squeezing lemon on oyster

Slurp your way to happiness in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Getty Images)

Eat + Drink

Move Over, Cheesesteaks and Beignets: Here’s What to Eat Next in 8 Major Food Cities

Every foodie dives into a city with a plan — tackling a cheesesteak in Philadelphia, waiting at Café du Monde in New Orleans for beignets or deciding which deep-dish pizza to snarf in Chicago for the cheesiest slice.

And while you should tackle every one of these must-eat dishes in their hometowns, there are plenty of other unexpected, highly vetted dishes that locals love just as much.

From half-smoke sausages in Washington, D.C., to Seattle’s very own hot dog (topped with cream cheese!), here’s a look at the other top eats in major cities.

As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.

Washington, D.C.

D.C. is a melting pot of food cultures, but Chesapeake blue crab and Chesapeake oysters should be top priority on your eating list. There’s no shortage of seafood joints in the city, but turn to Pearl Dive Oyster Palace and Ivy City Smokehouse for a delicious intro.

Half-smoke sausages — a combo of ground beef and pork, with peppers — are another local favorite and can be found at Ben’s Chili Bowl and DCity Smokehouse, among a few other spots. Korean fried chicken is also done well in the city, so curb cravings at one of several hot spots, including Cheogajip Chicken.

New Orleans

crayfish boil
Get your hands dirty at a crayfish boil. (Photo: Getty Images)

While beignets satisfy the sweet tooth in all the right ways, there’s way more to New Orleans than this powdered-sugar and dough delicacy.

Frozen Irish coffee is a thing, and you can try this at Erin Rose, a dive bar where locals and tourists collide. Plus NOLA is home to Killer Poboys, where you can sample an authentic po’boy sandwich. Turtle soup is another local favorite; try it at Commander’s Palace. Or head to Marjie’s Grill for a proper crayfish boil, when in season.


It’s best to find time to run when visiting Dallas, as there’s a bounty of items to eat, starting with melty, gooey, spicy queso fundido — which is wildly addictive. Check out the melty goodness at Torchy’s Tacos, Matt’s Rancho Martinez and Pepe’s & Mito’s.

If Frito pie sounds enticing (think Fritos topped with chili, cheese and onions — and sometimes jalapeños, if you’re lucky) head to Harvey B’s.

And since Texas’ state tree is the pecan tree, pecan pie fans can expect to find a plethora of pecan pie variations dotted throughout the city; Emporium Pies offers a standout bourbon version.


bowl of clam chowder
Warm up with clam chowder. (Photo: Getty Images)

Union Oyster House and Atlantic Fish Company are both home to one of Boston’s most beloved seafood-centric dishes: clam chowder. With seafood on your mind, it wouldn’t be a proper visit without an order of Boston-style fish and chips. Find the beer-battered specialty at many spots, including Barracuda Tavern. Seafood aside, score a slice of hyped Italian cheese pizza from Santarpio’s Pizza.


A Philly cheesesteak is always a good idea, but don’t sleep on a roast pork sandwich from John’s Roast Pork. The sandwich is crafted with slow-roasted pork slices, melted provolone and broccoli rabe or spinach sautéed with garlic.

A Philly soft pretzel from Philly Pretzel Factory — or really any street vendor — is a solid snack idea. The pretzel entails a tighter figure eight with a chewier, more dense texture that people love.

Calling all pizza enthusiasts: Philadelphia is famous for square pizza, and there’s one place to get it: Santucci’s Original Square Pizza. During summertime, water ice (to locals, “wudder Ice”) is a favorite sweet treat. It’s more thrilling than the name implies, as it’s a smoother version of traditional Italian ice. Cool down at Pop’s Homemade Water Ice or Lucio Mancuso & Son.

San Francisco

dim sum in basket and plates
Dim sum is delicious. (Photo: Getty Images)

San Francisco‘s food scene is vast, but there are a few must-try bites to seek out — including a sourdough bread bowl (filled with clam chowder) from Boudin Bakery, a mainstay in the city since 1849.

Get adventurous and try abalone, a delicate, tasty marine snail, at spots like Anchor Oyster Bar and Hog Island Oyster Co. The best dim sum outside of China is said to be found in San Francisco. Find traditional rolling dim sum carts in the city’s Chinatown restaurants and spots like Shanghai Dumpling King and Dragon Beaux.


Most think of deep-dish pizza rivals, Giordano’s and Lou Malnati’s, when it comes to Chicago eats, but there are way more delicious things in Chi-Town to add to your list.

Pick up a tin of Chicago-style popcorn — cheddar cheese and caramel kernels mixed together for a sought-after, sweet-and-salty snack — at Garrett Popcorn Shops. Save room for a Chicago dog topped with yellow mustard, chopped onions, sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices and pickled sport peppers, from Portillo’s.

Or grab an Italian beef from Roma’s Italian Beef & Sausage. The sandwich comes piled high with thin, simmered slices of roast beef and hot and sweet peppers on an Italian roll dipped in gravy (aka beef juice).


The first Starbucks popped up in Seattle in 1971, paving a caffeine-laden path for this coffee-obsessed city. Today, more than 2,000 coffee shops grace Seattle, and Moonshot Coffee, Fulcrum Coffee and Sound & Fog are among local favorites.

Never question the opportunity to devour mac and cheese from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, and for late-night eats, locate a hot dog stand and get yourself a satisfying Seattle dog. This local treat involves a hot dog topped with cream cheese and sautéed onions, but don’t knock it until you try it.

Finally, don’t leave the city without trying hom bow at Mee Sum Pastry — BBQ pork mixed with spices and onions on a sweet roll.