7 emerging food meccas
Watch out, New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. Travelers with a fork in hand (and a corporate credit card in their wallets) are being won over by the emerging restaurant scenes of smaller cities like Asheville, N.C., and Monterey, Calif., according to a new dive into posted online reviews. Add the rejuvenation of big markets like Houston and Philadelphia and a pattern emerges: Culinary tourists are rethinking where they’d prefer to spend their dining-out dollars, which account for one of every four spent in total, according to the National Restaurant Association.
Here are the seven destinations heralded by the users of the Booking.com travel website as emerging food Meccas.
Santa Fe, N.M.
A food culture hundreds of years old has turned the nation’s second-oldest city into a cutting-edge restaurant market, abounding in choices that combine Native American, Mexican and mainstream American influences, respondents noted. They also cited a vibrant street-food scene.
A place once known for cheesesteaks and soft pretzels is finding new favor among discerning diners, thanks to creative forces like chefs Stephan Starr and Jose Garces. Old-line places specializing in classic continental cuisine have given away to adventurous new places, including a number of Japanese restaurants.
Booking.com’s citizen-reviewers noted that the oil capital now rivals Austin for the title of Texas’ most innovative restaurant city. They noted in particular that Houston now offers a mix of quirky cafes and true fine-dining places that stand out because of the execution. Among the surprises they’ve found: The city is as much a center for Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine as it is for Tex-Mex.
No longer is the Sardine Factory synonymous with the coastal town’s fine-dining scene. A new generation of entrepreneurs are showcasing a bounty from the sea in creative combinations with produce from one of California’s main farming areas. Not bad for a city that was once known best for reeking of fish because of all the local seafood canneries.