If you are a self described foodie who is trying to find a welcoming, food obsessed city to call your new home, look no further. We have done the hard work for you by compiling a list of what we think are the best foodie cities in the United States. We’ve highlighted a few of our favorite establishments and the stand out dishes from those restaurants. (Please keep in mind that all menus are subject to change.)
1. Houston, Texas
The largest city in Texas has recently made one heck of a name for itself in the culinary world. Known for having deep cultural diversity, Houston has turned into a vast foodie playground. In 2019, 11 chefs and restaurateurs from the Houston food scene made it to the semifinalist list for the James Beard Awards.
Crawfish and Noodles
Migration mash-ups have spawned new genres of cuisine. One of these new cooking styles is known as Viet-Cajun. Chef Trong Nguyen was born in Vietnam and migrated to the States at a young age. Years of hard work as a casino manager allowed him to follow his dream and open his own restaurant, Crawfish and Noodles. Chef Trong’s restaurant’s signature dish is composed of crawfish that are cooked with Vietnamese aromatics and then tossed in a garlic butter. Crawfish and Noodles has been featured on Chef David Chang’s Netflix series, Ugly Delicious, and the restaurant has garnered much local and national attention.
- Vietcajun Crawfish
- Salt and Pepper Blue Crab
— Eater Houston (@EaterHouston) February 11, 2015
You can’t talk about Houston as a culinary destination without mentioning chef Hugo Ortega’s Montrose area staple, Hugo’s. The James Beard Award recipient has been dishing up the rich and vibrant flavors of traditional Mexican cuisine in Houston since 2002. In 2017, Chef Hugo opened up his Oaxaca inspired concept, Xochi, in downtown Houston.
- Carnitas de Pato: Duck Carnitas, Tomatilla Sauce, Handmade Tortillas
- Repollitos : Charred Brussels Sprouts, Cotija Cheese, Salsa Guajillo
Acclaimed Chef Chris Cosentino opened up his new Italian concept, Rosalie, in Downtown Houston’s C. Baldwin Hotel in December 2019. The kitchen, led by Chef Sasha Grumman, creates delicious pastas from scratch and features a wood fired oven that cooks perfectly textured pizza. The cuisine pulls from classic Italian-American traditions while using seasonal ingredients sourced from the Houston area.
- Warm Rosemary Focaccia with Whipped Ricotta, Confit Garlic and Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Blue Crab Manicotti with Local Blue Crab and Lobster Sauce Americane
2. Los Angeles, California
The Los Angeles area food scene isn’t just limited to celebs nibbling on salad at posh Beverly Hills hotels. Farmers markets are spread across Los Angeles County, bursting with pristine California fruits and vegetables. Young, creative chefs are involved in pop-ups across the city, and street food is sold by entrepreneurs with a wide range of cultural backgrounds. Combine the never-ending possibilities for food outings with the remarkable SoCal weather, and there is no question why so many people call L.A home.
Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong
Near the heart of downtown Los Angeles exists a bustling Korea Town. Home to hundreds of authentic eateries and tea houses, K-Town has something for anyone looking to breathe some culinary excitement into their lives. One of the areas most popular spots is a Korean Barbeque restaurant named Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong. Diners can order premium cuts of meat that are brought out by their server and grilled right in front of them. But K-BBQ isn’t just about the meat. The deluge of little sides that come before the meal are bright and clean in flavor–a perfect accoutrement to rich grilled meats.
- Marinated Beef Short Rib
- Thinly Sliced Brisket
- Pork Jowl
Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant
Tony Ho (owner at Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant); Rosemead, CA pic.twitter.com/T8gm6XX2ti
— Food People (@HairyAward) October 22, 2015
Just northeast of Los Angeles, in the San Gabriel Valley, are a group of cities with very dense Asian populations. These cities are home to some of the best dim sum restaurants, noodle bars, and tofu houses you can find in Southern California. One of the shining stars for fresh Dim Sum is Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant in Rosemead.
- Shrimp Bao Bun
- Truffle Siu Mai
- Fried Whole Smelt
- Radish Cake
If you venture west, be sure and stop by Gjusta in Venice. This European inspired bakery serves sandwiches, soups, juice, whole loaves of bread, desserts, and pastries–all made with ingredients sourced from Southern California’s Farmers and Ranchers.
- Porchetta Melt : Baguette, Rapini, Onions and Fontina
- Chopped Liver on Toast : Baguette, Chopped Chicken Liver, Caramelized Onion, Roasted Apple, Chives
- Sprouted Rye Loaf
- Miso Date Cookies
3. Portland, Maine
A city doesn’t have to be a sprawling metroplex to be a foodie haven. With 67,000 residents, Portland has the smallest population of any city on our list. This coastal city has an unusually high ratio of restaurants to residents due to its booming tourism industry. According to Trip Advisor, there are currently an estimated 385 restaurants in Portland.
Beer lovers rejoice; Portland is full of innovative craft breweries including Austin Street Brewery, Shipyard Brewing Company, and Belgian-Style favorite, Allagash Brewery. Solid craft beer selections and good food go hand in hand, and Portland has some stunners from both sides.
In 2014, Paige and Chris Gould opened up their small plate, seasonally inspired restaurant, Central Provisions. This gorgeous restaurant is mere blocks away from the Atlantic Ocean, and sits inside of a federal-style building that was built in the 1800’s. The restaurant’s close proximity to the wharf assures that the seafood comes from the freshest source possible. Chef Chris’s plates are elegant and deceptively simple. The flavors are extensive and comforting; the menu pulls inspiration from around the world.
- Local Apple Salad: Chestnut Cream, Mushroom Conserva, Radicchio, Rosemary
- Brandade Croquettes: Spicy Tomato, Lemon, Black Olive, Capers, Herbs
- Venison Loin: Sunchoke, Cocoa Nib, Squash, Caramelized Pear, Cipollini
Everything bagel with whitefish salad, Rose Foods in Portland, ME. High level pic.twitter.com/yOGGZpJniJ
— Dan Rubenstein (@DanRubenstein) August 19, 2018
Rose Foods is in the business of making fresh bagels, spreads, and salted fish. The bagels are made with a touch of sourdough; they are a more airy than a traditional New York bagel, making them ideal for sandwich applications. Rose Foods has gained well deserved national attention from food publications such as Bon Appetit and Conde Nast Traveler.
- Henry VIII: Bagel Sandwich with Pastrami Nova, Onion, Parsley, Horseradish Cream Cheese
- Latkes : Pro Tip–Add Sour Cream, Applesauce, and Salmon Caviar
- Half Sour Pickles
Portland Hunt + Alpine Club
Portland Hunt + Alpine Club is a top notch cocktail bar that also serves Scandinavian inspired snacks. Owners Andrew and Briana Volk have released their first cocktail/cookbook, Northern Hospitality. Hunt + Alpine is a two time James Beard Award semifinalist for Outstanding Bar Program, and was recently awarded a spot on Thrilllist’s Best Cocktail Bars in America list.
- Green Eyes: Gin, Lime, Chartreuse, Egg White (Cocktail)
- Hollow Moon: Applejack, Rye, Sherry, Lemon, Black Pepper, Tea, Turmeric (Cocktail)
- Bread and Butter: Uni Butter, Toasted Seaweed, Night Moves Country Loaf
- Smörgäsbord: Hunt + Alpine’s selection of meats, fish, cheese, aquavit and adventure (serves 2-4)
4. Chicago, Illinois
It should be no surprise that the Windy City has earned a place on our list. Chicago is a city you can easily sink you teeth into, and some visitors might say it’s more accessible than other big food cities (we’re looking at you, New York and San Francisco). If you’re hoping to move to a city with a solid public transit system, Chicago has some of the best train lines in the nation. Residents of Chi-Town can conveniently hop on the L to go dine at a Michelin star restaurant, or they can grab a deep dish pizza / hot dog and watch a game at Wrigley Field.
Girl and the Goat
Girl and the Goat opened its doors in the Randolph Restaurant Corridor in 2010. Chef Stephanie Izard, winner of Top Chef Season 4, heads the kitchen with her exciting and bold-flavored technique. The dishes are mostly served family style, and the front of house exudes a warm and relaxed demeanor. While reading the dinner menu, you may laugh, cry, dream, and drool.
- Apple Gjetost Pierogis: Maitake, Escarole, Pickled Squash, Spiced Pecans
- Ora King Salmon Poke: Pickled Golden Beet-Apple Honey Relish, Grilled Nori Mayo, Spiced Coconut-Rice Crunch
- Chocolate Sorbet: Plantain Whip, Peanut Butter Shell, Chili Crunch
We needed this recipe from The Publican in Chicago so badly. https://t.co/lsSSc1tDJ5
— Bon Appétit (@bonappetit) July 9, 2018
- Honeycrisp Apple: Apple Miso, Brussels Sprouts, Burrata, Cashew
- Aged Ham: Goat Butter, Peasant Bread
- Farm Chicken with Summer Sausage and Frites
Family owned Chicago seafood joint, Calumet Fisheries, has been serving seafood in the Southside of Chicago for over 70 years. Calumet smokes a variety of fish in their on-site brick smokehouse. The traditional way of smoking fish has been passed down from generation to generation, creating a truly special product.
- Fried Shrimp
- Smoked Salmon
- Smoked Chub
5. Richmond, Virginia
Another surprise addition to the the list is Richmond, Virginia. Richmond has traditionally been known as a town for history buffs, but its burgeoning restaurant scene has recently garnered the city some warranted culinary recognition. Richmond comfortably holds its own on our best foodie cities list with its mix of honest comfort food and contemporary eateries that focus on superb technique and sustainably sourced ingredients.
Sub Rosa Bakery
In the historic Church Hill neighborhood of Richmond, Sub Rosa Bakery turns out some of the best pastries and breads produced in the nation. The bakery sources local ingredients when possible and acquires local heirloom grains to mill in house for its breads and pastries. Everything is baked in one of the most gorgeously masoned wood-fired ovens you’ve ever laid your eyes on. Sub Rosa alone is reason enough to get to Richmond ASAP.
- Millers Wheat Bread: Wheat du Jour, Filtered Water, Cultured Wheat, Sea Salt.
- Salami and Cheese Croissant
- Seasonal Tart
- Lamb/Beef Borek
— WTVR CBS 6 Richmond (@CBS6) September 6, 2018
Chef Lee Gregory’s first solo venture, Alewife, pays homage to the bounties of the Chesapeake Bay. All the seafood used in house is selected scrupulously, and the sustainability of the waterways is always kept in mind. Chef Gregory’s seafood-centric menu is constantly changing, and is dictated by whatever is ripe, fresh, and in season.
- Fried Sugar Toads with Black Garlic Mayo & Herb Salad
- Cobia with Turnips, Shiitake Mushrooms & Miso Broth
- Mackerel with Delicata Squash, Farro & Guanciale Vinaigrette
Another noteworthy establishment in Richmond is the Alpine inspired restaurant, Brenner Pass. Executive Chef Brittanny Anderson creates a heavily European inspired menu while walking the line between traditional influences and current techniques. The menu features snacks including an impressively curated cheese list and a selection of house made charcuteries. The bar focuses on European wines, amari, sherries and brandies.
- Spritz and Spice: Pasubio, Fernet, Lemon, Honey, Soda, Sparkling Wine, Orange (Cocktail)
- Fondue: Gruyere, Emmentaller, House Sourdough, Fingerlings, Cornichons, Speck
- Gianduja Bombe: Hazelnut Bavarian, Dark Chocolate, Brandied Cherries