Global Tastemakers is our first-ever reader’s choice awards, celebrating the best culinary destinations in the U.S. and abroad. F&W readers voted based on travel completed within the past three years, on categories including restaurants and bars, cities, hotels, airports, airlines, and cruises. Due to the limitations of pandemic travel, this year’s Global Tastemakers winners reflect a smaller portion of the globe. In many categories, we’re including an editor’s pick to shout out some more culinary destinations in places you can’t miss. See all the winners at foodandwine.com/globaltastemakers.
If neighborhoods are the gateway to a city’s soul, then its locally loved restaurants are its lifeblood. In addition to serving a variety of cuisines, these smaller, family-owned joints offer a breath of fresh air from the corporate chains that often dominate urban real estate.
While visiting every neighborhood restaurant that a city has to offer is pretty much impossible, you can absolutely hit its highlights. Our readers voted these cities the best in the country for neighborhood dining. Check out the highlights here — and don’t be surprised, should a random craving strike.
There’s no better place to fill your stomach than New Orleans. Home to decades-old Creole establishments, cocktail bars, and standout bakeries, New Orleans’ food scene spans a variety of eclectic neighborhoods, from the bustling French Quarter to Central City to the Warehouse District and beyond. For late-night beignets and pleasantly strong Vieux Carrés, look to Café du Monde and Carousel in the French Quarter.
Fine-dining fans, check out the CBD/Warehouse district for some of the city’s most renowned establishments, including Compère Lapin and Willa Jean. For burgers, waffles, and some of the city’s best po-boy sandwiches, head Uptown (specifically to Domilise’s for the latter), where you’ll also find over a hundred eateries boasting Mexican, Lebanese, and a variety of cuisines. For a great mix of fine-dining establishments, local pubs, sushi, and po-boy shops, the Central City/Garden District’s famed Magazine Street is the place to be. While there, be sure to stop at Commander’s Palace, one of the most breathtaking (and historic) restaurants in all of New Orleans.
Visiting all of New York’s neighborhoods would take a lifetime, so knowing a few spectacular places is key. A few namesake neighborhoods ring true: For example, the best Chinese is definitely found in Chinatown. However, for the city’s best Italian, steer clear of Little Italy and head to Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens or Cobble Hill (Frankies 457 Spuntino, Lucali, Emilio’s Ballato) — or even better, Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.
New York obviously isn’t short on fine-dining establishments. However, it’s really the hidden gems tucked away in neighborhoods like the East Village (noreetuh, Café Mogador), Astoria (Astoria Seafood, Agnanti), and Crown Heights (Barboncino, Oxalis) that boast some of the city’s best cooking. Remember that venturing off the beaten path is always a good idea, so don’t be afraid to hop the 7 train into Queens, the R down to Bay Ridge, or the 2 train up to 174th Street in the Bronx to explore some of the city’s most delicious and memorable food.
San Francisco has long been known for its spectacular, immigrant-powered restaurants. The Mission is probably San Francisco’s most popular neighborhood, known for housing some of the best taquerias in the country (so much so, that the term “Mission-style burritos” is now ubiquitous). Don’t sleep on La Taquería, Taquería El Farolito, and El Gran Taco Loco.
For world-class Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and more, The Richmond District promises some of the city’s best neighborhood restaurants — check out Good Luck Dim Sum, Koja Kitchen, and Burmese Kitchen to start. The Tenderloin is also home to some of the city’s best and most affordable food options, including Brenda’s French Soul Food, Pakwan Restaurant, and Saigon Sandwich. For authentic Italian at its finest, look past the obvious tourist traps in North Beach and head to Sotto Mare, Original Joe’s, or Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. For Michelin-starred pasta (SPQR) and world-class bakeries (B Patisserie), Pacific Heights is where it’s at.
Beef sandwiches, deep-dish pizza, and Italian-style hot dogs are just a few of the many foods that Chicago is known for. However, the city’s diverse neighborhoods – beyond the ones serving oversized sandwiches and lasagna-like pizza – are what make its food scene so spectacular. For a beautiful balance between fine and casual dining, head to Lincoln Park, the home of world-famous Alinea.
Fans of diner classics (The Chicago Diner, Cozy Corner Restaurant & Pancake House) and Mexican (Mi Tocaya Antojería, Taqueria Chingon) will find joy in Lincoln Park. Side note, Pilsen is also a solid neighborhood for those seeking tacos. For a lively mix of New American, German, Thai, and other cuisines, West End is unmatched, and don’t skip Fatso’s Last Stand for late-night hot dogs.
Charleston and Southern comfort food go hand in hand, though when it comes to exploring the city, there are a few neighborhoods that are simply unmissable for great restaurants, including King Street (Upper and Lower), James Island, NoMo, and Cannonborough/Elliotborough. For the best Thai food (Vietnamese, too), head downtown to Lower King Street.
For fine-dining options, head north to Upper King and check out Indaco, 167 Raw Oyster Bar, and Frannie & the Fox. Nearby, off-the-beaten-path biscuit spots (Xiao Bao Biscuit) and New American restaurants (Sorghum & Salt, The Grocery) shine in Cannonborough/Elliotborough. Venturing to the incredible restaurants in slightly out-of-the-way neighborhoods (looking at you, North Central and Johns Island) is totally worth it.
Exploring all of Los Angeles’ neighborhoods takes quite a bit of time — and certainly, a good number of visits if you’re not a local. However, the good news is that no matter where you land, good food can be found within arm’s reach in all corners of the City of Angels, from Hollywood to Venice to South Bay, Highland Park, and beyond. For starters, many of LA’s neighborhoods go by the cultures and cuisines that dominate them, such as Chinatown, Little Armenia, Thai Town, and Little Tokyo. Chinatown is the city’s OG food-focused neighborhood, and heavy hitters such as Yang Chow and Hop Li Seafood make it just as relevant today.
It’s always worth venturing to the vibrant Venice Beach area, home to Charcoal, Wurstküche, Tocaya, and Gjelina. Hollywood’s got great pizza joints, such as the Naples-born L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele and Pizzeria Mozza. Crucially, look to Koreatown (Sun Nong Dan) and San Gabriel Valley for the city’s best dim sum, dumplings, and Sichuan noodles. Seafood lovers will find bliss in Santa Monica (especially at Blue Plate Oysterette). For extremely well-executed Italian and New American fare, look no further than Silver Lake — Alimento, The Kitchen, and Botanica Restaurant, to be specific.
New Mexico is home to one of the United States’ most dynamic food scenes. Whether Italian, New American, or Mexican is what you’re after, planning a trip to this southwesterly city promises to satisfy a number of culinary cravings. For some of the city’s best New Mexican, head to vegetarian-friendly La Choza (translates to “the shed”) or Sazón.
For tasty New American cuisine, check out Geronimo, Joseph’s Culinary Pub, and Radish & Rye. For Indian, Paper Dosas is the place to go, and you can’t go wrong with a stop at Jambo Café for African-Caribbean infusion. For dessert, you can’t miss Kakawa Chocolate House.
Although Charleston tends to get much of the spotlight, food-focused travelers will take equal delight in the lesser-known — yet equally compelling — culinary scene of Savannah. Similarly, Savannah is known for its Southern-forward fare and barbecue favorites, including fried chicken, grits, peaches, and the city’s eponymous Savannah red rice.
Eating around Savannah’s Historic District never disappoints; it boasts James Beard Award-winning restaurant The Grey, as well as Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room, Alligator Soul, and Husk Savannah. Don’t miss the artsy Starland District, which is full of hidden gems. Check out Starland Yard, Elizabeth on 37th, Green Truck Neighborhood Pub, and Brochu’s Family Tradition, helmed by Michelin-starred chef Andrew Brochu.
Portland is a longtime hotspot for food-loving travelers, and it’s really no surprise why. The birthplace of famed food critic James Beard, Portland’s food scene covers a variety of cultures and flavors, spread across fine-dining establishments and no-frills food carts alike. Known for its brick-lined streets, the Pearl District is beloved for its Mediterranean and New American establishments, including Elenis Philoxenia and Brix Tavern.
Just west of Pearl sits Nob Hill, an urban oasis that’s home to some of the city’s best sushi (Bamboo Sushi), thin-crust pizza (Please Louise), and burgers (Nob Hill Bar & Grill). Old Town Chinatown is a no-brainer for impeccable tea houses and regional Chinese cuisine. Division is home to one of the city’s most exciting restaurant scenes (Xic, Malka, Nakhon Sawan, Pine State Biscuits), and for food carts that promise to satisfy, especially on a budget, look no further than Chicken and Guns and Pyro Pizza in Hawthorne.
Seattle’s cultural diversity is what makes it so great. Head to the city’s International District for small-yet-unmissable gems like Maneki and Sichuan Cuisine. For accessible dining on any budget, Capitol Hill is the place to be (Stateside for French-Vietnamese fusion, Spinasse for Italian, Momiji for Japanese, and Spice Waala for Indian street food).
Columbia City is an equally diverse neighborhood, beloved for Italian at La Medusa, Kezira Café for Ethiopian, Lil Red Takeout for Jamaican, and seasonal American fare at Off Alley, while Ballard excels in coffee shops, brunch spots, and craft breweries. Additionally, the city’s waterfront proximity makes seafood the star of many menus — even the airport throws an annual festival for the arrival of Alaskan Copper Salmon. Check out Elliott’s Oyster House, Manolin, and The Walrus and the Carpenter, and, of course, a visit to Pike Place Market is still non-negotiable.