Food Drink Report

7 Underrated Food Cities in North America

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When people think of North American food cities, people usually think about places like Chicago, New York, or even Memphis. Others might think of places like Montreal, St-Louis or New Orleans. But the continent is so vast, and there are so many hidden gems in between, that many food cities are often left out of the discussion.

Great food cities usually have a good mix of cultures, a few award-winning restaurants, and some off-the-wall concepts. Tons of cities have a combination of these, and are begging to be discovered if you fancy yourself a foodie. Here are some of the most underrated food cities in North America.

Ottawa, Canada

Canada’s capital is about more than historical landmarks, museums, and the parliament. Ottawa is also one of the most culturally diverse cities in the country, and one of the best places if you want to eat authentic dishes from all over the world.

The city is serious about its Korean BBQ/fried chicken scene, and you’ll find plenty of all you can eat Korean BBQs and hole in the wall Korean eateries all around the city. The city also has some of the best shawarma west of Tehran. If you want to experience something special, try the Lebanese breakfast at Les Grillades, or check out some of the stalls at the New Middle East Supermarket.

One of the things that make Ottawa so great is how affordable and accessible it is. For instance, tons of regional airlines like Porter offer flights to Ottawa. What makes them so great is that they allow you to enjoy premium comfort for the same price you’d pay for a lesser quality flight elsewhere. The planes are less crowded, have more leg space, and no middle seats either. If you want to learn more about Porter airlines, or want to book a flight, you can visit https://www.flyporter.com/en-ca/book-flights/where-we-fly/canada/ottawa.

Houston, Texas

While we know Texas doesn’t play when it comes to BBQ and Mexican food, few people are aware of how diverse Houston is. As a matter of fact, Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the country, with over 145 different languages spoken in the city.

The city has an interesting mix of cuisines as well. Chef Nikki Tran found a way to mix the best of Cajun and Vietnamese cuisine and shares her creations at Kau Ba, which is located on Dunlavy St and Missouri Pl. Hass and Imran Khan serve a mix of Texan and South Asian cuisine from an old gas station at Cowboys and Indians. This is a common theme across the city, and makes for unique experiences you’ll find in no other city in America.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minneapolis is one of the cities that is not celebrated enough for how culturally rich it is, and for its great food scene. Minnesotans in general care about their ingredients and how they’re sourced, and is one of the epicenters of the farm to table movement.

The city is also doing its best to push the boundaries of what is considered midwestern cuisine. From dishes cooked over an open fire to arepas, the city’s food scene is paradise for any foodie.

Greenville, South Carolina

The Carolinas are known for their barbecue, and what makes them so interesting is the thousands of little towns and cities, all with their own twist on Carolinian cuisine. The food history here is also very rich, and dates back to the times of the first settlers.

Greenville’s food scene has been gaining more recognition lately, thanks to its world class establishments that are trying to fuse modern ingredients and techniques with classic dishes. Restaurants like Soby’s, for instance, have put a modern spin on things like shrimp and grits and fried green tomatoes.

Greenville is the place to be if you’re a fan of European food as well. For a taste of Belgium, you can check out the Belgian beer and fries at the Trappe Door. Or, head to the Lazy Goat for the mussels and small Mediterranean inspired plates.

Boise, Idaho

It’s funny to think that Idaho is often overlooked for its food culture, when it is responsible for so much of America’s food supply. For instance, did you know that Boise is home to the single largest Basque community in America?

The community has had a great influence on the food culture in the city, and you’ll find all sorts of Basque restaurants and markets there. If you want something more rustic, you can check out The Basque Market downtown. Epi’s Basque Restaurant serves nothing but the freshest ingredients and is the perfect place if you want to taste authentic and unique dishes like tximinoiak, which composes of squid and ink sauce, and tons of different Basque delicacies.

New Haven, Connecticut

New Haven Connecticut is a must for any foodie, and has one of the richest food cultures in the country. New Haven pizza, or apizza as they call it, is a life changing experience, and some say that it’s the only pizza in the country that can give New York a run for its money.

The white clam pizza is a fan favourite, and consists of white clam sauce, fresh clams, garlic, oregano, mozzarella, and a bit of olive oil. Apizza is closer to Neapolitan pizza, and was brought by Italians from the southern region wanting to replicate original recipes. New Haven apizza is baked in coal fired ovens, giving the crust a nice char, and is characterised by its thin, chewy crust and fresh ingredients.

Connecticut is also known as the birthplace of the hamburger, and Louis Lunch claims to be the first restaurant to serve the American classic in 1900. They still serve the burger in the original way, using the same equipment that was used when they opened in 1885. The burgers are served on plain Wonder bread and processed cheese sauce. Definitely a place to visit if you want to get a literal taste of American history.

Detroit, Michigan

Detroit is having a Cinderella moment and is slowly, but surely crawling out of the sad depression of the last few years. The city is definitely having a cultural renaissance, and we can thank the waves of new arrivals for that. 

Detroit even has a big authentic Mexican food scene, and is full of Jalisco style eateries that serve everything from pozole rojo to lengua tacos. Detroit pizza, which is a hybrid between Sicilian and American pizza, is a must try with its thick rectangular shape and strips of fresh tomato sauce.

The city is also known for its culinary innovations, and is a perfect place if you’re into the whole Gastropub scene. Green Dot Stables if a great place if you want to taste some creative sliders, like their Kimchi slider with peanut butter sauce. Wright and Co, as well as Selden Standard both offer a great selection of tapas, and only use fresh, locally sourced produce. 

North America is a treasure trove for any food lover, and these are just some of the best, but most overlooked cities in America for their food culture. Make sure that you give all of these a closer look, and choose which ones fit your idea of a perfect food experience.