The 10 Best US Road Trip Destinations For Foodies
Updated: Dec 21, 2019
Read my original story published on PopSugar, HERE.
For American travelers, road trips are the remedy for that urge to be adventurous and escape everyday life without the process of flying. You don't have to travel far to find a nearby vibrant and delicious city in the States. Many top cities remain a popular choice, but the constant revolution of up-and-coming culinary destinations leave food-lovers on their toes. Whether you're taking a spontaneous weekend getaway or a month-long journey, grab your friends, hit the open road with your windows down, and eat your way through the country in these top 10 foodie destinations.
1. New York, NY
New York is true food mecca, allowing visitors to go on a gastronomic trip around the world without leaving the city. From bagels to pizza to five-star dining, the iconic city has no shortage of bucket-list worthy eats.
Road trippers flock to New York in the Summer to experience the many outdoor foodie markets, such as Smorgasburg and Broadway Bites that offer skyline views, diverse food vendors, and refreshing beverages. To experience the excitement of the city's food scene firsthand, visitors can try unique combinations such as ramen burgers, fried chicken on a waffle cone, or chicken parmesan served in a garlic knot bun.
2. Chicago, IL
Chicago is filled with the best chefs in the nation (Grant Achatz, anyone?), award-winning restaurants, and signature foods like deep-dish pizza at Lou Malnati's and Chicago-style hot dogs at Superdawg. It's home to a flourishing culinary scene, including plenty of diverse ethnic restaurants and local innovations.
Fine diners love Travelle Kitchen + Bar, a casually elegant restaurant, lounge, and bar featuring Chef Ricardo Jarquin's seasonal American cuisine made with fresh ingredients utilizing his connection with some of the finest farms, ranches, and orchards in the nation. Whether you're looking for fine dining or quick cheap eats, there's an endless list of must-try restaurants in Chi-Town that foodies go crazy over.
3. New Orleans, LA
New Orleans is an ideal destination for foodies with its spicy Cajun dishes and French cuisine that has been infused with a multitude of culinary influences. Find fine dining and historic cafes all around the city, from the bustling French Quarter to the uptown Garden District.
Food-lovers are drawn to NOLA to indulge in the famous beignets at Cafe Du Monde or taste the local culture with some gumbo. Cocktail connoisseurs love Public Belt, Hilton New Orleans Riverside's piano cocktail lounge that is inspired by the city's iconic jazz scene with live music from living legend Joe Krown — an influential pianist in the NOLA music scene — and hand-crafted, Storyville-themed cocktails.
4. Austin, TX
Austin boasts numerous world-renowned chefs while remaining true to its roots with local fare from taco shops and food trucks. It has a booming food scene and is quickly becoming the top US city on every foodie's bucket list. To sample the most delicious food trucks in Austin all in one place, travelers head to Trailer Food Tuesdays, a series of food truck gatherings on the last Tuesday of each month.
Known to have some of the best barbecue in the country, top joints worth waiting in line for include Smokey Denmark's, Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ, and Micklethwait Craft Meats, an outdoor trailer known for its smoked-sausage selection and outdoor picnic seating.
5. Lexington, KY
Once known only for its 400 horse farms and bourbon, Lexington has emerged as a culinary destination for national and international visitors with 120 locally owned restaurants, a doughnut trail, a new craft beer brewgrass trail, and more. Lexington is the next (and most unexpected) Southern city to lead the food hall trend with The Barn at Fritz Farm featuring an all-local, all-independent lineup of restaurateurs with craft ice cream, pasture-raised fried chicken, Greek street food, Japanese ramen, and more.
Vacant for decades, Lexington's Distillery District is becoming the city's hottest retail, culinary, and entertainment hub with the reopening of the original James Pepper Distillery (built in 1879) along with current hotspots such as food truck-turned-restaurant Middle Fork, Ethereal Brewing Craft Brewery, The Village Idiot, and Crank & Boom Craft Ice Cream, with more planned to open.
6. Portland, OR
Surrounded by greenery, mountains, and rivers, Portland has an impressive array of quirky coffee shops, lively bars, and meat-obsessed restaurants. Here, food-lovers can find everything for an extremely affordable price. For those with a sweet tooth, Voodoo Doughnuts, the cash-only bakeshop that serves creative, colorful, and quirky doughnuts (like the Portland Cream), is a must.
Portland's geography and climate allow farmers to grow a wide array of ingredients for the city's talented chefs to include in innovative cuisines. Broder Cafe is a must-try Swedish restaurant in Portland that serves unique cuisine serving everything from ableskiver (Danish pancakes) to Swedish hash.
7. Reno Tahoe, NV
Reno Tahoe is in the midst of a huge food movement, as it's filled with eateries that road trippers must make room for. With nearly 200 local farms and ranches, gastropubs, craft breweries, and a popular food truck scene along the river, it's definitely a hidden gem of a destination on the West Coast. Hit up Death & Taxes for fresh artisanal cocktails made with seasonal ingredients, house-made syrups, and infusions.
Travelers can stop by Reno Street Food, the weekly Summer gathering of the destination's best food trucks, which offers everything from wine ice cream (yes, boozy ice cream and sorbets), spicy burgers, gourmet wraps, award-winning barbecue, Asian-Hawaiian fusion, and vegan food. You can also enjoy fresh picked produce from some of the finest growers in the region at the Downtown Reno Farmers Market.
8. Burlington, VT
The land of endless beer, wine, and cheese, Burlington is a hidden gem in food paradise. Filled with culinary-themed hotels, farmers markets, and local breweries, foodies will never have issues finding something new to try. Also, it's home of the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory, and ice cream fans can watch where all the magic happens on a tour. At the weekly Burlington Farmers Market, travelers can indulge in various sweet and savory treats, taste locally made cheese, sample maple syrups, and picnic in the city's historic downtown.
Many people don't know that Burlington has long been known as a go-to destination for beer enthusiasts, and this year Hotel Vermont is inviting travelers to indulge in six of Maine's best breweries in anticipation of the 25th Annual Vermont Brewers Festival. Another hotel catering to foodies, The Essex, is a culinary hotel and spa that is perfect for those interested in learning some new tips from its culinary school, Cook Academy, which is located on property.
9. Washington DC
DC's hippest feasting ground, Union Market, is a revived midcentury bazaar that holds food stalls, casual restaurants, and kitchenware boutiques in the vibrant NoMa district. With plenty of Instagram-worthy eats, foodies love Buffalo and Bergen's loaded Bloody Mary (topped with a mini lox and cream cheese bagel) and The District Fishwife, a 440-square-foot fish market with insanely fresh Hawaiian poke bowls.
History-obsessed travelers can dine at Plume to indulge in the country's largest Madeira collection (the libation used to toast the signing of the Declaration of Independence), which currently offers one of the last bottles of 1720 Madeira in the world.
10. San Francisco, CA
Sourdough, Dungeness crab, clam chowder — these are just a few of the foods San Francisco is known for. Filled with farmers markets, Michelin-starred restaurants, and delicious hole-in-the-wall eateries, San Francisco attracts travelers who love a variety of neighborhoods to explore.
Seafood-lovers can't miss Hog Island Oyster Bar at the San Francisco Ferry Building for fantastic views and even better food. For drinks, stop by the newly opened and exclusive Tasting Room at the The Anchor Distilling Company, a unique penthouse tasting of the distillery's signature spirits in Potrero Hill.