The best part of exploring a new destination is usually the epicurean delights. From distinctive cultural fare to hometown dishes you won’t find anywhere else, a large part of getting to know a city is indulging in its cuisine. Delighting travelers and locals alike, standout cities in America are constantly changing their menus and adding new eateries, making them worth a trip for the meals alone.
1. San Francisco
San Francisco is a city known for innovation, and that extends to its restaurant scene. With scores of Michelin-starred restaurants, a wealth of farmers markets and plenty of unique hole-in-the-wall eateries, there’s no shortage of creative options in the City by the Bay’s neighborhoods. Not to mention, it features one of the best food markets in America, the expansive Ferry Building Marketplace.
2. New Orleans
The Big Easy offers a plethora of Cajun and Creole staple dishes: gumbo, jambalaya, Étouffée, po’boys, and the list goes on. But what makes the bayou so special is the sense of tradition that’s present in every dish, and with the heavy European influences, meals are treated as events that connect the community to both present and past.
You’ll need napkins and multiple days to take on the Windy City’s food scene. Deep-dish pizza, fully loaded hot dogs, Garrett popcorn, Italian beef – all these dishes are uniquely Chicago. Considered by many to be the culinary capital of the Midwest, plan a trip to this city for the award-winning restaurants that include picturesque views of the Chicago River.
4. New York City
The city that never sleeps is known around the world for a dining scene that’s vast in both volume and diversity. There’s virtually no type of food travelers can’t find in the Big Apple. That alone is an impressive feat, but this gastronomic heavyweight is also home to a high concentration of accolades from Michelin-starred restaurants to James Beard Award-winning chefs.
5. Los Angeles
Los Angeles is able to do what few other cities can which is create a globally representative food scene that’s as unique as it is accessible. The city’s melting pot of cultures has made its penchant for fusion cuisine famous. And the city’s acclaimed street food means that even if you skip the upscale restaurant scene, your taste buds won’t be disappointed.
6. Napa Valley
While this California region is best known for its sprawling wine country and excellent hotels, the cuisine also keeps people coming back. You’ll find award-winning restaurants that offer excellent wine pairing menus made from local ingredients. Just be prepared as Napa Valley is known for its pricey fine dining.
Charleston is known for its filling comfort food, the authentic Southern staples, and fresh seafood. These offerings have earned this quaint city recognition from a variety of industry experts as a food lover’s haven. Charleston’s various landscapes create a beautiful backdrop for superbly delectable cuisine served with a side of charming Southern hospitality.
The Emerald City is undoubtedly quite impressive with its food markets, but there are numerous restaurants and independently-owned food vendors that are worth seeking out. Its geography and climate also allow farmers to grow an assortment of produce and protein for the city’s top notch chefs to create wonderous concoctions.
While Southern cuisine is a dominant influence, visitors will find the culinary landscape in Music City has expanded. Upscale dining establishments serve up international flavors while mom-and-pop local spots continue to be mainstays. This means that Nashville continues to offer plenty of delicious options.
10. San Diego
All of the meals in this Southern California destination are nearly as colorful as the skyline and the city itself. San Diego is perfect for those who not only want to enjoy their food’s savory taste, but also its beauty. Visitors can stroll down the iconic Market Street to treat their palates to one-of-a-kind iterations of everything from cheeseburgers to acai bowls.
Seafood and Southern cooking are the fantastic reasons to visit this coastal city in Georgia. The maritime delights include crab, bouillabaisse, oysters and grouper, and they are best served in the ambiance of a riverfront restaurant. Don’t limit yourself to only seafood dishes though, Savannah also offers all the Southern delectable specialties, which range from superb sandwiches to a complete variation of grits.