If you live for a packed food festival, farm fresh ingredients, and experimental menus that push the boundaries of dining as we know it, then you may very well be interested in this list of America's best foodie cities. Whether they have the classics down pat or are constantly coming up with new ways to impress our tastebuds, these destinations are the greatest food havens in the country, and potentially, the world. Yeah, I said it — the world.
So what exactly defines a "foodie city"? Well, there are a few things. Food trucks, local specialties, farm to table qualities, culinary creativity, and an expansive dining and restaurant scene. You want some new and some old, you want some killer ingredients, and most importantly, you want some communities that are as excited about making food as you are about eating it.
These top 10 cities may not surprise you as they've been establishing their reputations and menus for decades — but that's also exactly why they're so amazing. Whether you're rich, broke, or anywhere in between, there are unique and memorable dining experiences waiting for you in each of these foodie-approved locales. It's time to start planning your next trip...
1. New Orleans, Louisiana
Famous for its Creole cooking and ethnic dining scene, New Orleans not only has its classic cuisines down, but it's not afraid to be playful with its dishes, trying out new flavor combinations and food trends on the regular. The city's French Quarter is packed with authentic restaurants and the festivals keep flowing throughout the year, ranging from the Oyster Festival to the Tales of the Cocktail Festival. Crawfish, gumbo, po-boys, and southern BBQ — if NOLA proves one thing, it's that a rich culture leads to a rich dining experience.
2. Portland, Oregon
It's no secret that Portland is killing it with their microbrews, food truck population, and love for local ingredients. However, where they really make the mark is their prices. Locals can enjoy any type of cuisine, from bacon-covered donuts to Korean-Hawaiian fusion — and they can do it without breaking the bank. Feast Portland and Bite of Oregon keep the city well fed, as do the food truck "pods" at Courthouse Square, Fifth Avenue, and Alder.
3. Austin, Texas
Well of course somewhere in Texas had to make the list, knowing the state's reputation for BBQ done right, Tex-Mex, and Frito pies. Austin's thriving bar and music scene only lends to an even more popping culinary scene. Must-make events include a food truck contest, Foodspotting, the Austin Food and Wine Festival, and the South by Southwest Festival, where there are three days of music, film, and of course, food.
4. New York City, New York
Why some may call New York City the greatest city in the world, it is also one of the greatest places to get your foodie fixing. With food-lover events like the Brooklyn Smorgasburg, modern hangouts like the Chelsea Market, and beloved hole in the wall locales like Mamoun's Falafel on just about every corner, this is one city where you don't want to be making dinner at home.
5. Seattle, Washington
If you want to talk farmers' markets, you can't not mention The Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington — debatably the best in the country. Popular food festivals like Bite of Seattle and Seattle Street Food Festival make it affordable to try dozens of dishes, and the Autumn Moon Festival keeps the food scene bustling late into the night. And don't even get me started on the city's love for coffee.
6. Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, land of the greatest deep dish pizzas, Chicago-style hot dogs, and last but not least, Italian beefs. Arguably the best foodie metropolis in the midwest, Chicago manages to land large numbers of up and coming chefs (and some of the most established too). The epic five day Taste of Chicago event is one of the most attention-grabbing festivals for foodies in the city, amongst too many more to even name.
7. Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C. has a lot going for it. Ben's Chili Bowl represents one of the city's greatest creations: smoked sausage covered in chili, meat with a side of meat, otherwise known as half smokes. The Eastern Market offers a fresh food public market experience while the city's international menus are as varied and eclectic as the flow of people who come to the capital.
8. San Francisco, California
San Francisco, home to the techies, and the techies got to eat. Matching its diverse population comes a dining scene that is equally as mixed. Mission burritos, Chinese-American fused cuisine, and sourdough bakeries galore — this is not a place where foodies will ever get bored. The San Francisco Street Food Festival, Eat Drink SF, and Food & Farm Film Fest will make sure of it.
9. Boston, Massachusetts
Boston: home of the country's beloved baked beans and Boston cream pie. It's also a seafood lover's haven, where you can find hot cups of chowder, lobster rolls, and fried clams in tenfold. Hosting some of the greatest restaurants in the country, this city truly represents the New England food group. And of course, when it comes to planning foodie celebrations, Boston has it covered. Just stop by at the Boston Local Food Festival, Phantom Gourmet Food Festival, or Boston Wine Festival if you don't believe me.
10. Los Angeles, California
Thanks to Los Angeles' unbeatable weather, farmers markets can be found year-round, including the Fairfax Farmer's Market which is open daily, and the Yamashiro Farmer's Market with breathtaking views of the cityscape. And if you've got a munchie craving, Hollywood has got your back with dozens of historical staples (Pink's, Carney's, Canter's ... just to name a few). If you want to try some delicious Italian dishes, make sure to attend the Italian Feat of San Gennaro. It's not only the people here who are beautiful, it's the entire culinary scene.
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