America the Beautiful and Tasty! Top Foodie Adventures and Culinary Destinations in the USA
We’re living in unique times, my friends, when more is virtual and less and less seems real. Just when you thought you knew something for certain, along comes a deep fake video to prove you wrong. Is it any wonder we’re turning to the comforts of food to nurture us, like a warm blankie and a glass of chocolate milk? Food is real. It soothes the soul, especially now. But with food appreciation so front and center now and Instagram documenting every #yummy morsel, #nomnomnom, taste, and balsamic drizzle for us all to see in real time, is the food itself ironically being overshadowed by the hype? The social exposure of food is spotlighting chefs, restaurants, and destinations like never before, but is it — and the experience — still good, or just fake news?
Thankfully, we’re getting back to the local foods and ingredients that originally set the table, with farm- and sea-to-table freshness and food creators rising to new heights to delight us with innovative twists on our grandmother’s ingredients, unique feats of gastronomy, and insanely addictive food truck fare. We asked some of our favorite food bloggers and travel writers to share with us their expertise on the best foodie adventures and culinary destinations in the USA, and boy did they deliver — from some of the hottest restaurants in the country right now to an original New England clam shack still serving their fried clams the same way in the same location for over 100 years. If you thought you knew food across America, it’s time to take a closer look. Their recommendations for simple, good food may surprise you. So grab some tea and that blankie, and get inspired for your foodie vacations, USA gastro-inspired road trips, or a romantic date night for two. Listed here by state are some truly delectable destinations, and more than a few culinary surprises.
As if there weren’t enough to celebrate in the original Mardi Gras City with throwing beads, bombing down chocolate-coated Moon Pies, and waving at the lovely pastel-colored Azalea Trail Maids, the gracious Southern city of Mobile has gone and got itself a bonafide reputation as a foodie city. There are all sorts of good things for a foodie to love in Mobile. You can grab a tasty charcuterie board and enjoy an excellent bottle of wine at The Cheese Cottage, or enjoy the best view of the city and a gourmet dinner at Dauphin’s Restaurant in downtown Mobile. Thai fusion is right around the corner at Von’s Bistro and the most satisfying paninis can be had a block away at Panini Pete’s (not to mention their lemony-delicious beignets, better than any we had in nearby New Orleans!) But the shining stars in town have to be Southern National, an upscale restaurant and bar in the restored historic Wilkins-Higgins building in Mobile's popular Arts District, where Chef Duane Nutter creates incredible culinary masterpieces. In the Oakleigh Garden Historic District, the farm to table philosophy is alive and well at Kitchen on George, where you can graze the tempting small plates, or more. But don’t skip dessert! If you want to try a little of everything, take the popular Bienville Bites Food Tour, and nosh at seven different stops around town. If all this seems a little fancy for your pants, not to worry — Mobile’s beloved old-school favorites like Wintzell’s Oyster House still serves locally harvested and farmed Alabama oysters. The Dew Drop Inn, and Three Georges Candy Shop are still going strong after serving good, local food for generations, like neon-pink hot dogs and sugary-sweet handmade pralines! Mm, mm!
Text and photos by Lori Sorrentino, Travlinmad
Flagstaff, Arizona, Capital of Northern Arizona, has been touted as a foodie mecca, and the #1 Foodie Town in Arizona by Phoenix Magazine. Flag restaurants are known best for Mexican food and pizza, and also open range beef raised on local ranches. You’ll find plenty of scrumptious vegan options in Flagstaff too. Many Flag restaurants source meat and produce from local and sustainable sources. Indulge in the contemporary hip spot Root Public House, an upscale casual restaurant. It’s an exquisite farm-to-table dining experience, from the wines and appetizers through irresistible desserts. Flagstaff’s Community Market, open Sundays from May to October, provides farm fresh local products. It’s a great place to shop when cooking your own meals.
If libations are atop your list, local brew pubs abound. Don’t miss the craft brewery culture; visit and indulge in the flavorful brews at the Historic Brewing Company; they took 2nd place in Denver’s American Beer Festival. Or have a pizza or salad with a flight of craft beers at Beaver Street Brewery, a fun casual dining experience. Beaver Street Brewery boasts an open kitchen that invites viewing the chefs crafting meals while you enjoy handcrafted beers. You’ll also find wine shops carrying Arizona wines, where you can try tasting flights and also have wines paired with cheeses and truffles. No matter what your taste buds crave, you are sure to be satiated in Flagstaff.
Text and photos by Wendy Blumenstein-Elliott, Adventurous Retirement
Little Rock has found a variety of ways to engage the "foodie" aficionados that live and visit the capital of Arkansas. The name of the game is freshness with a local twist. Restaurants are jumping on the bandwagon of "farm to table", and the large number of regional growers are happy to assist. It's not uncommon to see some of the local chefs during a visit to the local farmers market. The downtown is seeing an influx of eateries that are gaining regional and national acclaim.
The Root Cafe was recently showcased on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives with host Guy Fieri. nearby, be sure to drop in Loblolly Creamery for a scoop of their made from scratch, small batch ice cream. Travelers to Little Rock are sure to find plenty of fresh and flavorful dining options.
Photo by The Root Cafe. Text by Jeff & Crystal Bryant, Our Changing Lives
Berkeley, California, has long been famous for being foodie central. This reputation began when Alice Waters’ modest Chez Panisse became known as the home of California cuisine. Alice's cuisine is super simple, but features the best of everything. If her menu includes tomatoes, they are going to be the best-tasting and most beautiful tomatoes. Her restaurant has a less dear but lovely and popular upstairs cafe as well as a downstairs restaurant with a fixed menu that has served the elite — including Paul McCartney, President Obama, and the Dalai Lama. The current price downstairs is $75 to $125 per person. I doubt many foodies come to Berkeley and don't eat in one of them. Just around the corner in this area, known as the Gourmet Ghetto, is Peet's coffeehouse, where in 1966 its owner became the first in the U.S. to import specialty coffees and to dark-roast whole beans.
Plenty of other restaurants in town are also well worth a visit. You'll want to have the Comal Swizzler cocktail and Mexican specialties at downtown Comal. And the "big puffy thing" at gargantuan Vik's Indian restaurant in the warehouse district is both a sight to behold and a tasty chewy delight. The list of good places to eat in Berkeley is a long one, and the city definitely invites people to come and explore and eat their way through the town.
Text and photo by Carole Terwilliger Meyers, Berkeley and Beyond
If you are looking for a foodie destination for your next trip, visit the Napa Valley in Northern California. Arguably the top wine destination in the United States, the Napa Valley also offers a ton of fabulous restaurants and other fun things to do. From Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry, where a multi-course tasting menu will make you feel you are in culinary heaven, to Gott’s Roadside, a mecca for burger lovers, you can find a restaurant to suit both your taste and your pocketbook.
We love the fresh California cuisine and rustic ambience at the Farmstead in St. Helena, one of the Napa Valley towns. For a fancy dinner, head to the town of Yountville. In Yountville, you can also sample Chef Keller’s sweet creations at Bouchon Bakery, where the line snaking out the door is testimony to the quality of the creations inside! Most of the area eateries feature lots of produce and farm-to-table menus, and at some of them, you can actually stroll the kitchen garden before or after your meal!
Text and photo by Dhara Nargundkar, Not About the Miles
Los Angeles is a food lover’s dream. Before I visited I think I was more excited about eating all the food than seeing the sights (well, almost!). When I think of LA, I think of In-N-Out Burger. It’s an LA specialty and they do the best burgers in LA. The “Double Double Monster Style” does not disappoint and lives up to the hype - plus it’s cheap! But the really great thing about LA food is that they offer so many different cuisines, and actually do them well. Want great Vietnamese food? Head to Little Saigon for amazing Pho. Amazing Korean food? LA is home to fantastic Korean BBQ joints in Koreatown — Hae Jang Chon Korean BBQ Restaurant is a great choice. And if you want classic American food, then you’ll be spoilt for choice. If you need something sweet for dessert, look no further than the iconic Cheesecake Factory (which was actually founded in LA) for an amazing range. Your only problem will be deciding on one.
LA also offers brilliant choices for vegans, vegetarians and health conscious individuals. Real Food Daily in Santa Monica was delicious. So, regardless of what your food interests are, LA will have something to satisfy those cravings and more.
Text by Cazzy Magennis, Dream Big, Travel Far
Before San Diego was a vacation destination the economy swirled around seafood. Today, fish stocks are rebounding and foodies have lots to enjoy from local catches. Enjoy the celebrated Japanese vibe at Sushi Ota near Mission Bay. For date-night fun hit Saiko Sushi in Hillcrest and don't miss their Sake samplers. Owner Antony Pasquale is one of San Diego's few Sake Sommeliers. If you're in North county stop at Land and Water in the historical Carlsbad village mansion where chef Rob Ruiz — who trained in Japan — uses nothing but the best and most sustainable proteins. Head down to the Driscoll Wharf pier to dine with the fishermen at Mitch’s Seafood. Select from a menu board featuring the day's local catch. Cook your own or pick up ready to eat seafood at the fish market inside the Catalina Offshore Products. Fine dining seafood feasts are served at George's on the Cove in La Jolla Village. Continental fare with local dishes are a specialty at Dobson's downtown. Coasterra wins for the best view of the skyline from the pier along Harbor Peninsula. Ironsides in Little Italy wins for most creative décor and stunning seafood plates. Don’t miss the orgasmic textures of a truly great fish taco in San Diego. Some of the best are served at Galaxy Taco in La Jolla Shores, Luche Libre off Washington Street. Go old school and settle into the patio at Las Cuatro Milpas for authentic Baja style in Barrio Logan.
Text and photos by Elaine Masters, Trip Well Gal
San Francisco is one of everyone's favorite cities to visit not only for the spectacular attractions, neighborhoods and cool places, but more so for the fabulous culinary spots all around the city that make this a foodie magnet. It seems like everyday there is a food open air market in any of the different neighborhoods and you can visit a slew of ethnic neighborhoods for some fantastic local foods including the Mission, Chinatown, Vietnam district, Japan Center and the popular Italian neighborhood of Little Italy. The city sparkles with amazing street foodie zones, food truck gatherings, foodie markets and of course luxury restaurants that host Michelin Star ratings and dining experiences.
One of my favorite places to eat in San Francisco is in the Ferry Building in the Embarcadero Center - this old building is filled with food inspired stores, galleries, restaurants and food markets and the all food is quite exceptional and locally sourced from the region. Stand out venues for anyone to visit at the Ferry Building include the Hog Island Oyster company for amazing seafood with fabulous views of the bay, Gotts Roadside for delicious burgers and fries and the Slanted Door for out of this world modern Vietnamese inspired cuisine. You’ll have an wonderful experience exploring the city and going to some fabulous dining venues and experiences in San Francisco.
Text and photo by Noel Morata, Travel Photo Discovery
San Mateo County
San Mateo County is a super scenic area located just south of the city of San Francisco, and a great place to visit if you’re a chocolate-loving foodie like me. As the county is situated right along San Francisco Bay, you can bet that fresh seafood and juicy shrimp are on the menu at most of the best places to eat. I loved Kincaid’s Classic American Dining in Burlingame — located right on San Francisco Bay, who served me an amazing Seafood Louie Salad featuring fresh locally grown avocados and the plumpest shrimp you can imagine!
If seafood isn’t your preference, I highly recommend Pausa Bar & Cookery in downtown San Mateo. I sampled several fabulous meat and pasta dishes there, but was most enamored with the chocolate marquise flourless chocolate cake adorned with silver dust, salted caramel, and gelato. All I can say is OMG! Click through for more on this taste-tempting destination.
Text and photo by Doreen Pendgracs, Chocolatour
With the most restaurants per capita, Durango, Colorado is a magical location for your foodie adventures. This small, historical town situated in the Southwest corner of the state features everything that is loved by Colorado travelers: mountains, rivers, breweries, craft cocktails, and restaurants with only the best of local and sustainable ingredients. From traditional American food to ethnic Japanese or Thai food, the best Durango restaurants have something to suit everyones palate. You can take a step back in time through antique saloon doors of oldest restaurant establishment in town, the Ore House, whose walls and décor still jive to the ragtime beat of its past. Or if you’re feeling a little more exotic, relax on the patio of the Cyprus Café where you can find plates of Mediterranean infused flavor and ingredients. Feeling casual? Grab a burger and a pint at one of the five breweries located right downtown.
Whatever vibe you're feeling, Durango's got a place, a plate, and a cold beverage waiting for you.
Text and photos by Jennifer Kanikula, The SoFull Traveler
While Connecticut surely has its complement of excellent restaurants of all sorts, especially in upscale Fairfield County, the places I always return to are in New Haven and serve what would normally be called fast food. Three unusual pizzerias have prospered on Wooster Street for decades. Pepe’s opened in the 1920’s and runs The Spot next door as well. Sally’s, my favorite, opened in the 1930’s. All three serve something called “Apizza” that is unlike pizza I’ve ever eaten anywhere else. It’s thin-crust pizza, but that’s not what’s special about it; I think it’s something about the sauce. On the other hand, my father, who grew up eating pizza on Wooster Street in the 1930’s and 40’s, always insisted that what gives it so much flavor is the original ovens they use, which, he claimed, haven’t been cleaned in decades. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know, but this pizza is so delicious that I make a special trip there every time I visit the east coast.
The other fast food joint that’s special in New Haven is Louis’ Lunch, a tiny hamburger place on Crown Street. It goes back to 1895 when, according to the family that still owns it, hamburgers were invented there. Their hamburgers, cooked in a grill suspended sideways in a special oven, are wonderfully tasty, and served on white toast. Don’t ask for ketchup; they don’t serve it and get quite huffy if you ask. Hamburgers this good don’t need ketchup! You can add cheese, onion or tomato, but that’s all.
To enjoy any of these places, set time aside; it’s not fast fast food. You’re likely to have to wait in line, but take my word for it, it’s worth it!
Photo by Wikipedia Commons; Text by Rachel Heller, Rachel’s Ruminations
With its charming southern downtown and distinctly diverse feel, there are so many things to do in Gainesville for foodies no matter what your taste, budget, or affinity to college football. Loosey’s Gainesville has the best burgers hands down — hand packed and deliciously smoked, you can never go wrong with a Loosey’s burger and their handcut and authentically french fries. The Top restaurant is a happening place filled with University students and others who love great food and low prices, or is that great friends in low places? The Top is far from a dive bar but has that relaxed hip vibe that makes you feel right at home. Try a hearty vegetarian dish or their homemade Thai noodles. Eating at Sachel’s is definitely one of the most fun things to do in Gainesville, and their quirky atmosphere is as fun as the food. Try the yummy pizza, healthy salads, and definitely try a flight of their homemade sodas. If you can, look to score a seat in the back of the bus! Craft beer lovers should head to Swamphead Brewery, a brewery destination. Not only are their beers really good, but Swamphead is Florida’s only solar powered brewery, adding an impressive sustainability factor that only makes sense in the Sunshine State. The grounds are spacious and they welcome you to hang out, drink beer, and enjoy the day… and you should listen. A great way to sample the fun restaurant scene in Gainesville is by taking the Gainesville Food Tour, the good kind of 3 hour tour that winds its way through the historic city eating at some great stops along the way!
Text and photo by Lori Sorrentino, Travlinmad
Granted, Key West has always been known more for their bars than their food, but that’s changed in recent years with talented local chefs making Key West cuisine a big thing. But talent comes in many forms and restaurants in Key West range from walk-up windows and low-brow joints, to high-style and sea-to-table cuisine. There’s so much good food to enjoy in Key West now, and most of it has a few influences in common: seafood and Cuba, which is just 90 miles away. Seafood is at the heart of just about every restaurant in town: from the always-tempting and cheap fish tacos at B.O.’s Fish Wagon to the incredible Spanish-style tapas at Santiago’s Bodega. For fresh and raw, try the grouper ceviche at Nine One Five on lower Duval Street. We always love breakfast at Pepe’s (spoiler: they have the best Key Lime Pie in Key West) and Sarabeth’s. For fresh healthy salads and yummy conch fritters (a must-eat in Key West) try Caroline’s Cafe on Duval. For good libations, try the homemade sangria at First Flight on Whitehead Street, birthplace of Pan American Airlines, and late night (or anytime) drinking at the Green Parrot or Schooner Wharf. Blue Heaven was made famous by Jimmy Buffett’s laid-back groove Key West Rendezvous and are known for their mile-high Key Lime Pie (not the best, but good) but we love going for dinner, listening to live music, and watching the Key West chickens run around! If you’re looking for a truly special-occasion foodie experience, look no further than Latitude’s on Sunset Key, one of the most incredible things to do in Key West. You’ll be picked up and transported just ten minutes away to lush Sunset Key, where the fresh seafood is sublime, but the sunset experience is unforgettable. After all is said and done, don’t miss your morning coffee at Cuban Coffee Queen, whether you like it mild or hot, hot, hot.
Text and photos by Lori Sorrentino, Travlinmad
In the southwest corner of the Sunshine State at the eastern edge of the Florida Everglades lies Naples, Florida, once a sleepy Gulf Coast town, until it was discovered over and over since then. Today, Naples still has a small town feel but its winning combination of prime coastline, excellent beaches known for the amazing seashells that wash ashore, world-class shopping, and a vibrant restaurant scene make it unrivaled around the state for fun things to do. There are so many great restaurants in Naples to choose from no matter what mood you’re in, whether it’s high style or low — from beach cocktails and stone crabs in your shorts with your feet in the sand to excellent high-end dining with a celebrity flair. Given Naples’ intentional architectural resemblance to Italy, it’s no surprise the Italian restaurants in Naples are worth seeking out. A favorite of ours is Osteria Tulia, a casual Fifth Avenue eatery with a rustic Tuscan feel. Campiello and Barbatella are two great choices on Third Street South. For farm-rustic French, The French Brasserie Rustique is a must on Fifth Avenue. One of my favorite Mediterranean spots, Bha! Bha! Persian Bistro, is consistently delicious when your palate feels adventurous, and the flavors will blow you away. Speaking of flavors, you just might fall in love with 21 Spices by Chef Asif, if this is your vibe — their innovative and contemporary Indian cuisine is both stunning and delicious. If it’s ultra-casual you’re looking for, check out our new favorite hang-out, the Celebration Food Truck Park, a casual open air pavilion on a Naples Bay inlet with a dozen excellent food trucks and games to play with your kids and friends. The Captain & Krewe serves delicious and reasonably priced fresh seafood along with a nice wine selection just off bustling 5th Avenue South. Or head to famed Brook’s Gourmet Burgers for the most mouth-watering hand-packed Angus burgers you’ve ever had (the Fig and Fine is scrumptious — a big burger with caramelized onions, goat cheese, and fig spread).
If you just can’t decide which to try first, visit during the Sizzle SWFL Restaurant Week, a two week culinary event held twice a year that features dozens of area restaurants serving specially crafted fixed price menus — it’s a great way to try out some new places and save a little money for the other fun things to do in Naples. Plus, $1 from every meal served during Restaurant Week benefits local food & beverage scholarships. We’ll toast to that!
Text and photos by Lori Sorrentino, Travlinmad
Miami (Little Havana)
In the midst of sand and sea, and only a few miles from Miami's famous ocean playground, lies a destination for any true foodie - Little Havana. The district came to life in the 1960s in the wake of the Cuban exodus that took place in the wake of Castro's coming into power, with Cuban nationals bringing with them recipes that were closely held family gems. All down Little Havana's famous Calle Ocho, the main thoroughfare running the length of the district, there are bars and restaurants serving up Cuban classics like Cuban Sandwiches, Medianoches, Ropa Vieja, and an authentic Cuban classic called the Frita. The frita is a mixed patty dish consisting of beef and chorizo served on a cuban bun and piled high with shoestring potatoes, onions, and ketchup. You can find the best frita in town at El Rey de las Fritas on the western end of Calle Ocho.
If there's one thing you must have, however, is the midnight hangover cure - the Medianoche. Called the Spanish word for "midnight", the Medianoche is so named as the late night snack favored by bar crowds in Cuba, and the dish that satisfies hungry, churning bellies after a night out. It's a classic dish, with sliced ham, pulled mojo pork, swiss, pickles, and mustard. Top this off with a classic mojito, and you know you're in a hotbed of culinary excellence!
Text and photos by Justin and Tracy Uselton, A Couple for the Road
Ever since seeing the movie "Chef" where the character chef Carl Casper (played by Jon Favreau) opens a food truck business selling Cuban sandwiches, I've been on the hunt for a good one. With all my searching from west coast to east, I'm excited to say that I found the best-ever Cuban sandwich in Downtown St. Pete on Central Avenue at Bodega. I've eaten there during two visits to St. Pete and it's been stellar both times. It's a tiny place that makes food and beverages with big flavor. The bread is crispy, the pork is tender, the ham provides the right amount of saltiness, with swiss topped off with pickle and mayo -- it's a sandwich worth the calories. Ooh, ooh, ooh and don't forget to add some Fried Plantains and Jicama Slaw.
There are many more great foodie spots on Central Avenue and around Downtown St. Pete as well along with a Farmer's Market every Saturday morning.
Text and photo by Judy Freedman, A Boomer Life After 50
As the capital of the Sunshine State, Tallahassee, Florida, is the seat of state government as well as home to Florida State University, so the restaurant scene is especially vibrant. From hole-in-the-wall local joints to elegant and upscale eateries, the dining choices are funky, farm-to-table, artsy, and organic. And that's just breakfast. The foodie scene is overwhelming in the tastiest way, so if you love good food and are planning a trip to Florida, you owe it to yourself to check out Tallahassee. Start with breakfast at Lofty Pursuits, and from here you can move straight into ice cream and dessert! For local oysters, there’s no better place than The Shell Oyster Bar. It’s the kind of local place we search for on our travels - local food with great service from a friendly staff, and BYOB if you want, but their house-made sweet tea goes well with everything. Lunch at Merv’s Melts is always a treat with most anything you can imagine melted together on their own fresh baked bread — truly one of the most unique places to eat in Tallahassee. Kool Beanz is another great place for lunch, but wherever you eat in the city, please stop in for a slice of their toasted coconut meringue layer cake. It’s insanely beautiful and delicious. If you want to know about the top-rated restaurants in the city for excellent food, service, and creative cuisine, we have two favorites: Cypress is always incredible, and their Sugar Cane Mopped Beef Ribeye is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Sage Restaurant is another favorite with an eclectic menu of inspired dishes using fresh, locally sourced produce and seafood.
Tallahassee is a hip and happening place at the crossroads of North and South Florida — you have to pass near there to get most anywhere in the state. So get off the highway and go, if only for the amazing food.
Text and photos by Lori Sorrentino, Travlinmad
For a truly unexpected foodie adventure along Florida’s Gulf Coast, visit Tarpon Springs, the Greek Sponge Diving Capital of the USA, and have some of the best Greek food!
The Deep South is famous for its hospitality and soul food. That is the case for Atlanta, where you can find plenty of options to get these famous dishes. Long time restaurants such as Mary Mac’s and the Colonnade have been Atlanta institutions for fine southern cuisine for generations. You can find several landmark restaurant, like The Varsity in Midtown, that are widely popular among locals.
Atlanta can also be inventive, and the city is the birthplace of cultural icons such as Coca Cola, Waffle House, Moe’s, and Chic-Fil-A to name a few. More recently, Atlanta has upped the barbecue game with restaurants like Fox Brothers BBQ, Fat Matt’s Rib Shack, and Daddy D'z.
One highlight of Atlanta's foodie scene is Buford Highway, a 10-mile stretch of road where you can find many multicultural communities. Here, the options are plentiful, cheap, and tasty. You'll find hidden gems, like Vietnamese Pho, Guatemalan, Ethiopian grocery stores, and two Atlanta Indonesian restaurants. When you're here, Buford Highway should be on your list of places to visit for awesome food!
Text and photo by Halef and Michael, The RTW Guys
At the heart of southern — and especially lowcountry — cooking tradition sits the stunning Georgia city of Savannah, known today not only for its jaw-dropping architecture and fascinating history, but for its absolutely stupendous food scene. Southern staples like fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, peach cobbler, and pralines all thrive in Savannah, and can be found made with traditional ingredients and also more modern, experimental twists throughout the city. The restaurant scene is nearly impossible to round up, but there are definitely fan favorites: Elizabeth on 37th specializes in seafood served in an antebellum mansion, The Olde Pink House serves up traditional southern comfort food with a modern twist (do not leave without trying their BLT salad), Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room is popular for those who want traditional food served in a fun family-style setting, and for those with broad palettes, Alligator Soul stands ready to woo you with their broad range of unusual meats, starting with — you guessed it — alligator. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly snack throughout the day, it’s hard to be Leopold’s Ice Cream, especially when dealing with the summer heat that Georgia is infamous for! Their iconic Tutti Frutti flavor is their best-known creation, but the parlor serves up dozens of traditional and unusual flavors each day.
Text and photo by Kate Storm, Our Escape Clause. BLT Salad photo by Old Pink House.
North Shore Oahu
Head to Hawaii and Oahu’s famed North Shore surf region for tropical foodie fun. The North Shore is a small area that is well known for its big waves and surf culture but it is also a foodie haven with local produce and food experiences to explore.From the region’s farms you’ll find an abundance of fresh pineapple, coconut and papaya that are the perfect ingredients for smoothies and breakfast bowls. They are also made into syrups to pour over the island’s famous shave ice dessert. You’ll find the original and the best at Matsumoto in Haleiwa.
Food trucks are a feature of the North Shore beach scene and you’ll find some of the tastiest meals around at these casual eateries. Popular Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck serves up plates of fresh shrimp with garlic or spicy sauce with two scoops of rice. And don’t forget to try a poke bowl made with fresh ‘ahi at Kahuku Superette. If you want the full Hawaiian feast then look no further than the luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center. This award winning luau features popular local dishes and you can watch the chef carve up mouth watering kulua pork roast.
Text and photo by Katy Clarke, Untold Morsels
Chicago is one of the best cities in the US for foodies with many restaurants serving every type of cuisine for every budget from fast food to fine dining. The city is most well known for its two iconic dishes - deep dish pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs. A Chicago-style hot dog or Chicago dog is an all-beef hot dog served on a poppy seed bun and topped with mustard, pickle, relish, sliced tomato, peppers, onions and celery salt (but no ketchup) – a popular and convenient place to try the classic version includes Portillos which has many locations throughout Chicago. If you want to try deep dish pizza some of the most popular and highly recommended restaurants include Lou Malnati’s, Giordano's, Pizzeria Uno and Pequod’s. However, there is more to Chicago’s food scene than just pizza and hot dogs. Chicago is a city of immigrants and you will find restaurants serving authentic food from every type of cuisine including Mexican, Italian, Greek, Polish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian and more.
Text and photo by Patti Reddi, The Savvy Globetrotter
Bourbon is at the heart of Louisville, Kentucky but this Southern town has one of the most vibrant and delicious food scenes in the country. You should definitely check out the distillery scene, but think beyond Bourbon and mint juleps while you're in town. The Hot Brown is one of Kentucky's most iconic dishes and it was supposedly created in downtown Louisville at the Brown Hotel. Created in the 1920s to satisfy hungry hotel guests needing a break from the dance floor, the chef created an open-faced turkey sandwich topped with bacon and a decadent and Mornay sauce. The Hot Brown can be found all around town, but you should definitely try it from the source.
Louisville, Kentucky is without a doubt a great drinking town thanks to countless distilleries. But beer culture in Louisville is booming too. There are more than 10 breweries, specialty beer bars, and restaurants with serving up local and regional brews with excellent food. Holy Grale, one of the most famous beer bars in Louisville, has one of the most comprehensive Belgian beer lists in America and serves up some local pints as well. Get the pretzel and beer cheese or the mussels and Fritjes. In the bustling neighborhood of Nulu, if you're craving BBQ, head to Feast BBQ for a monster plate of totchos topped with pulled pork, slaw, and sauce and ice cold local beer. They also have killer bourbon slushies that are perfect on a hot day on the patio.
For more fine dining, there are so many choices. Harvest is a hyper-local farm to table restaurant that sources everything from within 80 miles. Their food is an upscale take on Southern and Kentucky classics like Shrimp and Grits and Brgoo at brunch are standouts. At Decca, you'll find sophisticated and creative cuisine like Pappardelle with Rabbit Sugo, Chickpeas, Buttermilk Ricotta in a beautiful historic building in the heart of the Nulu neighborhood.
Photo by Danielle Lucas; Text by Emily Hines, Em’s on the Road
We had no idea of the tremendously tasty food scene in Lafayette before we visited — our only knowledge of local food in Lafayette was crawfish and gumbo. Not that we didn't expect great food, we just didn't expect so many great options for trying Cajun food. Three you must try are the gumbo, étouffée (Aay-too-FAY), and Lafayette's famous pork and rice sausage known as boudin (pronounced boo-DAN). Try the Sweet Baby Breesus at The French Press, buttermilk biscuit sliders with fried boudin balls, thick praline bacon, and Steen’s cane syrup. They are off-the-charts amazing for breakfast, or anytime of day. The Seafood Gumbo at Prejean’s is pretty incredible, with shrimp, crawfish, and crabmeat fresh from the sea. Of course, Lafayette has their Po’Boys and we loved them at Pops Po 'Boys. The Banh Banh Shrimp was totally unexpected and awesome, with fresh Vietnamese flavors — they even have a veggie option. If you love a good craft beer with your Cajun food, Bayou Teche Brewing is crafting theirs with a lot of love, and their brewery is a fun destination all its own. When your sweet tooth kicks in eventually, pick up some colorful French macaroons from Poupart Bakery, the oldest authentically French bakery in town, or some ice cream at the last remaining Borden’s Ice Cream stand in the country. Hot sauce lovers should spend the day on Avery Island, for a tour of the McIlhenny factory that’s been producing the famous TABASCO sauce for generations, and also to eat in their excellent on-site restaurant, 1868. If it’s fresh shrimp you’re after, you can’t get much fresher than right off the boat in Delcambe south of Lafayette, where you can buy the fresh shrimp by the pound, right off the boat! Just an hour or so from New Orleans, Lafayette is so much fun for foodies!
Text and photos by Lori Sorrentino, Travlinmad
When it’s time for a foodie road trip to an amazing destination, I pack my bag and go to New Orleans! Since it’s just 5 hours away from Houston, we can cover a whole lot of Cajun and Creole food in the span of a weekend. The city’s culinary scene is quite famous: Cafe Au Lait beignets and chicory coffee for breakfast, Commander’s Palace in the Garden District for lunch, and Acme’s or Drago’s oysters for dinner. However, we like to shake things up a little. The beignets taste yummiest at midnight after listening to jazz on French Street and frozen Cafe Au Lait is way better than its hot counterpart! We often skip food in the Garden District in favor of Magazine Street: especially the shrimp and oyster po-boys at Mahoney's. For breakfast, we love Stanley's in Jackson Square - their banana foster French Toast and seafood gumbo is delicious! We also recommend trying some of New Orleanian specialties like jambalaya, crawfish etouffee, Cajun boiled crawfish and alligator bites in the French Quarter.
Just pick any restaurant with overflowing entry lines and you can’t go wrong! While you are in the French Quarter, try a Hand Grenade at Tropical Isle or a Hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s. The Crescent City is the birthplace of these and many other famous cocktails including the Sazerac and tasting any one of these is a must when in the city.
Text and photo by Ketki Sharangpani, Dotted Globe
Short on time and still want a taste of New Orleans? Take the highly recommended Doctor Gumbo food tour.
For a bit more New Orleans history after a all that good food, drive out of the city to the New Orleans plantations along the Great River Road.
Bar Harbor, Maine is a seafood lover’s paradise. The town is situated on an island accessible by a small bridge, with a magnificent harbor dotted with little islands. There are so many beautiful B&Bs in the town, and one of my favorites is the Ivy Manor Inn. The grounds and exterior are so elegant, and they even have an outdoor fire pit for their guests to enjoy. Bar Harbor has lots of fun things to do and is most famous for their lobster rolls; almost every restaurant will have their own version of this classic New England dish. There are also plenty of lobster pounds on the outskirts of town that can give you a glimpse into the life of a lobster fisherman (and serve up some of the freshest seafood). Galyn’s is one of the highest rated restaurants in the area and for good reason. Their clam chowder is delicious; it comes with a side of oyster crackers, which is a true sign of authentic clam chowder. I’d also recommend the brussels sprouts, crab stuffed mushrooms, lobster bisque, and the crab cake salad.
Photos by Galyn’s. Text by Adrienne Clement, Bucket Half Full
Most people come to Baltimore wanting to try the local area favorite dish - crabcakes. Baltimore's Inner Harbor is a tourist haven that is chock full of big brand chain restaurants and local favorites that are happy to satisfy your crabcake urges. By all means, indulge your taste buds at popular locales like Philips Crab Deck or the Rusty Scupper Restaurant and Bar. But once you've checked this must-eat-dish off your culinary have-to-eat list, then do check out the local non-crab foodie scene. Just a short 15-20 minute walk inland into the Federal Hill neighborhood, you can find a score of small, unique and tasty restaurant options. A favorite is SoBo Cafe which specializes in a made from scratch menu using fresh seasonal ingredients. Here you will find homemade breads, pastas and desserts, as well as a range of globally inspired flavors like Thai Tomato Soup or Korean Chicken Fried Steak. The atmosphere is intimate and comfortable and always full, so be sure to make a reservation for the prime dinner hours.
Photos by SoBo Retaurant. Text by Rose Palmer-Sungail, Quiltripping
Boston is famous for many iconic dishes, but the city has come a long way since the days of baked beans, Boston cream pie and New England clam chowder. Inventive chefs are driving a foodie renaissance with creative takes on classic dishes. At the same time, new trends make a pass thru the city as new eateries open at a break neck pace. The role fresh seafood plays can't be denied and will always drive the city’s restaurant trade. Diners can never have too many lobster rolls; the best can be found at Neptune Oyster Bar, Row 34 and James Hook & Company.
The crew at Island Creek Oysters has changed the landscape for the bivalve with a successful farm just south of the city. Fans of the half shell can enjoy the freshest at B&G Oysters, Legal Seafood or the restaurant that bears the farm’s name. For my favorite dish of late, newcomer Saltie Girl serves a seasonal day boat scallop with avocado, lime and caviar that will knock the socks off of the seafood connoisseur anywhere. The classics will always have a place in the city’s regional traditions, but locally sourced ingredients, small farms, artisan makers and inventive ideas are changing the landscape as we move into the future.
Text and photo by Alison Abbott, Green With Renvy
In Woodman’s of Essex, a cheery man tells a cheery story. It travels back over 100 years to 1916 when Lawrence “Chubby” Woodman, possibly as the result of a dare, deep fried some clams ahead of the July 4th celebrations. You can now find fried clams across New England, crisp with batter on the outside and chewy on the in, but the original clam shack still stands in Essex. And Chubby Woodman’s grandson still serves the clams and tells the tale.
Elsewhere on the North Shore, history comes in different forms. The broomstick shaped cookies for sale in Salem, for example, a curious tribute to the 17th century witch trials that inspired Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. And literary history comes with the chowder and lobster rolls in Cape Ann. Try the Pigeon Cove Tavern at the Emerson Inn, former haunt of both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, and watch the sun set over the sandy New England shore.
Read more about eating out in Massachusetts as part of a road trip from Boston.
Text and photo by Abigail King, Inside the Travel Lab
Home to the prestigious University of Michigan, Ann Arbor enjoys a rich foodie culture of international flavors and farm-fresh fixings. It’s a place where fine dining mixes easily with Midwestern comfort grub, artisanal producers and buzzing farmers markets. Eating local is more practical than ever due to creative young growers experimenting with niche crops and cold-weather techniques. Ann Arbor’s culinary mainstay is Zingerman’s, a constellation of food-related businesses that include full-service restaurants, bakery, creamery, candy-maker and even a bacon-cooking camp. The flagship delicatessen is renowned for its towering Reuben sandwich on hand-sliced Jewish rye bread.
A few more standouts: the tony Taste Kitchen serves French, Vietnam and American fusion with sustainability in mind. Grange Kitchen & Bar strives for ingredients grown and produced within a 50-mile radius. Mikette Bistro and Bar shares the tastes of Southern France plus an oyster bar. At Ayse’s Turkish Cafe, the menu changes often, but the traditional Turkish home cooking stays the same. The vintage Fleetwood Diner, open 24/7, is a neighborhood icon among students and locals alike. Go for the hippie hash. Everywhere, you’ll find sauces, salsas, condiments and sweets imbued with sweet and tart cherries — Michigan is one of the nation’s top cherry producers.
Text and photos by Pamela McKuen, All the Write Places
It is only fitting that a quintessential area like Jackson, Mississippi should have delicious Southern eats. I love that nearly every restaurant in town offers a Veggie Plate where you pick three or four choices from a list of around seven starches and a handful of green veggies. You can’t go wrong with Mississippi collard greens, brussels sprouts, red beans and rice, or green beans. Southern cooks just excel at these local favorites. Where do you find the tastiest options for the Veggie Plate? Georgia Blue wins, hands down. Restaurants in Mississippi also don’t seem to mind stuffing hundreds of calories into each plated meal to include macaroni & cheese or cheese grits, which you know are going to be impressive creamy goodness.
My favorite restaurants in Jackson, Mississippi include fresh wood-fired oysters Lafitte at Saltine, mushroom chicken cutlet from Rooster’s, and all-American burgers at Brent’s Drugs in the Fondren District. Fried green tomatoes, another Southern staple, are fabulous from The Feathered Cow and Local 463 Urban Kitchen in Ridgeland where Mississippi comeback sauce, a zesty mayo-based dipping sauce (with chili sauce, smoked paprika, hot sauce, Worcestershire, and ketchup), is a regional favorite and pairs well with them.
Text and photo by Melody Pittman, Wherever I May Roam
While visiting Kansas City, we quickly realized what a foodie city it is. Kansas City is a big city and has a lot of great restaurants. During our visit we had great pizza, gourmet grilled cheese, fresh roasted coffee, and even ice cream wrapped in a waffle. Without a doubt, however, Kansas City is best known for its barbecue.
Our first meal in Kansas City was actually barbecue at Q39 in Midtown. It is THE place to go because it’s not only considered one of the top restaurants in Kansas City, it’s also considered one of the best places for barbecue. We ordered the Certified Angus Beef Brisket with Burnt Ends and loved how tender the brisket was and how much flavor it had.
We’re actually planning a return trip to Kansas City in a couple of months, and it’s just so we can eat at some of the amazing restaurants there. Kansas City really is a top foodie destination!
Text and photo by Vicky Sosa, Buddy the Traveling Monkey
St. Louis, Missouri is one of the most underrated up and coming foodie destinations in the US! There are so many new and amazing restaurants popping up around every corner of this town. Besides just new restaurants, STL also has an amazing array of food trucks featuring so many different types of cuisine. During the summer months, the food trucks will showcase in different parks throughout the city every Friday for “Food Truck Friday” and also at many different festivals held all year long. If stopping by to check out this underrated foodie destination, there are a couple different dishes you simply cannot miss. Pictured above is toasted ravioli, which can be found in almost every restaurant in St. Louis, but make sure you try them at Mama’s on the Hill or else you will be missing out. Other staples to try while eating your way across STL are Imos Pizza which can be found in multiple locations throughout the city, BBQ at Pappy’s, Gooey Butter cakes at Russels, Ted Drews frozen custard, root beer floats from Fitz’s and last but not least, Hot Salami at Gioia's Deli. Paired with a trip to the top 5 lesser-known breweries in STL, your taste buds definitely won’t regret this trip!
Photos by Gioia’s Deli and Pappy’s BBQ. Text by Jess Drier, Unearth The Voyage
I'm Italian, so I know a thing or two when it comes to pizza, but I was absolutely blown away by the amazing quality of pizza all over NYC, especially Brooklyn! During our last trip to the city we spent two weeks in Brooklyn, so we had countless NY slices, and we even took a pizza tour through Airbnb — definitely one of our favorite weird things to do in New York. We learned that pizza in New York is so good because drinking water in the city comes from the Catskills, and it's filtered through the limestone of the mountains and has the ideal mineral content to make dough — which also explains why bagels are so good in NYC.
Manhattan also has some wonderful pizza shops, but Brooklyn is just so hard to beat - my favorite three (in no particular order) are Di Fara for its delectable slices, Roberta for its top quality Neapolitan style pizza (better than many places in Naples!) and Saraghina in Bed-Stuy for its creative toppings. So yum!
Text and photo by Margherita Ragg, The Crowded Planet
Most people don’t think of Buffalo, New York when it comes to food, but Buffalonians know how to eat well. You’ve definitely heard of “wings” (as they’re called in Buffalo). There’s a long-standing debate on whether Anchor Bar or Duff’s is better, but the locals will always say Duff’s! Nobody really knows how Buffalo wings got started, but it spread like wildfire through Buffalo.
You'll definitely want to try Beef on Weck, a classic Western New York dish. This area has a big Polish, German, and Italian population historically. This dish is said to been invented in Buffalo by a German immigrant who decided to combine a kimmelweck roll (with salt and caraway seeds) with beef and horseradish. You can head to Charlie the Butcher or Anderson's for a very salty yet delicious sandwich that you never know that you needed. Finish up your meal with some frozen custard from Anderson's if you still have any room left. You'll definitely be surprised by the delicious food in Buffalo!
Photo from flickr. Text by Karen Turner, Wanderlustingk
New York has traditional foods like cheesecake, pizza and hot dogs, but NYC is also home to several modern food crazes, and trying these foods in the place they started is what makes Manhattan a top foodie destination. In the morning, I love getting a cronut at Ansel’s Bakery in Soho. If you get there just after they open at 8:00am, the lines are not too bad and they won’t have sold out yet. They do sell out though. This cross between a croissant and a donut has copycats, but I assure you that nothing – nothing – beats the original. For the longest time I was suspicious about the whole cronut thing, but then I had one, and now I am a total convert. Flaky, buttery, filled with flavored cream and topped with frosting. You have to have one!
Shake Shacks are everywhere these days, but there is something special about having a Shackburger at the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. I love getting a burger and fries and sitting at a tiny metal table next to the Shack in the park, under strings of lights at night. Then for dessert, I head downtown to Do for cookie dough – banana Nutella is a favorite flavor.
Text and photo by James Stakenburg, Travel Collecting
Do you love NYC’s immigrant story as much as the food? Check out Tenement’s, Tales, and Tastes, the Lower East Side tasting and walking tour we took recently!
Rochester, New York, is on the southern shore of Lake Ontario in Western Upstate New York. With over 200,000 residents – it’s the third most populous city (after New York City and Buffalo). A city this large, in New York state? Of course, it’s a foodie destination! Rochester’s food scene, like the city itself, is starting to make a name for itself and not just for the infamous Rochester “garbage plate”. The “Garbage Plate” was trademarked by Nick Tahous, where the original dish was created. A traditional plate comes with a meat (hamburger, cheeseburger, Italian sausage, steak, etc) topped with a form of carbohydrate (typically home fries, French fries, baked beans and/or macaroni salad) and topped with “Rochester hot sauce”, a spicy meat sauce. There have been many variations around the city from “trash plates” to “Rochester plates” and even “compost plates”.
If serious hangover food isn’t your scene, check out some of the many restaurants paying homage to the farm to table movement in Rochester. Many of the restaurants source produce and even meats and dairy from local farms and some restaurants such as Restaurant Good Luck even change their menu to cater to what’s available seasonally. As this article goes to publish they’re advertising their 107th amended version of their menu! Rochester’s close proximity to the Finger Lakes also make it a great destination for wine lovers. Not only can you try local, Finger Lakes wine at wine bars like Via Girasole Wine Bar but many restaurants in Rochester source their wines from the local wineries!
Photo and text by Jacklyn Shields, Get Lost with Jackie
Westchester County, New York — nicknamed the Golden Apple — lies just north of New York City. It’s one of 12 counties that comprise the verdant Hudson Valley, an area rich with history and culture. Its location in the backyard of one of the main campuses of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) has resulted in many of the school’s graduates remaining here to work at the county’s farm-to-table restaurants and other hospitality establishments.
However, Westchester is especially well-known among food lovers because it is also home to visionary Chef/Owner Dan Barber’s restaurant, Blue Hill at Stone Barns — ranked #12 on this year’s list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Author of The Third Plate, Barber believes that chefs must play a seminal role in promoting sustainability and teaching diners how to eat.
Located about 25 minutes from Manhattan by train, Blue Hill is truly farm-to-table: the restaurant is set on a working farm in the town of Pocantico Hills where the innovative menu varies based on season and availability. Meals are served in a stunning, renovated barn where John D. Rockefeller, Jr. once milked his cows. Although reservations are hard to snag, dining at Blue Hill at Stone Barns is both a memorable and meaningful experience.
Text and photo by Irene S. Levine, More Time to Travel
Asheville, North Carolina is like a smallish city from the west coast was moved over to the southeast. It's one of my favorite cities thanks to the art, the relative closeness of tons of hikes, and of course, the food. No matter where you're staying in Asheville, you'll be close to an unreal amount of delicious food. No matter where you go, it will be good. It's actually almost hard to just find "regular" food. There isn't one particular food you need to try in Asheville, but there is a smattering of restaurants that are must-dos. Downtown, Packs Tavern, Tupelo Honey, and Over Easy Cafe, just to name a few. Elements Juice Bar is great if that's your thing.
West Asheville (where I stayed and loved) has tons of delicious options right in one area. Universal Joint, Biscuit Head (there are a few around Asheville,) Gan Shan West, Pizza Mind, Haywood Common, Asheville Sandwich Company, Zia Taqueria, and Simple cafe and juice bar, plus tons more. It's pretty safe to say, you can't go wrong and you definitely won't run out of unique restaurants to try.
Text by Megan Johnson, Red Around the World. Photo by Tupelo Honey Cafe.
Looking for a perfect North Carolina beach vacation, where kids can still run around and climb lighthouses and sand dunes? The OBX might be your perfect family vacation. There’s so much to do on the Outer Banks of North Carolina!
Portland has become a well known foodie destination in the Pacific Northwest. It’s best known for its gourmet food carts, which can be found throughout the city. There are around 500 at any one time and they feature food from all around world, specializing in everything from fancy french fries to Korean BBQ. The carts are often a testing ground for chefs and many go on to become full-fledged restaurants. The city is also famous for its progressive and inventive cuisine, including some of Portland’s best vegetarian-friendly restaurants, which you can find all over the city in both the carts and the restaurants – all diets are embraced in Portland. Perhaps most famous of all is Voodoo Doughnuts, a quirky shop selling madcap inventions, like doughnuts covered in fruit loops. Blue Star offers an equally tasty, but slightly more gourmet option.
Other restaurants to try in the city include: Ava Gene’s for high-end Mediterranean food; Pod Pod for Thai food; ¿Por Que No? Taqueria for the best tacos in town; Harlow for delicious gluten-free dishes; and Salt and Straw for ice cream. Go to the Alder Street pod to find a selection of around 60 different food carts.
Text and food truck photo by Victoria Watts Kennedy, Bridges and Balloons. Fried egg sammies photo by Fried Egg I’m in Love.
Oregon’s Willamette Valley is one of the premier wine destinations in the United States and just an hour from Portland. If you’re heading to Portland, be sure and check out all the cool things to do in the Tualatin Valley, the northernmost part of the Willamette Valley with its own amazing wine region!
For a unique food experience in coastal Oregon, book dinner at the EVOO Cannon Beach Cooking School. It’s a fun and educational evening with amazing food and wine. What could be better!
The Philadelphia food scene is more than cheesesteaks, pizza, and hot dogs — a lot more. Not that those don’t have a special place in our hearts, but there’s an incredible array of cuisines in Philly from eastern Pennsylvania favorites to upscale fusion restaurants with marquis chefs. If you’re just looking for those traditional foods, dive into the decades old cheesesteak war on East Passyunk Avenue between Pat’s King of Steaks and Gino’s Steaks. Everyone in Philly has a favorite — one of our is D’Allessandro’s on Henry Avenue, but we’ll let you decide. A great place to indulge yourself in local foods is the Reading Terminal Market. What started out as a farmers’ market in 1893 is still going strong today with nearly 80 vendors offering made-to-eat ethnic foods, soul food, spirits, and assorted dry goods. We never leave here without Italian pastries from Termini Brothers including cannolis that they fill while you wait. There are certainly excellent fine dining choices throughout the city as well, but it’s finding those unique places that’s the most fun. For starters, try Zahav, a restaurant serving Israeli and Middle Eastern specialties, and it is excellent. For seafood we especially like Devon Seafood Grill where the fish is as fresh as fresh can be. In Center City, Double Knot is crazy good with a down in the basement experience you won’t soon forget. For something more casual, go to John’s Roast Pork in South Philly. Yup, they have incredible steak and roast beef sandwiches but once you’ve had the roast pork sandwich topped with broccoli rabe and provolone, you’ll forget about all the others.
Text by Angelo Sorrentino, Travlinmad. Photo by Double Knot restaurant.
Named the US' top food city of 2019, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is no stranger to being ranked among the best foodie destinations in the US. Steel City is third in the country for the most restaurants per number of residents, and dining out in Pittsburgh is also friendly on the wallet. Once a city that the residents practically fled from after the closure of the steel mills, Pittsburgh has reinvented itself over the last decade. With inexpensive rent, the city has become a magnet for chefs who want to step out of the box and try something a bit more eclectic. Neighborhoods like The Strip District are still full of food wholesale shops and restaurants once upon opened up by immigrants to feed the blue collar steel workers, and you'll find delicious Italian-American specialties like the pizza roll and a cinnamon swirl bread made with a family recipe handed down through four generations. Another shop sells the most delicious Polish pierogis. And you can't leave The Strip District without trying a famous Primanti Bros. sandwich - it's grilled meat topped with french fries all stuffed between two thick slices of Italian bread.
Young new chefs are also making their mark on Pittsburgh and shouldn't be overlooked. Stop by Smallman Galley, a restaurant incubator that awards aspiring chefs an inexpensive restaurant space and one year to get their business off the ground. It's like a mini food hall where you can try specialties from several different chefs. You really need at least a weekend in Pittsburgh to eat your way through the city. Don't worry though, the city offers plenty of urban adventures like a kayaking trip down the Allegheny River to work off all those calories.
Text and photo by Jennifer Dombrowski and Tim Davis, Luxe Adventure Traveler
My all time favorite city is Charleston, South Carolina. Between the gorgeous historic buildings, stunning gardens, and amazing food, it is a city that has captured my heart. With so many restaurants in the city, a business will not survive if it is not of the highest quality and Charleston has high standards when it comes to food. If there is one dish that you cannot leave without trying, it has to be shrimp and grits. Since Charleston is on the coast of the Atlantic, all of the seafood is fresh from the cold ocean waters and has been an important part of the cultural identity of the city. The best part is that there are so many ways to make shrimp and grits that every restaurant will have their own version and there are infinite flavor combinations. I have to say that the shrimp and grits from Hominy Grill was one of the best plates that I had ever had, followed closely by Page’s Okra Grill (which also happens to have a dog-friendly patio for my four-legged traveling companions). Whatever brings you to Charleston, you have not really experienced it without enjoying this truly foodie city.
Text and photos by Kristal, Adventure Dawgs
Nashville has become quite a foodie destination in the last few years and it's easy to see why. Even though country music put this city on the map, tourists keep coming back for the food and drinks. One of the most iconic food dishes in Nashville is their famous hot chicken. You can get it at many places like Hattie B's and Prince's. This local specialty is essentially a fried chicken breast or thigh battered with cayenne pepper and served with pickles. Another favorite is the Charleston sibling, Husk. Here diners are treated to elevated Southern flair inside a historic 19th-century mansion.
Breakfast and brunch cannot be forgotten either. Nashville's Pancake Pantry is an institution in the city for all types of breakfast fare with lines out the door almost every morning. Ever heard of bonuts? They are a cross between a biscuit and donut and they are absolutely spectacular. Do not miss eating them at Biscuit Love; another Nashville must for foodies.
Text and photo by Margie, DQ Family Travel
The one thing I miss the most about living in Austin is all the amazing breakfast tacos. It’s hard enough to find good Tex-Mex food outside of Texas, let alone in Germany, where I live now. If it’s your first visit to Austin, I’d recommend to try Veracruz All Natural, their migas taco was named one of the 5 best breakfast tacos in USA by the Food Network. Other notable mentions are Torchy’s Tacos, Taco Deli, and Tyson’s.
If a typical breakfast in Austin is tacos, then a typical lunch would be BBQ, another Texas staple. If you don’t mind waking up at 6 am and staying in line for 4 hours, then let me suggest you go to Franklin BBQ. After all, if the likes of Barack Obama and Gordon Ramsay say it’s good, you might as well give it a try.
Traditional foods aside, Austin right now is one of the most happening cities on the culinary map of the USA. Austin’s Uchiko was on the list of best sushi in USA by TimeOut magazine, Kemuri Tatsu-ya was named one of the best new restaurants in 2017 by Eater and GQ, and Half Step made it to the list of 24 best cocktail bars in America by Esquire. That’s just off the top of my head. If you travel for food, a weekend in Austin will be a good introduction to some of the most amazing culinary delights in the country!
Text and photo by Yulia Dyukova, That’s What She Had
While Austin, Texas has been getting a lot of praise for hipster food, only a few hours away San Antonio has quietly become one of the best cities in America for food. What makes it so special is that sixty percent of people from San Antonio are Hispanic. You can see the influence in the food, the decor and the friendly spirit of locals. But also as a Southern state you still feel that warm sense of southern hospitality. Without a doubt some of the best tacos and authentic Mexican cuisine are coming out of San Antonio for very reasonable prices. The River Walk is a fantastic way to explore the city. You can travel from downtown to the Pearl District, a restored historic district that is home to some of the best restaurants in San Antonio, my personal favorites are the charcuterie focused menu at Cured, coastal Texan fare at Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery and the macarons at Bakery Lorraine.
Wherever you go, you're in for a treat.
Text and photo by Ayngelina Brogan, Bacon is Magic
The Northern Virginia dining scene is an incredible destination for foodie travelers, filled with vibrant restaurants representing a huge variety of food cultures. Because it borders Washington DC, Northern VA is home to a very diverse population from countries around the world. That diversity is reflected in the dining experiences available to residents and travelers. Vietnamese, Korean, Salvadoran, Ethiopian, Thai, French, and other ethnicities are well-represented in the cities close to DC. Further west, in Virginia wine country, farm-to-table and Southern dishes make their mark. Diners will find wonderful restaurants for every budget and dining style throughout the region.
To the west, the acclaimed Inn at Little Washington creates culinary magic in the Shenandoah foothills. In the DC suburbs, Chef Victor Albisu honors his heritage at his Taco Bamba restaurants. In Falls Church, the Eden Center is a hub for Vietnamese cuisine. And city neighborhoods like Del Ray and Clarendon are dotted with shops offering delicious local flavors. Add in the booming craft beer scene and an expanding wine region, and the Northern Virginia region keeps foodie travelers happy all year long.
Text and photo by Julie McCool, Fun in Fairfax
Want a fun distillery tour to go with your NoVa food experience? Visit the first legal moonshine distillery in the USA at Belmont Farm Distillery in Culpeper, just an hour away. Truly, a classic American spirits experience!
Inspired by the bounty of the the Atlantic Ocean, Chesapeake Bay and miles of coastal farmland, a handful of talented chefs and farmers have made Virginia Beach one of the most exciting places to eat on the East Coast. With access to the best the ocean and bay has to offer, seafood plays prominently on local menus. Shortly after landing in Virginia Captain John Smith (of Pocahantas fame) wrote of oysters as big as a dinner plate and the folks at Pleasure House Oysters carry on that tradition farming oysters with a focus on both flavor and health of the local waterways. If you visit in early summer you simply have to to try one of Virginia Beach's famous soft shell crabs. My favorite way to enjoy them? Fried crispy and topping a perfectly spicy Bloody Mary.
Farm to table is a way of life here and no where is that more evident than Commune. Utilizing local organic ingredients (much of which comes from their sister farm New Earth Farm) the menu is always changing but you can never go wrong with a savory buckwheat crepe filled with smoked Virginia ham, melted cheese and garden-fresh greens served alongside an all too addictive burnt honey latte.
Text and photo by Brianna Simmons, The Casual Travelist
One Midwestern town that is a thriving culinary destination is Madison, Wisconsin. You may be thinking brats, beer, and cheese but you’ll be surprised to know that Madison is home to innovative chefs and dozens of tasty restaurants, local distilleries, breweries, and bakeries. Check out James Beard award-winning chef Tory Miller’s farm-to-table menus at L’ Etoile or sustainable comfort food at Graze. Explore the local neighborhoods with Lombardino’s for Italian food and pizzas. Sip an Old Fashioned at iconic The Old Fashioned. For a unique retro meal enjoy a traditional Friday Night fish fry or an authentic supper club.
If you love farmers markets check out the Dane County Farmers’ Market that wraps around the Capital Square every Saturday morning from April to November. It’s America’s largest producers-only farmers market. Want a quick bite? Try food from Peru, Koran, Costa Rica, Vietnam, Mexico and more from one of Madison’s diverse food trucks or carts. Be sure to plan your visit at a time when you can attend one of the many food festivals that happen throughout the year. Like Isthmus Food Cart Fest, Feast of Madison, Farm to Feat and Madison On Tap Craft Beer Festival all a great way to taste your way through Madison.
Contributed by Sue Reddel, Food Travelist
Milwaukee is often overlooked by American tourists and often unknown for international tourist. It’s only 90 minutes away from Chicago and if you ask us it's better, cheaper, and way cooler. If you're a foodie, you're in luck. Milwaukee has some amazing iconic must-eats. It wouldn't be Wisconsin without the cheese — you'll find plenty of fried cheese curds with ranch dressing around the city — and our favorite place for these is the Milwaukee Brat House. Another staple for us and something we crave when we're gone is frozen custard, think ice cream but way creamier and better. Most frozen custard shops in Milwaukee serve vanilla, chocolate, and a flavor of the day. We think the best frozen custard in Milwaukee is at Kopp's and they offer two flavors of the day. They also have one of the best butter burgers in Milwaukee. Butter burgers don't sound good necessarily good but they are, a juicy burger on a bun soaked in butter with some cheese of course. Come to Milwaukee and come hungry!
Text and photo by Adam and Hannah Lukaszewicz, Milwaukee Insider