Cities that make T+L readers' mouths water, be it French fusion, peanut-butter-and-kimchi sandwiches or the perfect piece of fried chicken.
8. Portland, Oregon
America’s Best Cities for Foodies
8. Portland, Oregon
These quirky Oregonians could easily be accused of embracing a liquid diet, ranking in the survey’s top five for its thoughtfully brewed coffee, craft beer and wine. To eat and drink in harmony, check out newbies like Coopers Hall, which has 44 taps of wine, beer, and cider paired with steak frites or croque-monsieurs; or BTU Brasserie, which boasts of being the nation’s first Chinese brewpub, with small plates of modern Chinese washed down with a rice lager. Or, try Kachka, a Russian restaurant opened by a James Beard nominee, where you can imbibe Eastern European wines, Baltic lagers and kvass, a beverage made from black and rye breads. Portland’s cuisine might be so adventurous thanks its open-minded locals, who ranked as highly quirky but also polite.
When she’s visiting Los Angeles, Las Vegas restaurateur Elizabeth Blau—recently nominated for a James Beard award—does not concern herself with A-list seating at restaurants. “The first time I went to Gjelina,” she says of the acclaimed Venice café, “we got pizza and salads in the to-go area, then ate them while sitting on milk crates in the alley. It was so good.”
No surprise, Blau says that she plans her trips around restaurants, bakeries and markets, though many Travel+Leisure readers would attest that you don’t have to be a restaurateur to travel by your stomach. As part of the magazine’s America’s Favorite Cities survey, readers ranked 38 cities for qualities like walkable streets, historic appeal and art galleries—which, for some travelers, are just pleasant time-killers between meals.
Readers also ranked the 10 most crave-worthy features of a city, from the relatively low-cost indulgences of street food, coffee and bakeries to specialty gourmet markets, wine bars and high-end, chef-driven restaurants. (And throwing in plenty of burgers, pizza, craft beers and sandwiches.)
Among the winners—some perhaps boosted in the polls by their enthusiastic locals—we found a number of James Beard winners and nominees, as well as some fabulously creative twists on classics: “hot chicken” in Nashville, bison tartare in Minneapolis and pickle tasting plates in Chicago.
Sometimes, though, the simplest tastes are the most memorable—like the fresh, warm bread Blau once had at L.A. bakery Superba. “We only had crumbs in the bag by the time we left,” she says. “We had to go back and get more to bring home on the plane.”