One of the best parts of traveling is getting to enjoy good food and perhaps try something new along the way. With more and more people considering themselves to be a foodie these days, which generally means not only savoring a delectable meal but appreciating culinary techniques and a food’s origins – not necessarily food snobbery, there are many cities in the U.S. that offer a wide range of eateries that are sure to satisfy, including these.
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San Francisco, California
The City by the Bay, and really the whole San Francisco Bay Area, is one of the nation’s top places for foodies, including Berkeley’s Chez Panisse, the crème de la crème when it comes to gourmet seasonal cuisine. In the city itself, food-truck connoisseurs love Off the Grid with its weekly circling of food wagons venturing through various parts of town. Not only is San Francisco well-known for its fresh seafood like Dungeness crab and sourdough bread – try it at the over 100-year-old Swan Oyster Depot rather than the pier – but you can also enjoy a perfect pizza as well as pasta perfection at the oddly named Flour + Water.
Seattle has a lot more to offer than the fresh catch of the day at Pike Place Market or a cup of coffee at the original Starbucks, though both are a must experience for the first time visitor. It’s a hub for seafood, farmers markets, wine shops and breweries as well as top chefs. The Walrus and the Carpenter is the home to “soul-cleansing” oysters. For her newest, another highly-acclaimed eatery, The Whale Wins in the Fremont neighborhood just north of downtown combines southern European and U.K. cuisine, resulting in “rustic fare with effortless elegance” including dishes like roasted chicken and curried mussels.
Portland is fast becoming one of America’s most popular “foodie cities.” P-Town has earned a reputation for farm-to-table dining along with well-crafted microbrews and an incredible array of food trucks. In fact, if you enjoy sampling unique, delicious cuisine out of the back of a truck, car, van or trailer, there may be no better city. A sampling of the 200+ food trucks includes Beez Neez dishes like reindeer sausage. While Portlanders are known for being rather health-conscious, the city also happens to be the home of Voodoo Doughnuts, made famous for its bacon-topped maple bar and sinfully indulgent voodoo doll, a raised yeast doughnut filled with raspberry jelly topped with chocolate frosting and a pretzel stake.
Philadelphia is famous for its cheesesteak. Pat’s King of Steaks, the home of the original Philly cheesesteak, has been owned and operated by the Olivieri family for over 80 years. Its founder, Pat Olivieri, invented the steak sandwich in 1930. But the City of Brotherly Love also has a number of outstanding farm-to-table eateries like The Farm and Fisherman as well as great food trucks. Craving sweets? The Sweet Box Cupcake Truck offers premium-ingredient artisan delights like snickerdoodle and bacon maple pancake, or you can visit their storefront if that’s more your style.
The Windy City’s food scene is at its peak, with everything from affordable pop-up dinners at microbreweries to upscale establishments. Chicago is famous for its hot dogs, but if you’re in the mood for a great steak, Chicago Cut Steakhouse was named a top steakhouse in the city by USA Today and one of the best places for steak in America by Food Network.
Kansas City, Missouri
If you’ve got a tight budget and a craving for barbecue, Kansas City is an exciting city to explore. It’s considered a “bucket-list destination” for BBQ lovers with popular eateries like Arthur Bryant’s and Gates Bar-B-Q competing for your attention. While some say Gates is the best there is, with favorites like ribs, brisket and burnt ends, others argue that it doesn’t get any better than Arthur Bryant’s, with especially flavorful, meaty ribs. Either way, you’re a winner if you’re looking for a good deal and good barbecue here.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Some of the best New Mexican cuisines can be found in Santa Fe. The city has an especially distinct culinary style which frequently includes blue corn tortillas and locally grown produce along with Spanish and Native American influences. One of the most common arguments you’re likely to hear around the dinner table is whether green chile or red chile is best. At the James Beard Award-winning restaurant The Shed, you can try both. This eatery serves some of the best chicken enchiladas wrapped in blue corn tortillas, smothered in red and green chile sauce. But you’ll find a lot more than red and green chile here, including fusion fare at Compound, which blends Mediterranean and Southwestern flavors.
In recent years, Portland has undergone a major transformation, becoming a sophisticated city with plenty of sophisticated cuisines. Today, it offers a lot more than New England clam chowder and fresh lobster rolls. Not only will you find numerous farmers markets and CSAs with locally raised lamb, homegrown potatoes and honey, but one of the best restaurants in the northeast, Fore Street which kicked off the city’s food revolution some two decades ago with a daily changing menu of locally sourced items prepared in a wood-burning oven. Eventide Oyster Co., a tribute to the old-fashioned raw bar, has become a favorite stop.
Napa Valley, California
Napa and the entire Napa Valley region is famous for its spectacular vineyards and wineries, with some of the best wines in the world coming from this area. While it wasn’t always a popular foodie destination, the food scene here is quickly rising, measuring up to and sometimes even exceeding its famous drink. French Laundry kicked off the food revolution with a bang and it still never disappoints. The Goose and Gander offers a pub-like interior with fresh, creative fare and an outstanding seasonal cocktail list. The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena boasts expertly prepared contemporary California cuisine.
Newport, Rhode Island
Newport is famous for its mansions and breathtaking views over Narragansett Bay, not surprisingly, this charming seaside city is also home to a number of noteworthy eateries that offer an upscale take on seafood in sophisticated settings. Castle Hill Inn Dining Room emphasizes ingredients like fresh local fish, regional meats, and produce in a distinctly native, season menu including items like broiled cod with smoked seaweed butter. At 22 Bowen’s Wine Bar & Grille, you’ll enjoy outstanding port views from the outdoor patio and a wide selection of entrees, including thick steak grilled just the way you like it as well as a raw bar and an extensive array of fresh seafood.
Los Angeles, California
Some say Los Angeles has surpassed New York to become the top food city in the nation. The City of Angels has become a truly culinary boomtown that may have begun with Roy Choi, the Le Bernardin alum who revolutionized food with his Kogi BBQ trucks selling $2 Korean barbecue tacos. Los Angeles is also the home of the first celebrity chef, with Wolfgang Puck at the forefront. Of course, you can get some of the most authentic Mexican here too – small, family-owned La Casita Mexicana is one of the top spots for its vegetable-based Jalisco dishes. The city has also perfected Sunday brunch – Eveleigh in West Hollywood and Farmshop in Brentwood offer some of the best.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Sin City is well known for its casino resorts, slot machines, poker tables and stage headliners, but it also features a star-studded list of celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsey and Giada de Laurentiis opened up her first-ever restaurant at The Cromwell. When it comes to steakhouses, visitors can choose from Wolfgang Puck’s CUT, Charlie Palmer Steak and Steve Wynn’s SW Steak. Today, Las Vegas has become a real-life fantasy world for foodies.
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans has long been known as a food-obsessed city, and if you’re going to keep up with the non-stop party, you’ll want to indulge in some of its finest cuisines first. From gumbo to crawfish boils, red beans and dirty rice as well as heavenly beignets, New Orleans seems to be constantly redefining its local flavors. Enjoy comfort foods at Eat, a French Quarter eatery, and don’t miss Frankie & Johnny’s when you’re in the mood for crawfish and a cold beer.
San Diego, California
San Diego’s growing food scene is one of the hottest in Southern California. The city is the birthplace of carne asada fries – a French fry version of nachos topped with a heaping mound of guacamole, sour cream, cheese and mouth-watering marinated beef. Don’t miss trying this dish at Lolita’s downtown or at La Puerta in the Gaslamp Quarter. You’ll find some of the best fish tacos north of the Mexican border out of a food truck, Mariscos German, in the neighborhood of San Ysidro, but if you’re looking for an exquisite yet unpretentious restaurant with a fabulous ocean view, George’s At The Cove, is it. The fare is described as California Modern: healthy, yet indulgent, featuring ultra-fresh fish as well as veggies, meat and game.
Austin has almost always had plenty of fantastic food options, but more recently the city’s chefs have become a lot more creative, adding interesting twists to Texas favorites. East Side King Thai Kun has frequently been named on “Best Of” lists. You’ll find Southwest staples along with decadent desserts. Of course, there is plenty of good ol’ tasty Texas BBQ to be found, including Franklin Barbecue, who once served Obama.
Aspen may best be known as America’s favorite winter playground, but it’s also a magnet for top chefs like “Iron Chef” Nobu Matsuhisa’s Aspen Matsuhisa, a top eatery in Aspen for gourmet Japanese seafood and sushi. It’s one of the hottest tables in town for A-listers as well as X-Gamers and other celebrity chefs like Thomas Keller. For an upscale burger, head to Little Nell’s Ajax Tavern to try the beloved Ajax Double Cheeseburger with Truffle Fries. While you’re there, search the crowd for famous faces, there’s almost always one or two enjoying this popular dish.
New York City, New York
Of course, The Big Apple is one of America’s most famous foodie cities, frequently falling in at number one on both readers’ and critics’ lists. It’s a city of top culinary experts and a foodie mecca where upstart chefs come to learn how to be the best – and the average Joe learns to be a food critic. The city is also a great place to enjoy tiny mom-and-pop kitchens as well as swanky upscale dining like Le Bernardin, a four-star restaurant with top-notch seafood. Foodies are increasingly heading to the outer boroughs for authentic, affordable fare too, like great Chinese in Queens. But New York City has long been known for out of this world Italian which can be found at places like Dominick’s in the Bronx, a perennial favorite for over 50 years.
Denver not only offers endless bright blue skies and stunning views of the soaring Rocky Mountains, but it’s become one of the top cities for microbreweries as well as beer-centric restaurants like Euclid Hall and Root Down, where you’ll find highly creative, seasonal eats served in a super-hip environment along with a wide variety of craft beers. Meanwhile, Old Major, Masterpiece Delicatessen, and Culture Meat & Cheese – have become some of the city’s most celebrated eateries, with numerous accolades and awards that keep them among Denver’s must-visit culinary hot spots.