The 50 Best Foodie Towns in America
January 4, 2019
The nation’s top culinary destinations
With such an expansive country and so many different cultures, America is bound to have incredible food from coast to coast. Yes, there are the big cities like New York and San Francisco that consistently get accolades for their culinary offerings, but we can’t forget about some of the smaller cities that are also food-lovers’ paradises. We’ve rounded up the 50 best cities for food in America, and we bet some of them will surprise you.
While some towns on our list might only have a population of a few thousand, that’s not stopping many nationally and internationally-recognized chefs from venturing to these hidden gems to test out new concepts or return to their roots. There are also quite a few local food masters that don’t have name recognition (yet) but could easily whip up Michelin-quality meals.
While there are dozens of ways to judge a city or town for its food — and everyone has an opinion — the variety of restaurants, for one, is certainly an important factor. But equally important is the creativity of the dishes coming out of these eateries, the chefs being drawn to the area, and how they’re pushing the culinary envelope. A great food city or town is not defined by just one flavor or a big name, but rather a combination of many different factors. These are America’s 50 best towns for food.
Asheville, North Carolina
Home to multiple James Beard Award nominee chefs and the only female-run moonshine distillery, Asheville’s food scene continues to rise. How? Well, locally-acclaimed chef John Fleer just opened his third restaurant, Benne on Eagle at The Foundry Hotel where he pays homage to the hotel’s historic The Block neighborhood with dishes like braised rabbit, fried catfish and waffles and crispy quail with hot water cornbread. Homegrown also opened up a location in West Asheville serving up downhome Southern cuisine while White Labs Kitchen & Tape has pizza made from dough that rises for 72-hours. And there is talk that S&W Artisanal has plans to open a Greek version of Eataly. Fingers crossed that happens!
You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t like the Austin food scene. Yes, they have superb barbecue at classic joints Lambert’s, Franklin Barbecue (home of the absolute best thing to eat in Texas), and The Salt Lick where people line up for hours for a taste. But they also knock it out of the park with pretty much every other kind of fare as well. Tex-Mex? You can’t visit without trying a breakfast taco from Papalote. Sushi? Uchi has fresh fish flown in every day from Japan. Opulent afternoon tea? Yup, they have that too at The Driskill hotel. That’s on top of the more than 1,000 food trucks in the city. Swing by any one of those, and you can get everything from falafel and rice at Halal Time to chow-chow doughnuts at Little Lucy’s Mini Donuts. The problem? You could move there and still not have enough time try all the options.
Bend is so special, we’re hesitant to even talk about it. Why? Well, it’s a laid-back town with endless outdoor activities and food options. After hitting the trails for a hike or bike ride, you can pop into any one of the tasty eateries in town. Many of the restaurants opt to stick with the carefree vibe, serving up delicious dishes in casual settings. Spork is one of those spots. It was once an Airstream food truck and has since become a counter-service spot known for its South American cuisine. Jackson’s Corner makes seasonal pizzas in a quaint café setting. And you can pick up a whimsical pastry from Foxtail Bakeshop. Though low-key reigns supreme, there are fine dining options. Ariana is the favorite fancy spot in the area making French, Italian, and Spanish-influenced dishes in an intimate setting.
Birmingham has the nickname The Magic City, and we’re pretty sure we know why: the food. They have everything you’d expect from a Southern city like perfect crisp fried chicken and fluffy biscuits to superb fusion dishes. Must-eats include the beef carpaccio from Bottega (Harry's Bar in Venice inspired it), the oxtails from Eagle's Restaurant (they cook it for over three hours), and the tacos from Taqueria Guzman (fillings include tongue, tripe, and brain). Oh, and that fried chicken we mentioned? Yeah, you can get that at Café Dupont.
Bloomington is a surprising city for many reasons. Did you know it’s home to a Buddhist monastery and Mongolian yurts? Well, the food scene in the home of Indiana University is just as unexpected. Especially since it’s so healthy! Here you’ll find spots like Laughing Planet Café where they serve California-style burritos packed with organic and locally-produced ingredients. The Owlery offers high quality vegetarian food at affordable prices. Rainbow Bakery makes interesting vegan doughnut flavors with a fun rainbow theme using all-natural dyes. Oh, and Tracy Gates, founder of Ugo Bars and Red Chair Bakery, just opened another cute brunch spot — The Inkwell — where customers line up on the weekends for their avocado toast and homemade pop tarts.
Boston might be known for its lobster rolls and clam chowder (check out Pauli’s and Summer Shack if you’re in the market), but Beantown has become revolutionary with its cuisine over the years. You can get some of the best ramen you’ve ever tasted at Cambridge’s Yume Wo Katare; O Ya has the freshest sushi in town; Toro is talked about for tapas, and Outlook Kitchen & Bar at The Envoy Hotel has delectable New American dishes like Bay of Fundy Salmon. The Better Sorts Social Club at Kimpton Nine Zero serves up drinks mixed with pasta water syrup.
BRU Burger Bar - Carmel/Yelp
The Midwest isn’t always thought of for its food, yet one quaint little town just north of Indianapolis has really come into its own. Carmel, Indiana, is now an enclave of makers and artists and consequently has created a strong foodie culture, especially in the last five years. One of the better breakfast places in the nation, Carmel’s Eggshell Bistro is just starting to get the spotlight (it was just highlighted on Food & Wine this past month). Also, Owner Larry Hanes’ beautifully crafted dishes come out of the kitchen looking like works of art. Other highlights in the area include Divvy, a local restaurant co-founded by one of “Indy’s Top 10 Chefs,” Richelle Rider. Then there’s Tina’s Tearoom, an authentic British tearoom offering English high tea featuring hard-to-find tea blends served in vintage teacups. Bub’s Burgers, a classic Midwest burger joint, is often cited as the best places for burgers in the state (even the NFL Colts players drop in from time to time) and is famous for its “Big Ugly” burger. And you have to stop by No Label at the Table, a vegan-friendly bakery staffed entirely by those on the autism spectrum.
Charleston, South Carolina
Leave it to Charleston to serve up some of the best Southern dishes around… and then some. The shrimp and grits at Poogan’s Porch are to die for as well as the she-crab soup at Hominy Grill. But some newer faces are putting the city on the map for other fares too. Shuai and Corrie Wang use unfamiliar Japanese sauces and ingredients to create their highly sought after O.G. Chirashi Bowl at their food truck, Short Grain. Rodney Scott won a James Beard Award for his whole-hog barbecue. And Mike Lata perfected the concept of “farm to table” with his restaurants like FIG and The Ordinary.
Move over Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; the real reason you should visit Cleveland, Ohio, is for the food. Larder Delicatessen and Bakery swears by foraging and fermentation, to create homemade breads, koji-cured pastrami, and in-house-fermented root beer. You’ll get delicious Japanese hot pot with seasonal vegetables and proteins like wagyu beef and live scallops at Ushabu. And don’t come to town without a visit to Ninja City, where you can try traditional Asian dishes with a modern twist served in a comic book-like setting. But what we’re most excited about is the Ohio City Galley. The 8,700-square-foot food hall from Galley Group will be home to Mexican cuisine (Poca) and fried chicken with signature seasoning sauces (Sauce the City). Cleveland native Anthony Zappola — a veteran of Tom Colicchio’s restaurants — is opening his joint there too called The Rice Shop.
From standout craft breweries and acclaimed small-batch coffee roasters to an innovative dining scene rich with ethnic influences, vegetarian and vegan-friendly options, Columbus is a great foodie destination that’s currently a bit under the radar for most culinary travelers. Some hot spots include one of the city’s first tasting-menu-only concepts at Veritas. There you can find interesting flavor combinations, like coconut and caviar. And just upstairs lies The Citizens Trust, a forward-thinking cocktail bar where they use unusual methods like rotary evaporators and centrifuged ingredients to create cocktails such as the “Sauced and Seasoned,” with browned butter, Wild Turkey Rye, cranberry and saline. That’s all in addition to the classics such as Momo Ghar (known for their homestyle Nepali and Tibetan food), Hot Chicken Takeover (they make killer Nashville-style fried chicken), and Trism (their pop-tarts and vegan doughnuts are to die for).
Texas is so big you can’t expect there to be just one foodie city. Dallas also has one of the country’s best up-and-coming food scenes. The city’s first sushi concept spot, Namo, opened in August 2018 and focused on Japanese temaki (handrolls). You can get a mezze menu comprised of Turkish, Greek and Lebanese at Zaytinya in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. And restaurateur Tristan Simon’s hospitality group Rebees opened their first Texan-cuisine joint, Billy Can Can. Now we see why Zagat rated Dallas 16th on their “30 Most Exciting Food Cities in America 2017,” and GQ named them their “Next Best New Food City” earlier this year.
There’s a mile-high list of reasons Denver makes the cut as one of the top foodie towns. Over 50 new restaurants opened in 2018 serving cuisine from across the globe like Mongolian eatery Chubby Cattle and James Beard Award-winning chef Alon Shaya’s first restaurant outside of New Orleans, Safta in The Source Hotel. But it’s not all new food that’s getting attention. Sandwich shop Call made Bon Appetit’s list of Top 10. Oh, and some of the country’s favorite food chains— Chipotle, Qdoba, Noodles and Company, and Smashburger—were also created here.
Detroit might have gained a reputation for producing cars, but it’s Motor City’s food scene that’s revving our engines. In fact, there are so many restaurants opening and revamping, it’s hard to keep up. But here are a few highlights: Laika Dog at UFO Factory is back serving their famous corndogs. There’s a tasting-menu-only restaurant called Albena that only hosts eight guests at a time to sample dishes like okra caviar. The fried chicken with cornbread at Besa is a must-have. And the city’s first shipping container food hall opened in July with a mile-long list of vendors serving everything from tacos to nitrogen ice cream.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Sure, you can get a great meal in Miami. But head just a bit north to Fort Lauderdale, and you’ll find one of Florida’s hottest food scenes cooking. They’ve got everything from cozy nooks for grabbing a quick bite to breathtaking waterfront spots and fine dining restaurants. Some of the local favorites include Café Maxx, serving up American fare in neighboring Pompano Beach. Others swear by the Italian food at Valentino. But it’s not all about the home-grown stars. Big-name chefs are making their mark on the coastal city too. Just one town over in Hollywood, Geoffrey Zakarian opened seafood hot spot Point Royal, and Michael Schulson serves up the freshest sushi at Monkitail. No matter what, you’re guaranteed a good meal with a side of sand and sunshine.
Greenville, South Carolina
You’d never except the world-class food that’s coming out of this charming Southern town. Greenville is now home to Sean Brock’s Husk outpost and Michael Kramer's Jianna, which has arguably the best house-made pasta in South Carolina. The Anchorage — a James Beard semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant — is also based here. Newer restaurants in Greenville and the surrounding area are offering cuisine from around the globe like Monkey Wrench Smokehouse, Golden Llama Peruvian Rotisserie, and Aryana, which serves authentic Afghan dishes. If that’s not enough, Seedlings is the first farm-to-table restaurant for kids. Now it makes sense why they host two major culinary events: Euphoria and Fall for Greenville.
Watch out Philadelphia and Pittsburgh; there’s a new Pennsylvania city making a mark on the map with its food scene. The capital, Harrisburg, is quickly becoming a destination for some of the best cuisine offerings in the state. Get Sicilian-style cured meats and cheeses at Bacco, perfectly crisp pizza at Cork & Fork, award-winning jumbo lump Maryland-style crab cakes at The Firehouse Restaurant, and mouthwatering steak at 1700° Steakhouse. Then there’s Broad Street Market, which has food stands ranging from pierogis and apple dumplings to gourmet fresh pasta and Indian cuisine. Whatever you’re in the mood for, they’ve got it.
Hoboken, New Jersey
Just across the river from Midtown Manhattan, a New Jersey city is giving the Big Apple some competition when it comes to the food scene. Sure, there are not as many options as in its larger neighbor. But Hoboken packs a lot of delicious fare into under 2 square miles. You can get stellar Cuban diner food (order the epic papa rellena) at La Isla, a classic hero roast beef sandwich with homemade mozzarella at Fiore’s Deli, and giant pretzels at Pilsener Haus & Biergarten. No matter the fare or fanciness, this waterfront spot has it all. And don’t forget to pick up some fresh “muzz” at Fiore’s.
There are a million reasons to go to Hawaii: the surf, the weather, the beaches... But you should add food on to that long list. Honolulu is home to The Street in Waikiki's famous International Marketplace. It’s there where you will find a number of curated food stations by chef Michael Mina. Foodies will love Almita Cantina, where you can get line-caught Kajiki Ceviche with pineapple, and Burger Hale, where you’ll want to order the Locco Moco (aka fried rice, a hamburger patty, sunny-side-up egg, and gravy). There’s also International Smoke by Ayesha Curry, Indie Girl, and Little Lafa. Just north of Waikiki Beach, there’s the Kaka’ako neighborhood, which is home to three-time James Beard finalist Peter Merriman’s Merriman’s.
Jackson Hole is an adventure lover’s paradise. It’s also a foodie’s haven, particularly within the town of Jackson itself. You’ll love Mama’s Midnight Ramen from Teton Tiger, spicy Mexican hot chocolate from CocoLove, and Persephone Bakery’s Nutella (you’ll never want to go back to the original). The food scene is so alluring, even chef Mac Jarvis from David Chang’s Las Vegas Momofuku has a spot here: Glorietta. You’ll want to try ricotta cavatelli with spicy sausage, brown butter, and fried sage. Lastly, make sure not to leave here without trying some steak. Westbank Grill at the Four Seasons Jackson Hole has an American wagyu New York strip that’s grilled to perfection.
Kansas City, Missouri
Some foodies will argue that Kansas City, Missouri, is one of the most underrated food towns in the world. While they might not get the recognition as other Midwestern cities, they should. Why? Well, they have some of the best barbecue in the country with Arthur Bryant’s, Gates and Joe’s Kansas City. They’re also home to fun and different food places like Grinders (order their world-famous Death Wings) and Bluestem (their new American tasting menu is to die for). Boulevard Brewing Company and their offshoot Tank 7 have some of the best beer around, and you can get delicious classic diner food at Winstead’s. Even the Mexican food is excellent! Don’t pay a visit and not eat at Zocalo. Just hurry up get to Kansas City before too many people find out.
Lexington is undoubtedly known for its equine culture and bourbon (as “Horse Capital of the World” with 400-plus horse farms and producer of 90 percent of the world’s bourbon). But this Kentucky town is also garnering attention for its expansive culinary scene — so much so that “Top Chef” Season 16 will take place in Kentucky, with a significant portion filmed in Lexington. The city also recently opened Kentucky’s first food hall and offers an unexpected array of dining options, with over 120 locally-owned restaurants including international cuisine like Asian-fusion, South American, Sri Lankan and the Caribbean. Even their race track cuisine grabs national attention: At the beloved Keeneland Race Course, chef Marc Therrien is serving elevated menus (combining signature Kentucky burgoo with innovations like bourbon soy smoked deviled eggs) through his Paddock Dinner Series. Now that’s a food scene we’ll bet our money on.
Litchfield Park, Arizona
Phoenix might be your first thought when choosing a dining destination in Arizona. But head just 20 miles west, and you’ll find a little foodie oasis. Litchfield Park is home to an elevated farm-to-table restaurant, Litchfield's (order the black mussels with chorizo), casual comfort food at Red’s Bar and Grill (chow down on their fish tacos), and Wigwam Bar, which serves equally delicious cocktails and lattes. The best part? These spots are all located in one spot. Yes, 90-year-old resort The Wigwam has become a dining destination for locals and visitors alike. There’s even The Wigwam Beer Dinner Series where a four-course meal is expertly paired with four beers from local breweries. Not too shabby for a 3-square-mile town.
Littleton, New Hampshire
It says it in the name, but Littleton, New Hampshire, is a tiny town. Their food scene though? Now, that’s larger than life. It’s home to the longest candy counter at Chutters, fine new American cuisine at The Beal House, homemade ice cream at Bishop’s (Bishop’s Bash flavor is a must), and the classic Littleton Dinner, which opened in 1930. The town even has its own apiary called White Mountain where they make all organic honey products. No wonder they were named one of the best small downtowns in America.
Los Alamos, California
The 1880 Union Saloon/Yelp
Over the past decade, creative locals and Los Angeles expats have set up shop in this former frontier town, creating a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it hotbed of innovative restaurants, wineries, art galleries and more. The street packs nearly a dozen stellar restaurants into its eight-block stretch. For example, a 1920s gas station now houses a boulangerie (Bob’s Well Bread) producing loaves on par with Paris. Farm-to-table restaurant Bell’s is run by Per Se NYC alums Daisy & Greg Ryan. A historical saloon buzzes with a star-powered tasting room (1880 Union Hotel with wines from Kurt Russell). Tasting rooms like Casa Dunmetz, Municipal Winemakers and more dot the main street between. Just recently, a new boutique hotel created from a 1950s motel called Skyview Los Alamos opened adding a micro foodie destination in Santa Barbara Wine Country with its restaurant Norman that serves local wines, herb-infused cocktails, and farm-fresh fare. Not bad for a town with a population of 1,890.
Milwaukee is so much more than just cheese and beer (although that stuff is great too). In this Wisconsin city, you can get many dishes that are just as delicious as their famous cheese curds. East Side Ovens’ vegan fruit dumplings melt in your mouth. James Beard Award-nominated chef Karen Bell makes the best charcuterie to go with the famous cheese at Bavette La Boucherie. And did you know they have more frozen custard shops per capita than any other place in the country? That’s why you can’t leave without trying a sweet sample from Leon’s Frozen Custard or one of the three Kopp’s locations in the surrounding area.
One trip to Minneapolis and you can taste the world. Bellecour is a quintessential French bakery during the day and bistro at night. Martina has authentic Argentinean and Italian fare. World Street Kitchen has some of the best Asian street food like their Yum Yum bowls. You can’t miss the jerk chicken at Pimento Jamaican Kitchen or the Venezuelan-style arepas at Hola Arepa. One trip to the Twin Cities is a lot easier than a trek around the world.
You can thank Julia Roberts for putting Mystic, Connecticut, on the map in the late ‘80s as the pizzeria Mystic Pizza inspired the hit movie bearing the same name. While fans have flocked to the seaport town for decades to taste a famous slice, the food scene has blossomed more recently. Restauranteur Dan Meiser has totally revived the area and made it an amazing food destination with several of his restaurants. Oyster Club, Engine Room, and Grass and Bone are all delicious dining destinations in their own right. While there, don’t miss grabbing a Beer’ded Brioche doughnut at Deviant Donuts, or fresh-made noodles at Japanese Ramen Noodle Soup & Asian BBQ. And keep an eye out. We have a feeling there’s plenty more to come from this small town.
When one thinks of Napa, the first thing that comes to mind is wine. Well, surprisingly, the sunny town has more than 65 restaurants and 27 tasting cellars. Luckily, there are many restaurants readily available whether you’re craving Mexican or pasta or just want to enjoy a nice glass of wine with a view. Gran Electrica is the perfect spot if you want authentic Mexican cuisine, while Vista Collina Resort has a hidden gem: Fivetown Grocery. Inside, you can find house-made pasta and freshly baked bread, both made from scratch by chef Vincent Lesage. And let’s not forget celebrity chef Michael Chiarello, whose restaurants Ottimo and Bottega Napa Valley are on-site at The Estate Yountville’s V Marketplace, which now offers an Italian epicurean experience consisting of a hands-on mozzarella demonstration. The only rooftop in the Valley is the new Sky & Vine Rooftop Bar at the Archer Hotel, so grab a glass of wine and sit back and relax.
The descriptions of the food that comes out of Naples, Florida, make us want to book a trip there right now. Foodie fans have described the hummus at True Food Kitchen as tasting like delicious clouds while others have boasted that Bha! Bha! has the best Persian dishes in the country. Locals and visitors alike drool over Ocean Prime’s award-winning seafood and steak. And multiple people swear Escargot 41 is the best meal they’ve ever had. Guess we’ll have to pay a visit to test it out.
Nashville is the perfect place to tour around and try as many restaurants as possible. Husk, City House, and Rolf & Daughters are some of the iconic hot spots that many people try when they’re down in Music City. However, two more places should be on everyone’s list. Mop/Broom Mess Hall is the perfect casual restaurant, and to top it all off, Tandy Wilson is the man behind the madness; he’s a James Beard Award-winning chef, so you know it’s going to be extra delicious. In addition, there’s Rolf & Daughters’ Phillip Krajeck’s industrial chic-restaurant. Since this is the land of barbecue, Ellington’s Mid Way Bar & Grill serves mid-20th-century dishes, while on the top floor of the JW Marriott Nashville, Michael Mina’s indoor-outdoor American steakhouse is the perfect place to get that finger-lickin’ chicken and, of course, a steak.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Page Light Studios/Shutterstock.com
There are so many foodie-approved places in NOLA, it’s hard to keep track of them all. Domenica, Seaworthy, Chophouse New Orleans, Naked Crab, Luke, and Maypop are just some of the award-winning restaurants that will be worth your while. Chef Nina Compton’s Bywater American Bistro, Alon Shaya’s Saba, Pythian Market, and Auction House Market are some new places to check out if you’re in The Big Easy. The vibrant city is also known for their festivals, so be sure to book your flight ASAP for the Fried Chicken Fest (September 22-23), Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival (October 12-14), or the Boudin, Bourbon, and Beer festival (November 9). New Orleans is the home base of classic Creole cuisine, so don’t miss grand dames like Galatoire’s and Arnaud’s, where Sunday brunch is a Big Easy tradition.
New York, New York
Even if you order something at 2 a.m., you know it’s going to be good if you’re in the City That Never Sleeps. Whether you want Chinese food, pizza, or a Michelin-rated restaurant, New York has got you covered. Chinatown, Little Italy, and Koreatown have so many restaurants that the possibilities for where to eat are endless. And because the city is huge, there are always new restaurants coming and going, like Unagi-Ya Hachibei, NYC’s first freshwater eel restaurant, where customers can actually catch their own dinner. This is really what foodie dreams are made of.
Newport, Rhode Island
Rhode Island might be small, but two cities from the state made our list. Yes, Newport has always been known for its Gilded Age mansions and America’s Cup, but it's recently started being recognized for its bustling culinary scene. New restaurants are popping up all over town, and not all of them are seafood-focused. There are newbies like Bar and Board (New England cuisine with a Mediterranean twist), Root (vegan juice bar), and Cara (The Chanler's new tasting menu restaurant that draws on classic French, Italian and Spanish influences), to revamped classics like Stoneacre Brasserie (their creamy polenta is a must). Of course, you can’t forget the classic classics like White Horse Tavern, which has been around since 1673, making it one of the oldest restaurants in the country.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City is more than meets the eye — the area, with an exciting crop of restaurants, hotels, and shops, has emerged as an under-the-radar travel destination. Local restaurant group 84 Hospitality is hell-bent on furthering the social dining and late-night scene in OKC. The group owns and operates six unique concepts: Goro Ramen, Revolución Taqueria & Cantina, Ponyboy, food truck Burger Punk, and Empire Slice House — which was named this year’s Independent Pizzeria of the Year by Pizza Today. No wonder the dining scene is growing and has been identified as an up-and-coming foodie spot by Eater and Food & Wine.
Palm Springs, California
This city is on fire when it comes to restaurants — literally. However, forget restaurants for a second, hotels are actually the place to be. There are tapas at Counter Reformation, cavatelli at the Kimpton Rowan, and even house-made pork terrine at The Pink Cabana at Sands Hotel & Spa in nearby Indian Wells. Don’t worry; there are actual restaurants that you should be sure to check out too, like Rooster And The Pig if you’re craving Vietnamese or Copley’s on Palm Canyon if you’re in the mood for good old American.
If you go to Philadelphia, you have to indulge in a Philly cheesesteak at Delassandro’s, but there are also so many more places to eat at as well. If you’re craving Italian, American, Lebanese or seafood, this city has the perfect meal waiting for everyone and anyone. Suraya is known for its kebabs and grilled fish, while Oyster House has an incredible raw bar and Le Virtù has seasonal kinds of pasta, which are a must-have. If you still have room for any snacks, be sure to check out Lacroix Restaurant at The Rittenhouse, which has all different types of popcorn — red plum, white chocolate, and corn sponge cake.
When you talk about food and Portland, people tend to think of the city in Oregon, but the East Coast’s Portland has killer cuisine too. No matter what meal of the day you’re on, there’s a spot to satisfy your cravings. For breakfast, you’ll want to order the crispy chicken biscuit at Dutch’s Breakfast & Lunch or the potato doughnut at Holy Donut. Head to Japanese food truck Mami for lunch where you’ll want to order the nikuman or sample the Colombian food at Maiz. And for dinner, you’ll want to stick to the hometown specialty: seafood. The bucket of steamers at J’s Oyster Bar is perfect as well as the fresh catch of the day at Lobster Shack at Two Lights. Watch out, West Coast Portland!
This up-and-coming city is where you can find all of the foodies these days. There are over 500 food carts that live in the city, but make sure to check out some of the restaurants as well. Bistro Agnes offers chicken liver mousse, seared foie gras French toast and steak frites, whereas Palomar features classic Cuban diner food. Chef Chris Cosentino opened his “snout to tail” cooking concept Jacckrabbit at The Duniway Hotel. And chef Cathy Whims (who is a six-time James Beard Best Chef Northwest Award nominee) and her partner David West just opened a wine bar that focuses on natural European wines, paired with regional Italian dishes. Who needs Italy when you can get to Portland so much faster?
Providence, Rhode Island
As the smallest state in the country, Rhode Island is often overlooked in the culinary world. Little known, this fun-sized state packs a punch in the culinary world, with one of the most famous culinary schools, Johnson & Wales University, right at the city center. New restaurants in Providence are popping up every day like Sarto, a Rhode Island-inspired Osteria & Salumeria offering a creative and modern take on rustic Italian fare. Recently opened O’Boy is a beautiful Asian/European restaurant led by chef Jae Choi, a graduate of Johnson & Wales. Yoleni’s, which launched in May, offers visitors a complete experience of authentic Greek gastronomy with a restaurant and cooking classes. And Mare Rooftop opened summer 2018 as the second rooftop restaurant in Providence serving a variety of Mediterranean cuisine. Can’t decide where to start? Book a Rhode Island Red Food Tour to taste the best of fresh local foods.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh is trying to differentiate itself from other Southern cities like Nashville and Atlanta. Beasley’s Chicken + Honey has some of the best fried chicken, which should be paired with a side of pimento mac and cheese and custard. If you want the traditional Southern breakfast, be sure to check out Big Ed’s, where you can order salt-cured country ham and red-eye gravy served with all the sides you can imagine. Bon Appetit named Brewery Bhavana a Best New Restaurant in America in 2017, so you know scallion pancakes will not disappoint.
Although Richmond is the capital of Virginia, it often gets overlooked due to its northern neighbor, the nation’s capital. But that’s precisely why it’s a foodie haven. Options are plentiful, and the servings are huge (and cheap). What are some of those favorite dishes? You can be sure to get a generous portion of authentic Cuban cuisine at Kuba Kuba, a massive slice of fresh fruit cake from Shyndigz, and a filling acai bowl from The Pit and The Peel. If you’re starving, head to Joe’s Inn, where the spaghetti weighs about 5 pounds.
Coconut’s Fish Cafe/Yelp
Sacramento is a great food destination because it’s the hub of America’s most abundant agriculture region and has access to more ingredients than any other city. They mean “farm-to-table” quite literally here, where chefs go to the farmers market, make relationships with growers, and create menus around the season. So where can you get this fabulous fare? Allora is known for its seafood and fresh handmade pasta. Ten Ten Room is a mid-century-inspired cocktail bar that features classic cuisine of the era like a deviled scotch egg. Beast + Bounty is a haven for the carnivores and herbivores as they make a classic meat burger and equally delicious vegan one. Lastly, Revival at The Sawyer has farm-to-fork cuisine being served on Sacramento’s first ever rooftop bar and lounge located on the third floor of the Kimpton Sawyer Hotel.
Salt Lake City, Utah
One of the safest cities in the world, Utah’s capital features an 80-mile-long urban corridor of incredible art, culture, performing arts and live music. So, of course, you’re bound to find some incredible food options. Here you’ll find a progressive, farm-forward dining scene courtesy of things like Certified Cheese Professionals manning cheese caves and impressive bean-to-bar chocolate makers. Head to Caputo’s Gourmet Market where they specialize in the art of cheese making, working with local farms to create distinct flavors as the cheeses ripen. Other local favorites include Pretty Bird Chicken, providing Utah’s take on Nashville-style hot chicken; Takashi Japanese and sushi featuring the buzz-worthy new cocktail bar, Post Office Place; White Horse, a modern American brasserie and bar; and more. Lastly, don’t leave town without trying the coffee. Publik Coffee Roasters and Blue Copper are must visits when in the area.
San Diego, California
The weather is enticing enough to want to get out to San Diego, but when it comes to the food scene, this city does not disappoint. Puesto and Lola 55 offer the quintessential Mexican and Cal-Mex food, but there’s also Juniper & Ivy (New American) and Menya Ultra (Japanese). Little Italy, Barrio Logan, and the Convoy are the best diverse neighborhoods to drive to so that you’ll never be hungry again. Boulud Sud chef Travis Swikard is even leaving New York to open a restaurant in San Diego — sounds like this place could give New York a run for its money.
Fresh air and fresh food are two of the many reasons why people check out Seattle. Canlis basically invented modern Pacific Northwest cuisine, while Staple & Fancy features some of the freshest ingredients you will ever taste. What do The Walrus and the Carpenter, Bateau, and The Whale Wins all have in common? Well, Renee Erickson won a James Beard Award for all of her restaurants, so you know they have to be amazing. However, if you just want to order something casual, head to Dick’s, where you can dig into a delicious burger.
Love to ski? Love to eat? Then Stowe is your heaven on Earth. This 200-year-old Vermont town has some delicious eateries like Plate, which has been touted for both its architecture and food options (order the grilled cauliflower steak). There’s also Bistro at Ten Acres that serves dishes such as Vietnamese grilled shrimp with views of the mountain. And for that truly apres-ski experience, head to Solstice at Stowe Mountain Lodge where you can pop off your ski boots and enjoy seasonal farm-fresh dishes like braised rabbit Charlotte with local cheddar. Don’t forget, the Ben & Jerry’s factory is just down the road too. No wonder Fodor’s Travel named the town as the No. 1 Ski Town for Foodies in the United States.
Telluride is known for its rustic charm, first-class skiing, and shorter lift lines. But it’s also home to a burgeoning food scene. The setting of the pivotal finale of the latest season of “Top Chef,” Telluride boasts an array of fine dining, as well as beloved fast casual options. “Top Chef” alum Eliza Gavin chose to open 221 South Oak in the heart of downtown; Alpino Vino, the best date spot in the state, has the highest-elevation eatery in North America at 11,966 feet; and Allred’s, situated at the top of Telluride’s famed gondola, offers up seasonal cuisine crafted with local ingredients and a stellar wine list. This year, a variety of new restaurants came on the scene like Shake n Dog Grub Shack in Mountain Village, which serves up comforting classics such as hot dogs, shakes, salads, and soup. And Wood Ear Whiskey Lounge & Noodle Bar is now cooking up untraditional “Texas-style” ramen, boiling 200 pounds of bones per day to create the signature broth for their ramen dishes. That alone is worth a trip.
Historically famous as the birthplace of Elvis, this small northeastern Mississippi town is now emerging as a long weekend escape in its own right. Forming a triangle with Memphis and Nashville; Tupelo shares a lot of similarities with the two cities — an incredible musical scene, culinary chops, and rich history. But unlike its two unchecked neighbors to the north, Tupelo has retained all of its character with some seriously good food. Kermit’s Outlaw Kitchen (KOK) is the perfect stop for cocktails and wood fired barbecue. Neon Pig is a funky restaurant/butcher shop that features fresh cuts of the day. And Clay’s House of Pig, which is located inside a still-operating bait and tackle shop, is known for the mouth-watering slow-cooked pulled pork baked potato topped with queso, slaw, and jalapeños (order a half size, trust us). No wonder Mitchell McCamey returned here to open some restaurants after being trained under James Beard Award-winning chefs.
Zagat named this bustling city the hottest food city in 2016, and they weren’t wrong. If you want a classic meal, there’s Rasika — one of the best Indian restaurants in the country — and Rose’s Luxury, but if you want a Michelin-star restaurant, head to Masseria restaurant, opened by Nick Stefanelli, or Plume, which serves up prix fixe and tasting menus inspired by the harvest in Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello gardens. The Southwest Waterfront is growing by the minute — with new shops, houses, and restaurants being built, it seems like this is where the people will flock to the most once it’s finished. Of course, you can’t forget to eat at Ben’s Chili Bowl, which has some of the best hot dogs in America.
Woodstock, New York
The hippies might have put Woodstock on the map in the 1970s, but foodies are making this quaint New York town a cuisine destination. Walk along the main street, and you’ll find vegan meals at Garden Café, fresh ice cream at Nancy’s of Woodstock Artisanal Creamery, contemporary Italian at Cucina, and upscale diner food at Oriole 9. Name pretty much any other type of cuisine, and they have it too. Head to Joshua’s Café for some great Mediterranean, Catskill Mountain Pizza Co. for delicious pizza, and for Yum Yum Noodle Bar for Asian street food that's sure to impress your taste buds.
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