If you’re a foodie, you know that great food is essential to a travel experience. It can help you get to know a destination’s culture, build lasting memories, and create a memorable trip.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of the best food destinations for culinary travelers. These include cities with top-notch restaurants, markets, and cooking experiences.
If you’re looking for a culinary travel destination that has something for everyone, you should consider San Francisco. The ‘City by the Bay’ has a diverse food scene that reflects its multicultural roots and the influx of immigrants.
From clam chowder to dim sum, the food in San Francisco is as varied and delicious as its people and culture. In fact, the ‘City by the Bay’ is one of the top food destinations for culinary travelers.
While you’ll want to sample a few of the city’s iconic dishes like clam chowder, Dungeness crab and Mission burrito, it’s also worth visiting some lesser-known restaurants to explore more authentic culinary offerings. Try a Peruvian restaurant or a bakery for a new taste of the ‘City by the Bay’.
The historic Mission district is home to a fusion of young tech professionals and Latinx culture, and is a hot spot for tacos and burritos. Join a local guide on a walking tour that takes you through the neighborhood, stopping at restaurants for generous samplings along the way.
You’ll learn about the city’s colorful history and hear stories from a local expert, while enjoying a 4-course progressive dining experience at four of the area’s best restaurants. From the historic Ferry Building to Temescal and beyond, this tour is a must-have for those who love San Francisco’s diverse dining scene.
A trip to San Francisco would not be complete without a trip to Boudin Bakery, the original creator of sourdough French bread and a major tourist attraction in Fisherman’s Wharf. Order the famous Sourdough Bread Bowl filled with clam chowder and indulge in an incredible meal overlooking the harbor.
Travelers who love food are always looking for the best places to eat. The search for restaurants can be time-consuming and stressful, especially if you’re visiting a new city that doesn’t have many options.
Portland, Oregon is one of the best food destinations for culinary travelers because it has an incredible variety of restaurants to choose from. From burgers to sushi and ethnic cuisine, there’s something for everyone.
For a light lunch, head to Mother’s Bistro in the heart of downtown. This Pacific Northwest-inspired eatery takes on traditional dishes with a Pacific Northwest twist, and it’s worth the wait in line to try their wild salmon hash or portabella scramble.
Next, take a stroll through Southeast Portland and get your fix of Latino food at the Mercado. This colorful and lively public market is home to eight rainbow-hued food carts and several indoor markets owned by Latinx entrepreneurs.
Then, if you’re a burger fan, stop by Deschutes Brewery for an upscale take on bar grub. Their burgers are cooked in-house with the same flavorful spices as their beers, so you’re guaranteed to enjoy your meal with a refreshing beer.
If you’re a veggie lover, check out Tusk and Ava Gene’s, two sister restaurants in Division Street that both put vegetables front and center. The food is modern and creative, and the ambiance is chic and comfortable. They also have a kitchen counter dining option, so you can order dishes like smooth and creamy hummus.
For culinary travelers looking for a foodie experience, New Orleans is an ideal choice. This southern city is world-famous for its Creole and Cajun cuisines, which are characterized by rich tomato-based sauces.
Travelers can indulge in the city’s signature dishes on a variety of tours and demonstrations. These include a Creole and Cajun Cocktail and Food History Tour where they get to sample the best of Louisiana’s culinary heritage.
Another option is a New Orleans Demonstration Cooking Class & Meal, where foodies can learn how to prepare classic Creole dishes in a converted 19th century molasses warehouse. They can also enjoy a local beer or sweet ice tea while digging into tasty samples.
A famous dish that travelers can’t miss is the Po’Boy, which is a sandwich of French bread filled with fried seafood, roast beef, hot sausage or ham and cheese and topped with a generous slather of sauce like mayonnaise. Other New Orleans favorites include beignets, a fried doughnut; chicory spiked cafe au lait coffee; and Creole fried chicken.
Whether you’re a die-hard foodie or just looking to get more out of your trip, it’s important to plan your itinerary accordingly. That includes getting up early for a museum, soaking in the sights of a city, and making sure there’s plenty to do when you’re not eating or drinking.
One of the best cities to do all that in is Chicago, Illinois. It’s known for its deep-dish pizza and hot dogs, but it’s also a city with a rich and diverse cuisine that’s often the result of migrant cultures mixing together.
There’s no shortage of great restaurants in Chicago, from the popular River North neighborhood to Greektown. The latter has a Mediterranean vibe, thanks to its Hellenic community.
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you can find some delicious options in Chicago, too. At the Chicago Diner, try the Hash and Tofu Scrambler: scrambled tofu, spicy tempeh, potato hash and non-dairy biscuits. For dessert, try a vegan version of black forest cake or lemon cakes.
The city is renowned for its culinary tours, which allow you to experience the best food in a new way. Some of these are walking tours, while others take you by bike or bus or even a yacht cruise.
A food tour is the perfect option for a culinary-focused vacation, as it allows you to spend your time tasting the most delicious foods in a city without having to worry about finding restaurants yourself or planning your meals. Plus, you’ll also get the help of an expert guide who knows where to go and what to order.
Charleston is one of the best food destinations for culinary travelers, especially those looking to sample low country cuisine. With a rich culture and a walkable downtown, this Southern port city has been a top travel destination for years and continues to impress visitors year after year.
The city is known for its history and cobblestone roads, but you can also find a variety of unique restaurants with contemporary Southern dishes. Husk and Magnolias are two favorites, offering traveler-approved dishes such as a down south egg roll or buttermilk fried chicken breast.
For seafood lovers, don’t miss the chance to try a South Carolina oyster roast. These roasted shellfish are served with a side of salty mayonnaise.
She crab soup is another must-try local dish. A popular soup in the area, it’s traditionally made with female crabs and orange roe.
Crab cakes are a must-try for any trip to South Carolina, and Charleston is no exception. These crispy savory treats are often topped with Old Bay seasoning and mayonnaise.
Catfish stew is a popular Southern food, and the city of Charleston is home to a number of places where you can get this delicious savory soup. While it’s not as popular in the US as it once was, it’s still a beloved low country tradition.
While Charleston is a great place to experience traditional Southern cuisine, the city’s up-and-coming restaurant scene has also garnered national attention in recent years. Many of the city’s newest eateries are dedicated to using fresh, locally sourced ingredients, giving you a true taste of the low country.
Dominica is an island paradise that combines traditional cuisine with modern flavors and spectacular views. Travelers can expect to indulge in an array of mouthwatering foods, from local seafood to exotic fruit and vegetables.
Food is a big part of Dominica’s culture, and it can be a great way to learn about the country’s heritage and history. You can try dishes such as callaloo soup, mannish water or bakes in one of the many local restaurants where recipes are passed down from generation to generation.
Culinary tourism is a growing trend and is a great way to experience local culture. Whether you’re eating in an elegant restaurant or sampling traditional recipes at a street-side stall, you can learn about the local ingredients, traditions and history behind each dish.
You can also take part in Dominica’s vibrant festivals, which celebrate music and dancing with costumed kings and queens. You can even attend a literary festival where local writers read their work or watch a documentary film about the island’s history.
The cuisine in Dominica is influenced by the French, British, African and Kalinago cultures and boasts an array of delicious options that range from fresh produce to Caribbean-style meals. The country’s agriculture is a major component of the economy, so you can expect to see plenty of local fruits and vegetables on menus around the island.
For an extra-special treat, head to a street vendor and try a glass of soursop juice! This tropical drink is a tasty, refreshing option that’s best enjoyed during a summer day.