From haute dining spots and molecular gastropubs to comfort food favorites and no-frills taco stands, America's best foodie cities have enough variety to satisfy every type of palate. We rounded up our top 10 destinations to eat from coast to coast.
No surprise here, NYC always tops every "best of" food list: it's got pretty much every dish imaginable and more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other state in the country. Should you desire Ethiopian food at 2 a.m., a slice of ridiculously good pizza to soak up last night's alcohol, or a steaming bowl of mouthwatering pho, the city has you covered. For a splurge, don't miss Eleven Madison Park, Le Coucou and the The Grill. Those looking for more affordable—though no less impressive—eats should check out Uncle Boons, Spicy Village or Momofuku Ssäm Bar. * See link below for more great restaurants
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In 1971, pioneering fresh ingredient chef Alice Waters graced the world with farm-to-table cuisine and spawned what has become one of the world’s most influential restaurants, Berkeley’s Chez Panisse. Then, in the 1994, chef Thomas Keller took the local-seasonal thing even further, giving it a proper French spin at his world-renowned The French Laundry up in Napa. Today, Northern California is a leader in farm-friendly, California-style cooking, thanks in part to its year-round access to exceptional produce. In fact, last year the Bay Area beat out New York for the city with the most three-Michelin-starred restaurants (six as compared to NYC's five).
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Portland typically grabs the culinary spotlight in the Pacific Northwest, but Seattle is also making the region proud. With the opening of Amazon, Google, and Facebook outposts, the city's restaurant scene has exploded with promising new spots, while stalwarts like Canlis also continue to hold their ground. A trip to the city wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Renee Erickson’s seafood siren The Walrus and the Carpenter, or the excellent Il Corvo for its affordably-priced and delicious pastas. A two-hour drive north, there’s also the Willows Inn on Lummi Island, a destination tasting menu restaurant and boutique hotel. Noma alum Blaine Wetzel runs the kitchen, and all ingredients are sourced and foraged from nearby land and sea.
Los Angeles offers has some of the most excellent ethnic eats in the country, with a heavy focus on Asian cuisine—regional Chinese in the San Gabriel Valley, homestyle Korean in K-Town, and wallet-friendly omakase sushi—not to mention Mexican and Persian plates. And, don’t forget, with its year-round sunny climate, Los Angeles has long been home to bountiful farmers' markets. In the last decade, chefs have begun to embrace seasonal and local ingredients with new zeal, spinning out original chef-driven concepts from Highland Park to Venice.
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This Mid-Western city has a culinary scene that rivals New York. In addition to a profusion of fine dining haunts, including Chef Grant Achatz's envelope-pushing Alinea and Next, it's a city with a profound love for beer, burgers, and deep-dish pizza. Among the highlights: Band of Bohemia for its beers brewed onsite; Pequod’s and Lou Malnati’s for standout pies; and Owen & Engine, which easily serves one of the best burgers in town.
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The hipster heaven of Portland has given us Andy Richter’s Pok Pok Thai restaurant group and some of the country’s best chain coffee via Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Chefs within this artisan-run, foraging-devoted, whole-animal butchery city take a decidedly naturalistic and rustic approach to food, with pristine Pacific Northwest ingredients at the core of many menus. Ultimately, Portland offers one of the U.S.’s most exciting dining scenes thanks to its abundance of micro-producers dedicated to perfecting preserves, salumi, chocolate, and everything in between.
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Sean Brock has served as Charleston’s unofficial food ambassador ever since he opened Husk in 2010. Since then, the chef has received countless accolades for his seasonal, ingredient-focused Southern cooking, as well as his work to preserve local heirloom plant species. In doing so, Brock has helped throw Charleston into the U.S. dining spotlight and inspire a new generation of next-level restaurants (i.e., Tu, the Codfather, Vintage Lounge, to name a few). It’s here you’ll find Low-country cooking at its finest, a soulful blend of influences from West Africa, the West Indies, and European, often incorporating ingredients like seafood, grits, and rice.
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Po’boys, oysters, and jambalaya, oh my! The magical city of New Orleans makes the south taste good thanks to its long culinary pedigree. With eats heavily influenced by Creole and Cajun cooking, and a number of ancient bars credited with inventing some of the world’s most famous pre-Prohibition potations, a trip to the Big Easy’s historic French quarter is nothing short of magical. Within the city you can suck down briny oysters at Felix’s or Acme, and try some of the country’s most lush fried chicken at Willie Mae’s Scotch House—but note, there’s always a wait. While saccharine Hand Grenades might be the drink of choice during Mardi Gras, for a true taste of the past, drink experts find salvation in Vieux Carres at Hotel Monteleone and Bywaters at Arnaud’s French 75.
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Geno’s or Pat’s is no longer the question. Sure, this is still America’s undefeated cheese steak turf, but today Philly is a hotbed for exciting dining concepts, helmed by big name chefs and innovative newcomers. It’s where cross-country Spanish enthusiast Jose Garces got his start with Amada and Tinto, where decorated restaurateur Stephen Starr started his empire, and where America’s most esteemed plant-based concept, Vedge, came to life.
With the early success of establishments like Rasika, and later, Rose’s Luxury, D.C. has slowly been upping its culinary cred. In fact, it was just two years ago that Michelin began bestowing stars upon the city. And while D.C. may still lag behind New York, San Francisco, and Chicago in terms of its number of starred eateries, the city's food scene keeps getting hotter. Our favorite buzz-worthy spots include Maydan, A Rake's Progress, The Dabney, Little Serow, and Tail Up Goat.
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