The Best Cities for Food in the United States
If you thought the Big Apple had absolutely nothing in common with the modest New Mexican city of Santa Fe, think again. Travel + Leisure readers voted both as two of the top 10 cities for food in the United States.
“For a small city,” said one T+L reader about Santa Fe, “the restaurant and food selections are outstanding.” Others raved about the unique, regional dishes like carne adovada: braised pork featuring local meat, dried red New Mexican chilies, and Mexican oregano.
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From the American South, where visitors loved classics like shrimp and grits, bacon-buttered corn bread, and fried green tomatoes, to the West Coast—where quirky international fare of all varieties is matched with craft beer—high scores for great restaurants and distinctly local fare helped propel these cities to the top of the list.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe—to share their opinions on the top cities, islands, cruise lines, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated cities for a number of qualities, including food. And the votes rolled in for delicious cities across the country.
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Major cities, including Chicago and San Francisco, are hardly surprising. The latter has a crop of new restaurants that are dynamic and adventurous—but also just really, really good. Yet our readers found fantastic, world-class meals even in quiet Savannah, Georgia, and far up the coast in Portland, Maine.
“I was amazed by the food scene here,” admitted one reader of their trip to Portland. “Even the food trucks were unexpectedly exceptional. [You] can get the best fish and chips in Maine!”
Wherever you travel in the United States, you’re probably not too far from one of the best food cities in the country.
No. 10: Portland, Maine
No. 9: Portland, Oregon
Heading to the Pacific Northwest? This way for our list of Portland's best restaurants. >>
No. 8: Austin
Overwhelmed by a city's dining scene? Check our our list of favorite restaurants in Austin.
No. 7: Santa Fe
No. 6: Savannah
No. 5: Chicago
Our favorite restaurants in Chicago, right this way. >>
No. 4: San Francisco
Booking a trip to the Golden Coast? First have a look at our San Francisco restaurant guide.
No. 3: New York City
Our favorite restaurants in New York City, right this way. >>
No. 2: Charleston
Never been to Charleston before? Get pumped by first checking out T+L's favorite culinary options in the city.
No. 1: New Orleans
“No place beats New Orleans for food,” said T+L reader Charles Grubb. And he wasn’t the only one to share that sentiment. Finding restaurants in New Orleans is an easy task, and they range from casual sandwich shops (serving impossibly good po’boy sandwiches) to venerable institutions with legendary menu items (think: Brennan’s turtle soup). Just saying NOLA brings to mind powdery beignets (or Coquette’s visionary carrot cake version) and spicy gumbo. Visitors have to try acclaimed Creole classics. And if it’s crawfish season? Then you shouldn’t have any questions about what to eat in New Orleans.