There was a time when American food meant burgers, steaks and potatoes. Thanks to Food Network and recently, food blogging, Americans are so much more knowledgeable and adventurous when it comes to trying new cuisines. Today, you can find hints of Italian, Asian, Mexican and Mediterranean flavors on the menus of many American restaurants. Gastronomic tourism is becoming increasingly popular. Here are my favorite 3 U.S. cities for foodies looking for their next culinary destination.
New Orleans, Louisiana
I actually know people who travel all the way to New Orleans just to eat oysters and drink beer at the Acme Oyster House. I’ve read so much about the gastronomy in New Orleans that when I finally visited last December, I knew exactly where and what I was going to eat. Sometimes, these readings really raised your expectations. Luckily, New Orleans did not disappoint. I was very happy with the festive Saturday brunch at Commander’s Palace, complete with New Orleans style jazz. That it is located in the Garden District is a plus. Cafe Du Monde was cramped with tourists, so we did not get the chance to try their famed beignet (part French pastry, part doughnut with a liberal dusting of powdered sugar). But, we found an even better alternative. Tucked in off of Bourbon Street is a cozy little place called Cafe Beignet, serving delicious beignets and gumbo in a relax courtyard setting, complete with a band playing jazz and Christmas songs.
There is no question that New Orleans is the ultimate foodie’s paradise. The number of restaurants available is mind boggling. The good news is that no matter where you go, the food is always good.
Where to stay: Away from the French Quarter if you like your peace and quiet.
When to visit: Avoid visiting New Orleans in the summer. The heat is unbearable and smell is nauseating. The best time to visit is from fall to spring. Christmas time is especially beautiful when the city is all decked out with festive lights.
What to buy: Zatarain’s Blackened Seasonings and Creole Mustard.
Any foodie worth his or her salt is familiar with Burlington. Or at least with Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. Fans of the ice cream should pay a tour of the factory in Waterbury, about half hour south of Burlington. If visiting in the fall, you will be rewarded with spectacular foliage along the way. Another fun thing to do is apple picking at Shelburne Orchards. The 80-acre farm is located on the shores of Lake Champlain, which serves as a backdrop for brilliantly colored landscape come autumn.
The most populated city in Vermont, Burlington, is big on buying local. The brick-paved Church Street Marketplace is a pedestrian mall, lined with shops selling local products, and cafes and restaurants dishing out food cooked with the freshest local ingredients. Check out local favorites like Penny Cluse Cafe for breakfast or lunch, or American Flatbread for outstanding flatbread pizzas and hand-crafted beer.
Where to stay: Marriott Courtyard Burlington Harbor
When to visit: Summer and fall are two perfect seasons to visit Burlington.
What to buy: Maple syrup and Lake Champlain Chocolates, apples
With a total of 52 institutions of higher education in metropolitan Boston alone, thousands of students from all over the world descend upon the city every fall. Is it any wonder the food scene is so varied and international? Cuisines from German to Italian to Asian and Middle Eastern can be found in just about any neighborhood. Any foodie would be thrilled to find 2 Whole Foods Markets, 14 Trader Joes and countless Asian supermarkets in the greater Boston area.
Some things never change. Old standbys like pizza at Regina Pizzeria in the North End, ice cream at Toscanini’s in Cambridge, creamy clam chowder and seafood at Legal Seafood, and crispy buttery, lemon herbed chicken at Hammersley Bistros’ in the South End remain popular. New favorites like the raw bar and lobster rolls at Neptune Oyster, Mediterranean fare at Oleana and Sofra, both in Cambridge, and Asian at Myers and Chang in the South End are certainly worth a trip. Or two.
Where to stay: the Marriott in Kendall Square
When to visit: spring to fall
What to buy: Lobsters
More from this Contributor:
Top 5 Romantic Restaurants in Boston
Best Northeastern Fall Weekend Getaways
Unique Asian Desserts