The United States truly is a melting pot. A nation of immigrants from all walks of life comes together daily to make excellent food. If you’re a self-described foodie, cuisine-oriented travel has endless possibilities. These six travel destinations for foodies stand out as the best in the U.S.
Table of Contents
1. New York, New York
New York is a city that never sleeps. It has over 8 million people and is the epicenter of America’s melting pot culture. Here, you’ll find numerous dining spots on every corner, representing cuisines from Italy, China, Thailand, Lebanon, and much more.
One food here stands out — it’s the pizza. In 1905, Gennaro Lombardi opened The Big Apple’s first pizza restaurant in Manhattan. Since then, pizza has been a New York institution with a hand-tossed thin crust and gigantic slices. The city is arguably the best place to get a sandwich, with chopped cheese and pastrami on rye as two staples. Don’t forget to save room for dessert with the famous New York cheesecake.
2. Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is the heart of the Midwest and buzzing with culture. The Second City has an excellent food scene and is worth a visit. Chicagoans — like New Yorkers — take pride in their pizza. They swear by the deep-dish style with cheese on the bottom and tomato sauce on the top. Be the judge and decide whether you like New York or Chicago pizza more.
Besides pizza, Chicago is also famous for its hot dogs. The Chicago hot dog is all-beef frank with mustard, white onions, tomato slices, peppers, and a pickle spear. Be warned that locals will give you funny looks if you put ketchup on your hot dog.
An underrated part of Chicago cuisine is the jibarito sandwich. This dish has Puerto Rican inspiration and uses fried plantains as the bread. Inside, you’ll taste grilled steak, mayo, cheese, lettuce, and other vegetables. Juan Figueroa gets credit for inventing the jibarito in 1996, so the sandwich is a relatively new but integral part of Chicago dining.
3. New England
New England is a region comprising Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, and others. It’s a history-filled region, with the Freedom Trail in Boston and the Portland Head Lighthouse in Maine, to name a few. The Northeast is also famous for its food. If you’re in Boston, get a bowl of clam chowder and a lobster tail from Mike’s Pastry for dessert. You can make these foods at home, but they won’t taste the same as the ones from the city.
If you want seafood delicacies, you’re in the right region. The Portland Head Lighthouse is living history, and surrounding restaurants serve incredible dishes for your trip. Some Maine delicacies include lobster rolls, bacon-wrapped scallops, lobster macaroni and cheese, and more.
4. New Orleans, Louisiana
The American melting pot experience spells true in The Big Easy. Home to the Saints and Lil Wayne, New Orleans combines French and Creole influences to make delicious food. Start with a bowl of gumbo, a stew combining onion, bell pepper, and celery with seafood, sausage, and rice. The flavors are unbelievable and a must-try if you’re heading to New Orleans.
If you’re a sandwich connoisseur, find a po-boy sandwich because New Orleans is its home. In 1929, New Orleans streetcar workers went on strike, and the Martin Brothers Restaurant gave free sandwiches to the workers. These classic sandwiches contain French bread stuffed with fried shrimp, lettuce, tomato, hot sauce, mayo, and ketchup.
Of course, you shouldn’t forget about dessert. Head down to Café Du Monde for beignets, which are fried pieces of dough topped with powdered sugar. They’re simple yet delicious. Eat them with a hot drink like coffee or tea for a terrific New Orleans experience.
5. San Antonio, Texas
Travel a few hundred miles west of New Orleans, and you’ll end up in the Alamo City of San Antonio. In the heart of downtown, you can see the Alamo, the mission where the Texas Revolution battle took place in 1836. Take a stroll down the River Walk, watch a Spurs game, and explore the southwestern cuisine in Mission City.
San Antonio is famous for puffy tacos. This dish has a tortilla shell that puffs up when fried. Inside the puffy taco are your favorite toppings like chicken, cheese, and lettuce. This taco is unique with its airy texture and greasy drippings, making it a San Antonio delicacy. Another favorite in the city is chilaquiles, a breakfast dish with fried corn tortilla chips, salsa, eggs, and other toppings.
If you have a sweet tooth, Alamo City is for you. San Antonians love churros, a dessert with Mexican origins. Churros are strips of dough that you fry and top with cinnamon sugar. Optionally, you can dip them in chocolate sauce for a terrific dessert.
6. Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis is home to many things — the Grizzlies, the blues, and fantastic barbecue. Many regions claim to have the best barbecue, and Memphis is one of them. Restaurants like Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous are Memphis institutions with delicious dry, and saucy ribs. The slow-cooked pork is tender and falls off the bone. Your barbecue options are endless, with sandwiches, nachos, spaghetti, and more.
The South is famous for its soul food, which doesn’t get much better than fried chicken. You can get this fried bird in numerous places across the South, but Gus’ World Famous Fried Chicken gets its name for a reason, with over 60 years of tradition.
Memphis is also known for Elvis Presley, one of the most iconic names in music. His Graceland residence in south Memphis is a popular tourist destination for many travelers. Here, you can eat Elvis’ favorite fried peanut butter and banana sandwich.
A Nation of Great Food
In every corner of the United States, you’ll find friendly faces, fun things to do and terrific food. America’s cuisine takes inspiration from numerous cultures around the globe. These six cities stand out as the best travel destinations for foodies.
Cora Gold is a travel writer and the Editor-in-Chief of women’s lifestyle magazine, Revivalist. Connect with Cora on Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.