1. New Orleans

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From crawfish boils to po-boys to beignets, you can’t expect to visit New Orleans and leave a little lighter. Be sure you have an extra hole on your belt because the last thing you’ll be in New Orleans is hungry. Commander’s Palace, Domenica, and Square Root are just three of the dozens of restaurants you just have to try when paying the beautiful city a visit.

 

2. New York City

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It’s no secret that some of the best restaurants and hot spots to wine and dine are located in one of the busiest cities in the United States: New York City. When it comes to tradition and reputation, New York City just might be the best of the best. Because there’s so many great places to find New York style pizza or hot dog stand bites, you can easily get the full experience on every corner. Just go there and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

 

3. San Francisco

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If you want some fancy pasta without spending everything in your bank account, Flour + Water in San Francisco may soon become your new favorite place. At Mission Chinese you can chow down on some of the best Chinese-American cuisine around. It’s also been argued that San Francisco is home to the best Neapolitan pizza in the country. We’ll let you decide, just be sure to come back and tell us what you think.

 

4. Dallas

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Thanks to Stephan Pyles, Tex-Mex is a serious must-have in the Dallas area. With restaurants like Lockhart Smokehouse and Pecan Lodge taking up real estate in the city, the BBQ is also worthy of a few meals. Surprisingly, even the Dallas/Fort Worth airport has been named the best airport in the U.S. for a bite to eat or a drink by Thrillist. The airport alone has four BBQ joints, eight Mexican restaurants, eight bars, and Stephan Pyles’ Sky Canyon. They even have a cereal restaurant! If you can get a great bite to eat at the airport, imagine what you can do elsewhere in the city?

 

5. Louisville

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Louisville is considered an up-and-coming hot spot on the food scene. With classic local dishes like the Hot Brown there’s certainly no shortage of both unique and delicious eats. While fried chicken is the obvious “claim to fame” of the city, neighborhood joints along spots like Whiskey Row and “NuLu” earn Louisville a spot on our list. Perhaps most notable of all is the promising future Louisville displays, thanks to talented chefs who choose the hustling city as their place to call home.

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6. Chicago

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Rick Bayless’ XOCO deserves a special mention because if you’re in Chicago, you most certainly want to pay the restaurant a visit for the tortas. Honestly, you probably need to go ahead and order a Chicago dog from a potentially questionable food cart as well, just to be sure you’re getting the full experience. Just be sure it’s not too questionable looking. The same goes for a deep dish pizza. As in you absolutely have to have it, not that you should go to a food cart to get it. There are far too many places offering the authentic meal for you to take that risk.

 

7. Philadelphia

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Geno’s and Pat’s cheesesteaks are easily the most famous food spots in Philly. Good luck trying to decide not only who served the city staple first, but who makes it best. They’re both good enough to make you drool. For some, it may be surprising to learn that Philadelphia is good for a lot more than a cheesesteak. Federal is a joint serving up fried chicken and donuts. No, not as breakfast and dinner, but as a pairing for a meal that will totally rock your world. If you’re in the mood for Italian, Vetri is a must as well.

 

8. Nashville

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Who would I be if I put the word food in the same sentence as Nashville and didn’t mention hot chicken? The cuisine earned its name from the cayenne paste it’s covered in before going into the fryer. Just order some biscuits and sweet tea on the side and you’ll be fine. You can find life-changing versions of both at Hattie B’s. But the city deserves attention for more than just its southern favorites. Thanks to the opening of several new must-try hot spots, like ACME Feed and Seed, you won’t be disappointed when you make the trip to Tennessee.

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9. Los Angeles

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Okay, before you jump to conclusions, know that Los Angeles is a lot more than health-conscious, juicers requesting salads at every joint in town. The restaurant Animal staked its claim in the big city and serves just about every part of the creature it’s named after. The famous Umami burger was created in L.A. and chef Curtis Stone opened his restaurant Maude there as well. But perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of Los Angeles is its food truck scene. A meal on wheels is no longer a plate of bland, mystery food. You’ve just got to be sure to find out where they’ll be parked the day you’re lucky enough to visit.

 

10. Cleveland

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With natives like Food Network’s Iron Chef Michael Symon, you can trust Cleveland knows what’s up in the world of food. You can find the best of the Midwest in Cleveland. Be sure to make a special trip to Greenhouse Tavern for some of the best chicken wings, courtesy of chef Jonathon Sawyer. Sawyer’s confit chicken wings are cured in an incredibly flavorful marinade for about two days before being dunked into a 12-hour bath of animal fat. I mean, come on, can it really get any better than that?

 

11. Atlanta

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I could say just Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles Concepts and I’ll have covered the main things you need to know about delicious eats in Atlanta. But just in case that’s not enough, need I remind you of peaches? Those delicious, ripe Georgia peaches? They can be found and devoured in everything from pie and cobbler to cake and cocktails. Surprisingly, you can also find a wide variety of ethnic cuisine as well as some of the best chicken wings in the country.

 

12. Seattle

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You saw Seattle and thought coffee, right? Don’t worry, I won’t judge you too harshly. Push that thought aside for a second and hear me out. Canlis is owned by Tom Douglas, who isn’t afraid to break the mold a bit and recreate dishes in a way he deems appropriate with the use of local seafood. Additionally, according to Thrillist, there are more pho and teriyaki restaurants in Seattle than anywhere else outside of Asia. That’s pretty impressive!

 

This feature was contributed by Victoria Vass.

 

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