Where to Grab a Bite in These Foodie Cities

Vacations come in all shapes and sizes. Some people yearn for relaxation and a trip to the beach to wiggle their toes in the sand. Others prefer inland outdoorsy spots known for activities and sightseeing. Or maybe you’re a bleisure traveler wanting to unwind from a busy few days at a conference.

But, what if you just want to eat in some of the top food cities in the U.S.? Can’t say we blame you. We all love food, and the rise of sophisticated restaurants and social media-worthy hotspots have made traveling to cities for food more of the rule rather than the exception. In 2018, Americans, on average, spent $3,500 on food away from home, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Each city has its own footprint, a culinary stamp for which they are known for. We’re here to provide the top five foodie cities to grab a bite in. We apologize in advance for any drooling that may occur.

A sushi roll in the shape on a roulette table in Las Vegas_foodie cities

Where to Eat in Las Vegas, Nevada

Between checkbook-shredding gambling endeavors and late nights full of regretful decisions, Las Vegas has a sin-inducing stigma that pierces the desert air.

But Las Vegas is more than a destination for nightlife and glitzy over-the-top casino resorts. Although once known for its gluttonous buffets and high-end restaurants run by celebrity chefs, Las Vegas is now one of the top foodie cities in the country. Some food experts will encourage you to stay away from the Strip, a commercialized booby trap full of catchy names and oversized, overpriced portions. Well, we say embrace this area. For example, most casinos have some sort of steakhouse that seems as redundant as the place next door. That’s not the case inside the Sahara Hotel at Bazaar Meat by José Andrés. There aren’t any dainty vegan dishes here. This is a meat paradise. Scour the menu to find everything from beef tartares and carpaccios to Wagyu beef cheeks and a suckling pig roasted in a wood-fired oven. Andrés has another must-try place—é by José Andrés—located in a small private room inside a bar at the Cosmopolitan. With only nine seats, you’ll need to book this intimate experience weeks—or months—in advance.

In Las Vegas, everything is outrageous and extravagant, like the ridiculous milkshakes at Black Tap. These mile-high desserts start with frosting-lined rims and your toppings of choice. A Cinnamon Toast Crunch version piles on a Choco Taco, a pair of churros, and whipped cream. Good luck explaining that to your cardiologist.

Actually, “ridiculous” is also best to describe the Bloody Mary at Lavo inside the Palazzo. For $250, you can share a cocktail containing an entire lobster, six shrimp, and pork belly skewers. Because, why not?

Las Vegas is visually stunning, especially at night. Check out the 360-degree views the Stratosphere Hotel has to offer and grab a seat at Top of the World. Sip a cocktail, or two, and bask in the fascinating perspective of dining 800 feet in the air with the Las Vegas skyline as your backdrop. The food isn’t an afterthought here, though. Splurge on Wagyu beef for $30 an ounce.

The truth is, there’s much more to explore off the Strip⁠—hidden gems live everywhere. Head downtown to the O.G. Las Vegas where you’ll find Container Park, a mix of retail shops and restaurants. Bin 702 put itself on the map with unique takes on sandwiches and small plates. Does a turkey sandwich with Flamin’ Hot Cheeto spread or fig jam and smoked gouda interest you?

While still on the Strip (although far up), Tacos el Gordo is a reprieve from over-the-top meals. These Tijuana-style tacos make for a no-frills experience. Often times, the line stretches out the door as the tireless workers carve sizzling meats—get exotic with beef head, pork stomach, beef tongue, or beef guts—onto fresh, handmade tortillas.

A few blocks off the Strip, Sparrow + Wolf mashes old-world techniques with a fresh take on American cuisine. Try the Spanish octopus, braised lamb neck, or beef cheek and bone marrow dumplings and thank us later. The international scene is buzzing in Las Vegas and Chinatown is full of neighborhood joints dishing out modern twists on Asian staples. Monta Ramen is discreetly tucked away in a shopping center, but there’s nothing nondescript about this ramen shop.

Where to stay: The Westin is located near the middle of the Strip, perfect for staying near all the happenings while within reach of Fremont Street and the surrounding areas.

Vacationers enjoy a meal at a Korean barbecue joint.

Foodie Spots in Los Angeles, California

There’s so much to like about LA’s diverse food scene. Depending on the neighborhood, you can scarf down street tacos and Asian fare or dine in Michelin-rated restaurants and cozy West Hollywood/Beverly Hills eateries. There’s something for everyone—the budget diners and the high rollers.

Streetside views from outdoor and patio dining are quintessential Los Angeles, especially in the upscale, trendy parts of West Hollywood. A.O.C.’s outdoor seating area pairs the vibes of a wine bar with small plates. Take advantage of the wood-fired oven to savor in either the clams or hake. Angler is a recent addition to the budding food scene that showcases seafood—both raw and charred over an open fire.

In Koreatown, traditional Asian cuisine meets cultural mashups with taco joints and Korean barbecue places. But, we’re not sure what to label Here’s Looking At You. This isn’t a spot for the meat-and-potatoes folks. Bring an adventurous palate for smoked beef tongue, beef tartare with scallions and turnips, and frog legs with salsa negra.

Speaking of barbecue, the city is full of restaurants that highlight our nation’s infatuation with grilled meats. You won’t find smoked brisket, gigantic beef ribs, or pulled pork at Parks BBQ. This upscale Korean joint dazzles guests with prime cuts of Wagyu beef cooked on tabletop grills. Don’t forget to add on comfort favorites such as pancakes with kimchi and bulgogi beef with vegetables. Stick with the international theme and dine at Spoon and Pork for a modern spin on Filipino comfort food. Prepare your taste buds for patita, a deep-fried pork shank with chili vinegar garlic sauce.

Navigate south to Venice Beach for an eclectic mix of street magicians, skateboarders, fortune tellers, and bodybuilders. You’ll find Teddy’s Red Tacos a few steps off the main drag. Don’t even bother studying the menu. Go straight for the Deluxe Plate. You’ll get a taste of everything, although the quesadilla, a simple combination of beef and melty cheese, stands alone. They dip each piece in a rich red broth before hitting a hot griddle to create a crispy canvas for the slow-simmering beef.

Where to stay: It’s more cost effective to stay in LA over Hollywood or Beverly Hills. The Hilton Checkers was recently updated and is in a walkable area.

A worker shucks oysters_foodie cities

Where to Eat in New Orleans, Louisiana

You come here to eat. Plain and simple. New Orleans is such a culinary mecca that it arguably deserves its own article to accurately explain everything the city has to offer. The scene here is always changing, mixing in trendy restaurants with well-established eateries. Come hungry for crawfish, barbecue shrimp, po’boys, fresh-shucked oysters, and other Cajun favorites such as gumbo and jambalaya.

There are few landmarks with such an institutional following as Commander’s Palace. This is New Orleans in a nutshell—blending Creole and Cajun cuisines with favorites such as turtle soup, pecan-crusted fish, and bread pudding. Likewise for Galatoire’s, Antoine’s, and Arnaud’s, a trio of classic New Orleans restaurants where you might best blend in with a blazer or sports jacket.

New Orleans and po’boys go hand-in-hand. These sandwiches, generally loaded with fried seafood or roast beef, come on a French-style baguette that is crunchy on the exterior and pillowy on the inside. Parkway Bakery & Tavern is an iconic po’boy spot. You’ll need a dozen or more napkins to attack the roast beef po’boy slathered in gravy.

Sandwich lovers won’t limit themselves to just po’boys in this city, though. Central Grocery & Deli popularized the muffuletta, an Italian sandwich with olive salad on round sesame bread. For a non-traditional lunch between two slices of bread, Turkey and the Wolf serves up a rotating menu of unusual combinations, most notably the collard green melt, while Cochon Butcher makes use of the entire pig for head cheese. The pork belly teams up with mint for an unusually refreshing sandwich.

Do you like your oysters raw or charbroiled? Or both? Drago’s is famous for its hot version, doused in garlic, butter, and cheese and we recommend trying Casamento’s for raw oysters. Get a sandwich, too. The oyster loaf or soft shell crab loaf are a spin on the traditional po’boy. Make sure you check the calendar before you go, though. Casamento’s closes Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, and they shut down for the summer months (June, July, and August) when oysters aren’t in season.

Over time, New Orleans’s growth as a food city allowed the profiles and popularity of chefs to skyrocket, most notably Emeril Lagasse and Paul Prudhomme. Donald Link is the new hot name to know in the Crescent City, as his seven restaurants are highly regarded. Gianna, his latest venture, is a fresh spin on a menu with deep roots in southern Italy. This isn’t a spaghetti and meatball or chicken parmigiana type of place. Upgrade your palate with tortellini in chicken broth or rigatoni with pistachio pesto.

A few years ago, we would have wished you good luck trying to get a reservation at Shaya. The buzz at this Israeli hotspot has lessened, but it’s still considered a gem of NOLA’s Magazine Street. The same goes for Domenica, a quaint upscale Italian spot connected to The Roosevelt in the French Quarter. The pizzas are so popular here that the ownership group opened not one, but two, Pizza Domenica’s as an offshoot.

For classic New Orleans beignets, Café Beignet is a quicker stop, but if you’ve got the time and want to experience pop-up New Orleans brass bands, street magicians, and tarot card readers while you wait, the fried doughnuts at Café du Monde are doused with enough powdered sugar to book a trip to the dentist. They are good at any time of the day, even (especially?) for breakfast.

Where to stay: The French Quarter is where most of the food action is. If you can swing a weekday trip, you can generally catch a rate at The Roosevelt for less $200.

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Foodie Spots in New York, New York

According to TripAdvisor, there are 10,506 restaurants in New York City. That’s overwhelming. New places open each day, and it’s hard to keep up with what’s hot and what’s not.

Pizza and bagels. Pastrami sandwiches from a local Jewish deli. New York-style cheesecake. These are the foods most associated with New York City. There’s no sense trying to jam a round peg into a square hole, though. Much like other spots on this list, New York’s sheer size and geographic makeup of various cultural neighborhoods makes for an exciting food scene.

New York is so overpopulated with pizza joints (this isn’t a bad thing) that you can take a blindfold, walk 100 feet in any direction, and you’re likely to walk right into a slice shop. You can’t go wrong with Bleecker Street Pizza or Prince Street Pizza. The latter also serves square slices with spicy pepperoni cups. The grease dripping down your elbow is a sign that you’re at one of the top shops. If you’re up for a mini excursion, cross over the Brooklyn Bridge to Di Fara or Roberta’s.

Few do bagels better than Russ & Daughters in the Lower East Side. Pair a bagel with a board (you chose from smoked salmon, baked salmon, sturgeon, or smoked sablefish). And since we’ve already mentioned pastrami sandwiches, tackle the wait and long lines at Katz’s Delicatessen to devour the smoky, cured meats.

Stay in the Lower East Side and venture into Beauty And Essex (don’t confuse the entrance for a pawn shop; that’s where you go in.) Continue on through the doors to find a hip spot that becomes more lively as the night progresses. Load up on small bites with roasted bone marrow and wild mushroom toast before venturing into the main dishes. Braised chicken meatballs with truffles and scallops featuring cauliflower puree ensure your time here is well spent.

You need to hit up at least one Italian place while in NYC. Make that Carbone, where the rich red sauce is prevalent in many of the pasta dishes. You’ll remember the portion sizes here, as the veal parmigiana—equipped with a fried bone on the side perfect for a quick Instagram photo— resembles more of a pizza in size.

Where to stay: Hotel Indigo is conveniently located in the Lower East Side near several of the restaurants mentioned above. Plus, it has a rooftop bar with a hipster vibe called Mr. Purple.

foodie cities_ A Cuban sandwich on a presentation board

Where to Eat in Miami, Florida

What do you think of when you hear “Miami”? Exotic cars, fancy yachts, and thumping club beats that extend into the wee hours of the morning? Add a flourishing food scene to the list, mix in abundant sunshine, clear waters, and white sandy beaches, and south Florida is a vacation destination for a reason.

South Beach garners most of the attention in Miami for extravagant nightlife and Las Vegas-style restaurants. We recommend venturing inland to find notable hidden gems. Bakan, in the trendy neighborhood of Wynwood, features Aztec murals and a patio lined with cactuses. They serve traditional dishes such as enchiladas and quesadillas, but with a modern spin. The Flor de Calabaza quesadilla has zucchini flower and poblanos, while the Cangrejo Rey de Alaska tacos showcase Alaskan king crab with achiote butter.

Down the street, KYU, an Asian wood-fired concept, spreads across the culinary spectrum with twists on traditional dishes. The beef tenderloin comes with toasted garlic soy butter and roasted kimchi, and the tomahawk pork chop features sake-braised white beans.

A city steeped in Cuban roots, Little Havana showcases several notable restaurants that proudly carry the country’s flag. Versailles is one of the most notable tourist-flocking places. Try El Exquisito for ropa vieja (shredded beef stew) or lechon asado (cuban roasted pork). Cuban sandwiches in Miami are similar to fish tacos in California—many places have them and generally serve up a quality product.

Pivot to another local sandwich shop, La Sandwicherie. A South Beach staple since 1988, the sandwiches here are served on French baguettes with their famous french vinaigrette. The tropical sandwich—with avocado, mozzarella, papaya, mango, and pineapple—is a fresh alternative to the traditional heavy Cuban sandwich combination of roasted pork, ham, and cheese.

If you’re the type who snacks and snacks and snacks on tortilla chips at Mexican restaurants until you reach a full-on carbo load, then Taquiza is the place for you. The handmade blue corn tortillas are so exceptional here they are worthy of their own meal. Before they become tortillas, the nixtamal (corn partially cooked and soaked with calcium hydroxide) is used to make chips by dropping the fresh dough into the fryer. The result is a wonderful mix of a crispy outside with a fluffy, doughy inside. It’s like the Mexican version of the perfect french fry.

Located on the bay side of South Beach, Macchialina is quietly serving up some of the best pasta in Miami. You’ll struggle to find a better deal than Thursday’s $10 pasta dishes. Fast all day and order a wheelbarrow for your exit ride, because the handmade pasta transports you to a rustic village in southern Italy. You may think you hate beets, but don’t rush to judgment until you try the mezzaluna, a stuffed pasta with beets, hazelnuts, and ricotta in a brown butter sauce.

As if you didn’t need any more carbs in your life, Amare is a new Italian spot in the chic South of Fifth district. Yes, the pastas and raviolis are made in-house, but branch out with the carpaccio amare. They serve thinly sliced filet mignon with artichoke, asparagus, and truffle salt.

Where to stay: The Crowne Plaza Z Ocean Hotel is an all-suite spot a block away from the beach and just a short ride over the bridge to downtown Miami.

Want to eat your way through any of these cities? We can help assist you in the planning process, providing a booking experience that makes you feel confident and secure. Start your hotel search with us today. We’ve built a stress-free environment that allows you to find your perfect hotel, right near your target restaurants. We’ll then guide you to book directly with the hotel so get you on with your travels and your eats. Bon appetit!