What are you favorite food cities in the US? W+A recently said that he feels Houston is a top 10 food city in the US. That surprised me as I wouldn’t think of Houston as being a great food city based on my experiences there 8+ years ago. That is the great thing about a list like this though as it could help identify places you might not have thought of or it could show that a place you have previously written off has recently stepped up their game. We have actually traveled a lot more internationally compared to domestic, so my list is pretty boring with only the major cities most have visited. We are planning to travel more in the US so this thread could help identify some places to visit in the next couple years.
1. New York – You could make a case this is the best food city in the world. I would rather eat in NY than Paris and for me it’s not close. London is closer, but I would still choose NY. It’s a great mix of ethnic, comfort food, uber high end, michelin stars, street vendors, etc. The hardest part of visiting NY is trying to figure out where to eat because there are so many great choices.
2. San Francisco – SF and Chicago are very close, but Chicago gets a downgrade for serving deep dish pizza! SF is again a melting pot of great ethnic food from Chinese to Mexican to my new favorite Moroccan restaurant. They do Italian as well as any city I have been in the US and they again have a great mix of high end and low end delicious food. Plus you have all the fine restaurants in wine country that are very close by and access to amazingly fresh seafood.
3. Chicago – As much as I don’t like deep dish, the rest of the food in Chicago I have tried has been fantastic. From great steaks, to great sandwiches, to great dogs (superior to NY IMO) to a great selection of high end and avant-garde.
4. Los Angeles – LA would not have made my list 10 years ago but things have really changed. Lots of chef driven restaurants now with more being opened each month it seems. LA has always been great for Mexican, Japanese (best sushi I have had outside of Japan) and Korean, but now they are getting a nice mix of high end and upscale casual spots that are even doing some fun stuff with offal that just would not have worked here even 5 years ago.
5. Seattle – I’m super jealous of the amazing ingredients the home chefs have access to in Seattle and the restaurants take advantage as well. Also a nice mix of ethnic cooking here which as you can tell is important to me.
6. New Orleans – I have not spent a ton of time in New Orleans (once for pleasure and couple of times for business), but I have to say I was blown away by the food. Big and bold flavors with really fresh ingredients. While you will never see me step foot on bourbon street again (place is a pit), I would love to explore the surrounding area more and get a better feel for the high end places.
7. Vegas – Love it or hate it, it’s not $5.99 buffets anymore in Vegas. Any city with a Robuchon, Savoy and Gagnaire have to be given their proper attention. Vegas also offers great sushi and the dining scene off the strip is getting better and better each year because access to ingredients is so easy due to the pipeline coming into Vegas every day. I used to gamble for 10-12 hours a day in Vegas when I was younger. Now gambling is an afterthought. Our Vegas trips are now about great golf, spa, pool, michelin stars and maybe 30 minutes of gambling.
That is all I have based on my limited domestic travels. I have spent a little time in Miami, Tampa, Dallas, Memphis and Denver but not enough to make an opinion. Would love to explore some cities in the north east so our next trip might be up there. I would also love to do a bbq trip.
SF gets down graded because of Pelosi, Feinstein, Boxer, Newsome, and Hetch Hetchy.
Rage rage against the dying of the light
1) NYC. No one is going to dispute this. The biggest problem, and it is actually a huge problem is value -- this includes rediculous wine list pricing at many places. But it is NYC. Plus, you can duck into holes in the wall (eg. Tia Pol in Chelsea) and find some great values. The diversity and quality at the very top end are all virtually unmatched anywhere in the world, let alone in the U.S.
2) San Francisco. The only city that could give NYC a run for its money. And would beat it for restaurants where all the main courses are under $30. Beyond the restaurants in wine country, SF has outstanding, diverse not-break-the bank restaurants. From modern Moroccan, Vietnamese, Basque, Sardinian and truly regional Italian cooking to true fusion restaurants that don't use modern technique as a gimmick, SF's breadth and depth of top restaurants is exceptional. In fact, regarding Italian, where NYC should be king, I can name 4 Italian restaurants in SF that, imo, compare favorably with the Batali flagships and other top NYC Italians. Great wine prices and selections at many restaurants. Also, the fast food is a step above anywhere else in the country. Best burritos in the country.
NOTE on Las Vegas and Chicago. Too many people I trust tell me these places are fabulous for food for me not to believe them. I've been to both, spent some time in Vegas, but haven't spent enough time to say for sure. I've looked at menus, etc. I cannot imagine either surpassing SF, but I'm sure they are both very impressive.
3-5) Los Angeles. It has taken a while for me to get the hang of this. But now I think I have. Great Chinese in SGV, world class inexpensive food from Adam Fleischman's empire, good other ethnic food and a couple of exception restaurants, most notably Mélisse.
4-6) Washington, DC. A bevy of one *-ish restaurants.
5-7) New Orleans. Gotta give creole its credit.
Cities I'm knowingly not including: Memphis, Boston, Miami, Austin, Philly, Cleveland, San Diego, all of which have good to great food if you know where to look (though Boston and Philly are at the bottom of that list). All of which are not as good as the above. Larger cities I haven't spent enough time in to comment include Dallas, Huston, Seattle, Portland, Denver, the cities along the southern Atlantic coast.
"What contemptible scoundrel stole the cork from my lunch?" -- W.C. Fields
If you include Memphis, then you have to put Nashville higher on the list. The NY times recently did an article on our food scene and I think it is far superior to Memphis.....
My favorites assuming American cities only:
2. New Orleans
3. New York
5. Los Angeles
9. Washington DC
I've not enough experience in Portland, Philly, Miami, Dallas or Houston to form an opinion on those cities. I would not include Atlanta, San Diego, Baltimore, Cincinnati, or Denver in any top 10 list...
1) New York - easy
2) San Francisco - easy
3) Los Angeles - based on the Japanese and Chinese food. Lots of other stuff too but can be pricy for what you get. I would probably even give this 3 based on the Chinese food in Rosemead, Monterey Park and Arcadia alone.
4) Portland - food truck culture and great microbreweries and wineries
5) New Orleans - Cajun/Creole food
9) Las Vegas
You will get no argument from me on this point, Sir!
Wine is passion. It is family and friends, warmth of heart, and generosity of spirit.
~ Robert Mondavi
I think you're both (GlennK, AllRed) goofy.
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."
~ I'm not sayin' ... I'm just sayin'.
Great question, Glenn.
1. New York: All others are a very distant second to NYC without debate.
2. Chicago: Classics to the epicenter for the avant garde.
3. San Francisco: ( not including the wine country)
4. New Orleans: Even better since Katrina.
5. Los Angelas: Agree with Glenn, better than ever.
6. Washington D.C.: Too often overlooked.
7. Boston: Long a serious food city.
8.Houston: On the rise and not looking back. A very multicultural city with over 100 languages spoken daily in the city has added such depth, and the food scene is benefiting greatly.
9. Vegas: As much as I hate Vegas, the restaurant scene has become very serious the last decade for sure.
10. Not sure... I thought about Seattle, but when I'm in Seattle I just keep thinking about Vancouver being so close by and so much better. Mid Town Atlanta continues to become serious.
It would be a good pole for top restaurant towns in American opposed to cities.
Towns like Savannah, Charleston, Providence, Austin, Walla Walla and Portland have some really fine places to enjoy.
But Vancouver is NOT in the U.S. and thus disqualified
Not sure why GlennK restricted the restaurant list to the US vs an AMERICAN Listing... THEN, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal would be included. But then, that may throw things a bit askew
Vive la Cascadia!!!
Back when I used to travel in a touring band.
1. New York
3. Washington D.C
5. San Fransisco
7. Kansas City
9. St Louis
These are more best places for street food and local fare then fine dining for me.
What are your thoughts on Dallas? Some very good additions over the last year or so. FT33, Driftwood, Oak etc
you crazy ;-)
#3 ny? no way!
This is my sig -> www.brownteacup.com
Thirstyman: Why would you go out of your way to "not include" my town of Baltimore? Just curious. (I'm not disagreeing, by the way). You state you do not have enough experience in Portland, Philly, Miami, Dallas or Houston to have an opinion, but you have an opinion about Baltimore.
Have you been here? Where have you eaten and been disappointed?
Now, in general, Baltimore is not a haute cuisine kind of place. We have a couple overpriced places where you get fancy food and small portions and ridiculous wine prices, with nice stems. Baltimore is a working town. Don't think theatre, think steelmills. Don't think modern art, think tough defense Ravens.
(Though we do have a few decent theatres and some good art museums).
But, anyway, what is the basis of dissing Baltimore?
99% of lawyers give the rest of us a bad name.
G-man - one can find great food in NY, but my experience has been that it is more dangerous in NY to walk into any unknown restaurant than in SF or NOLA. I have had some pretty bad meals in NYC - but I have also had some incredible meals. I think those top three are all very close and NY moves to third based on variable experiences and value....
Irwin- I'm on a cell phone so I will be brief. I do not mean any disrespect to Baltimore. I had a case in Baltimore 4 or 5 years ago and was there regularly. I saw a fair number of chains and found the pub food to be quality- but not stand out. I did not have any great ethic food (I love Indian, street tacos and Greek) - it was passable, but more of the American version of.... I did eat at a great seafood place, but do not remember the name. I do remember receiving bad service at a few places - that marred would would have been an acceptable meal. The truth is - there were no stand outs at all. If I return, I would love to be guided to your jewels - fine dining, ethnic or otherwise. Perhaps I am being unfair and the real problem was my guide (who was a steakhouse, steakhouse, steakhouse kind of person).
I will gladly remove Baltimore from the list pending a tour!
The lady and I are taking a road trip from Miami to Savannah in mid-February. Any recos? Is it worth also making the shoot up to Charleston?
There is a fine Greek restaurant here that was written up as "the best Greek restaurant in Washington" even though it is 25 miles from Washington. We enjoy Indian as well, and there are a few good ones.
You will not find any tacos nor any Mexican nor tex-mex food here worth consuming.
But the newest places in a working class area called Hampden are really terrific. I'll be happy to be your guide when the time comes, if you'll reciprocate if we get to Nashville.
99% of lawyers give the rest of us a bad name.
Charleston has to be on this list. I am also a big fan of many DC restaurants.
If I am ever in Baltimore, I will want to meet Irwin at that Greek restaurant.
An emphatic yes!
Show me a good loser, I'll show you a loser - Vince Lombardi.
I would agree as well, but it depends on how much time you actually have. If you only have 2-3 days, I would just enjoy Savannah. A day trip to Charleston is definitely a must with 4-5 days. If you have a week, then I would definitely split your time.
From a foodie perspective, Charleston has many more better restaurants than Savannah. Ironically, my favorite from our trip to the two cities last April was at the Old Pink House in Savannah.
mu, some great additions for sure, and one must include Lucia, ( 2 month weekend waitlist) Rise No. 1 and many others.
Dallas is 2-3 years behind the armpit of Texas called, Houston Houston has several things working in their favor and to their credit they have taken advantage of them.
I would put Dallas ( still most restaurants per capita) in the top 20, and perhaps top 15. You are correct, the last 5 years have been a really positive trend.
I still think Tei-An is our best restaurant.
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