These Are the Best U.S. Cities for Food 2023
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.
A good meal is a powerful motivator — it can get us through the day, be an act of love, and inspire an entire vacation. There are some cities that stand out for their culinary scenes, whether it’s an especially creative community of chefs or a regional ingredient you can’t find anywhere else.
This year, our readers voted on the destinations around the United States that serve up the best food and drinks. Whether it’s a city that allows you to eat your way around the globe in a single afternoon or a place that’s a bit more focused on its local dishes, the winners showcase a range that celebrates the people (and their roots) living in these communities.
Ahead, we broke down the 10 best cities around the country for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between, as voted by the people who love them most.
You can’t walk a block without passing at least three restaurants in New York City, no matter which borough you’re in. The city’s diverse population is directly manifested in its food scene. What makes New York City such a great food city is its range (for all budgets). In one afternoon, you can snack on dumplings from Nom Wah Tea Parlor, get lost in an adobada taco (or two) at Los Tacos No. 1, and nibble on a pastry from Frenchette Bakery. Alternatively, load up on reservations at the city’s buzziest tables: Dame, Gage & Tollner, Cote, or Dhamaka. You can find a $10 meal that’s just as unforgettable as a $200 dinner, and that alone deserves a trophy.
Unlike New York City, New Orleans is known for a suite of iconic dishes. Gumbo, po’boys, red beans and rice, beignets, sno-balls — the must-have eats of the city are nostalgic, fueled by Cajun, Creole, and soul food spirit. All dinner reservations aside, the energy surrounding New Orleans is the perfect digestif: Every meal should be followed up with a walk along the city’s buzzy streets, lined with live music spilling out of venues. If you’re looking for some recommendations, check out 2022 F&W Best New Chef Ana Castro’s guide to the best eats in the city — and don’t miss a visit to her spot, Lengua Madre.
We can thank San Francisco for many of our favorite things: sourdough bread, the Impossible burger, and pioneering the farm-to-table movement. But with more than 50 Michelin-star restaurants and deep culinary roots representing cultures from around the globe, the city hits a delicious note between “historic” and “trending.” San Fransico is surrounded by world-renowned wineries dotted in the hills of Napa Valley and Sonoma, and the dedication to the craft shines on menus and in wine bars across the Bay Area. And you’re never too far from the oldest Chinatown neighborhood in the United States, which is home to Grant Avenue, the beating heart of this community. Do yourself a favor and spend an entire day popping in and out of restaurants, tea shops, herbalists, and karaoke bars.
Los Angeles is a city to see and be seen — and some of the most popular venues for doing so are the city’s restaurants, bars, and cafés. You never know when you’re going to run into a pop-up led by a famous chef, which is part of the city’s unexpected and magical energy. From barbecue (a scene that’s experienced a semi-recent boom in the area) and inventive food trucks to iconic taquerias like Mariscos Jalisco, there’s variety and range outside the usual Hollywood hot spots. Looking for recs? Don’t miss Found Oyster for the vibes, Horses for the cocktails, and Sapp Coffee Shop for boat noodles (according to 2022 F&W Best New Chef Justin Pichetrungsi—read his full guide here).
From its wineries (the city sits in the meeting spot of the Willamette Valley and the Columbia River Gorge) to the food cart culture, Portland is a haven for food enthusiasts. The city is notably into vegan cuisine and often sets the tone for trends that spread across the country. The surrounding Willamette Valley offers fresher-than-fresh produce (thanks to its decreased pollution compared to other food cities in the U.S.), much of which can be purchased at the many farmer’s markets around town. But don’t be fooled: There are world-class restaurants and wineries to be experienced: Adelsheim Vineyard, The Portland Mercado (a hub for Latino food and culture), Mama Bird for the fan-favorite grilled chicken, and Carlton Winemakers Studio are all great places to start.
There’s a lot to eat in the Windy City, not even including the hot dogs and deep-dish pizza Chicago is known for. The Midwest mindset means that restaurants, bars, and cafés are warm and welcoming — more often than not, giving off the feeling that you’ve just walked into a spot a friend owns. Communities of immigrants pepper the city’s 77 neighborhoods, offering unforgettable no-frills meals spanning the globe. Don’t miss Alinea for the tasting menu, Mako for omakase, Dovetail Brewery for a flight, and George’s Deep Dish for a pie — and don’t skip at least one shot of Malört at a dive bar.
It’s easy to fixate on Charleston’s seafood — and you certainly should spend some time doing that — but there are also a lot of dining experiences that make the most of the city’s scenery (proof: one, in particular, was named the most popular food experience in the world by TripAdvisor in 2021). It’s easy to have the best day ever, wandering from the coffee shop (check out The Daily) to brunch (Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit) to a wine bar (we recommend Graft Wine Shop & Wine Bar) to your dinner reservation (Renzo). And make a few pit stops for an oyster happy hour or two.
When we asked local chefs for their favorite Miami restaurants, the variety of answers was a testament to the many hats this town wears: Catalan cuisine at Niu Kitchen, seafood at Joe’s Stone Crab, Chinese dishes at Hales Blackbrick, sushi at Pubbelly, Cuban fare at Ariete, and Latin-American flavors at Amara at Paraiso. Parties never quite end in Miami, and dinner can quickly turn into an hours-long experience of making friends and post-dinner drinks at one of the many late-night bars.
San Diego hasn’t always been known for its food scene, and that’s why we’re so excited to see it chosen in this year’s awards. Many of the city’s hottest restaurants have experienced an evolution in the scene — Matsu, a modern Japanese joint from Chef William Eick, is a great example, as it was originally a pop-up before opening its doors in the Tremont District. San Diego is also becoming a hub of international chains making their first appearance in the States, like Jomaru Korean Hot Pot. There’s also fine dining to experience, from the Michelin-starred Addison to the speakeasy vibes of Raised By Wolves.
There is so much to love about Austin, and the votes rolled in for this Tex-Mex paradise. While there are plenty of places where you can surround yourself with options, there are also establishments paying homage to the rich roots of a single ingredient — like Suerte’s dedication to dishes incorporating masa. The attention to detail in Austin is hard to miss, rivaled only by the passion of local chefs and eaters. Don’t miss out on barbecue food trucks, mural-covered dive bars, and the local beer. Make time for Live Oak Brewing Company, Meanwhile Beer, and Oddwood Brewing (where you can also order a pub-style pizza).