Top 10 Food Cities in the USA
Shout out to all state gourmets: You don’t have to leave the country to feast on innovative and simple, tasty old-fashioned dishes. In fact, the United States is home to dozens of incredible food cities filled with hidden gems, much-lauded hotspots and everything in between. From big metropolises like New York City and San Francisco to unexpected (albeit delightful) choices like Greenville, South Carolina, and Tucson, Arizona, here are the 10 best dining spots in America. Get ready to dig and explore.
New York, New York
New York represents a crucible of cultures, which means you can enjoy all sorts of cuisines within its 300 square mile radius; Authentic dim sum or mouthwatering bagels and smear-plus meat sandwiches alike at Joe’s Shanghai in Chinatown from dozens of Jewish delis like Katz’s in the city. Don’t limit yourself to Manhattan, either: feast on five boroughs, including stops in Astoria and Jackson Heights (in Queens), respectively, for authentic Greek and Himalayan cuisine. Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood is home to a number of Polish bakeries like Syrena, while Arthur Avenue (in The Bronx) and Staten Island offer some of the best Italian food in the city. Additionally, the Big Apple boasts over 70 Michelin-starred restaurants, from fine dining venues like Le Bernardin to more modest (and still delicious) haunts like the Jeju Noodle Bar. Don’t get hung up on all things Michelin-related, though – some of the best food can be found in the most unexpected places ($1 pizza, anyone?).
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans’ food offerings are as diverse as its cultural influences from Europe, the Caribbean, and Africa. With that in mind, it’s appropriate that The Big Easy is big on flavor. Delicious foods here include po’boys (Sammy’s is a local favourite), jambalaya (*chef’s kiss* at Moms), okra (properly dig at Gumbo Shop), crawfish etouffee (see Creole House), and muffulettas (7 Grab yours at Verti Marte open 24/24) – best paired with live jazz, of course. Be sure to save room for powdered sugar-coated beignets at Cafe Du Monde (yes, there will be a queue but yes, it’s worth it) and wash it all down with NOLA’s most iconic cocktail, the Sazerac, at The Sazerac Bar at The Sazerac Bar. Hotel Roosevelt.
Chicagoans are passionate about their deep dish pizza and, ahem, their unique ketchup-free hot dogs. The former and latter are best enjoyed at Windy City’s staple Pequod’s and Jimmy’s Red Hots, respectively. Chicago also has more than 20 Michelin-starred restaurants, including the world-famous Alinea, which is a winner of more than 50 James Beard Awards and best known for its creative multi-course tasting menus. New additions to the dining scene here include the 24,000-square-foot Chicago Winery (part winery, part restaurant, and part bar and event space) and the 17,000-square-foot Kindling, a live fire show kitchen run by James. Beard Award winner Jonathon Sawyer.
San Francisco, California
Sure, San Francisco may be best known for its innovative tech scene, but its food offerings are just as impressive. City by the Bay has been named the busiest restaurant city in the country. Diners here can enjoy dozens of Michelin-starred dishes at renowned restaurants such as Atelier Crenn (serving world-class French cuisine in a swanky venue), Mister Jiu’s (serving contemporary Chinese-American fare) and Lazy Bear (self-billed). as a “modern American dinner party”). Alternatively, for something more casual, head to the Ferry Building Marketplace, which is brimming with locally-loved food vendors like Acme Bread Company, Dandelion Chocolate, El Porteño Empanadas, Donut Farm, and Hog Island Oyster Company. Finally, no trip to San Fran would be complete without tasting some sourdough (both Josey Baker Bread and Boudin Bakery make some of the best in town) and the Mission burritos of the same name (locals and travelers alike love Taqueria Cancún).
As America’s most diverse city, it’s no surprise that Houston tops our list of top US cities for gourmets. Bayou City offers something for every taste. As such, there’s plenty of choice, from Viet-Cajun fusion at Crawfish & Noodles to Southeast Asian-Latin American cuisine at Hawker Street Food Bar, which can be found at Post Market. Speaking of Post, this bustling international food service offers great food from celebrity chefs. A few of our favorites include ChópnBlok for West African fare and East Side King, which serves Japanese street food like pork buns and beetroot home fries. We would also neglect to highlight Houston’s thriving food truck scene, including the award-winning Coreanos, where diners can feast on Korean-Mexican fusion like Korean barbecue tacos.
Tucson was the first US city to be recognized as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy in 2015. Today, the destination continues to amaze culinary connoisseurs with its diverse Native American and Mexican offerings dating back thousands of years. The best Tucson restaurants incorporate locally sourced ingredients into their drinks and meals. With that in mind, prickly pear margaritas and nopales (edible cacti) are a staple here. Tucson’s bustling downtown has more than 85 bars and restaurants, including Bata (which serves a largely veggie-focused menu – 90 percent of which is sourced within 400 miles of the restaurant). Run by James Beard finalist Maria Mazon, Boca is known for its delicious tacos and salsa flights. In 2023, 13 more new dining venues will call Tucson home. Highlights on the menu include the all-new Blue Front, featuring orange wines, creative cocktails, made-from-scratch pies and deviled eggs.
This Midwestern city is severely underrated despite an eclectic dining scene fueled by nearby farms, local producers and groundbreaking chefs. What’s more, it’s safe to say that Cleveland’s culinary scene pays homage to the more than 100 different ethnicities that make up the city. For a taste of Cleveland’s best food, head straight to West Side Market, an indoor-outdoor market that offers something for everyone. Orale among local vendors! Contemporary Mexican Cuisine, Pierogi Palace, Frank’s Bratwurst, Theresa’s Bakery and Crepes de Luxe. Then, take an afternoon to start your own food tour of the city, including dim sum at AsiaTown and spring rolls at Slavic Village. Land also boasts an incredible selection of Black-owned and Black-led restaurants, such as Pearl’s Kitchen for premium comfort food, Yonder for a delectable brunch, and Cleveland Cold Brew for coffee and pastries. Don’t miss some of the city’s hottest spots, like Cordelia (which serves Midwestern comfort food with a nostalgic twist) and The Judith, a cozy Parisian-inspired cafe.
Asheville, North Carolina
Nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Asheville is easily among the top dining cities in the US due to its ever-evolving culinary scene. Each of the city’s more than 120 restaurants offers something special. Don’t miss the James Beard Award-winning restaurant Chai Pani, which serves mouthwatering Indian street food like chicken tikka rolls, crispy pakoras and butter chicken in a colorful space. Another James Beard Award winner worth visiting, Cúrate is a popular restaurant in a 1927 bus garage serving delicious Spanish appetizers. A trip to North Carolina wouldn’t be complete without some good barbecue. Enter Buxton Hall Barbecue: Best known for its pulled pork, this James Beard Award-winning establishment uses locally sourced pork that has been butchered in-house and smoked for hours.
While Louisville is best known for its bourbon, you won’t want to sleep in on the exciting food scene. With more than 2,500 restaurants and several award-winning chefs, Louisville will delight foodies and drinkers alike. You don’t need to skip the city without taking the Urban Bourbon Trail, which highlights Louisvlle’s best bourbon bars and restaurants – there are more than 40 to be exact. Although it’s hard to cross the entire road, must-visit places include Jockey Silks Bourbon Bar, Merle’s Whiskey Kitchen and Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar. Finally, you can’t leave Louisville without trying the city’s signature dish, Hot Brown. Featuring turkey, bacon, tomato, and Mornay sauce smothered on Texas toast, this delicious open-faced sandwich dates back to the 1920s when it was first invented at the Brown Hotel.
Greenville, South Carolina
In recent years, Greenville has transformed from a quiet cotton mill town into a vibrant city filled with unique culinary offerings that rival larger locales nearby like Charlotte and Asheville. Here you’ll find hundreds of locally owned restaurants, including Camp (serving an eccentric menu of unique dishes such as Thai-inspired calamari and lamb in curry cream) and Coral. Feast on fresh seafood at the new-ish Great Jones, before an afternoon snack at Methodical Coffee. The Scoundrel, a gorgeous French bra headed by celebrity chef and Greenville native Joe Cash, is the city’s newest hangout. Other must-visits include farm-to-table fan favorite Topsoil Kitchen & Market (directed by 2020 James Beard Award semi-finalist Adam Cooke) and Mexican restaurant Comal 864 (owned and operated by 2023 James Beard Award semi-finalist Dayna Lee-Márquez) ).