For foodies, traveling isn’t just about seeing the world. Yes, that obviously involves a lot of that too. But when it comes to planning a kitchen-focused trip, there’s a whole other layer involved. After museum hunting and activity planning, there are also hours of restaurant scouting and review reading. And while this is fun for anyone who enjoys eating, it can also be time consuming and even a little stressful, especially if you start to feel like you are heading to an area that lacks a variety of dining options and delicious. That’s why, if you’re someone who wants a trip to be all about dining, you should probably look to the best foodie destinations in the United States first.
Yes, these cities offer a lot to do besides eating. But if breakfast, lunch, and dinner are your true focus, they’ll be the ones providing * everything * you are looking for in terms of a foodie vacation. That said, each of the expert-recommended places in the upcoming list offers a very different selection of cuisine, so the choice should depend on what you want to eat.
Fortunately, however, the city’s upcoming suggestions include something for just about everyone. Fancy seafood and southern classics? You can’t go wrong with a stage tour happening in Charleston, South Carolina. Looking for a taste of, well, everything? Portland, Oregon and San Antonio, Texas offer an incredibly diverse dining experience.
There are also a lot more places to eat than that. Check them all out in the roundup, coming soon.
New Orleans, LA
Why it’s great: “There is no other place in the United States like New Orleans because of the city’s character, the people and the live music,” Andy Long, culinary director of Maven Restaurant Group, told TZR. “And of course, it’s one of the best food scenes in the country.”
Unmissable restaurants: “This city is more than Bourbon Street,” says Long. “No need to go near it.” As for his favorite establishments? He has a few. For a unique experience, visit Bacchanal – “a funky old-watering hole wine store in the Bywater”. If you’re looking for po ‘boys, Parkway Bakery & Tavern is his place (“Get the Surf & Turf!” He says).
Although it is a bit out of the way, Saba is also a must visit. It’s owned by James Beard Award-winning chef Alon Shaya, and the food pays homage to Israel, where Shaya was born. “I can’t say enough delicious things about this restaurant,” says Long. And, don’t miss Jacques-Imo’s on Oak Street for quintessential Creole cuisine before you go. “Do yourself a favor and go here,” Long said. “And then stumble by the Maple Leaf Bar for a show. You’re welcome.”
Charleston, South Carolina
Why it’s great: Well Traveled co-founder and CEO Samantha Patil said Charleston is a place “where you immediately feel the southern charm and hospitality” that makes it popular with foodies. “[Its] The culinary scene is a delicious layering of cultures, indigenous ingredients and traditional low-country cuisine.
Kate and Ben Towill, owners of Basic Projects, a Charleston-based design house and hotel group, agree it’s the perfect dining destination. “With its access to fresh seafood and produce, a rich culinary history, and a vast dining community, Charleston is a fantastic place for foodies to visit,” they say. “We moved here six years ago from New York City and have been blown away by Charleston’s growing food scene ever since.”
Unmissable restaurants: As Patil says a trip to Charleston isn’t complete without oysters, she loves visiting Leon’s Oyster Shop on historic King Street, “which offers amazing oysters and local seafood with frozen gin tonic and rosé. to the pressure to start! ” (The Towills also recommend this place.) Patil is also a fan of the “adorable quaint coastal tavern called Post House” – which the Towills own and designed – where you can dine and then stay at the inn. And don’t sleep on Babas on Cannon: The Towills say it’s “a Euro-inspired cafe that’s as good for coffee and breakfast as it is for a pre-dinner cocktail later in the day.”
Why it’s great: New York native Ellen Curtis, COO of GB Provisions restaurant group, says she didn’t expect Tulsa to be such an easy place to branch out and explore food. “The funny thing about Tulsa is the incredible dietary diversity you find in a small space,” she tells TZR. “This city has developed dense neighborhood food destinations, so you can be downtown, Utica Square, or Brookside, and anything you imagine wanting to eat is within walking distance.”
Chef Bobby Benjamin of Lowood Restaurant in Tulsa says the city’s food scene is unlike anything he’s seen in the country thanks to its many small farms. “The chefs have access to ingredients you can’t get as fresh in other cities, and because the soil is so rich here, ingredients like oyster mushrooms, okra, pecans, local honey and even the best proteins are all common dishes. “
Unmissable restaurants: Benjamin says the Mother Road Market has over a dozen food stalls from “Tulsa’s most inventive new chefs” and is great for finding “some of the best bites for any palette.” Curtis recommends Lowood, Hodges Bend and La Tertulia to passing travelers. And, of course, you can’t ignore Coney I-Lander’s Chili Cheese Dog. “It’s been around since 1926 and it’s my favorite snack in town,” she says.
Why it’s great: Brian Malarkey, celebrity chef, restaurateur and founder of all-new Chefs Life, a line of cooking oil blends, says Portland, Oregon is America’s best food town. “There has been a lot of hardship because of Covid, but with so much talent around wine, beer, spirits, farming, farming and fishing nearby, the talent is overflowing,” he shares. “They have the best sincere boutique restaurants that deliver time and time again.”
Unmissable restaurants: According to Malarkey, the Birrieria La Plaza food truck is like Tijuana, Oregon; Expect long lines, but be aware that it is worth the wait. Erica’s Soul Food is a food truck considered a staple for its Southern comfort food, especially its wings. Rather sit down? Magna Kusina is a restaurant serving modern Filipino cuisine that Malarkey loves, and Le Pigeon is a fine-dining establishment offering what he calls “next-level French-inspired cuisine.” To end your evening, head to Scotch Lodge, which Malarkey says is “a cocktail-focused whiskey bar – perfect for my whiskey-loving friends!”
San Antonio, Texas
Why it’s great: “Over the past 15 years, San Antonio has grown its culinary prowess so much that it is now recognized as a UNESCO City of Food and is starting to attract chefs from across the country,” John Brand, Culinary Director and Executive Chef of L Emma hotel in San Antonio, TZR says. In fact, he describes the city as a “culinary destination for food aficionados”. This is mostly thanks to its historic district, called Pearl, which has over 20 independent restaurants. Chef Anne Ng of Bakery Lorraine also thinks it’s a great foodie destination, largely because it’s about ‘such a cultural melting pot.
Unmissable restaurants: If you stay at the Emma Hotel (or even if you don’t), the on-site Supper Restaurant offers you the chance to dine on American cuisine. “For an off-site experience,” says Brand, “Pearl offers a range of chef-run restaurants, including the French-concept Brasserie Mon Chou Chou and the new Asian-American restaurant Best Quality Daughter.
For New American cuisine, Ng recommends Clementine. La Gorditas de Lala is another of her favorites (“the star of the show is the homemade gordita,” she says), as well as Carnitas Lonja. She also loves Little Death Wine Bar for its interesting wines and relaxed, unpretentious vibe.