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22 Best Food Cities In The US

We’ve eaten our way around America from from sea to shining sea. Discover our picks for the 22 best food cities in the US and see if your city made the cut.

Buffalo Wings at Elmos in Buffalo
Image: ©2foodtrippers

We’re loud and proud about our appreciation for food in the USA.

We love it all from Cubanos in Florida to Poke in Hawaii. And don’t even get us started about our love for Hamburgers and Pizza. Sure, we can eat American food in our adopted city of Lisbon but it’s just not quite the same.

This love developed while we grew up in Atlanta (Mindi) and Philadelphia (Daryl). It blossomed during our many travels across the country both separately when we were single and then together after we met in 2006.

Burger at Carson Kitchen in Las Vegas
We’ve eaten a lot of burgers in America. We ate this one at Carson Kitchen in Las Vegas. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

It came to fruition during a marathon 7-week North American road trip with the ambitious goal of eating our way around the country. And that’s exactly what we did during a whirlwind tour that hurtled us through 26 cities, 16 states and one Canadian province.

How We Travel For Food

BBQ at Q39 in Kansas City
Having the chance to eat food like this gorgeous plate of Kansas City barbecue at Q39 is a perk of living a life of food and travel. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Food was our passion before it became our profession. Accordingly, we enjoy doing tons of research to make sure we didn’t miss a bite before we visit a new destination. That epic U.S. road trip was no exception.

We almost killed ourselves while driving through snow storms in Pennsylvania, hail storms in Texas and torrential rain in Florida. And we’ll never forget the way our nifty Nissan Sentra rattled during the last few thousand miles. But we never got bored and we certainly ate well.

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Our Picks For The Best Food Cities In The US

Buffalo Wing Selfie at Elmos in Buffalo
We shuffled off to Buffalo to eat these wings. It was worth the effort. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

When it comes to food, some American cities stand above the rest. These cities tend to have mature food cultures as opposed to being famous for just one special dish. They also offer diverse great casual and upscale dining as well as great tasting food.

Based on the above criteria, the following cities get our votes for the top food cities in America:

1. New Orleans

Muffaletta at Cochon Butcher in New Orleans
This Muffaletta at Cochon Butcher is one of many tasty treats we’ve eaten in New Orleans over the years. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

New Orleans has all the makings for a rocking party – amazing food, festive music and flowing cocktails. This is a city where the good times roll all year long for both hometown locals and visiting travelers.

We’ve joined NOLA’s party multiple times when we were both single and after we got married. Though we haven’t yet visited during Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest, we’ve had as much fun as possible without breaking the law at other times of the year.

While we’ve enjoyed raucous second line performances on Frenchmen Street, shopping in the Garden District and touring Bourbon Street, most of our best New Orleans experiences have involved food. The others involved cocktails.

Discover the best cheap eats in New Orleans.

Cocktails at Port of Call in New Orleans
These cocktails at Port of Call turned our lunch hour into a happy hour. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

While we’re all about the city’s cheap eats (think Beignets at Cafe du Monde, Po Boys at Parkway Bakery & Tavern and Fried Chicken at Willie Mae’s Scotch House), that’s just one aspect of eating in New Orleans. We also enjoy chowing down on both Cajun and Creole cuisine and dining at top New Orleans restaurants like Commander’s Palace and Brennan’s.

We plan to return to New Orleans sooner than later so that we can indulge in more decadent culinary experiences. We also plan to explore the city’s burgeoning international scene featuring Vietnamese, Israeli and Indian cuisines.

Top Things to Eat & Drink In New Orleans
Beignets, Cocktails, Fried Chicken, Global Cuisine, Gumbo, Jambalaya, Muffalettas, Oysters and Po Boys

2. Charleston

Breakfast at The Park Cafe in Charleston
Good food is available all day long in Charleston. We started our day right at The Park Cafe with poached farm egg breakfast featuring house sausage, French lentils, rouille and a baguette. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

One of America’s oldest cities dating back to the 17th century, Charleston is a city that oozes history with its antebellum houses and cobblestone streets. It’s also a city that sets the bar for modern southern cuisine at neighborhood markets, casual eateries and upscale restaurants.

Charleston’s culinary scene has hit the international radar, with three restaurants (FIG, Husk and Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ) recognized with James Beard awards. Accordingly, making reservations is a must when visiting the Holy City.

Discover our picks for the best food cities in the world. Spoiler Alert – Charleston is one of these cities.

Pork with Carolina Gold Rice at FIG in Charleston
Eating at FIG was a culinary highlight of our Charleston visit. One of many excellent dishes, this suckling pig rice bowl was a brilliant display of Lowcountry southern food. Ingredients included braised pork cubes, cara cara orange supremes and Carolina gold rice. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

We followed our own advice and arrived in Charleston with advance reservations at both FIG and Husk. Each meal was fantastic, featuring sophisticated dishes constructed with local ingredients. But these weren’t the only great dishes we ate in Charleston.

Lowcountry classics like Okra Gumbo and She Crab Soup displayed flavors and ingredients from the Caribbean and Africa. But, just like the city’s more upscale offerings, the tastes in these more humble dishes were 100% Charleston.

Top Things To Eat In Charleston
Carolina Gold Rice, Cornbread, Fried Green Tomatoes, Hush Puppies, Modern Southern Cuisine, Pimento Cheese, She Crab Soup and Shrimp + Grits

3. New York City

Di Fara Pizzeria in NYC
Crowds flock to Di Fara Pizza in Brooklyn. We snapped this photo while waiting for our pizza. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

New York City isn’t just one of the best food cities in America. It’s also a culinary melting pot with food available from every corner of the world and at all prices.

On the high end, luxury diners can spend the big bucks at three-star Michelin restaurants like Eleven Madison Park, Le Bernadin, Masa and Per Se. Some of our favorite NYC restaurants like Le Coucou and Gramercy Tavern have Michelin stars too.

Without a doubt, New York’s temples of fine dining are amazing for those who can swing spending a car payment on dinner. Everybody else can eat equally well in Gotham for a lot less money.

Discover our New York food favorites.

Heebster Bagel at Russ and Daughters in NYC
The Super Heebster at Russ & Daughters Cafe is one our favorite NYC dishes. The lower Manhattan eatery tops a bagel with whitefish salad, horseradish cream and wasabi fish roe to make this dish. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

We’ve had plenty of time to explore New York and its food scene. Mindi lived in Manhattan for eight years and Daryl worked in the city for that same amount of time. We ate it all from late Sunday bagel brunches, steak filled business lunches and late night pizza slices… and then we ate some more.

Ironically, our paths never crossed in New York. We later bonded over our mutual love for bagels when we met at a party in Philadelphia in 2006 and got engaged in Central Park later that same year.

Read our New York pizza guide.

Smoked Salmon at Russ and Daughters Cafe in New York City
It’s no secret that Daryl loves eating lox in New York. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

We never tire of eating in New York. Our favorite NYC foods include bagels with lox in the Lower East Side, soup dumplings in Chinatown and pizza in all five boroughs.

If we can’t eat a food at the best New York City restaurants, we can’t eat it anywhere. That’s why we’re happy to return multiple times a year to take more bites out of the big apple.

Top Things To Eat In New York City
Bagels + Lox, Cheesecake, Cronuts, Fine Dining, Global Cuisine, Hot Dogs, Pastrami on Rye and Pizza

4. Houston

Texas BBQ at Underbelly in Houston
Chef Chris Shepherd served us this modern interpretation of Texas Barbecue at Underbelly before the restaurant closed and re-opened as Georgia James. The James Beard award winner’s restaurant group also includes UB Preserv, One Fifth and the Hay Merchant. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

The past decade has been transformative for chefs in Houston as well as for the city’s six million residents. Not only is H-Town a mecca for meat eaters, but the city has also racked up notable accolades for its diverse food scene.

Brisket wasn’t a surprise when we rolled through the lone star’s biggest city during our road trip. We expected to find Texas Barbecue as well as Tex Mex and chef-driven cuisine. But we weren’t previously aware of the emergence of international cuisine, especially Vietnamese food, in Houston.

Com Hen at Nam Giao in Houston
We ate this plate of Cơm Hến at Nam Giao in Houston. The flavors were a precursor to our meals in Hue, Vietnam a few months later. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

We got our first taste of Vietnam at Nam Giao. The Houston restaurant took us straight to Hue with Central Vietnamese dishes like Banh Beo dumplings and Cơm Hến, a melange of baby clams, roasted peanuts and sesame seeds over rice. Then we ramped things up by eating Viet-Cajun Crawfish at Crawfish & Noodles.

Tasting Texas mud bugs seasoned with garlic and lemongrass was a revelation. Plowing through through a pile of tongue-tingling crustaceans, we feebly attempted to keep up with our Houstonian cousins who were clearly not first timers at this seafood rodeo.

Cajun Crawfish at Crawfish Noodles in Houston
We ate this heaping serving of Viet-Cajun Crawfish at Crawfish & Noodles in Houston. The spicy, juicy seafood was nothing short of a party on the plate. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

It all made sense during a memorable lunch at now-closed Underbelly. After serving us dishes like Korean Braised Goat with Dumplings and Vietnamese Style Flank Steak, Chef Chris Shepherd rapped with us about the growing Vietnamese community. We learned, through Chef Shepard, that there are no crawfish in Vietnam and that Viet-Cajun Crawfish is a true Houston specialty.

Shepherd finished the conversation by letting us taste pork tacos that he had prepared that day for a Bon Appetite photo shoot. At the end of the day, that’s what Houston is all about – good food and southern hospitality wrapped together and tied with a bow.

Top Things To Eat In Houston
Barbecue Brisket, Cajun Crawfish, Kolache, Tex Mex and Vietnamese Food

5. San Francisco

Colorful Dish at The Progress in San Francisco
We ate this Don Watson Lamb Tartare with Tumeric Kohlrabi, Chili-Lime Vinaigrette + Black Rice Cracker at The Progress, a Michelin starred restaurant in San Francisco. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

San Francisco is easy to love. The hilly city has epic views on every corner and buzzes with electric energy at all hours of the day and night. Flanked by the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and powered by cable cars, California’s cultural hub is nothing short of a feast for the five senses.

We’re not immune to the City by the Bay’s charms. Mindi lived in San Francisco for two years after college and we’ve both visited multiple times prior to and including our epic US road trip. It’s a city that simultaneously exhausts and excites us. Plus, it’s just a relatively short drive from both Napa Valley where we dined at The French Laundry and the Sonoma wineries.

Get tips for eating like a local in San Francisco.

Sliced Rebel Within at the Craftsmen in San Francisco
Cutting into this Rebel Within, a cheesy muffin with a soft boiled egg center, was a magical experience only surpassed by eating it. The pastry is a signature dish at San Franicsco’s Craftsman and Wolves. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Make no mistake – San Francisco isn’t a cheap city to visit as is the case with many of the world’s most dynamic cities. But it’s a city that demands attention from all who travel for food. On the high end, the city has three dozen Michelin starred restaurants including a trio (Atelier Crenn, Benu and Quince) honored with three stars.

But San Francisco isn’t just about expensive meals. Some of our favorite SF meals have involved eating little plates of dim sum and ginormous mission burritos. As for dessert, we never refuse pastries at B. Patisserie, Craftsman & Wolves or Tartine Bakery.

Top Things To Eat & Drink In San Francisco
Cioppino, Dim Sum, Ghiradelli Chocolate, Irish Coffee, Mission Burritos, Sourdough Bread and Wine

6. Los Angeles

Chinese Food at Chengdu Taste in Los Angeles
Eating Toothpick Lamb with Cumin at Chengdu Taste was a highlight of our most recent trip to Los Angeles. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Proving that San Francisco isn’t the only great food city in California, Los Angeles restaurants shine as bright as Hollywood spotlights. Let’s face it – stars and aspiring stars need to eat somewhere. In the City of Angels, that somewhere is everywhere.

We’re not kidding. Food trucks are literally everywhere in Los Angeles, bringing new meaning to the concept of a movable feast. These mobile restaurants serve a range of food from countries like Korea, Japan and Mexico.

Discover tasty Los Angeles food experiences you won’t want to miss.

Paris Brest at Petit Trois in Los Angeles
We ate this Paris-Brest at Petit Trois, Chef Ludo Lefebvre’s Hollywood bistro. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Though we’ve never lived in La La Land, we both have siblings that did so in the past. Accordingly, we’ve visited multiple times and have explored the city’s culinary delights.

While we haven’t yet eaten at any of the city’s two dozen Michelin starred restaurants, we’ve eaten at enough Los Angeles eateries to find our favorites. Our top spots for eating in LA include Chengdu Taste, Petit Trois, Pink’s Hot Dogs and Zancou Chicken. Nancy Silverton’s Pizzeria Mozza is high on our dining wish list for our next visit.

Top Things To Eat & Drink In Los Angeles
Anything Sold by Food Trucks, Donuts, Global Cuisine (especially Asian and Mexican) and Smoothies

7. Las Vegas

Inside EDO Gastro Tapas and Wine in Las Vegas
Locals fill Las Vegas restaurants off the strip. We joined them when we ate tapas at EDO Gastro Tapas and Wine. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Food travelers could easily visit Las Vegas without gambling and still have a great time. They could also eat well without leaving the strip; however, that second move would be an unfortunate mistake.

While many accomplished chefs operate restaurants like Carbone, Guy Savoy, Mizumi and NoMad Bar in casinos, many of the city’s most exciting restaurants are located off the strip. Some are downtown while others are in strip malls. Many serve food from countries like China, Japan and Thailand.

Discover the best Las Vegas restaurants located off the Strip and our favorite Las Vegas brunch spots.

Dim Sum at Rainbow Kitchen in Las Vegas
International cuisine is the norm at Las Vegas restaurants like Rainbow Kitchen where we ate this amazing selection of dim sum dishes. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

We’ve spent a good bit of time in Las Vegas both before and after our road trip. Not only have we attended three weddings in Sin City, but Daryl’s brother lives in Henderson, a suburban neighborhood not far from the action.

Our recent trips have all focused on exploring Downtown Las Vegas and eating off the strip when we’re not spending time with family. Highlights have included an omakase anniversary dinner at Raku as well as meals at spots like The Black Sheep, Esther’s Kitchen, Sparrow and Wolf and Lotus of Siam.

Top Things To Eat & Drink In Las Vegas
Asian Food, Chef Driven Cuisine, Cocktails, Cupcakes and Hawaiian Food

8. Philadelphia

Roast Pork Sandwich at Dinics in Philadelphia
If it’s wrong that we prefer Philadelphia’s Roast Pork Sandwiches over its Cheesesteaks, we don’t want to be right. Pictured here is Roast Pork Sandwich that we ate at DiNicks Roast Pork in Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Philadelphia may be located half way between New York City and Washington DC, but it no longer lives in the shadow of those two cities when it comes to food. The Philly food scene has garnered national attention for cuisine that goes way beyond Cheesesteaks.

Not that there’s anything wrong with Cheesesteaks! After living in the historic city for many years, we’re still happy to chow down on a great Cheesesteak at John’s Roast Pork once in a while. But Philly’s most famous sandwich is just one food worth eating in the City of Brotherly Love.

Discover our Philadelphia food favorites.

Dishes at Zahav in Philadelphia
Michael Solomonov’s Zahav has won multiple James Beard awards. Diners flock to the Old City restaurant to eat modern Israeli cuisine in Philadelphia. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Let’s start with sandwiches. Philly has wonderful Roast Pork Sandwiches and loaded Hoagies (local submarine sandwiches typically topped with Italian meats and cheese) that are equally if not more satisfying than Cheesesteaks. And this doesn’t include more eclectic options like Falafel, Tacos, Banh Mi and Bagels + Lox.

But let’s not stop at sandwiches. Philadelphia’s restaurant scene competes favorably with both NYC and DC thanks to a cadre of talented chefs who have made the more affordable city home. Nationally recognized restaurants like Zahav, Vernick and Vetri Cucina are so popular with both locals and food travelers that advance reservations are an absolute must.

Read our Philadelphia restaurant guide.

Pulled Noodles at Nan Zhou in Philadelphia
Asian immigrants have carved a spot in the Philadelphia dining scene. We ate this bowl of soup with hand drawn pulled noodles at Nan Zhou in the city’s Chinatown neighborhood. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Beyond chef-driven dining, Philadelphia’s best restaurants include cozy BYOBs, Asian eateries and pizza joints. With the addition of craft beer bars and Italian bakeries, Philly easily earns its slot as one of America’s best food cities.

Top Things To Eat In Philadelphia
Asian Food, Cheesesteaks, Chef Driven Cuisine, Hoagies, Mexican Food, Roast Pork Sandwiches, Scrapple, Soft Pretzels and Water Ice

9. Portland

Smith Teas in Portland
Portland hipsters take their food and drinks seriously as we learned during a seriously good tea tasting at Steven Smith Teas. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Although Portlanders take pride in keeping things weird, Oregon’s largest city demands attention for a diverse food scene that goes way beyond gimmicks. The Rose City does many things well from earthy-crunchy hipster food to sophisticated dining.

Portland is a mecca for food travelers who savor eating and drinking locally when they travel. From food trucks to fine dining, most Portland eateries incorporate local, seasonal ingredients into their offerings with a passion that borders on obsession.

Discover our Portland food favorites.

Thai Noodles at Pok Pok in Portland
Eating Thai food at now-closed Pok Pok in Portland was the next best thing to eating Thai food in Chiang Mai or Bangkok. These noodles paired well with the restaurant’s famous Ike’s Vietnamese fish sauce wings. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Originally intended to be a quick stop during our US road trip, Portland excited us so much that we extended our stay by several days. Even still, it was a challenge to fit the best Portland food into our hungry bellies in just five days.

The city initially hooked us with a third wave coffee scene that equals its craft beer scene. Specialty coffee shops like Heart and Coava gave us daily caffeinated boosts that powered us to explore the city’s scene from dawn to dusk.

Portland features a wide variety of food options with many chefs focusing on a unique cuisine, whether it be Pacific Northwest at a range of restaurants, Russian at Kachka or Ice Cream at Salt & Straw. We ate at these spots as well as ramen bars, noodle houses and donut shops.

Top Things To Eat & Drink In Portland
Asian Food, Fine Dining, Craft Beer, Donuts, Oysters and Specialty Coffee

10. Tucson

Sonoran Hot Dog Up Close at Ruiz Hot Dogs Los Chipilones in Tucson
Eating this Sonoran Hot Dog at Ruiz Hot Dogs Los Chipilones was a culinary highlight of our Tucson food trip. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Tucson is neither the captiol of Arizona nor the Grand Canyon State’s largest city. And, no, the Grand Canyon isn’t located in or near Tucson.

Now that we’ve established what Tucson isn’t, we can focus on what it is – the home of the University of Arizona, a UNESCO City of Gastronomy and one of the nation’s best food cities.

While Tucson recently hit our food radar, its culinary commitment is nothing new. Tucson’s heritage farm products and Sonoran food traditions date back millennia. Many of the city’s best restaurants honor this past while others go in other directions. The city also has third wave coffee shops and a slew of casual eateries that serve brunch, Sonoran Hot Dogs and other local treats.

Read our Tucson restaurant guide.

Carne Secca at El Charro Cafe in Tucson
El Charro Cafe gets kudos for its Carne Secca as well as its status as the country’s oldest continuous operating Mexican restaurant. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Not wanting to miss a bite, we spent a week eating our way through Tucson. This journey took us to the Mission Garden and to top local restaurants like El Charro Café and Zio Peppe. It also took us to local eateries on 12th Avenue, i.e. Tucson’s 23 miles of Mexican food.

Any city with that many miles of Mexican food would be worth a visit for the novelty alone. Since this particular city has 23 miles of excellent Mexican food, visiting is actually a must. Or, in our case, revisiting is a must.

Top Things To Eat In Tucson
Artisan Bread, Burritos, Carne Seca, Chimichangas, Donuts, Quesadillas, Raspados, Salsa, Sonoran Hot Dogs and Tacos

11. Buffalo

Schwabls in Buffalo
Gene Staychock has been making Beef on Weck sandwiches at Schwabl’s, a Buffalo restaurant that dates back to 1837, for 40 years. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Once an elite American city, Buffalo spent decades as a brunt of jokes. Well, as the saying goes, Buffalonians are getting the last laugh.

New York’s Queen City has re-emerged as a city worth visiting for reasons beyond its proximity to Niagara Falls. Not surprisingly considering its presence on this list, one of the primary reasons is Buffalo’s emerging restaurant scene.

Read our Buffalo restaurant guide.

Chicken Parm at Chefs in Buffalo
We ate this Spaghetti Parm at Chef’s Restaurant, a Buffalo restaurant that’s been serving Italian-American dishes since 1923. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Globally famous for buffalo wings invented at Anchor Bar, Buffalo claims credit to a handful of quintessential American foods. We ate those famous wings at multiple pubs plus a slew of other Buffalo food favorites during our week-long, food-focused visit. We loved them so much that we later developed a baked Buffalo Wings recipe to make at home.

Many other aspects of Buffalo exceeded our expectations. After eating a range of food at classic spots like Ted’s Hot Dogs and Schwabl’s as well as at modern restaurants like The Dapper Goose and The Black Sheep, we loved everything and everywhere we ate.

Top Things To Eat & Drink In Buffalo
Beef on Weck, Buffalo Wings, Charcoal-Broiled Hot Dogs, Craft Beer, Peanut Sticks, Sponge Candy, Pizza, Spaghetti Parm and Tom + Jerry Cocktails

12. Miami

Vaca Frita at Versailles in Miami
We ate this Vaca Frita at Versailles in Miami. The shredded steak dish came with heaping sides containing rice, black beans and plantains. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Located just 230 miles from Havana, Miami is a destination for anybody who loves Cuban food but can’t visit Cuba. However, Cuban food is just one part of Miami’s food story, albeit an important part. The city’s food scene is equally notable for foods like stone crabs and ceviche.

Miami was a necessary part of our journey to taste America. Not only did stopping here give us the chance to scratch our Cuban food itch, but it also allowed us to stroll on the beach and eat amazing seafood.

Stone Crab Claw at Beachcraft in Miami
We ate these Stone Crab Claws at Tom Colicchio’s Beachcraft before the South Beach restaurant closed. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

We started our Miami food journey by eating seafood in South Beach, the city’s touristic beachside area that’s home to Joe’s Stone Crab and My Ceviche.

Following the Miami playbook, we also ate Cuban food at Versailles and Peruvian ceviche at CVI.CHE 105. However, funky Wynwood hit our sweet spot with casual spots like Zak the Baker, Panther Coffee and Salty Donut.

Top Things To Eat & Drink In Miami
Ceviche, Cubanos, Deli Sandwiches, Fritas, Juice, Key Lime Pie and Stone Crab Claws

13. Seattle

Fish at Pike Place Market in Seattle
Pike Place Market is a popular tourist destination in Seattle. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Ironically, one of Seattle’s greatest contribution to American food culture isn’t technically a food. It’s a drink. Whether you love or hate Starbucks, there’s no debate that the Seattle-based company has changed the way that the nation drinks coffee.

More importantly, Seattle is one of the artisan coffee movement’s founding cities. Coffee shops like Victrola and Analog serve great grinds all over the city.

Travelers should absolutely visit numerous Seattle coffee shops when they pass through Seattle. It’s a must. But eating is equally a must for any visit to the Emerald City.

Get tips for eating like a local in Seattle.

Breakfast at Lola in Seattle
We enjoyed this Mediterranean breakfast at Lola so much that we returned and ate it again. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

It goes without saying that we drank a lot of coffee, including flat whites at Storyville in Pikes Place Market, during our Seattle sojurn. But we also ate great food including modern Korean dishes at Joule and comforting breakfast dishes at Lola. Other top Seattle restaurants include Canlis and JuneBaby.

Food enthusiasts will want to visit the aforementioned Pike Place Market where fish literally fly through the air. Although it’s a tourist spectacle, this public market is a fun spot to stroll among stalls manned by local fishmongers, farmers and artisans.

Top Things To Eat & Drink In Seattle
Asian Food, Craft Beer, Hom Bow, Seafood, Seattle Dogs and Third Wave Coffee

14. Chicago

Pequods Pizza From Above
Chicago’s Deep Dish Pizza is nothing like pizza in Naples but it sure does taste good. We ate this particular pepperoni pie at Pequod’s Pizza. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Chicago is a city that demands attention. After visiting the Windy City three times (twice separately and once together), we’ve only scratched the surface of the midwestern city with a food culture that inspired a devoted cult following.

And who can blame fans for loving a city that specializes in deep dish pizza, Italian beef sandwiches and loaded hot dogs (i.e. Chi-Dogs). Beyond these foods, the city is home to two dozen Michelin starred restaurants including Alinea, one of the country’s most innovative restaurants.

Discover our Chicago food favorites.

Chicago Hot Dog at Mr. Beef on Orleans in Chicago
Too much is just enough when it comes to adding toppings to Hot Dogs in Chicago. Typical toppings inlclude yellow mustard, diced onions, relish, dill pickle spears and chili peppers. We ate this loaded Chi Dog at Mr. Beef on Orleans. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Eating in Chicago is nothing short of exciting. During our most recent visit, we ate at chef-driven restaurants and chowed down on hamburgers. We also scarfed Chi-Dogs, drank third wave coffee, and experienced modern mixology at The Aviary.

As much as we accomplished during our visits, there’s always more great food to eat in Chicago. In other words, we’ll be back.

Top Things To Eat In Chicago
Chi Dogs, Deep Dish Pizza, Garrett Popcorn, Italian Beef Sandwiches, Jibarito Sandwiches, Pierogis and Steak

15. Nashville

Hot Chicken at Princes in Nashville
This Hot Chicken at Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack made our tongues tingle. If it hadn’t, it would have just been chicken. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

If you visit Nashville and don’t eat Hot Chicken, did you really visit Nashville? While we ask this question with our tongues in our cheeks, there’s no denying the importance of this dish in Nashville’s food scene.

Legend has it that hot chicken dates back to the 1930s when Thornton Prince’s girlfriend added an inordinate amount of cayenne pepper to the batter to punish her cheating man. Often imitated but never replaced, Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack has been serving the popular poultry ever since that fateful act.

Discover our Nashville food favorites.

Deviled Egg at Husk in Nashville
We ate these Deviled Eggs at Husk, the Nashville outpost of the lauded Charleston restaurant. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Beyond hot chicken, Nashville is a worthy dining destination for fans of southern food. We dove into the virtual frying pan during our week-long visit by eating Grits and Shrimp at Husk and buttery Biscuits at both Biscuit Love and now-closed Sweet 16th Bakery.

We enjoyed a lot more during our visit including a delightful dinner at Rolf & Daughters and decadent donuts at Five Daughters Bakery. It’s no wonder that we want to plan a return visit during our next US road trip.

Top Things To Eat & Drink In Nashville
Biscuits, Hot Chicken, Meat + Three, Southern Food and Whiskey

16. Honolulu

Poke at Island Sushi in Las Vegas
We ate this Poke at Island Sushi in Las Vegas. The Nevada city has so many Hawaiian visitors that it’s often referred to as the Ninth Island. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Popular with honeymooners and bucket list travelers, Honolulu is a food city hiding in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Not many visit the Hawaiian capital for its food, but those who do are rarely disappointed.

While Mindi visited Honolulu with her sisters years ago, Daryl is yet to travel to Hawaii. After enjoying Poke in cities like Las Vegas, Philadelphia and Lisbon, he is anxious to eat it at the source.

Spam Rice at Island Sushi in Las Vegas
Fried Rice with Spam is a popular dish in Honolulu. We ate this version at Island Sushi on the 9th Island. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

When he’s not enjoying Honolulu’s natural beauty, Daryl plans to eat as much yellowfin tuna poke as possible. As for Mindi, she can’t wait to eat more of the best pineapple she’s ever tasted.

We both want to eat local dishes like Loco Moco as well as Malasadas, the popular Portuguese dessert that’s ironically more popular in Hawaii. As for Poi, we’ll leave that for the locals to enjoy though Daryl says he’ll try that too.

Top Things To Eat & Drink In Honolulu
Fresh Fish, Kona Coffee, Loco Moco, Malasadas, Poi, Poke, Shaved Ice and Spam

17. Boston

Clam Chowder at Union Oyster House
Mindi ate this Clam Chowder at Union Oyster House. The Boston restaurant is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in America. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Boston is a city of contrasts when it comes to food. The historic city has numerous old-school restaurants including Union Oyster House, the country’s oldest continuously operating restaurant.

But Boston’s food scene isn’t stuck in the past. It’s also teeming with modern culinary trends like bagels, sushi and donuts.

Discover how to eat your way through Boston in just one day.

Lobster Roll
Lobster rolls trend popular throughout New England and in the Canadian Maritimes. Boston is no exception to the trend of eating lobster inside toasted hot dog buns. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Sure, it would be easy to spend an entire visit eating clam chowder at Union Oyster House, pizza at Regina Pizzeria and everything at Faneuil Hall, but that would be a shame. The Boston food scene has much more to offer food travelers willing to make the effort.

Top Things To Eat & Drink In Boston
Barbecue, BBQ Spaghetti, Biscuits, Cupcakes, Fried Chicken and Southern Food

18. Memphis

BBQ at Paynes in Memphis
We ate a lot of barbecue in Memphis. This BBQ served with baked beans and mustard coleslaw at Paynes Bar-B-Que was our favorite. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Although Memphis is just 200 miles from Nashville, the two Tennessee titans are a world apart when it comes to food. Sure, both cities serve some similar foods like Biscuits, Grits and Fried Chicken. But, while Nashville focuses on Hot Chicken, Memphis’ claim to fame is its barbecue.

We can’t overstate the importance of barbecue in Memphis. With more BBQ joints than would be humanly possible to visit in a week, the Bluff City justifiably deserves a place in any BBQ hall of fame along with the Carolinas, Kansas City and Texas.

As we gleefully discovered during our week-long visit, Memphis serves its ribs both wet (prepared with sauce) and dry (prepared with spicy rub). This approach makes condiment junkies like Mindi and purists like Daryl as happy as pigs in… Well, you know what we mean.

Read our guide with the best restaurants and bars in Memphis.

Fried Chicken at Four Way in Memphis
We ate this Fried Chicken with sides of turnip greens, boiled okra and mac & cheese at The Four Way in Memphis. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Since we were tempted to exclusively eat BBQ in Memphis, we took a self-guided crawl to spots like Paynes Bar-B-Que (our favorite), The Bar-B-Q Shop, Cosy Corner and Central BBQ. However, we didn’t stop there.

We continued our Memphis exploration at iconic eateries including The Arcade Restaurant, The Beauty Shop, The Four Way and Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. Since all this eating made us thirsty, we also explored the bars in Memphis.

Don’t worry – these two food fanatics hit important Memphis sites including Graceland and The National Civil Rights Museum too.

Top Things To Eat In Memphis
Barbecue, BBQ Spaghetti, Biscuits, Cupcakes, Fried Chicken and Southern Food

19. New Haven

Pulling a slice of White Clam Pizza w Bacon at Frank Pepes in New Haven
We started our New Haven pizza experience with this white clam pizza at Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

One of America’s oldest cities, New Haven has two major claims to fame – Yale University and pizza.

Yale is the gritty city’s shining gem. One of eight elite Ivy League schools, its history goes back to 1701, making it the country’s fourth most tenured university, only bested by Harvard University, The College of William & Mary and St. John’s College. And, while the Yale campus is lovely with its pedestrian streets and neo-Gothic buildings, it’s not the reason why food travelers visit New Haven.

That reason is the city’s unique take on a pizza style notable for its thin crust, charred edges and toppings like clams, tomatoes and even mashed potatoes. Italian immigrants imported their love for pizza to New Haven over a century ago. Their descendants are still creating the Italian food favorite using coal ovens today.

Read our New Haven pizza guide.

Fresh Tomato White Pie at Sallys Apizza in New Haven
We ate this white tomato pie at Sally’s Apizza in New Haven. It’s one of the city’s signature pizza styles. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

The three most famous New Haven pizzerias – Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, Modern Apizza and Sally’s Apizza – all opened their original locations during this era in 1925, 1934 and 1938 respectively. Popular to this day, this pizzeria trio, sometimes referred to as New Haven’s pizza Holy Trinity, even inspired a documentary movie, Pizza A Love Story.

The temptation to exclusively eat pizza at Frank Pepe, Modern and Sally’s as well as at newer spots like BAR is real but that could get really old really fast. The better plan is to start your day with brunch at a spot like The Pantry, end it with dinner at young celebrity chef (and Yale grad) Lucas Sin’s Junzi kitchen and sneak in a hamburger or two at Louis’ Lunch, a historic spot that claims to have invented the hamburger.

While that claim is debatable, there’s no debate that eating tomato and clam pies in New Haven is bucket list worthy for food travelers in general and pizza lovers in particular.

Top Things To Eat In New Haven
Pizza, Pizza and Pizza

20. Kansas City

Joes Kansas City BBQ in Kansas City
Crowds queue at Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que to eat the restaurants’s signature Z-Man brisket sandwich and other meaty morsels. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

It would be wrong to visit Kansas City and just eat barbecue but that’s exactly what we did. And why not? The city calls itself the ‘Barbecue Capital of the World’ after all.

Disclosure – We also ate donuts in Kansas City in our quest to eat donuts across America.

Read our Wichita restaurant guide. Kansas’ biggest city is a short drive from Kansas City.

Ribs at Joes in Kansas City
Our ribs at Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que came with Texas toast and pickles. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Kansas City’s commitment to barbecue qualifies it for this list of the best food cities in the US. It also made the city a necessary stop on our mad dash around the country.

During our 24-hour visit, we ate slow-roasted meat slathered in sweet sauce at three joints – Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que, LC’s Bar-B-Q and Q39. We hate to pick favorites, but we’re heading straight to LC’s and ordering burnt ends when we return to KC.

Top Things To Eat In Kansas City
Barbecue, Burnt Ends, Fried Chicken, Russell Stover Chocolates and Steak

21. Austin

Tex Mex at Polvos in Austin
We ate this Tex Mex platter at Polvo’s Downtown in Austin. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Austin is yet another American food city that specializes in barbecue. In this case, the barbecue is the Texas variety which very well may be the best variety.

Texas barbecue involves slow cooking meats like brisket and sausage over mesquite wood. Unlike other American barbecue styles, Texas pit masters rely on technique instead of sauces to achieve maximum flavor. Food travelers to Austin can sample Texas barbecue at super-popular Franklin Barbecue as well as in nearby Lockhart.

Read our guide to eating Texas barbecue in Lockhart.

Butter Half Mural in Austin
Food is so important in Austin that it’s part of the street art culture. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

After eating our weight in BBQ in Lockhart during our American road trip, we high-tailed it to Austin. However, we focused on eating the best of the rest at local food trucks and restaurants.

Discover our Austin food favorites.

Avocado Margarita at Curras in Austin
This Avocado Margarita at Curra’s Grill whet our whistles in the most delightful way. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Culinary highlights of our Austin visit included eating donuts at Gourdough’s Big Fat Donuts, sushi at Uchiko and Tex Mex at both Maria’s Taco Xpress and Polvo’s Downtown. We washed it all down with beer, coffee and avocado margaritas – as one does in Austin.

Top Things To Eat & Drink In Austin
Avocado Margaritas, BBQ, Breakfast Tacos, Donuts, Food Truck Food, Kolaches and Tex-Mex

22. Cincinnati

Cincinnati Chili at Skyline Chili in Cincinnati
We ate this 3 Way Chili at Skyline Chili in Cincinnati. It’s one of the city’s two iconic dishes. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Cincinnati may be less famous for its food compared to other cities on this list but don’t count out Ohio’s City of Seven Hills. The salt-of-the-earth city has a burgeoning food scene and two iconic foods to call its own.

We specifically drove to Cincinnati to eat those two foods with no regrets. What can we say? We love ice cream and we love chili. Apparently, we also love chili topped with spaghetti and cheddar cheese.

Read more about Cincinnati’s two most iconic foods.

Graeters Ice Cream in Cincinnati
Graeter’s Ice Cream is Cincinnati’s other iconic food. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Eating ice cream was our top priority when we visited Cincinnati and not just because we had arranged a private tour at Graeter’s Ice Cream. The family-owned ice cream factory produces what may be the best ice cream in America with its labor-intensive French Pot small batch process. We adore every flavor but especially the Black Cherry Chocolate Chip chock full of chocolate chunks.

Chili was our second priority – specifically Cincinnati Chili made with spaghetti, chili and shredded cheddar cheese. Known as 3-Way Chili, this Greek-inspired local specialty is cooked with cinnamon, nutmeg and hints of chocolate. It’s a must-eat noodle dish for anybody who loves comfort food with a kick.

Top Things To Eat In Cincinnati
Cincinnati Chili, Donuts, Goetta and Graeter’s Ice Cream

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About The Authors

About The Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers their unique taste of the world.


Article Updates
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

We purchased and ate the food featured in this article.

Original Publication Date: January 3, 2021

Paul Fine

Sunday 16th of October 2022

i have traveled and eaten in most of the cities listed and countries. You don’t even scratch the surface of Las Vegas. Steaks, Prime Rib, Seafood, etc. Some of the best food anywhere, also there is no other place in the world as small as Las Vegas with the variety and quality of food. Las Vegas passed LA years ago according to gourmet magazine.

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Monday 17th of October 2022

Please see our article about 'Off the Strip' Las Vegas restaurants which we'll be updating in the next few weeks. Also - We'll be posting more Las Vegas content soon.


Wednesday 17th of August 2022

I can’t even take this as seriously where is Chicago? It’s usually at the top of the list

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Thursday 18th of August 2022

Chicago is ranked 13th in our guide. Stay tuned for an update since we're currently in Chicago to more fully experience the city's food scene.

Joel Brickner

Wednesday 20th of July 2022

A list of the best food cities in America without Asheville, NC is certainly an incomplete list. Do yourselves a favor, come and spend a couple weeks. It’ll be in your top 10.

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Saturday 23rd of July 2022

Understood. We'll make it there soon!

joel adams

Sunday 3rd of July 2022

Please go to Lexington, nc annual BBQ festival, you will have a change of thought on who has the best BBQ.

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Sunday 3rd of July 2022

Thanks for the tip.

Monday 1st of November 2021

Did you even go to St. Louis? Yelp released a list of the “Top U.S. Destinations for Food Lovers,” and St. Louis snatched the No. 2 spot in 2019. Ted Drewes frozen custard won a nationwide contest coming in number 1. They have many barbecue restaurants always at the top of any list. Was it the crime that kept you away? Be honest, please.

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Tuesday 2nd of November 2021

You do have a point. Ted Drewes is great. In fact, Danny Meyer modeled his ice cream menu for Shake Shack off of Ted Drewes. That being said, we may have to get there for some toasted ravioli and oddly sliced bagels.

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