Let your stomach lead the way through the ever-changing culinary buzz that comes to light throughout America’s best cities for food lovers. These cities offer everythign from a new celebrity owned-owned industry game changer to uniquely themed eateries. Neighborhood cafés, ethnic cuisine, food trucks and farmers’ markets are only a small portion of the diverse dining throughout America. Foodies will also want to be sure to check out my exclusive interview with Travel Channel host and Emmy award winner Mark DeCarlo where we discuss the best regional foods and regional eateries from all across America! Vegetarians will want to be sure to check out our list of America’s Best Vegetarian Restaurants! Whether you’re hunting down the ideal spot for a night out on the town or looking for a crepe from your local piece of Paris, this list and the articles featured above are sure to whet your appettite for the meal of a lifetime.
America’s 12 Best Cities For Food Lovers
While it may seem cliché that we consider the Big Apple to take the cake on our list, there’s no doubt that NYC has a more diverse culinary scene than practically the entire country combined! You can’t visit without a classic slice of NY pizza from places like Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, a favorite among people like Frank Sinatra and former NYC Mayor Guiliana. Also consider trying Lombardi’s, which became America’s first pizzeria in 1905. Ted’s Montana Grill is owned by CNN founder Ted Turner, featuring delicious bison, burgers, and salads. Ellen’s Stardust Diner offers a retro 1950′s theme and is the home to singing waiters and waitresses and they are conveniently located in Times Square, featuring an indoor train and a “drive-in theater screen.” Southern Hospitality BBQ is owned by Memphis boy Justin Timberlake and offers a good dose of some good ‘ole Southern hospitality here at this fabulous BBQ joint. Michael Jodan’s The Steakhouse is located in the Grand Central terminal and is consistely ranked among the top steakhouses in the city. Ninja New York offers a Japanese-French-American fusion fare and lets ninjas come out of nowhere and scare the living daylights out of you! You hard pressed to find a city with such a diverse culinary selection, not just here in America, but anywhere in the universe!
2. New Orleans
Though much of the population fled alongside Hurrican Katrina, the Crescent Cities diverse culture and nonstop party scene is more vibrant than ever before. Classic Creole cuisine meets celebrity owned favorites from chefs like Emeril Lagasse! Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop opened in 1772, which makes it the oldest continuously running bar in the USA–it was actually built as a cover for the owners illegal activities and President Andrew Jackson later pardoned the owner of this very bar! It also goes without saying that you must try Café Du Monde, which is world renowned for its legendary beignets (donuts) and coffee, and the café is open 24 hours! The House of Blues is in the heart of the world–famous French Quarter and is covered with 298 pieces of folk art and the venue itself is home to the largest collection of folk art in the country! Brennan’s is quite pricy, yet definintely worth it for New Orleans’s iconic dessert, the banana foster–of bananas flambéed in cinnamon, sugar, banana liqueur and rum–is still best at Brennan’s, the place where it originated 60 years ago!
3. Los Angeles
While America’s celebrities may look like they are on the skimpy side, they actually eat quite well and they definitely know how to have a good time! With medical marijuana shops on every other avenue, window shopping for bongs alongside the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and Hummers with weed ice cream jumping down the block of touristy zones, you better bet that Californians know what’s good! Besides all that, there’s actually a great deal of celebrity chefs and celebrity owned restaurants, such as Lisa Vanderpump’s SUR, Chuy Bravo’s Taqueria, and Ryan Gosling’s Tagine. Those looking for something totally off the wall should try The Magic Restroom Cafe, which is America’s First Toilet-Themed Restaurant, featuring a lobby filled with real (but not working) urinals and toilets! Also try Sprinkles Cupcakes, which is the world’s first cupcake bakery and the perfect spot for those who get to craving a gourmet cupcake at 4 in the morning. because they have a 24-hour cupcake ATM!
In addition to trying the cities incredible deep-dish pizza, the Windy City is a primary residence for celebrities like Oprah, who you better bet are going to expect nothing but the finest. One of Oprah’s favorite’s is The Ralph Lauren Restaurant, which is quite classy, yet not as price as one might think, as lunch dishes can be found in the $15 range. Those looking for somewhere a little more laid back will want to consider heading to Tommy Gun’s Garage – Chicago’s longest running audience interactive dinner show, which has been around since 1987. Though not unique to the city of Chi-town, a family-friendly favorite is the Medieval Times Dinner Theater, featuring medieval-style games, sword-fighting, and jousting performed by a cast of 75 actors and 20 horses.
There are many intelligent people here in Boston and if there’s one thing these ingenious chefs have mastered, it has to be their food. You can’t visit Boston without trying the official state dessert, the Boston Cream Pie. See a Starbucks with the largest tea kettle in the world, or head straight to the historic The Union Oyster House, which is the oldest restaurant in Boston and the oldest restaurant in continuous service in the USA. The toothpick is said to have practically originated from here and The Kennedy family considers this among their favorite restaurants!
While I’m generally not a bug San Francisco fan–due to their lack of skyscraper growth and renovation along with high costs–but with that said, I would totally visit just for the food! There are plenty of restaurants serving sustainable, seasonal cuisine, including the Bay Area’s Chez Panisse and Baker and Banker in Pacific Heights. Though the real foodie lovers haven is Chinatown, a 24 block impression of arriving in Beijing. Dubbed “the largest Chinatown outside of Asia,” as well as the “oldest Chinatown in North America.” You’ll also come across exotic shops, food markets, temples, small museums, and even see where fortune cookies are being made! Also consider visiting Forbes Island, the world’s only floating island! It is in Sea Lion Harbor and offers views of sun bathing sea lions and Alcatraz. Another favorite (which also has locations in LA, San Diego, Dallas, and New York) is Opaque, which is where you can dine in complete darkness! Many of the servers are blind and the place is designed to allow you to ignore the atmosphere and solely take in the sounds, feelings, and of course the tastes!
For anyone whose foodie fixations revolve around Tex-Mex, San Antonio is sure to have just the meal to satisfy your needs. Rosario’s comes highly recommended as one of the best Tex-Mex joints in town from our friends at National Geographic. The restaurant scene here is actually a lot more sophisticated and cosmopolitan than many people realize, featuring not only incredible Tex-Mex, but also divine French, Italian, and new American offerings that you’ll go home raving to all of your friends about. You can also find some down-home cooking, local taquerías, and neighborhood dives that are irresistible. The River Walk sees the most touristy action because most out-of-towners spend a great deal of time here. One River Walk favorite is Las Canarias, which combines soft music with mouth-watering Lockhart Quail or Veal Tenderloin!
8. Las Vegas
Adding sin city to the list was a no brainer, in our book anyway. From mile-long buffets to swanky designer restaurants, Vegas has a little bit of everything. It also has cool restaurants that are unlike anywhere else in the world, such as the Picasso restaurant at The Bellagio Resort, which is where you can dine while admiring–not only the Bellagio fountains–but also $30 million worth of real Picasso paintings. Picasso is actually run by celebrity executive Chef Julian Serrano, who serves cuisine inspired by the regional cuisine of France and Spain where Pablo Picasso spent much of his life. Party goers will want to try TAO at the Venetian, which raked in $60 million last year, making it the highest grossing independent restaurant in the world! Dine in a risqué hospital environment at The Heart Attack Grill! Aureole at the Mandalay Bay has the largest wine tower in the world, housing over 50,000 bottles! Head to the Eiffel Tower Restaurant at Paris Las Vegas for a great view of the center of the strip, or head a little further out to Top of the World at The Stratosphere to dine 110 stories in the air, for a picturesque view of the entire area!
The Pike Place Market is [by far] the most beloved farmers’ market in the country and it also happens to be conveniently located right across the street from the original Starbucks. Coffee cravers will love seeing a coffee store on every block and seafood adorers will fall in love with what all this city has to offer. Get exceptional dining and incredible atmosphere at the waterfront Six-Seven restaurant at the Edgewater hotel. SkyCity at the top of the Space Needle has the best views in Seattle and will definitely leave you with an experience worth remembering. Those who prefer a romantic night out will want to consider heading to Volterra, an Italian restaurant with a little touch of Tuscany. Volterra is located in the historic Ballard neighborhood.
10. Portland, OR
Lovers of farm-to-table dining, well-crafted microbrews, and food trucks will want to be sure to add Portland to their bucket list. Check out the food truck “pods” at Pioneer Courthouse Square or at SE Hawthorne and 12th Avenue. Another culinary must-stop is Voodoo Doughnuts for its bacon-topped maple bar and the breakfast-cereal-crusted “Captain My Captain.” BEAST is the place that celebrity chef Phil Shen calls the best restaurant in America, for it’s communal style seating and at-home ambiance, combined with an affordable fine dining experience that never fails to disappoint. If yuo go home hungry, after a trip to Portland, it is your own fault!
While some may have chosen Miami over Orlando, we added Orlando to the list instead because of its incredibly-themed theme park restaurants. Mythos at Islands of Adventure offers affordably priced cuisine in a luxurious atmosphere–it’s like dining in an indoor, air-conditioned cave. One of the newest restaurants in Orlando, the Be Our Guest restaurant at the Magic Kingdom, has the appearance of dining in the Beast’s Castle, from Beauty and the Beast. Be Our Guest transforms from counter service by day to a lively table service restaurant at night and is the only restaurant in the Magic Kingdom that serves wine and beer. Those looking for somewhere extraordinary at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will want to be sure to have the best burgers in town at the Sci-Fi Dine-In, which nicely evokes the feeling of being at a old-fashioned simulated drive-in, being that everyone sits in an old time car and watches sci-fi movie clips on the big screen. Those looking for an ultra-exclusive, overpriced night out will want to head to Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian; it’s one of the most exclusive dining experiences in all of Florida and it’s just a short monorail ride away from the world’s most-visited theme park.
12. Kansas City
Barbecue unite in Kansas City, the place that is on many barbecue lovers’ bucket lists, with renowned joints like Gates Bar-B-Q, Arthur Bryant’s, and Fiorella’s Jack Stack. Those looking for one of the city’s most elite dining experiences will want to head to the American Restaurant, which offers regional fare in a contemporary atmosphere. Families should consider heading to T-Tex, a dinosaur-themed fantasyland that is also located at Walt Disney World. Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant has been open since 1954; this place features miniature trains that carry dishes to the table, as they do not have waiters!
Like I said earlier, if you haven’t already, check out session #13 of my podcast, which is where Travel Channel host Mark DeCarlo talks about the best regional foods and eateries from all across America!
Where do you head when you’re looking for delicious grub? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!