A recent survey from Booking.com reported more than half (51%) of American respondents stating that they would choose a destination based on the local food and drink opportunities, while half (50%) said they look for street food in local markets when they’re travelling. A further 52% agreed with the statement that they were looking to be more adventurous with their dining options whilst on the road, and 61% were looking to eat more local food in 2018. In other words, it’s clear that people are thinking with their stomachs when it comes to booking their holidays domestically. Here are the best cities for wandering epicureans to sink their teeth into, and the essential dining spots to visit when in town.
It should come as no surprise that a city with such a vaunted reputation for being a cosmopolitan and cultural melting pot as NYC should have one of the nation’s (and, indeed, the planet’s) finest culinary scenes. A rich mixture of ethnicities has given New Yorkers and enviable selection of hole-in-the-walls to sample delicious plates at affordable prices, whilst the glamor of Manhattan attracts world-class eateries such as the triple Michelin Star winning Eleven Madison Park. Manhattan’s Chelsea Market is an essential destination for foodies who’ll be able to enjoy the offerings of over 50 different food outlets. Throughout the city, every kind of cuisine is catered for, be it Polish (Karczma, Greenpoint); Mexican (Los Hermanos, Bushwick); Korean (Jongro BBQ, Manhattan; or Jewish (Russ & Daughters Cafe, Lower East Side). Not to mention, every corner is selling iconic New York bites like bagels, pizza, cheesecake and hero sandwiches, giving visitors even more ways to take a bite out of the Big Apple.
Between drinking, dancing, music and partying, New Orleans is a city built on satisfying the senses, and their food culture is certainly no exception. Souls food meets Creole and Cajun cooking culture for a one-of-a-kind blend, whether that means grabbing a quick Po’ Boy sandwich or heading into the Bayou to get your hands on just-caught crawfish boiled in a rich blend of traditional spices, along with signature local dishes like gumbo, red beans and rice and jambalaya. With the odd exception, like Arnaud’s, the city’s best cooking isn’t located amongst the tourist traps of the famous historic French Quarter, but in the new town area where the locals do their eating and drinking: Herbsaint, Cochon and Borgne are all iconic restaurants that show off the very best of New Orleans dining culture. Plus, they provide some all-important stomach lining before a night of hitting the city’s fantastic nightlife.
Food is a big deal in San Francisco. Culinarily it’s one of the most forward-thinking food cities on the planet, where a rich blend of influences rubs up against progressive attitudes to diet and ingredients making for a unique melting pot of dining experiences. Top tier Michelin-starred restaurants like Saison, Benu and Quince provide world-class fine dining. At the other end of the scale, the city’s many farmers markets and food stalls can provide delicious food on the smallest of budgets, like the fresh $5 ceviche at Cholo Soy, or Popson’s $5.25 hamburgers. In addition there’s one of the most thriving Chinatowns anywhere in the world, terrific Korean BBQ, and the kind of fantastic Mexican food typical of California. It’s also got some of the most developed eating options for alternative diets like raw food and vegan, so more selective gourmands won’t feel left out at dinner times.
Although lacking the international profile of other American cities like New York, Chicago is a hotbed of fantastic food. Between the influence of African American, Greek, Polish, Italian and Mexican culture, Chicago is the culinary capital of the Midwest, and can produce the plates to prove it. Although New Yorkers might argue differently, the Chicago pie pizza is some of the best you’ll find anywhere (although something of a dirty word amongst locals). For a real taste of the Windy City, Wolfy’s offers the best hot dogs around, where the only rule in the city is no ketchup. Bobak’s Market has the definitive line in delicious Polish deli foods. More high end options include El Ideas and the Publican, but even here the emphasis is on unfussy, tasty grub that leaves you wanting more, much like the iconic Harold’s Chicken, as well as a wealth of mouth-watering burger spots like the Billy Goat Tavern and Kuma’s Corner.
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