In my opinion food travel is the best because when it comes down to it, quite often travel from one city to another is pretty much the same. With mild exceptions, there are the same hotels, the same swimming pools, the same art museums. And truly memorable travel is when you experience true uniqueness.
While many cities offer only the occasionally unique tourist spots, one thing that most cities have that is truly unique is food experiences that are out of this world.
Here are a few of our favorite food travel destinations in the U.S.
1. San Francisco
According to US News and Reports the number one food travel destination city in the country is San Francisco.
San Francisco has seven 3 star Michelin rated restaurants, and well over a dozen one and two-star restaurants. But it’s the sheer variety of food that makes San Francisco such a popular food destination, due to its extremely diverse population.
As the San Francisco Chronicele reported on it’s article, “20 Funnest Restraunts in San Francisco,” there is plenty of variety.
From Irish Pubs, Korean Barbecues, to Thai-Laotion restaurants, if you hanker for variety, consider San Francisco a must travel destination.
2. New Orleans
Alternatively, Trip Advisor rated New Orleans as the best place in the U.S. for a food vacation.
Why New Orleans? Think gumbo, jambalaya, Po Boys, and more. Trip Advisor says the New Orleans French Quarter is the number one booked food walking tour in the U.S. and its hard not to agree after the experience.
Creole and Cajun food abound in the Big Easy, and the unique combination of French, Spanish, Italian and African cooking elements blend so well, that even keto dieters splurge when in New Orleans.
3. New York City
New York City is on Fodor’s list of top foodie cities, and the Big Apple is on practically everyone else’s list as well.
Sure you can dine at Masa for a 26-course “Leave it to the Chef” meal that will set you back 5 bills or more, but you’ll be just as happy with a Reuben at Katz Deli, or a hot dog at Pappaya King.
It’s safe to say there is no cuisine in the world that you can’t find a restaurant for, so if you have a hankering for Egyptian food, Turkish food or Russian food, then eat away.
A word of caution though. Get there early or on non-peak hours. Even delis, places that sell Philadelphia cheesesteak or hot dogs get really crowded during peak times.
4. Austin Texas
According to Conde Nest Traveler if you want a great food vacation, visit Austin Texas.
We’ve been to Austin multiple times, so feel free to call us prejudice, but Austin lays claim to some of the best barbecue and Tex Mex food anywhere.
A must-go place is Franklin’s barbecue, which is world-famous, and people willingly stand in line for two hours just to get it.
Another unique trend are the many food trucks in the city. Geographically spaced throughout Austin, you can get unique items like fish tacos, or comfort food like meatloaf wrapped in bacon.
For a truly unique taste treat, try Gordoughs on Lamar Avenue which makes virtually and kind of sandwich baked inside a fried doughnut!
For fantastic soup, visit the Soup Peddler’s Real Food and Juice Bar.
The terrific thing about Austin is you can always find a sumptuous meal for under $10 bucks.
It may seem unfair that an entire state gets thrown in as a contender but Alaska, being so far north and having less of a population than many of the cities on the list, perhaps that can be excused.
According to Adam Richman, former host of Man vs Food, one of his biggest challenges took place in the small city of Kodia, population 6,000.
You can view the video on Youtube called the “Kodiak Arrest Challenge.” which involved making 28 ounces of salmon burger, covering it in cheese, then topping it with 3 pounds of Alaskan Crab.
On top of that, there was also a huge, reindeer sausage sour cream and chives mashed potatoes. Even if you never go to Alaska, the video is a food lovers delight.
If you go to Anchorage, some say Chicago or New York be damned, the best pizza in the U.S. is made at Moose’s. And if pizza isn’t your thing. Reindeer hot dogs are everywhere.
6. Portland Oregon
In both 2018 and 2019, Wallet Hub named Portland as the best foodie city in America for its 600 food carts and its high number of full-service restaurants as compared to fast food joints.
Portland was also named high for its abundant amount of coffee shops and plenty of breweries.
As you can imagine there are plenty of upper-crust restaurants. But Portland also offers a large variety of affordable delicious unique places like the delis Kenny and Zukes or ice cream shops like the Salt and Straw with unique flavors you’ll likely never find elsewhere. Or if you prefer greasy pig out food then Lardos sandwiches are perfect and so are sausage nachos from Clutch Sausagery.
For ten bucks you can get a real bang for both your wallet and your tastebuds in Portland. It’s another must-see foodies destination.
7. Bar Harbor Maine
You can buy lobster everywhere. So why would you want to travel to a tourist town that all but shuts down in the colder months? Possibly because Bar Harbor offers lobster so fresh you’ll swear it was just delivered off the boat.
Bar Harbor has only 5,000 people but 27 seafood restaurants and besides lobster, lobster rolls, clam chowder and muscles, you can get old fashioned food like hand made pancakes.
But lobster rules here, and you can even get ice cream with candied lobster at Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium.
If you have ever dreamed of a 3-pound lobster, just swimming in butter, Bar Harbor should be a part of your food destination itinerary.
On top of the food, Bar Harbor is a nice little town to tour around in the summertime. Sort of like the town featured in the movie “Jaws” only without the great white shark.
8. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole is just the opposite of Bar Harbor. It’s popular all year around because of its many attractions. With skiing, Jackson Lake, and the nearby Tetons, Jackson Hole is hopping through ever season.
One of the things you can get in Jackson Hole for food is fantastic wild game at The Gun Barrel Steak and Game House. If you’ve never eaten buffalo or wild elk, you owe it to yourself to try it.
Featuring Venison Bratwurst, Buffalo Wraps, Bison Carpaccio, Snake River Potato Boats, fried green potatoes, along with Velvet Elk, Buffalo Sirloin, Elk Chops and Buffalo ribs, this restaurant will soothe the savage meat-eater within you.
There are dozens of other restaurants to choose from in Jackson Hole, so don’t worry, you don’t have to choose between an expensive restaurant or Wendy’s, Subway or McDonald’s. You have lots of restaurants that are in between. Generally, people come to Jackson Hole for an experience and that includes food.
9. Las Vegas, Nevada
A reporter once asked a famous bank robber, Willie Sutton, why he robbed banks. Sutton said, point-blank, ” Because that’s where the money is.”
They don’t rob banks, but more money flows through the casinos of Las Vegas than perhaps any other city 10 times it’s size. That is precisely why there are close to 50 celebrity chef managed restaurants in Las Vegas.
Gordon Ramsey has a presence. Guy Fieraa is involved. Bobby Flay has his hand in the Las Vegas market.
We’re not saying that a meal at a celebrity chef’s restaurant is always perfect. Generally you get a much better experience for your one hundred plus dollars than if the head chef is a recent graduate of the Institute for Culinary Education.
There are literally dozens of restaurants in Las Vegas that are amazing, with nine of them holding 1 star Michelin rating.
For around $20 bucks or so with a discount, you can get a decent buffet at one of the strip casinos. For around twice that amount, you can eat lobster till it’s coming out of your ears at a top rated buffet.
Our tip is to eat at least once at the best possible restaurant of your choice, and in-between times, hit up McDonald’s or In and Out Burger.
10. Every Place Else
You can get a great BLT in Valley City, North Dakota, at Budget Burger but you wouldn’t want to drive 60 miles from Fargo to get one. But you might drive 300 out of your way to taste the best Apple Pie in 6 states.
The point is to make an adventure out of it and to have fun.
Being a foodie, and combining travel with great food can really make your life more enriched.
Wherever you travel, search on the internet not only for the best restaurants in that city but also for the most unique or fun restaurants. You’ll find plenty of food establishments to tickle your fancy.