Pack Your Bags and Appetite: 15 Best Foodie Cities in the U.S. Ranked

Exploring the local cuisine is an integral part of any travel experience, and the United States is home to some of the world’s best foodie cities. From the deep-dish pizza in Chicago to the lobster rolls in Portland, there is no shortage of delicious and unique dishes to try across the country.

Whether you’re a fan of barbecue, seafood, Tex-Mex, or gourmet cuisine, there’s a city out there that will satisfy your taste buds. In this article, we will explore the best foodie cities, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report, and the dishes that make them famous.

#15 Louisville, Kentucky

Pack Your Bags and Appetite: 15 Best Foodie Cities in the U.S. Ranked

Louisville, Kentucky, is famous for the Hot Brown, a mouthwatering open-faced turkey sandwich smothered in Mornay sauce, and the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) chain that originated in Louisville. 

Another popular dish is Burgoo, a hearty stew made with various meats, vegetables, and spices. For dessert, locals and visitors enjoy the Derby Pie, a chocolate and walnut pie staple, during the Kentucky Derby festivities. 

No discussion of Louisville’s food culture would be complete without mentioning bourbon, a type of whiskey that is a key ingredient in many local recipes and is strongly associated with Kentucky. 

#14 Atlanta, Georgia

Pack Your Bags and Appetite: 15 Best Foodie Cities in the U.S. Ranked

Atlanta, Georgia, is famous for dishes like Southern-style barbecue, which features slow-cooked meats like pulled pork and brisket, and classic Southern sides like mac and cheese and cornbread. 

Another must-try dish is peach cobbler, a warm and comforting dessert made with fresh peaches that pays homage to Georgia’s status as the Peach State. 

Atlanta is also home to some of the best-fried chicken in the South and boiled peanuts and pimento cheese, both beloved Southern snacks. 

#13 Denver, Colorado

Pack Your Bags and Appetite: 15 Best Foodie Cities in the U.S. Ranked

Green chile is a signature dish of Denver, Colorado, consisting of a spicy stew made with roasted green chiles, pork, and a blend of seasonings. It is a popular and flavorful item on many menus throughout Denver, often served as a condiment for burgers and fries or as a filling for burritos and enchiladas. 

Denver’s food scene also includes a variety of international cuisines, with a particular emphasis on Mexican, Italian, and Asian flavors. Denver is home to many farm-to-table restaurants that showcase the region’s fresh and seasonal ingredients, including locally-raised beef, lamb, and bison. 

Another interesting dish is the Rocky Mountain oysters, which are actually deep-fried bull testicles that are a popular delicacy in Colorado. Denver also boasts a thriving craft beer scene, with many local breweries producing unique and innovative beers that reflect the city’s adventurous spirit.

#12 Boston, Massachusettes

Pack Your Bags and Appetite: 15 Best Foodie Cities in the U.S. Ranked

Boston, Massachusetts, is renowned for its traditional cuisine, with clam chowder being one of its most iconic dishes. This creamy soup is made with clams, potatoes, onions, and bacon and is often served in a bread bowl for an authentic New England experience. 

Another classic New England dish is the lobster roll, a sandwich filled with chunks of sweet and succulent lobster meat. Boston is also famous for its baked beans, a staple of the city’s cuisine since colonial times. 

In addition to these classic dishes, Boston’s food scene offers a variety of international cuisines, with Italian food particularly popular in the city’s North End neighborhood. The area has many authentic Italian restaurants serving everything from handmade pasta to traditional Neapolitan-style pizza.

#11 Honolulu – Oahu, Hawaii

Pack Your Bags and Appetite: 15 Best Foodie Cities in the U.S. Ranked

One of the most iconic dishes associated with Honolulu is the plate lunch, which typically features two scoops of rice, a scoop of macaroni salad, and a main dish like teriyaki chicken, kalua pork, or loco moco (a dish consisting of a hamburger patty, rice, gravy, and a fried egg).

Another must-try dish is poke, a Hawaiian raw fish salad at many local restaurants and food trucks. Honolulu is also famous for its shaved ice, a refreshing treat made with shaved ice and flavored syrups that is a popular dessert on a hot day. 

Finally, the city’s location on the Pacific Ocean means it has access to some of the freshest seafood in the world, with many restaurants serving delicious fish dishes like ahi poke bowls, grilled mahi-mahi, and sushi rolls.

#10 Austin, Texas

Pack Your Bags and Appetite: 15 Best Foodie Cities in the U.S. Ranked

Barbecue is an iconic dish synonymous with Austin, Texas, with numerous local restaurants specializing in slow-smoked meats such as brisket, ribs, and sausage. Another popular dish visitors must try is breakfast tacos, a beloved Tex-Mex breakfast staple.

Austin is also famous for its food trucks, with hundreds scattered throughout the city, serving everything from tacos to burgers to Asian fusion cuisine. In addition to these classic dishes, Austin’s food scene also includes a variety of international cuisines, with a particular emphasis on Mexican and Asian flavors. 

Finally, Austin is home to a thriving craft beer scene, with many local breweries producing unique and flavorful beers that reflect the city’s adventurous spirit. 

#9 Portland, Maine

Pack Your Bags and Appetite: 15 Best Foodie Cities in the U.S. Ranked

Portland, Maine, is known for its traditional cuisine, with the lobster roll being one of its most iconic dishes. This sandwich is filled with sweet and succulent lobster meat and is typically served on a buttered and toasted bun. Another must-try dish is the creamy clam chowder, made with clams, potatoes, onions, and bacon and often served in a bread bowl. 

Portland is also famous for its seafood shacks and restaurants, with many serving up local specialties like fried clams, steamed mussels, and seafood platters. In addition to seafood, Portland’s food scene also includes a variety of international cuisines, with a particular emphasis on farm-to-table dining and artisanal food products like cheeses and charcuterie. 

Finally, Portland’s location in the heart of Maine’s craft beer region means it has a thriving brewery scene, with many local breweries producing unique and flavorful beers reflecting the city’s coastal heritage. 

#8 Houston, Texas

Pack Your Bags and Appetite: 15 Best Foodie Cities in the U.S. Ranked

Many local restaurants in Houston, Texas, specializing in slow-smoked meats like brisket, ribs, and sausage, making it a city famous for its barbecue. In addition, Tex-Mex cuisine is a must-try in Houston, with many local restaurants serving up mouthwatering enchiladas, fajitas, and tacos filled with meats and toppings.

Houston is also famous for its seafood, with many restaurants serving up Gulf Coast favorites like shrimp and crawfish boils, fried catfish, and gumbo. In addition to these classic dishes, Houston’s food scene also includes a variety of international cuisines, with an emphasis on Asian and Middle Eastern flavors. 

Finally, Houston is home to a thriving craft beer and cocktail scene, with many local breweries and bars producing unique and flavorful drinks that reflect the city’s adventurous spirit. 

#7 Las Vegas, Nevada

Pack Your Bags and Appetite: 15 Best Foodie Cities in the U.S. Ranked

Many of the hotels and casinos in Las Vegas, Nevada, offer an all-you-can-eat buffet, which has become an iconic dining experience associated with the city. With a wide variety of cuisines and dishes, it’s a great way to sample different foods. Another must-try dish is the steak, with many high-end restaurants serving up perfectly cooked and seasoned cuts of beef. 

Las Vegas is also famous for its celebrity chef restaurants, with many of the world’s top chefs opening up locations in the city to showcase their signature dishes. In addition to these classic dishes, the Las Vegas food scene also includes a variety of international cuisines, with a particular emphasis on Asian and Italian flavors. 

Finally, Las Vegas is home to a thriving mixology scene, with many bars and lounges serving up creative and inventive cocktails that reflect the city’s glitz and glamour.

#6 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Pack Your Bags and Appetite: 15 Best Foodie Cities in the U.S. Ranked

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is known for its hearty sandwiches that have become part of the city’s cultural identity. The most famous is the Philly cheesesteak, a sandwich made with thinly sliced steak, melted cheese, and sautéed onions on a hoagie roll. 

Another must-try sandwich is the roast pork sandwich, made with slow-roasted pork, provolone cheese, and broccoli rabe on a crusty roll. Philadelphia is also famous for its soft pretzels, sold by street vendors in many local shops and bakeries. These salty, chewy pretzels are a perfect snack or accompaniment to a sandwich. 

In addition to these classic dishes, Philadelphia’s food scene also includes a variety of international cuisines, with a particular emphasis on Italian and German flavors. Finally, Philadelphia is home to a thriving craft beer scene, with many local breweries producing unique and flavorful beers that reflect the city’s love of bold, robust flavors. 

#5 San Francisco, California

Pack Your Bags and Appetite: 15 Best Foodie Cities in the U.S. Ranked

San Francisco is known for its sourdough bread, made using wild yeast, and has a distinctive tangy flavor. Local bakeries take pride in their sourdough bread, and many visitors make it a point to try it when they visit the city. Some bakeries have been making sourdough bread for generations, and their recipes have been passed down through the years.

Another must-try dish is cioppino, a seafood stew made with a variety of fresh fish and shellfish in a tomato-based broth. San Francisco, California, is also famous for its farm-to-table cuisine, with many local restaurants sourcing ingredients from nearby farms and producers to create seasonal and sustainable dishes. 

In addition to these classic dishes, San Francisco’s food scene also includes a variety of international cuisines, with a particular emphasis on Asian and Mexican flavors. San Francisco is also home to a thriving coffee culture, with many local cafes roasting their own beans and serving inventive and delicious espresso drinks. 

#4 Los Angeles, California

Pack Your Bags and Appetite: 15 Best Foodie Cities in the U.S. Ranked

Los Angeles is known for its street tacos, widely available from local vendors and food trucks. These tacos typically feature small tortillas filled with grilled meat, cilantro, onion, and salsa and are often sold for just a few dollars each. The city’s taco scene is diverse, ranging from classic carne asada to more innovative options like Korean BBQ or vegan fillings.

Another must-try dish is the Korean BBQ, with many local restaurants offering tabletop grills where diners can cook their marinated meats and vegetables. Los Angeles is also famous for its health-conscious cuisine, with many restaurants specializing in vegan and vegetarian dishes made with fresh and locally sourced ingredients. 

In addition to these classic dishes, Los Angeles’ food scene also includes a variety of international cuisines, with a particular emphasis on Japanese, Chinese, and Thai flavors. Finally, Los Angeles is home to a thriving mixology scene, with many bars and lounges serving up creative and inventive cocktails that reflect the city’s glamorous and adventurous spirit. 

#3 Chicago, Illinois

Pack Your Bags and Appetite: 15 Best Foodie Cities in the U.S. Ranked

Chicago, Illinois, is known for its deep-dish pizza, a thick, savory pie with a crispy crust and layers of toppings. Many local pizzerias specialize in this iconic dish, typically topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and various meats, vegetables, and spices. Another must-try dish is the Italian beef sandwich, made with thinly sliced roast beef, sweet peppers, and spicy giardiniera served on a chewy roll and dipped in jus. 

Chicago is also famous for its hot dogs, with many local vendors serving up franks loaded with mustard, relish, onions, pickles, and tomato slices on a poppy seed bun. In addition to these classic dishes, Chicago’s food scene also includes a variety of international cuisines, with a particular emphasis on Polish, Mexican, and African American flavors. 

Finally, Chicago is home to a thriving craft beer scene, with many local breweries producing unique and flavorful beers that reflect the city’s love of bold and complex flavors.

#2 New York City, New York

Pack Your Bags and Appetite: 15 Best Foodie Cities in the U.S. Ranked

The second-best foodie city, New York City, is known for its iconic slice of pizza, with numerous pizzerias offering large, thin-crust pies with a variety of toppings. Another must-try dish is the hot dog, with many local vendors serving up franks loaded with sauerkraut, onions, mustard, and ketchup on a soft bun. 

New York City is also famous for its bagels. Many local bakeries use traditional methods to create chewy and flavorful rounds typically served with cream cheese or smoked salmon. In addition to these classic dishes, New York City’s food scene also includes a variety of international cuisines, with a particular emphasis on Italian, Chinese, and Jewish flavors. 

Finally, New York City has a thriving cocktail culture, with many bars and lounges serving creative and inventive drinks reflecting the city’s energy and sophistication. 

#1 New Orleans, Louisiana

Jambalaya

Ranked as the best foodie city, New Orleans’ most iconic dish is gumbo, a rich and hearty stew made with seafood, Andouille sausage, and okra, served over rice. Another must-try dish is the po’ boy sandwich, made with crispy fried seafood or roast beef, lettuce, tomato, and spicy remoulade sauce on a crusty French baguette. 

New Orleans is also famous for its jambalaya, a spicy and flavorful rice dish that typically includes chicken, sausage, shrimp, and Creole-style red beans and rice. In addition to these classic dishes, New Orleans’ food scene also has a variety of international cuisines, with a particular emphasis on French, African, and Caribbean flavors. 

Finally, New Orleans has a thriving cocktail culture, with many bars and lounges serving iconic drinks such as the Sazerac, the Hurricane, and the Ramos Gin Fizz.

Best Foodies Cities in the United States

Pack Your Bags and Appetite: 15 Best Foodie Cities in the U.S. Ranked

Visiting the best foodie cities in the U.S. is an unforgettable experience that allows you to indulge in a diverse range of culinary delights. Each city has its unique food culture and signature dishes you won’t find anywhere else, making it a great way to explore the country through your taste buds.

This article Pack Your Bags and Appetite: 15 Best Foodie Cities in the U.S. Ranked originally appeared on Wander With Alex.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexandrea Sumuel - Groves is a nationally syndicated travel writer and founder of the Wander With Alex travel blog. Her work has appeared on MSN, YAHOO!, Euronews, and FOX, ABC, and NBC affiliates across the United States. 

Alex travels to experience, eat, explore, and occasionally escape! She collaborates with destinations, vacation property management companies, and hospitality technology firms to provide her readers with exclusive insights and information.