This summer we started to compile lists of the best shops, artisans, and markets for cooks and food-lovers in some of the cities where you, our readers, live. We've covered fourteen towns so far, and we'll be covering more soon! Your contributions and comments are a huge part of making these guides useful resources. Thank you so much! Here are links to the City Food Guides we've created so far.
City: Brooklyn, New York
Population: 2.5 million
Local specialties: Pizza; Middle Eastern, Russian, and Polish foods; fresh, local and organic produce at farmers' markets, steak, beer
Brooklyn rivals Manhattan as one of the most diverse food scenes around. With each neighborhood featuring a unique food culture, there's certainly not a lack for markets and shops to explore. And exploring by foot is the best way to go, which makes it all the more easy to work off what you've eaten along the way.
Population: 2.7 million, metro area
Local specialties: Crabs, pit beef, lake trout, tiramisu (allegedly invented in Baltimore!)
Markets, artisans, farms, and groceries: Where do you shop in Baltimore? Where are the best spots for cooks and food-lovers? Rachel Monroe of Urban Discoveries Baltimore put together an absolutely fabulous guide to the best eating in Baltimore; read on to discover Baltimore and to add your own suggestions!
City: Los Angeles, California
Population: 3.8 million
Local specialties: Fresh produce, ethnic cuisines, fusion food
There are two versions of Los Angeles ... or hundreds. On the surface, there is Hollywood, the Sunset Strip, and stereotypes of starved actresses. This is the LA that rarely gets mentioned in the same breath as other food-centric cities like New York and Paris. But dig a little deeper, or open your eyes to this vast city's ethnic neighborhoods, and LA becomes a food lovers' paradise. With the world's largest Korean, Iranian, and Guatamalan communities (to name just a few) outside their native countries, and the year-round availability of fresh, quality produce, LA is rich in culinary tradition and innovation. In pockets throughout the city, there are shops selling specialized ingredients, fusion dishes being born, and artisans hard at work.
City: Kansas City
Population: 476,000 (2 million metro)
Local specialties: BBQ and meat in general, local produce, dairy
When you think about chowing down in Cow Town, the first thing that comes to mind is barbecue. Smoking and cooking meats of all shapes and sizes is a badge of honor in these parts and we are quite serious about the craft. That isn't to say there aren't other delicacies found in the area!
City: San Francisco (with a few bonus East Bay suggestions)
Population: 7 million in Bay Area
Local specialties: Sand dabs, Dungeness crab, goat cheese from Sonoma, abalone, artichokes, Tomales Bay oysters, olive oil
Food culture is booming in San Francisco and there is no lack of all things delicious, beautiful or interesting. Fellow locals and Bay Area lovers: This is by no means a comprehensive list. I've left plenty of room for you to chime in, so please add your comments!
City: London, England
Population: 7.6 million
Local specialties: Everything from traditional Cockney fare to handmade artisan breads, preserves, and chocolates
We have never heard anyone say they were traveling to England for the food, but why not? For a nation that gets such a bad rap when it comes to cuisine, there is actually quite a lot to discover and enjoy, especially in the cosmopolitan capital of London. Whether you're interested in visiting centuries-old food halls or exploring ethnic markets, having traditional afternoon tea or sampling the offerings of innovative young artisans, London is a fascinating and diverse place for food lovers.
Population: 2.8 million (9.5 million in the metropolitan area)
Local specialties: Deep-dish pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs, steak, beer, local produce, various ethnic dishes
Perhaps best known for its deep-dish pizza and eponymous hot dog, Chicago is truly a city of neighborhoods, and home cooking here reflects that. Midwestern comfort food holds a special place in Chicagoans' hearts, although many cooks here now prefer a lighter, more seasonal approach, most of the time anyway.
City: Austin, TX
Population: 1.6 million
Local specialties: Eclectic cuisine from barbecue to health food; locally-brewed beer
As the capital of Texas, Austin embraces a diversity of residents and visitors, from politicians to college students, musicians to tech industry workers. The city's culinary culture is equally eclectic, serving up everything from barbecue to health food. A strong sense of individualism and support for local businesses have also made Austin home to many food and beverage artisans.