Cities that make T+L readers' mouths water, be it French fusion, peanut-butter-and-kimchi sandwiches or the perfect piece of fried chicken.
16. Louisville, Kentucky
America’s Best Cities for Foodies
16. Louisville, Kentucky
For years, the Kentucky city has been famous for its cocktails—as in, its bourbon—as well as the Kentucky Hot Brown, an open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon and Mornay sauce, first created at The Brown Hotel. You can find variations all over town, like the Hot vs. Brown Fries (fries covered with melted beer cheese, roasted turkey, bacon and tomatoes) at Sidebar at Whiskey Row, on Louisville’s Urban Bourbon Trail. Giving bourbon a run for its money, though, Louisville also scored in the top 10 for its craft beers. Newcomers like Against the Grain offer creative brews—try the rye amber ale Attila the Hen, or the bourbon-inspired Bo and Luke Ale—alongside homey fare like a “pork and beans” made of Andouille sausage, sauerkraut and brisket baked beans. For retail indulgences, readers were most impressed with the city’s antique shops and flea markets.
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.”