Working on the road has its advantages, such as visiting new locations, sightseeing after work, and excellent food. If you choose the right cities, your work travel can result in you tasting the cooking of some of the finest chefs in the world. Where should you prioritize traveling to though?
1. New York City
Place the city that never sleeps at the top of your list. Known for its excellent food, The Big Apple serves way more than fruit. Some of the most storied restaurants ever operate here, such as Tavern on the Green. Many famous chefs founded restaurants in NYC, including Bobby Flay and Gordon Ramsey. Whether you want a hamburger, which many of Flay’s famous eateries offer, or filet mignon, the fare of Ramsey, you can find it in this city.
Although Times Square in Manhattan offers a multitude of shops where you can purchase a new key fob or dress, it also provides food trucks galore. Whether in the Square or just down the street from it, food trucks sell the hot dogs and corn dogs for which the city became famous. Head to Brooklyn or Queens for succulent pizza, but ask whether the pizzeria serves its southern Italian style or northern Italian style. That lets you know if they will serve you thin crust or regular crust. You can find a deep dish pizzeria, but those serve Americanized pizza. It copies the thickness of focaccia bread and tops it with thick slices of pepperoni or sausage with glorious melted cheese.
Explore Chinatown to taste authentic Chinese food. Also, don’t miss the opportunity to dine on traditional Korean, Japanese, and Thai food. The melting pot of New York also offers French fare, Sudanese, Ethiopian, Persian, Indian, and German food. Hispanic neighborhoods feature bodegas, corner convenience stores that sell groceries, cigarettes, and street food, typically empanadas and tacos. Besides Tex-Mex food, the city’s restaurants also offer Spanish food, usually tapas, and traditional Mexican, and Central American delights. New York ranks number one for its food diversity and well-known eateries.
The Texas city of Austin offers some of the best summer camps for sports in the country, as does the adjacent state of Oklahoma. Instead of dropping your kids off at the airport to fly into Austin alone, drive them there, so you can drop them off at camp and enjoy some excellent food, like Stubbs’s Barbeque.
Eat breakfast any time of day at the Magnolia Café, established in 1979. Famous for its gingerbread pancakes, this dinner offers many complimentary side dishes, including eggs any style, bacon, sausage, or fresh fruit. This café offers vegetarian options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Austin’s restaurants serve full meals until late at night, especially on Sixth Street, the location of many live music venues. You won’t have to settle for bar food with the immense number of taquerias on the street. Enjoy traditional Mexican or Tex-Mex.
3. San Francisco
If Rice-a-Roni commercials represent your sum total knowledge of this great city known for excellent food, you are in for a treat! Flip a coin to decide whether to start at the Pier or Chinatown. Either way tastes great.
Eateries along the Pier serve fresh fish. We mean freshly caught, just off of the trawler fish. Enjoy it grilled, fried, seared, blackened, or something else entirely. Just come hungry because restaurants, like Cha Ca at Bodega SF, serve you whole fish. Sidle up to the banquet table buffet at Amber India Restaurant or Saha for a delicious selection of favorite foods. Eat all you like, but remember that no one can actually roll you home.
Those people who visit the great Southern U.S. city of Atlanta, typically expect excellent food in the guise of Southern delights like shrimp and grits and pork chops. The city does deliver that but also delivers many unexpected cuisines like French and traditional Chinese food at The Food Terminal. For the former, think baguettes oozing butter and Croque Monsieur, for the latter, envision fried pig ears and spicy okra.
Many eateries in Atlanta close for a day to re-stock and give their staff a well-deserved break. Check their website for hours and days open. You can count on one Atlanta staple any day of the year – downtown’s 24-hour diner, Landmark Diner. If it proves too crowded, hit the Metro Café, just a few blocks away.
5. New Orleans
Of course, the fair Southern city of New Orleans makes this excellent food list. Start at Mother’s for some grits topped however you like. It serves a massive menu, so prepare to make some tough decisions. Located in the Lower Garden District, the New Orleans institution offers a respite from the hubbub of Canal Street.
If you take a cemetery tour to view historical gravestones and hear the Big Easy’s many ghost stories, plan for either an early or a late dinner. The best tours happen at night and start at about dinner time of 7 p.m. Find a spot near one of the swamp tours that serves fried alligator. It really does taste a bit like chicken. This city serves fresh-caught freshwater seafood from the Mississippi River and saltwater seafood from the Gulf of Mexico. Have it any way you like, but before you leave the city, try the blackened Cajun catfish at least once.
6. Washington, D.C.
Reversing direction to the northern states and the nation’s capital, we stop in Washington, D.C., home to some seriously excellent food, such as the steaks at Babe’s. Home to many power brokers, you can find almost any variety of food here. Pull the window draperies shut at one of the city’s mom-and-pop Italian restaurants though and enjoy a private dining experience with family or your special someone. You can’t go wrong anywhere the focaccia gets baked daily and the marinara slow simmers.
While in D.C., see the sights in the Capitol District and stop for snacks at a food truck. Don’t miss this city’s soft pretzels topped with massive granules of salt. Dip them in melted cheddar cheese sauce or white cheddar sauce. Many food trucks offer both.
Jump on the train from D.C. to Philadelphia and enjoy your first meal on the Amtrak train. You only get prepared snacks and hot sandwiches like Stromboli if you choose to ride coach or business class. Those in the sleeper cars get their meals included and it consists of a sit-down, chef-prepared dinner. Either way, you start your trip with excellent food before you reach Philly and its arcades.
Famous for its cheesesteak sandwich, don’t leave this city without dining on the real thing. Whether you buy it from a food truck or dine at a sit-down eatery, you’ll dine on a huge sandwich, stuffed with meat, cheese, and sometimes onions. Many people recommend asking for neighborhood deli recommendations, but if you need to hurry, try Angelo’s Pizzeria or John’s Roast Pork. This city also boasts a vast Italian neighborhood with many cafes at which to dine. Try A. Mano, Barbuzzo, or Bistro Romano for a sure thing.
In Miami, make dining out on Cuban a fare for a dinner date. The city offers a wide selection of excellent food, especially Cuban sandwiches, and spicy black beans simmered in olive oil and peppers. Many Cuban shops paint their menu right onto their storefront sign. These short menus may only contain six to eight items, but they all taste fabulous.
On your way to a jai lai match, stop for Korean food or Thai. Both make it to the table quickly and offer a hot, spicy, tasty option. Bean buns or a Vietnamese bánh mì sandwich make great to-go options when you’re running late. Head to T-Yummi for the bánh mì, but Pho 79 if you have time for soup.
Zipping back up north, we explore the excellent food of Chicago. In the Roaring Twenties, Chicago gained fame as the home of the Capone gang, led by Al Capone, also known as Scarface. His crew ran illegal alcohol through the city and ran many a speakeasy. Today, the city only has legal bars, serving brand-name alcohol and a few craft beers. Each bar serves its own version of bar food, typically Irish fare. Find a neighborhood bar serving potato soup with Irish soda bread or Shepherd’s pie.
Chicago’s multitude of pizzerias serve all manner of pizza pie, but beware if you have never eaten deep-dish pizza. That’s the pizza for which the city also became famous and this sometimes inch-thick crust proves quite filling. The city’s most famous pizzeria, Uno’s, went into hiding but did not go out of business as some sources report. Fly into O’Hare Airport and schlep down the concourse to the city hot dog stand. It partnered with Uno’s to split the café into two eateries in a single location. Uno’s prepares the dough off-site, then loads it with toppings and drives it over to the café. You can purchase a pepperoni, a sausage, a cheese, or a pepperoni and sausage deep dish pizza in two sizes, but you have to go to the airport to get it
All of these bread-heavy meals make a person thirsty, so skip the water dispensers in the restaurants, and bring your own bottled water. You won’t have to wash down your meal with carbonated water, and really, Perrier goes rather well with Uno’s.
10. Los Angeles
Our last stop on the excellent food tour of the U.S. comes in Los Angeles. This city provides a breathtaking view out of any hotel window, since some rooms face the ocean, others the mountains, and still others offer a view of the twinkling lights of the city. Skip the room service though to try out the city’s vast array of restaurants.
LA has grown into as much of a melting pot as NYC, and its restaurant selections show it. Grab tacos, which should be named the official city food, at Tacos James Strange. If you missed breakfast or want breakfast for dinner, head to Roscoe’s for chicken and waffles.
Fulfill your deep desire for all things Asian food at Park’s BBQ. Order the Korean BBQ for a real treat. Put your name on the wait list first thing in the morning at 11 a.m. to dine at Ipoh Kopitiam. Simpang Asia in Culver City earns high marks for its Indonesian culinary creations, like risoles and chicken sate. When you need a steak, head to The Old Place, located in a historic post office in Cornell. Head down Mulholland Highway to reach this unique find that offers a private room that offers seating for eight to 12 people.
Every City Has Its Gems
Only space constraints keep us from writing more because the U.S. holds many terrific dining experiences. When in Oklahoma City, OK, try Billy Sims’ BBQ. Choose the three-meat plate and make sure the brisket makes your list of three. Choose from a mildly hot BBQ sauce and a burn-your-tongue-off option. In Kansas City, KS, stop for breakfast at the city’s only youth hostel. It serves delicious scratch-made pecan waffles with real maple syrup.
Don’t miss South Carolina’s 82 Queen, a well-established bastion of fine French dining. Sip a Perrier with fresh fruit on the patio while waiting for your order. It’s the ideal spot to people-watch. Whether you choose seafood, steak, or the she-crab soup and fried green tomatoes, you can’t go wrong.
As much as New York became known for pizza, stop in Newark, New Jersey for calzone. Choose one stuffed to the dough seams with Italian sausage and pepperoni or a Quattro Formaggio calzone – that’s four kinds of cheese in Italian. While you’re in the state, stop off in Atlantic City. Save your money by avoiding the craps table, but hit the beach and find a food truck that serves homemade French fries. Dabble them with vinegar and salt, then walk the beach, eating them one by one.
Don’t leave us wondering. Leave us a comment and tell us where you live and which eatery serves the best food that describes your town or city. We love excellent food and want to try your favorite place next time we’re in town.