Cities that make T+L readers' mouths water, be it French fusion, peanut-butter-and-kimchi sandwiches or the perfect piece of fried chicken.
15. New Orleans
America’s Best Cities for Foodies
15. New Orleans
As a testament to the eclectic charm of the Crescent City, New Orleans won the survey for both fine dining and sandwiches. The former is embodied in grand dames like Brennan’s—the recently renovated birthplace of Bananas Foster—and newer spots like seafood-rich Balise (headed by Chef Justin Devillier of Le Petit Grocery), located in the city’s oldest French settlement. To fully appreciate the city’s most noteworthy sandwich, the po’ boy, try the roast beef and shrimp on French bread at Parkway Bakery & Tavern, or the glazed Pork Belly Poboy at Killer Poboys, located in the back of Erin Rose Bar, just off Bourbon Street. New Orleans also won the survey for festivals (often, just another chance to eat), like the Creole Tomato Festival and the Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival.
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.”