Best American Cities for Food

If your stomach has a say in your travel plans, this list is for you

Some cities have more of a reputation for great food than others, and some are world famous for a certain dish.

There are some people who go on vacation to “ooh” and “ahh” over architecture and museums, and some who love to ride atop double decker busses with binoculars in one hand and a camera in the other, hoping to snap a picture of a makeup-less celebrity bringing in the morning paper.

Best American Cities for Food (Slideshow)

Then there are the culinary connoisseurs, who plan trips with the express intention of hitting as many James Beard Award-nominated spots as possible, who’ve Googled “Best Diners on the East Coast,” and have big red Xs on their roadmaps marking the spot of a can’t-miss crab cake.

Some cities have more of a reputation for great food than others, and some are world famous for a certain dish. If you’ve ever come back from Chicago without having tried a deep dish slice only to be met with downright indignation from a co-worker who couldn’t understand how you could have wasted a trip eating things besides Chicago’s famous pie, then you understand that in famous food towns, there are some things visitors simply have to try.

But what is a “food town”? For the purposes of this list, it’s a city with a strong food history, usually involving at least one famous local dish. But while a specialty is important, these towns also offer variety. For example, San Francisco is a mecca for food, a place where you’ll find the best burrito of your life located directly across the street from dim sum you’ll daydream about for weeks after your trip. A great food town has to welcome a variety of culinary perspectives. And finally, we couldn’t ignore critical acclaim. There are some cities where it seems that nearly every chef in town has been nominated for at least one James Beard award, places that travel experts like Condé Nast and Travel + Leisure consistently name as top spots for dining. The old standbys are here as well as a few cities that might surprise even the most well-traveled foodies.

So join us as we take you from coast to coast of this great nation, stopping in ten remarkable food towns on the way. Maybe you’ll be inspired to take your own culinary vacation.

Portland, ME

If Portland (the other Portland) doesn’t immediately make you think of food, you might need to rethink your assumptions. Recently included on Condé Nast Traveler’s list of Best American Cities for Foodies, Portland has come a long way from the lobster roll (though you can still find those, too). The city is currently offering up some of the country’s best and most innovative seafood.


Okay, so most folks don’t go to Hawaii for the grub, but according to Travel + Leisure’s list of best food cities in America, great food is an unexpected bonus on these volcanic islands. Don’t miss the raw poke, a local delicacy, or any of the amazing, fresh-from-the-ocean sushi that the city has to offer.

See more of the Best American Cities for Food

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I have been to all of these cities and they have nothing on Kansas City.


What about Cincinnati???


What food? What Restaurant? Food is food and it's all from China.


I love Chicago ! The food is great ! But anytime I go to Chicago and talk to people I am told that food in St Louis is excellent . Just sayin !


I didn't see Las Vegas on this list....OOPS!! that's right, it doesn't exist. Perhaps in the high end eateries on the strip,otherwise this town is #1 in strip malls/fast food junkies. When you see a Bentley pulling up to a Mickie D drive up window, you have to re-think the family unit out here.Every three months I have a shipment of fresh saugage shipped out from Brooklyn NY.I miss all the really fine place to dine I had back in NY. I gladly pay for "good food" as I did back there.But to go into a place on the strip and have a full coarse from soup to nuts you're looking at $100 a head (without wine or tip).


Why do they put lists out like this? They always concentrate on the larger cities when there are thousands of smaller ones that offer great places to eat as well.


Leaving out Portland, Oregon screams payola on the authors part. You obviously need to hire me to travel the world and report on food accurately and honestly!


You missed Boston!! Amazing food there!


I can't take this list seriously since Charleston, SC is not on it.


Only one little place should be on the list. Patrick O'Connel's Inn at Little Washington in Washington, VA. The most perfect meal you will ever enjoy.


We totally agree. Patrick O'Connel wins.
Been there twice for overnights.
Winner, Winner, Winner


If you're going to write about Chicago's deep-dish pizza, call it what it's called in Chicago...not on the East Coast. It's not "Chicago's famous pie." It's Chicago's famous "deep-dish pizza." In New York and New Jersey and the Eastern seaboard, you call pizza a "pie." In Chicago, we know "pie" covers a whole lot more than that, and we call it what it actually IS.


Portland, Me? And Boston doesn't make the top 10? Whoever created this list obviously doen'st know doodoo.


This article is BS for a very simple reason.. Austin is NOT more well known for food than Houston. Houston has that reputation hands down for the Lone Star State. It's why we have so many overweight people too! Houston is the food mecca in Texas. I can attest to this after living in both places.


San Antonio far outshines all other cities in Texas when it comes to food.


I love it!

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