Best US cities for gourmets

Grab a bite at the Los Angeles Grand Central Market (Getty Images)


When it comes to food, the United States is a land of abundance. Plenty of great food options, from the lobster-filled sea to the shimmering sea, the portion sizes tend towards gluttony. Those hoping to dine in America would be wise to travel in their baggy pants and taste adventurous new cuisines.

From farm-to-table fine-dining and innovative vegetarian fare to comforting fast food staples like cheeseburgers and hot dogs, you never need to travel far in America to be seduced. However, there are some places that have developed a culinary world of their own; Here are the US cities that no true gourmet should miss:

New Orleans, Louisiana

Try a New Orleans po'boy (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Try a New Orleans po’boy (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

There is no other place in the world like New Orleans. Big Easy is a mind-blowing mix of European, Caribbean and African influences and has a completely unique cuisine to prove it. At restaurants like Cochon, you can sample root Cajun and southern home cooking that has been tasted for generations, with standout dishes like smoked ham with red beans, charred radishes, and chicken hearts. And where other than Creole restaurant Jacques-Imo’s can you be served a slice of Shrimp and Alligator Sausage Cheesecake? New Orleans is also home to one of the best sandwiches in the world, the po’boy, a flaky French baguette topped with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and lots of fillings that include shrimp, roast beef, and catfish. If you can still find room after all this, an order of beetroot paste from Cafe Du Monde should get you done.

Don’t miss: After performing in New Orleans in 2013, Beyoncé ordered 150 po’boys from Parkway Bakery and Tavern for her team and surrounding area. That’s the equivalent of America’s royal seal of approval for this popular neighborhood get-together from 1911.

San Francisco and Bay Area, California

Given that it’s surrounded by the wine country of Napa Valley to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the west, and the fertile California ranch region to the south, it’s no surprise that San Francisco is one of the best food cities in the world. A paradise for seafood lovers, Fisherman’s Wharf is home to the bakery Boudin Sourdough, famous for its mouthwatering bread bowls full of soup. But it’s where modern California cuisine was born on the other side of the bay in Berkeley, at the legendary Chez Panisse, Alice Water’s original farm-to-table restaurant. Just around the corner is FAVA, a delightful organic lunch spot specializing in flatbread sandwiches and salads.

Don’t miss: The world thanks San Francisco’s historic Mission District for the Mission-style burrito, a super-sized version of the Mexican favorite stuffed with rice, beans, avocado, and meat. If that still doesn’t sound mammoth enough, head to the brightly decorated Taqueria Cancún; here the signature Burrito Mojado comes with a helping of extra guacamole, sour cream and red salsa.

Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis is known for its barbecue (Getty Images)

Memphis is known for its barbecue (Getty Images)

If you’re a barbecue lover, there are no greater pleasures in life than tasting the wide variety of hickory-smoked meats on offer in Memphis. Located in a former cinderblock gas station, Payne’s Bar-B-Que offers unrivaled minced pork sandwiches, while even humble dive bars like Alex’s Tavern can be relied upon to offer top-notch ribs (their secret ingredient is a pinch of salty Cavender’s Greek spice).

Don’t miss: The Bar-BQ Shop stands out especially in a city famous for its barbecue. He is a descendant of Brady & Lil – a seminal Memphis diner near Stax Records where legend has it the Beatles once bought every rib here.

New York, New York

New York is famous for its slices of pizza (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

New York is famous for its slices of pizza (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Dollar pizza slices may be the city most closely associated with Nathan’s Famous hot dogs and soggy cheesecake slices, but the Big Apple is also home to some of America’s top-rated restaurants. Éric Ripert’s fish-focused French restaurant, Le Bernardin, earned three Michelin stars for its creative dishes like tuna tartare with sea urchin toast. The less award-winning – but equally satisfying – rye pastrami from New York’s premier restaurant, Katz’s Delicatessen, is a distinctive sign that shows exactly where Meg Ryan lives. When Harry met Sally. We will have what he has.

Don’t miss: Forward-thinking Korean restaurant Atomix was named the top-rated restaurant in the United States in the latest list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Try Spanish mackerel with turnips and lentils to find out why.

Portland, Maine

Harbor Fish Market in Portland (Getty Images)

Harbor Fish Market in Portland (Getty Images)

Portland’s prime location on the North Atlantic coast makes it one of the best places in the world to eat seafood. It’s hard to go wrong with plentiful Maine lobsters, succulent mussels, and salty oysters: Eventide Oyster Co. offers at least 18 kinds of them. However, not all lobster pie rolls and raw mollusks. The city’s gourmet reputation has attracted world-class chefs such as Thomas Takashi Cooke. Japanese restaurant Izakaya Minato uses sea fruits in endless creative ways, such as grilled oysters served with a bite of mochi “bacon” and miso custard.

Don’t miss: Seafood doesn’t get any fresher than Harbor Fish Market, a New England institution from the late 19’s.pearl century.

Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles’ food scene is as vast and sprawling as the city itself. There’s a whole world to explore beyond fast food favorites like the beloved In-N-Out Burger and the countless and always great taco trucks in cities. It’s hard to beat Koreatown’s all-you-can-eat restaurants like Jjukku Jjukku BBQ, while Jitlada is a simple strip mall that promises and serves the most spicy Thai food in town. There are few better cities in the world to be vegetarian as well. Celebrity favorite Crossroads Kitchen serves up a surprising spaghetti carbonara, sunny side up, topped with a vegan egg. The exact recipe is a tightly guarded secret, but the perfectly runny yoke is said to be made from yellow tomatoes. You have to beat it to believe it.

Don’t miss: Downtown’s Grand Central Market dates from 1917 and today houses dozens of stalls serving cuisines from around the city and the world. The perfect one-stop destination to get your head and mouth full of Los Angeles’ astonishing culinary diversity.