The Butcher Block Cafe

More than thirty years ago, the Michel brothers -- all bona fide North Dakotans -- opened a trio of diner-like joints known as the Butcher Block Cafe. They all feature old-school lunch counters and a few rows of diner tables, which are usually filled with a chatty crowd of shift workers, solo diners reading the paper and drinking coffee, and families wearing polo shirts bearing the names of farms and industrial products. The food at the Butcher Block is the opposite of haute cuisine. But if you've got Midwestern roots, you're likely to enjoy every minute of your time at one of these spots, a reminder of a region where food is important largely because it gives a big, extended family an excuse to get together.

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