While planning your next vacation, let your stomach be your guide. I love discovering different foodie scenes, and in a country as multicultural and diverse as ours, the options seem endless. Tasting the Caribbean’s best seasonings while lounging on an island, eating fresh sushi in Japan, and exploring Europe’s culinary heritage all sound fantastic, but international travel isn’t always easy. Fortunately, you may not need to go much further than your own backyard to taste some of the world’s most exotic flavors and freshest ingredients. Here are our picks of the best international food destinations in the US.
San Diego, California
When talking about food scenes, California is nearly always mentioned, thanks to culinary superstar cities Los Angeles and San Francisco, but over the last few years, San Diego has seen some of that limelight. Sure, its proximity to Mexico means San Diego enjoys truly spectacular Mexican food, but if you want to be surprised, dive into the Asian food scene.
San Diego’s Convoy Street is now boasted as “the” place to go for eating your way through Asian cuisine in the US. Despite stretching less than two miles, multiple vacations may be needed to try every Asian restaurant on this strip. Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, and Filipino cuisines are all offered. From dumplings to ramen, curry to kimchi, the possibilities are starting to seem endless in San Diego. And who wouldn’t want to visit “America’s Finest City”?
South Coast, Massachusetts
As Massachusetts’ locals say, the shortest route from the US to Portugal is over the Braga Bridge, a main connection between Rhode Island and the south coast, where you’ll find the country’s largest community of Portuguese residents. Rich in flavor, Portugal’s culinary heritage has a history rooted in the maritime Age of Exploration, so be ready to taste hints of chili pepper, saffron, cinnamon, garlic, and vanilla, in addition to locally-grown herbs. The other connection to the sea comes from ingredients found in the Atlantic Ocean, and many dishes revolve heavily around fish and shellfish.
These links to the sea are reasons why the Portuguese settled in New England during different waves of migration. Now that the travel world is buzzing about Portugal, why not discover what some of that excitement is about? From the famous monastery sweets to New England’s twists on traditional seafood recipes, to wine from the world’s oldest demarcated region (yes, that’s Portuguese!), you’ll find it all around the Massachusetts south coast.
It’s not always easy to simplify a vegan lifestyle on vacation, especially if you want to get variety into your diet. That is, unless you visit a city like Portland, Oregon. Not only do the dining options seem limitless, but Portland has fun with veganism and it’s easy to find everything from donuts to burgers, cheeses, and wings.
Sure, other cities like Los Angeles and NYC top the vegan charts and may offer even more dining options than Portland, but Oregon’s healthy living goes beyond the kitchen. It’s a state for nature enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies: hikers, kayakers, cyclists, and rock climbers are just a few groups who will find their niche in Oregon. Even if you’re not outdoorsy, it’s hard to get bored in Portland, a city boasted as one of the best for bookworms and music-lovers.
Feel the heat of the Caribbean’s spices by visiting “The Magic City.” All you need to do is look at a map to know that Miami is a great place for Caribbean food in the USA; you can’t get closer to this group of islands than by heading to Florida, after all, and it’s where you’ll find the greatest concentration of Caribbean communities in the US.
Sample the different cultural favorites from Cuban ropa vieja (shredded beef) to spicy Jamaican jerk chicken and fried green plantains that are common in Haiti. Fresh fish, coconut, lime, black beans, and okra are other ingredients often used in Caribbean cuisine, a multitude of influences mixing Spanish, African, French, and even Asian tastes and cooking styles.
At the end of the day, what is all-American cuisine? Defined by a range of recipes developed in different parts of the country, it may be inaccurate to suggest that one city or state does “American” food better than others. Or is it?
One city where you’ll find an undeniable American culinary heritage is Louisville, Kentucky. The land of Bourbon is also a land of barbecue, Derby pie (similar to pecan pie), and stews filled with wild game. In Kentucky, dishes take on a ‘southern-style cooking’ resemblance, but in addition to hushpuppies, grits, country-fried steak, and chicken-and-dumplings, you’ll discover recipes unique to Louisville like burgoo, a spiced meaty stew, and hot brown, an open-faced sandwich topped with turkey and locally-made cheese sauce. And this foodie destination is another great spot to taste a range of international flavors; the German community ensures there are always sausages available to help soak up the local craft beer, another reason to visit.