Many people think the culinary landscape in the United States consists mainly of hamburgers and french fries, but the truth is that a wide variety of delicious and healthy cuisine is available across the nation.
The U.S. is made up of many different ethnic groups that all contribute to the local food culture in all 50 states. Visitors with a sense of adventure will enjoy sampling the various types of American fusion and ethnic cuisine that are unique to each locality.
In addition to the casual dining experiences that America is famous for, there are also numerous world-class restaurants throughout the country that will please the palates of even the most finicky gourmets. Below is a list of cities that have something special to offer in terms of cuisine, but please keep in mind that there are many other cities that have hidden culinary treasures waiting for you to discover on your next visit to the U.S.
- Portland, Oregon is the largest city in Oregon and the second-largest city in the Northwest. Portland’s relatively large population provides for a variety of food and cafe choices throughout the city. Downtown is famous for hosting a variety of food carts where anyone can go for cheap and delicious food, from Mexican tamales to gourmet pizza. There’s even a cart that sells Japanese bento! Portland has many great sit-down eateries as well, whether you prefer upscale restaurants or casual cafes.
- Portland, Maine is a historic town in New England. One can take in the scenery of the Old Port area and downtown arts district, and enjoy many restaurants that focus on the freshest catch of the day. This historic town boasts beautiful brownstone buildings as well as some of the best seafood available in the U.S. Don’t forget to try the world-famous New England clam chowder!
- New Orleans, Louisiana is the prime destination for Cajun or Creole cuisine, which is named after the French Canadians from Arcadia who now reside in Louisiana. This unique cuisine is ideal for those who love spices and food that is full of flavor. Cajun cuisine is unique to the state of Louisiana, and it would be a shame for any culinary tourist to miss out on the many food adventures that New Orleans has to offer.
- Chicago, Illinois, also known as the windy city, has many signature foods that originated there. Some of these foods include the Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, the Chicago-style hot dog, and Italian beef sandwiches. The urban architecture of Chicago adds atmosphere to its dining scene along with its signature dishes.
- San Francisco Bay Area, California is home to historic roadhouses and restaurants that have been around since the Gold Rush of 1849. Visitors can sense the history as they dine. Although these restaurants may be old, the food they serve never goes out of style. There are a number of world-class restaurants throughout the Bay Area and a variety of tastes to please different palates. The world-famous French Laundry restaurant is also located in the San Francisco Bay Area.
- Cleveland, Ohio is considered a melting pot industrial city, and its local cuisine reflects the various ethnic groups residing there. There is a strong Eastern European presence in Cleveland that has led to a wide selection of Slavic cuisine in the city. If you’re interested in trying American-Slavic cuisine such as polish sausage and pierogi (meat-filled dumplings), Cleveland may be the place for you.
- New York, New York isn’t just Manhattan. It actually consists of five boroughs: Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. New York City has a lot to offer in terms of food, but perhaps the most popular food is New York-style pizza. Each borough has its own variation of pizza, so you can pick your favorite. Since New York is a true melting pot, tourists will be able to find a variety of delicious food throughout the boroughs.
- Charleston, South Carolina has a number of famous restaurants for fine dining in its southeastern region. This city is also an excellent spot for enjoying southern-style seafood in warm weather. While lunch and dinner are both great, the South has perfected breakfast, and Charleston is the perfect place to try a classic southern breakfast of country ham, biscuits and gravy, and hash browns.
- Savannah, Georgia has evolved from a purely home-style cooking restaurant scene to fine dining with expert chefs. While Savannah’s cuisine has become more refined, one can still find the delicious home-style cooking that defines the South, such as southern fried chicken, pork chops, collard greens, and black-eyed peas.
- Santa Fe, New Mexico is the home of New Mexican cuisine, which is a fusion of Spanish and Mediterranean, Mexican, Pueblo Native American, and other types of cuisine native to the southwest. Chile, corn, and beans are staples of New Mexican food and make it a little different from other American cuisine. If you are interested in Spanish-American fusion food with a dash of the southwest, then Santa Fe is calling your name.
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has many popular “on the go” items that are classified as street food. Do not let the term “street food” deter you, however, as the fact that it’s served on the street does not detract from the taste. Delicious soft pretzels, Italian sandwiches, hoagies, and the famous Philadelphia cheese steak sandwiches can all be bought from street vendors throughout the city.
For more information on American cuisine, see American Cuisine Reflects Nation’s Diversity.