp give an edge to Pepe's, but Eater says you can't beat Sally's. By all accounts, the rivalry is friendly, and new owners at Sally's have pledged not to tinker with what's made the restaurant an icon.

Sliders, White Manna vs. White Mana, Hackensack and Jersey City, New Jersey
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White Manna vs. White Mana

Hackensack and Jersey City, New Jersey
Battling over: Sliders
Two New Jersey diners with the same name, save an extra "n," were founded by the same man in the '40s, though they've long since established their independence. White Mana, one "n," has a bit more historical significance — it's a 24-7 octagonal dive that was originally built for the 1939 World's Fair. White Manna, two "n's," is a classic diner with a U-shaped counter and a neon sign. But who makes the better burger? Manna receives the nod in a Serious Eats taste test and from the Food Network's "Food Feuds." It also has better Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews, but as White Mana's owner says, "You be the judge."

Related: 30 Things You Didn’t Know About White Castle

Mike's Pastry vs. Modern Pastry
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Mike's Pastry vs. Modern Pastry

Battling over: Cannoli
Boston's North End is packed with enough world-class Italian restaurants to satisfy the most hard-core pasta cravings, but don't forget dessert. Across-the-street rivals Mike's Pastry and Modern Pastry have long dueled for the hearts, minds, and dollars of Beantown's cannoli lovers. The former is an undeniable tourist draw, with long lines and 19 decadent flavors listed on its website, but the latter is beloved by locals for its authentic feel and filled-to-order, always-crisp shells. Neither spot wins in a taste test by New England, but Modern does top Mike's on account of its tender shell and tangy filling.

French Dip Sandwiches, Philippe's vs. Cole's, Los Angeles
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Philippe's vs. Cole's

Los Angeles
Battling over: French dip sandwiches
L.A. has long laid claim to the French dip, but whether it originated at Philippe The Original or Cole's has been a subject of hot debate. After a deep dive into the turn-of-the-century food scene, Thrillist comes down on the side of Philippe's, though it also concludes that the first French dip was not made from roast beef but — sacré bleu! — pork. As for which one to stop in for today, if you believe Los Angeles magazine and other local reviewers, Philippe's is a rather lopsided winner.

Related: You Have to Try These Famous Sandwiches in Every State

Voodoo vs. Blue Star
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Voodoo vs. Blue Star

Portland, Oregon
Battling over: Doughnuts
No other doughnut shop is as closely associated with Portland than eclectic Voodoo, which opened in 2003 and has been selling quirky flavors like the Bacon Maple Bar ever since. But Blue Star has gone after Portland's foodies with innovative flavors like Blueberry Bourbon Basil since opening in 2012, then quickly expanding. Locals' take on the rivalry? You go to Voodoo for the experience, but Blue Star may be a better destination for the doughnut purist.

Related: 40 Unique Doughnuts You Have to Try

Anchor Bar vs. Duff's
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Anchor Bar vs. Duff's

Buffalo, New York
Battling over: Buffalo wings
In this classic upstate restaurant rivalry, it's Anchor Bar that gets the undisputed credit for inventing buffalo wings. As the story goes, in 1964, the mother of a bartender deep fried some wings and "flavored them with a secret sauce" to feed the bartender's hungry friends — the rest, of course, is history. Duff's didn't serve its first basket of wings until 1969, but devotees say "first" doesn't matter when you're better. So who is the wing king? The jury is still out — not to mention there are plenty of locals who will tell you that other places easily top both of these famous joints.

Related: The Best Chicken Wings Spot in Every State

Sound Bites vs. Ball Square
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Sound Bites vs. Ball Square

Somerville, Massachusetts
Battling over: Brunch
Luckily, most restaurant rivalries don't involve much, if any, bad blood. But the rivalry between neighboring Sound Bites and Ball Square Café in suburban Boston is different. It began when a jilted landlord opened a café to compete against his former tenant's, escalated to screaming and threats, and boiled over during a fist fight. By all accounts, the rivalry is no less nasty today, and while both establishments are still packing in customers with long brunch lines, Ball Square gets slightly better reviews on sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp.

Torchy's vs. Tacodeli

Torchy's vs. Tacodeli

Austin, Texas
Battling over: Tacos
You can't swing a cat without hitting a taco joint in Austin, but two chains have emerged as front runners and chief rivals in the city's ongoing taco wars. In one corner is Tacodeli, which first opened in 1999 and slowly spread to six locations around Austin; in the other is Torchy's, with about a dozen outposts citywide and plenty more elsewhere despite being founded later, in 2006. Residents seem equally divided in the battle, and the owners say the explosion of taco shops has only fueled their business.

Giordano's vs. Lou Malnati's
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Giordano's vs. Lou Malnati's

Battling over: Deep-dish pizza
Never mind that the bigger rivalry here might be the one between Chicago and the city of New York, which proclaims the superiority of its thin, floppy pies at every opportunity. But if you're looking for deep dish, Giordano's and Lou Malnati's are almost always mentioned in the same breath as must-try deep-dish institutions. The former is known for its intensely cheesy pies (check out this video to watch the classic "cheese pull") while Lou Malnati's is better known for its tangy sauce and flaky crust. The winner definitely depends on who you ask, and don't be surprised if a native scoffs and instead points you to Pequod's.

Acme vs. Felix's
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Acme vs. Felix's

New Orleans
Battling over: Oysters
The question of where to get oysters in the French Quarter inevitably boils down to these two stalwarts. Acme Oyster House claims the longer history, with roots dating back to 1910, and typically the longer lines. But that may well just be because Felix's is bigger after a recent expansion. Whether you want 'em raw, fried, or chargrilled, both spots are likely to satisfy — so if the line is too long at Acme, head to its rival and know you'll be slurping something special, too.

Related: The Best Seafood Restaurant for Takeout in Every State