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Ideas for a foodie vacation?

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I have the week off between Christmas and New Year. I'm thinking of going somewhere and exploring the dining scene. I live in New York City, and gone on foodie vacations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Boston, Miami, and New Orleans.

I thought of going to Chicago, but it might be too cold. Any suggestions for a new city (within the United States), as well as restaurant recommendations? Thanks!

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  1. What about Charleston? Good climate, has a great restaurant scene and its own cuisine.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Naco

      I'm actually thinking of Charleston, and should probably check the CH board (which board covers Charleston?). I'd love to hear about your favorite restaurants...

      1. re: peter j

        The South board covers Charleston. I haven't been in a few years and so am hesitant to make specific recommendations. Do a search and you'll find lots of posts, and there is a good crowd of Charleston/Low Country locals on the South board.

      2. re: Naco

        Our last visit to Charleston (as, indeed, our last visit to America) was in 2007, so any comments may be well out of date:

        Slightly North of Broad - Great food; slow service with unacceptably long gaps between courses

        Magnolia's - faultless

        39 Rue de Jean - Lunch. Not great - think French food dumbed down for what might have been thought to be American tastes

        Poogan's Porch. Could have been really good - but my partner breaking part of a tooth on uncooked rice put a bit of a dampner on the evening. Well worth a visit.

        This was our second visit to Charleston and it remains, by far, our favourite American city

        1. re: Harters

          Thanks for the recs Harters.

          1. re: Harters

            I spent several days in Charleston two years ago. LOVED it and really enjoyed the food there. Here are some of my impressions:

            We got HUGE slices of delicious coconut cake at the Peninsula Grill to go -- loved this stuff!

            Poogan's Porch weekend brunch was very disappointing. Their biscuits, which are greatly touted, were completely inedible to me. One bite and I was done.

            SNOB - this was my single favorite dinner we had. Great restaurant.

            The Wreck -- fun and casual

            Boulevard Diner (Mt. Pleasant) cheap great southern food in an old Dairy Queen

            1. re: woodleyparkhound

              How could I have forgotten the Peninsula Grill!

              Deffo as a recommendation for a quite formal dinner. The coconut cake is famous and most folk seem to love it - left me completely unmoved, I'm disappointed to say.

            2. re: Harters

              I also have to recommend FIG - I went there last summer and it was fabulous. Charleston is a really fun destination with a wide variety of great food.

            3. re: Naco

              If you end up in Charleston, try McCrady's or Husk for a focus on locally sourced, regionally-influenced fine dining. These are both owned by Sean Brock, the James Beard Award winner for Best Chef Southeast. Somewhat more casual choices are Al Di La and Panne e Vino for Italian or Fast and French for quirky classically french fare.

              For more info about the Charleston food scene, check out the Charleston City Paper's website: http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com. They are a weekly alternative paper that has a strong dedication to the local food scene. They have professional and reader reviews of many restaurants, and a new "eat this tonight" column that highlights specials and seasonal changes in the local restaurants.

            4. Any particular reason why you exclude Mexico? It offers new dimensions and you know the American scene pretty well.

              1. well, they're not all technically the US, but within North America:
                - Mexico City
                - Vancouver
                - Atlanta
                - Houston
                - Portland
                - Napa Valley if you're wine drinkers
                - and i hate to even say it, but for an all-out splurge/blowout, the high-end dining scene in Vegas has exploded in the past few years

                7 Replies
                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  Mexico City if only for street food (as others said, not in the US, but...)
                  BBQ pilgramage to Memphis?

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    I love, love Vancouver, and used to live in Portland, so I'm partial to it.

                    I might pick Oaxaca over Mexico City, and Austin over Houston, at least far as vacations go.

                    1. re: Mr Porkchop

                      Nothing wrong with Vancouver, but December is its rainiest month.

                      1. re: Mr Porkchop

                        i was vacillating between Austin & Houston. Austin was my first instinct, but then i realized that everyone i talk to these days insists that Houston is where it's at now :)

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          I second Houston. Spent a week there a couple of years ago and never had a bad meal. Most everything was absolutely wonderful--from Thai to Italian, Eclectic to Classic!

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            i just spent a 4 days in Austin, GHG, and tho we had to do it really cheaply, we did not find it a foodie destination. The trailers are everywhere, tho the 3-4 we tried (not representative, obviously) weren't stellar. i had an Austin CH-r tell me they thought the trailers hadn't gotten as good as they thought they could/would yet. BBQ was good, but overall.... tho we enjoyed ourselves, don't have a really huge reason to go back as a destination. I'd been to Houston a few times before, but years ago, so not sure what the food scene is like there.

                        2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          I love ghg's list! And would only add San Francisco and Quebec City to it.

                        3. Not in US but I love Vancouver, BC. Also Seattle and Portland.

                          1. Peter J:

                            I've only been to Charleston once, but I had a great experience at High Cotton.

                            A family member has been to Magnolia's and had nothing but high praise for it.

                            Interestingly, the last three Southeast regional James Beard Award winners for Best Chef are from Charleston: Sean Brock at McCrady's, Mike Lata at FIG, and Robert Stehling at Hominy Grill.

                            And although I've never had it, the coconut cake at Peninsula Grill is very famous. Just a few ideas! Wherever you go, have a great trip!

                            1. I've been to Charleston many times during my Kiawah Island visits. SNOB and Magnolia's for dinner have always been great. Although it gets no love on this site, I've always had good meals at 82 Queen as well. For daytime eats, I would recommend Hominy Grill.

                              Vancouver and Toronto are on my list for a Chinese food tour.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: fourunder

                                Hey fourunder, Toronto's chinatown is nice (as compared to my neighboring Montreal), but try to get an insider's track on Markham, a TO suburb. Lotsa people tell me its better than the downtown chinatown. With this, I drove around Markham awhile back, but its somewhat suburban - you gotta know where to look. Thus the suggestion of an inside track.

                                1. re: porker

                                  Thanks for the heads up.....I haven't been to Toronto in probably 40 years, but I remember the food in Chinatown was very good. I always wanted to go back in conjunction with a golf trip.

                              2. Well, it's in the United States, but pretty far from NY (which is where I assume you're based looking at your posting history). Hawaii is a great place to have some wonderful food, kick back and chill out.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                  How about a trip to Austin for Barbecue with a side trip to Lockhart.....to break it up, you could go to Uchi for Japanese or Fonda San Miguel of Mexican. I'll let others recommend Texas or Tex-Mex fare.

                                2. What about Santa Barbara? Great food, wineries nearby, by the ocean and it's just gorgeous there. 'Course might be a problem getting accommodations at that time of year.

                                  1. If you're into more casual atmospheres in a wamer climate, Austin would be a good choice. I have heard that their food truck scene is exploding with some incredible food. VendrTV has done shows on the Austin food trucks, and they were highlighted in the Heartland episode of Season 9 of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.

                                    1. Miami sounds like a good idea until you pay too much for a bad airline seat and then find a two-hour wait for a table at Joe's Stone Crab.

                                      1. Oaxaca isn't on your list, but it would be the destination for me.

                                        1. Seattle - Last year we got lucky and it was 52 degrees during the day in January. Not so sure you'll be able to get good weather this year though.

                                          Seattle has food tours, pike place market, Pacific Northwest cuisine - Tom Douglas Restaurants, Salumi, Tilth, etc.

                                          San Antonio - Tex Mex

                                          Atlanta - has been gaining some notoriety lately with its many restaurants

                                          BBQ - Slow food tour - Texas - Austin

                                          1. I would add that if the OP is interested in barbecue, if you were willing to dedicate a day or half-day to it, you could tour some North Carolina barbecue places on the way down to Charleston.

                                            A good tour of eastern style barbecue could be done by getting off 95 at Rocky Mount and heading east on 64 to Conetoe to visit Blackbeard's(open Thu-Sat, plus Sunday lunch), then south on 11 to Greenville to hit B's and/or the Skylight Inn in Ayden. Jack Cobb's in Farmville would also be within striking distance if you hit it on a day that it's open. From there, you could rejoin the interstate at Wilson.

                                            1. San Antonio! Great Weather, Amazing Food!

                                              I used to live there and am dying for a fix.

                                              Best TexMex in the world! I have posted extensively and easily fills a week!
                                              - Rosario's http://www.rosariossa.com/
                                              - Paloma Blanca http://www.palomablanca.net/main/inde...
                                              - La Fogata http://www.lafogata.com/
                                              - Loads more

                                              BBQ - Proximity to Lockhart, TX (as mentioned by the Austin recommendation
                                              )- Kreuz http://www.kreuzmarket.com/index.shtml
                                              - Smitty's http://www.smittysmarket.com/
                                              - Black's http://www.blacksbbq.com/

                                              Upscale - Enough interesting places to keep you happy if you wanted to put on a jacket.
                                              - Il Sogno in the old Pearl Brewery: http://www.pearlbrewery.com/pages/eat... (Il Sogno
                                              )- Biga on the Riverwalk http://www.biga.com/
                                              - Grey Moss Inn out in the Hill Country! http://www.grey-moss-inn.com/

                                              Happy Eating!
                                              Tim

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Uncle Luigi

                                                Out of those three tex mex places you mentioned (they're all on my radar for an upcoming trip), which would you say is the best to hit up?

                                                1. re: jgg13

                                                  jgg13:

                                                  Depends on what you are into, I posted on this just the other day on a different San Antonio thread... but here are the basics:

                                                  Rosario's is a busy and very loud restaurant south of Downtown in the King William neighborhood. They really do everything very well. On the weekends they have a salsa type band. Very bright pink and kinda hip. Griselda's Tacos are amazing. My brother drives from Houston for these! Great fajita tacos, soup... they have these shrimp nachos that are simple, but great.

                                                  Paloma Blanca is in/near Alamo Heights, up Broadway in a nice older neighborhood. Nice and well designed interior for a Tex Mex place in San Antonio. Tlalpeno soup is spicy and really great tortilla-type soup. Nice little quesadillas on corn tortillas. Good enchiladas verde, fajita tacos. They have a good lunch specials. I get a bowl of soup and a beef fajita taco w/ guac that is amazing... great deal.

                                                  La Fogata has been around for a long time. They have pictures of celebrities on the walls, etc. A lot of it is outdoor with fountains and trellises, etc. My favorite salsa ever! They have a big menu with things that you can't find elsewhere... interesting appetizers, etc. The Taco Nortenos (or Nortena the one with the corn tortillas) is incredible! Cabbage on the tacos. Some think that it has gone downhill, but I disagree. It is kinda near the airport (meaning on the north side of town) so I normally go on my way into town, now.

                                                  As I said, there are 50 TexMex places there that are great! I have a list that I could share if you would like.

                                                  Happy Eating!
                                                  Luigi

                                              2. Sadly, I am not much of a traveler, but while I loved San Fran and Boston, no place beats New Orleans. I know you mentioned it, but I'd go back. Friends of mine told me they were shocked by Memphis (and not only for BBQ). The place that everyone is talking about these days is Portland Oregon. There is always South Beach, which I hear is bustling with new restaurants.

                                                1. I would vote for Chicago, which is currently not much colder than New York.

                                                  And go to Alinea. There's nothing like it in the U.S. WD50 isn't even in the same league.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Riverman500

                                                    Oh, I so agree about Alinea and WD50. I loved LOVED Alinea but didn't like WD50 at all. I think Chicago is such a great food town, but I'd probably would love to escape NY cold.

                                                    What about Puerto Rico? Only a 4 hour plane ride from NYC and has some decent restaurants. Can go to Guavate on Sundays to experience lechon and salsa. San Juan has decent restaurants, and you can also explore the shacks of Pinones.

                                                  2. Austin
                                                    San Diego
                                                    Seattle
                                                    Portland
                                                    Phoenix/Sedona
                                                    Santa Fe/Taos
                                                    Waikiki
                                                    Las Vegas

                                                    Love staying at the Enchantment resort in Sedona for Christmas..2 hours from PHX.
                                                    Great last minute deals on expedia for 4-5* resorts..5* Wynn Encore $199 and the food is fab in Vegas!

                                                    www.enchantmentresort.com

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Beach Chick

                                                      I'm finally getting some time off and will be in Santa Fe and Taos is a couple of weeks. I'm considering Coyote Cafe and Restaurant Martin but would welcome other suggestions.

                                                    2. Toronto if you can handle the cold.

                                                      1. Philadelphia has a fantastic food scene that has evolved well beyond cheesesteaks. Lots of BYOBs, farm to table, regional breweries.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: jessicheese

                                                          So true, Philadelphia's food scene rivals any major city today. From street vendor to 5 star, fantastic. When our son graduates from college we'll have to find another reason to make the drive!

                                                        2. Due to the blizzard and flight mayhem I've decided to spend my week off at home in NYC, but thanks everyone for the great ideas. This thread has a ton of info!

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: peter j

                                                            Next door to the U.S.? Montreal in the Spring?

                                                            I went for the first time last Fall and Montreal hounds gave me amazing suggestions:

                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6497...

                                                            Can only imagine what might be new and delicious since Fall 2009. . .

                                                            Second Puerto Rico:

                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/541095

                                                          2. Once you dig out and it warms up a bit, consider stopping in flyover land here in Cleveland. We have a fantastic food scene.

                                                            1. New York Times: "10 Restaurants Worth a Plane Ride"

                                                              http://travel.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/...

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: fm1963

                                                                I love the M. Wells website. Simple, says it all. http://mwellsdiner.com/

                                                                1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                  I was just cursing the M Wells web site yesterday! How 'bout some freakin information?

                                                                  1. re: joonjoon

                                                                    What else do you need? A copy of the menu? Press releases? The address is at the bottom. I think it is briliant, simple.

                                                                    How about some music? I like music.

                                                              2. May I suggest Louisville? My husband and I went for a week this summer (to get married!) and we were highly impressed and even ran out of time to cover all the places we wanted to try. We're Montrealers and spent most of the trip marveling at the great service and low prices.

                                                                1. old san juan ;-)

                                                                  1. "The Eater Doomsday Map: 50 Meals to Eat in 50 States Before the Apocalypse"

                                                                    http://eater.com/archives/2011/01/14/...

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Riverman500

                                                                      For New Jersey all we get is White Manna? Sure, Harold & Kumar would appreciate it, but really? Sliders?

                                                                      1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                        What would you suggest instead for NJ?

                                                                        1. re: joonjoon

                                                                          Oh, that comment was largely said in humor, because I realize the article was trying to mix up high-end places with fun, divey places. Sure Salt Lake City has its share of unique fast food (the pastrami burger) but a higher-end place was selected, and Wisconsin got ice cream instead of cheese curds. For New Jersey they could have listed any of our top Indian or Portuguese restaurants as unique to the state.

                                                                          i honestly can't see coming to New Jersey for a foodie vacation, unless maybe you hire a driver.

                                                                    2. I think Austin would fit the bill in terms of food and weather.

                                                                      1. what about Asheville, NC? if you want to spend, you can stay at Grove park Inn.