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Top Foodie Vacations in the US: Culinary Destinations & Foods to Try While Visiting

by Cris Puscas

The go-to resource for choosing your dream culinary vacation. Find all you need to know about the top destinations and ways to elevate your cooking skills & knowledge.
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Any food lover would agree that one of the best ways to learn more about a new city or country is through its cuisine! 

And the destinations that have such culinary excellence attract the travelers merely through their dishes. 

During the past years, foodie vacations have increased in popularity all over the world. And the good ol’ USA is one of the favorite destinations to visit to indulge in scrumptious foods. 

You’ll be happy to know that there are many places where you can indulge in scrumptious foods across the USA.

To narrow down your choices, we are providing you with a list of top culinary destinations in the USA where you can enjoy various American delicacies. 

Note: BookCulinaryVacations offers a flexible cancellation policy. Should you not be able to travel as scheduled, we’d be happy to help you alter your booking with the same organizer or a different organizer.

Savannah, Georgia

 

shrimp and grits in georgia

Photo credit: Jason Riedy

If you want to have a taste of Southern charm, then Savannah is the place for you. From its oak tree-lined streets to its finest cuisines, the city will leave you craving for more.

Savannah is a foodie’s dream destination so no matter what your taste buds are craving, you are bound to find something to please them here.

Fried chicken is the holy grail of southern food. The chicken is coated in seasoned breading that is then fried. And while plenty destinations have their version of fried chicken, it’s the seasoning that sets the Savannah one apart!

Shrimp & grits is the quintessential food that nowadays can be found in high-end eateries across the country. Best enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or donner, this dish tastes different according to the chefs’ preferences to cook shrimps. The grits provide a creamy base while the shrimp on top is sauteed with butter with savory ingredients, such as smoked bacon, onions, garlic, and more.

Another dish that can be served anything is biscuits and gravy. The lunch and dinner options typically also include some fried chicken served on top of the biscuit.

Hoppin’ John or Carolina peas and rice is made with black-eyed peas rice, onion, and typically some pork meat.

No trip to Savannah is complete without tasting the fried green tomatoes. Typically fried in cornmeal, they can be served as an appetizer or can be incorporated in other dishes.

And if you crave some something sweet, try pralines, a candy made of pecans, sugar, butter, and cream. Or you might prefer a sweet potato pie, pecan pie, or banana pudding. Pair them with sweet tea.

 

Austin, Texas

 

Food lovers flock to Austin, Texas to taste the Tex-Mex dishes and its debacle barbecue.

Austin is the type of city where you can get gourmet foods at the good trucks. Suffice to say, there are many different options available for everyone.

Let’s start with BBQ. There’s good BBQ in many places across the USA but nothing even comes close to Austin. Texans take barbeque very seriously and the entire cooking process is laborious.

If you travel with friends or family, go for the family-style order, by the pound. Beef is king here, but pork ribs are also heavenly. Whatever you do, keep the sauce on the side and drench the meat in eat, while you eat.

Tacos make an appearance for breakfast. Most places offer signature combinations, but the most popular is the classic bacon, egg, and cheese.

And if you are after more Tex-Mex, try the enchiladas or the fajita platters.

Looking for the international fare? No problem. You can find gelato, French toast, ramen, pizza (Detroit style or Neapolitan), sushi, and more.

 

Nashville, Tennessee

 

Nashville hot chicken

Image credit: Shelby L. Bell

 

 

This city’s eateries include everything from Mexican street tacos to Nashville hot chicken. There are many dishes that this city offers which are worth traveling for!

Once a sleepy southern town popular among country music devotes, Nashville is now a bustling business city and still a mecca for music lovers.

You can find a variety of cuisines here, but most visitors will focus on the Southern fare.

Hot chicken, biscuits – best eaten hot with gravy, jam, and pimento cheese -, and doughnuts are just three of the dishes you shouldn’t miss while visiting.

A popular meal is Meat & Three. You can choose the meat you want, as well as three sides. Popular meats include fried chicken, pork chops, BBQ, and meatloaf.

 

San Diego, California

For the foodie travelers who enjoy seafood, San Diego is a great option.

While fish tacos can be found pretty much everywhere, there are other fish dishes you can sample. Various sushi options are available across the city’s restaurants.

Love fried chicken? Try the San Diego variety which is Korean-style fried chicken. The wings are sometimes sweet and sometimes spicy and always crispy on the outside and moist inside.

San Diego has an obsession with burgers. Topped with a pile of ingredients that are sometimes they are paired with an in-house craft beer or a cocktail.

Did someone say doughnuts? If you are looking for some fun preparations, you won’t be disappointed here. Christmas in July anyone? They have a doughnut for that!

 

Sonoma, California

sonoma winery

Sonoma's culinary scene is often shadowed by the Napa Valley, but it is just as impressive largely due to the plethora of food choices available.

Blessed with a large selection of seafood - Bodega Bay rockfish, crab, salmon, and halibut -, beef, wild mushrooms, and spectacular artisan cheeses, Sonoma offers plenty of scrumptious dishes built around local produce.

Try pan-roasted duck served with cauliflower puree, glazed carrots, onions, radish, and plum sauce. Or perhaps you prefer a duck leg with baba ganoush, pomegranate, and pistachio.

Roast chicken is typically served with seasonal vegetables, while crab comes in various salads or stews.

Burgers, pizza, pork chops, and goat cheese can also be found in many restaurants.

Don’t forget to try the many varieties of Peaches. They can be used as desert, an appetizer, or in a salad.

And of course, no trip to Sonoma is complete without trying the many wines produced here. From chardonnay to sauvignon blanc, rose, and more, you’ll find at least one to tickle your taste buds.

 

 

Houston, Texas

 

For people who love ethnic food, Houston should be on their bucket list. This city in Texas is famous for its BBQ and authentic Tex-Mex cuisines. But here international are equally famous.

From chicken and waffles to Pad Thai, brisket, crepes, and macarons you can easily tour the world’s cuisines just by visiting some restaurants in Houston.

Craving fajitas or a chicken sandwich? You can find them here, alongside tacos, biscuits and marmalade, fried chicken, and, why not, gyros!

You might be into baklava or perhaps some dim sum or lobster. You’ll be licking your fingers after trying them in this Texan city.

 

Charleston, South Carolina

 

Charleston is famous for its low country cuisine. Fresh seafood and local produce are ever-present in the dishes available throughout the city’s eateries.

Shrimp and grits is, without a doubt, the official dish of Charleston. Each restaurant has its own take on it, of course, and you can find the dish served any time of the day.

Another classic Southern food to try here is she-crab soup, featuring crab meat, crab roe, sherry, and heavy cream.

Fried chicken is another staple food. The spices make the difference and the recipes have been passed from one generation to another.

While New Orleans is the home of the po’ boy, Charleston has its own tasty variety, a sandwich stuffed with fried local shrimp or oysters.

BBQ, biscuits, oysters, fried green tomatoes, and sweet tea are also tasty and can be found all over the city.

 

Napa Valley, California

napa valley

Napa Valley is perhaps one of the most famous food-centric destinations in entire America. Why? For starters, it is home to Michelin starred restaurants, and it offers a bevy of highly-regarded wineries.

Reserving a table at one of Napa's prestigious dining establishments is not an easy task. Call ahead and reserve a table for your party.

Napa is the perfect place to have a picnic at a winery. Some places allow you to bring your own bask, others provide the food.

As for the restaurants in the city and in the Valley, make sure to try the lobster corn dog served on a stick with pickled-ramp remoulade, fried chicken, oysters, scallops, English muffins, stake, and mushroom soup. Pair them with signature cocktails, craft beers, or wine.

No trip to Napa is complete without joining a wine tour to sample the local wine varieties.

 

Chicago, Illinois

Italian beef sandwich

Photo credit: Ron Diggity

Known as “the windy city”, Chicago is filled with many types of regional varieties.

The Chicago style hot dog is a must-try, featuring mustard, relish onions, tomatoes, peppers, and a kosher pickle, served in a poppy seed bun.

More of a pizza fan? The local staple is the famous deep-dish pizza loaded with sausage, mushrooms, peppers, tomato sauce, mozzarella, and more toppings.

You should also try the Italian beef sandwich loaded with hot and sweet peppers and dipped in beef juice.

Or maybe you crave some Greek cuisine? Word is saganaki is excellent here and featured kasseri cheese flamed in brandy!

Still hungry? Tacos, cheeseburgers, corn beef, Polish sausage, and German fare are also found across the city, ready to make your taste buds sing.

And how about some cheesecake, shaved ice, or cinnamon rolls for dessert?

 


There you have it! These are just some of the best-known foodie places in America. If you’re planning a cross-country tour of the USA, be sure to stop by at one or more of these great cities!

 


Interested in learning how to whip up delicious authentic American cuisine right in your own kitchen? Why not sign yourself up for a culinary vacation? Your taste buds (and stomach) will surely thank you for it!

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