Some American cities are synonymous with good eating. New York, for instance, is a multi-ethnic feast, from Coney Island hotdogs to fabulous high-end dining. And who can visit New Orleans without scarfing down beignets and po'boys? But there are so many more great foodie vacations in the U.S. to consider. Here's a guide to just a few overlooked destinations for foodie travel, in all four corners of the United States.
Three great things come together in the kitchens of Charleston: fresh seafood, Southern staples and Gullah, the unique African heritage preserved by the descendants of lowcountry slaves. There are plenty of ways to taste this historic city. For classic comfort food, try Virginia's on King; for new Southern cuisine (and melt-in-your-mouth cornbread), head to Husk. Culinary Tours of Charleston offers both a traditional tasting tour, which visits local restaurants and bakeries, and a serious foodie tour that takes visitors into the kitchens of Charleston chefs. Visit the Charleston City Market to pick up some benne wafers and crab seasoning to take home.
Bon Appetit magazine called Portland "the foodiest small town in America," and it's easy to see why. Local-focused Fore Street is a must-eat, as is the Eventide Oyster Co. And for the classic butter-and-bib experience, hit the Portland Lobster Company. Some say this restaurant is too touristy, but everyone agrees that live music and a lobster roll on the waterfront is an essential part of a Maine foodie vacation.
The Maine Foodie Tours company makes it easy to sample the best of Maine - on foot, by bike or on a trolley. The classic culinary walking tour includes smoked seafood, wild blueberry preserves, artisan cheeses and the original whoopie pie. Maine Foodie Tours also offers a "Dessert First!" tour with truffles, ice cream and more.
Most people think of California when they think about foodie vacations in the U.S. But head north to Seattle and you'll discover a surprising array of flavors. Italian food? Try The Pink Door, properly named, with entertainment from live bands and trapeze artists. Super-fresh sushi? Sushi Kappo Tamura is a new standout. Clam chowder? Hit the legendary Ivar's. For a little taste of everything, join a foodie tour offered by Savor Seattle Tours that visits dining destinations in Belltown, downtown Seattle, and Pike Place Market.
Sunset magazine recently declared Phoenix-Scottsdale the best foodie town in the Southwest, beating Tucson by a hair. Your foodie vacation must include Mexican, obviously, from the filets and seafood at The Mission to the delectable red and green chili burritos at hole-in-the-wall Rito's. But Phoenix has much more to offer: Thai, Vietnamese, Jamaican, Brazilian, even soul food. Taste It Tours offers eclectic foodie tours of downtown Phoenix (just remember they close for the summer).