The 12 Best Cities For Food In The USA

Hot Brown ©Jessica Dillree, Flickr
Hot Brown ©Jessica Dillree, Flickr
Photo of Alice White Walker
27 October 2016

America is chock-full of diverse and powerful flavors, not to mention iconic dishes. Spicy Southern fried chicken, succulent prime ribs, the triple tiered brunches; whether you’re road-tripping or heading over to check out the sites, we recommend you include at least two of these US cities into your itinerary if you want to experience some of the best food the country has to offer.

Yellow Peach Black Tea Cronut | ©LittleDaan, Flickr

New York

New York is undoubtedly the continent’s holy grail for food lovers. With tons of Michelin starred restaurants, culinary institutions and home grown dishes, the Big Apple consistently delivers for foodies.

Here, you’ve got access to global cuisine on every street corner: chili dogs in Hell’s Kitchen, oven cooked pizza in Williamsburg, Jewish delis (check out Sadelle’s in Soho), prime steak in Midtown, and Peking duck in Chinatown; and the list is long, varied and delicious.

If that wasn’t proof enough, the dishes that have originated in New York include cheesecake, the cronut, Manhattan clam chowder, the Reuben sandwich, fried chicken and waffles, and pizza by the slice. New York is a legendary US city for food, open to all tastes 24/7.

Formento's Canestri with Sunday Gravy | ©Derek Richmond


The home of the deep-dish pizza, Chicago holds plenty for the hungry. The city caters to your most decadent cravings, (pizza pot pie, anyone?), but recently there’s been a fine dining revolution that’s bringing Chicago up to the big leagues.

The Windy City has a plethora of innovative restaurants to tempt. Formento’s, an outstanding Italian restaurant headed by Chef Tony Quartaro, has been making waves with its hearty but elegant dishes; The Angry Crab is a winner for a chow-down on Cajun-inspired dishes; and Oak + Char, with its signature ‘MSG wings,’ are just some of the best restaurants in Chicago right now.

Chicago, IL, USA

New Orleans

A city steeped in food culture, New Orleans revolves around seasonal cuisine. From pipping hot gumbo, blackened fish and po’ boy sandwiches to quintessential beans and rice, the original Southern classics served here have stood the test of time. Not to mention that five of the country’s oldest restaurants hail from the ‘Big Easy.’

Shaya, a masterclass in Israeli cuisine, still has critics raving; Angeline, Chef Alex Harrell’s solo project following Sylvain, sings with wholesome yet refined French flavors; and Balise (Chef Justin Devillier’s second opening since Le Petit Grocery) offers small plates that delight the palate.

New Orleans, LA, USA


The Texan capital is home to America’s best BBQ, so you might as well dig in. Check out revived Texan classics at Taco Flats, and join the queues for succulent pulled pork and brisket sandwiches at Franklin Barbecue.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that Austin is a one trick pony. The food-truck scene is out of this world (the film Chef was shot in several Austin locations) and offers huge range of niche culinary options. Try the craft meat menu at Romanouskas Delicatessen or the Korean-Mexican hybrid found at Chi’lantro, and sushi fans must head to Fukumoto for its moreish edomae sushi and pork yakitori.

Austin, TX, USA


If you think you’ve tried fried chicken before you’ve been to Nashville, then are you in for a surprise.

Starting as a garage come grocery store, now with four locations across the city, Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant is a Nashville institution and is the perfect place to enjoy a basket of fried chicken in the company of some live music. If you like your chicken spicy, Prince’s Hot Chicken is a no-brainer, as this stripped-back café is considered Nashville’s original hot chicken joint. For a comparison, head to Hattie B’s to taste the difference.

Pretty much every local will tell you to try Loveless Cafe. Order a table-full of the classics, which includes grits, okra, chicken biscuits, catfish, and pork chops, and bask in the joy of traditional Southern comfort food.

Nashville, TN, USA

Las Vegas

Las Vegas loves to show off. Be it steak or sushi, the city holds a handful of the world’s most exclusive restaurants where you can spend your casino money. Nobu, Restaurant Guy Savoy, and Bouchon are some of the options if you’re looking for a splurge.

If you’re craving fresh sushi, Las Vegas has a lot to offer. Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill, Kabuto, Katsuya; all offering their own version of high class and beautifully presented plates.

If you’re feeling carnivorous, here’s no better place than The Strip to find yourself some mouth-watering strip steak. Celebrity chefs are numerous: Jean-Georges Vongerichten at the Bellagio, Tom Colicchio’s Crafthouse and Gordon Ramsey, are just some of the hot spots for wagyu, prime beef and all the fatty trimmings.

Las Vegas, NV, USA


While Portland lacks a signature dish, it takes its kitchen influences from just about everywhere, from tapas to Thai noodles.

On your global tour, make pit stops at Kachka, a Russian restaurant where you’ll find zakuski, crispy beef tongue and all the vodka you can handle; Le Pigeon, a French fusion restaurant serving up imaginative meat and fresh seafood dishes; and Pok Pok, Andy Ricker’s buzzy Thai chain. Order the beyond tasty chicken wings, and grab a glass at the in-house Whiskey Soda Lounge while you wait.

Portland, OR, USA


If you think the only thing Philadelphia can do well is a cheesesteak, you’d be wrong.

There’s DanDan, the Sichuan and Taiwanese restaurant specializing in delectable dandan noodles; Mad Men-style cocktails and chilled lobster buns at Bud & Marilyn’s; and SOUTH for traditional comfort food paired with sensual jazz tunes.

Of course, if you are craving a classic Philly sandwich, grab a hoagie at Sarcone’s Deli, Jack’s Place or Koch’s Deli; for cheesesteaks your best bet is Dalessandro’s, George’s Sandwich Shop or Sonny’s Famous Steaks.

Philadelphia, PA, USA


Seattle is home to some of the food industry’s best independent markets and niche restaurants.

When it comes to eating out, you won’t need to blow your paycheck to impress. Try Cafe Munir, where the Lebanese dishes (think lamb hummus, chicken skewers or slow roast beets) sing with flavor and the prices will delight. Or try Delancey, which serves the best slices in town with great ingredients (crimini mushroom, pork fennel sausage for starters) and save room for their chocolate chip cookie dough with gray salt, which is out of this world. No Seattle visit would be complete without a trip to Taylor Oyster Bar where freshly shucked oysters of all shapes and sizes await you.

If you’re a coffee connoisseur, ditch Starbuck and try a Seattle coffee-tasting tour for the best grains from France, New Zealand and local purveyors.

Seattle, WA, USA

San Francisco

With five three-star Michelin restaurants in 2016, it seems to be the case that San Francisco is over taking New York City as the foodie capital of the US. David Kinch’s Manresa is the latest restaurant to have been bestowed with the magic three stars.

San Francisco is home to cutting edge dining experiences, which people are more than happy to queue for. From Danny Bowien’s Mission Chinese, feautring dishes such as Kung Pao burritos, broccoli beef brisket and Westlake rice pudding on the menu. On the Italian side, Flour + Water is where you’ll find the goods, like incredible antipasti such as yellowfin tuna crudo with kohlrabi and turnip. As for the pasta, try their exclusive tasting menu for an Italian revelation.

San Francisco, CA, USA

San Diego

The surf-side city might be the creator of fish tacos, but don’t let that fool you into thinking the San Diego isn’t about contemporary cuisine.

Top Chef winner Richard Blais caused a shift to the San Diego restaurant scene with Juniper and Ivy. Its ‘refined American food with left coast edge’ gives a nod to the likes of Noma with its creative plates.

For a more traditional taste, head to Streetcar Merchants, where you’ll find the city’s best fried chicken and doughnuts to soothe your soul. To really soak up the West Coast atmosphere, George’s at the Cove is an unbeatable choice. Tuck into a freshly-made sangria and short rib panini with a spectacular ocean backdrop.

San Diego, CA, USA


A town long famed for its bourbon-based cocktails (before they got quite so trendy) Louisville is definitely on the up and up food-wise.

Playing to the city’s strengths is Gralehaus, a ‘beer and breakfast’ joint where Kentucky flavors run right through the heart of the menu, like the black pepper biscuits, with duck gravy, duck sausage and topped with a fried egg.

You shouldn’t forget the old establishments either for some signature Southern dishes. Brown Hotel created the Hot Brown: an open turkey-and-bacon sandwich smothered in Monray sauce, which you won’t regret trying. Bristol Bar & Grille (first established in 1977) is a Louisville institution, as are their signature green chile wontons. You’d be a fool to miss them.

Louisville, KY, USA

Cookies Policy

We and our partners use cookies to better understand your needs, improve performance and provide you with personalised content and advertisements. To allow us to provide a better and more tailored experience please click "OK"