There are certain American cities, like New York and Chicago, that are consistently (and justly) fêted for their robust and top-notch food scenes. But there are plenty of other overlooked places that deserve some cred too, according to the chefs we talked to as part of our Amusing Bouche intereview series. Here are 10 cities they identified as ones you should watch.
San Antonio, Texas. They have standout restaurants like Hot Joy and Cured, and there is a branch of the Culinary Institute of America there that is pumping out talented people every day. It reminds me of what Austin’s food scene was like 10 to 15 years ago; it’s the food city to watch.
Monterey—there’s up-and-coming chefs and the best ingredients in the country.
Los Angeles is underrated! Often the food media focuses on shiny new restaurants, hot up-and-coming chefs, or established chef brands doing new things. Typically, you find these in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and more recently in the Pacific Northwest. These type of restaurants and chefs are starting to appear in Los Angeles now, however the real foundation of the food culture in L.A. is ethnic food. There are great Mexican, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Persian, Ethiopian, et al…restaurants in L.A. that will never be lauded by the food media because they are small, family-owned businesses with no marketing vehicle behind them.
Spoon and Stable
Minneapolis. We have been getting a lot of great press this year in Minneapolis, so it seems to be our year of discovery. But we are still very much under the radar considering how many great places we have.
Miami Beach restaurant
Denver. I was just out there and with the explosion of investment opportunities mixed with the difficulty of sporadic tourism, it’s a highly competitive market. I believe that there are some chefs doing amazing things to be creative and push the envelope so as to stand out in that city.
Cooks and Soldiers
Bluffton, South Carolina. I stayed there with a friend and my cousin for a long weekend and was incredibly surprised by the quality of food available. We had great meals at The Cottage, Old Town Dispensary and The Bluffton Oyster Co. If you’ve never had oysters from Bluffton, you’re missing out – they are crazy good! The crown jewel of my visit was definitely Cahills Market and Chicken Kitchen. It’s a general store with a tiny connected restaurant that sits on a working farm where they raise their own chickens and grow a lot of the food that they serve. It’s a fantastic place with amazing people to boot! My second choice food city would be Savannah, Ga., as it seems to be the South’s most up and coming food city right now. My favorite spots include The Wyld, Zunzi’s and The Flying Monk Noodle Bar. The Wyld is a killer one of a kind spot that is worth a trip on its own.
I recently visited Louisville, KY. and was incredibly impressed by the food and bar scene. The bar aspect didn’t surprise me of course, but the incredible concentration of great food and restaurant concepts really blew me away.
Seattle. They have some of the best produce and seafood in the country, as well as being among the most progressive as a whole restaurant community.
I’m going to say Tampa, my hometown. There is very little that is distinctive about Tampa, but it does have the best Cuban food anywhere in the world (including Cuba, or so I’m told). The early wave of Cuban immigrants brought a much more opulent and complex version of Cuban cuisine, before Cuban cuisine changed out of necessity into something more staple crop-based. If you know where to look in and outside the city, you can also find “cracker” cuisine (not a racist term, I swear) unique to the inland Florida swamp country. It’s similar to other Southern low country cuisines, but with a uniquely Floridian slant, featuring products like frog legs, alligator tail, possum, turtle, rattlesnake, and the abundant swamp cabbage (heart of palm). And if you’re not quite that adventurous, Bern’s Steakhouse is still the best, most old-school steakhouse and former bordello in the country.
Los Angeles, still. But it’s getting really good.
Craigie on Main
Albuquerque, New Mexico has some terrific, not fancy and delicious food ranging from green chile to a bowl of Pho. Portsmouth, NH is growing restaurants and breweries left and right. And a “big market” city I think gets overlooked often is Philadelphia. Besides the big names (Vetri et al.) the BYOB laws make it so that young chefs can open small, hole-in-the-wall places in tucked away neighborhoods.
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