The best foodie neighborhoods provide up-and-coming alternatives to the status quo of this fast-food world. With a fresh perspective on favorites, they attract crowds who value the next big thing. A lot of these restaurants, artisan food shops and markets are trendsetters, embracing sustainability and local traditions while reviving neighborhoods. Here are four of the hottest culinary spots to visit across the country.
Sixth Street (Austin, Texas)
Sixth Street, an entertainment hub for Austin, has undergone a food revolution. Thanks in part to the biannual Pecan Street Festival, this once-abandoned neighborhood bounced back from cultural decline. Enjoy some music and art with your Tex-Mex: The now vibrant bar scene appeals to locals and visitors, thanks to the long list of establishments like The Liberty, which serves craft cocktails. East Side Showroom provides Creole-Italian food and tarot card readings alongside specialty drinks. For a low-key vibe, head to Violet Crown Social Club for pizza and beer.
SE Division Street (Portland, Oregon)
In its second life as a culinary hot spot, Portland's Southeast (SE) Division Street offers something for everyone. It's renaissance started in 1999 when the now famous Stumptown Coffee Roasters made its debut in a defunct hair salon. The city's best eats are burrowed alongside residential neighborhoods and geared toward locals, making it an authentic Portland experience. Try Sunshine Tavern for comfort food, Pok Pok for Thai or Block & Tackle for oysters and ratatouille — all establishments guarantee a spectacular dinner. Skip dessert and instead head to the bakery Lauretta Jean's for a piece of honey hazelnut pie or to Salt and Straw for ice cream (seasonal flavors include goat cheese marionberry habanero) to cleanse your palate.
Tower Grove South (St. Louis, Missouri)
Tower Grove South isn't necessarily where you go for a fancy meal, but it has the highest density of great restaurants of any neighborhood in St. Louis. It's an inner-city success story: a diverse, pedestrian-friendly community with beautiful architecture, an adjacent park and delectable food options. You may be in the middle of the United States, but it's easy to travel the world's cuisine here. It has everything from Vietnamese at Pho Grand to Moroccan food at Baida Moroccan Restaurant (or just grab a hot dog at The Dam). If you're a vegetarian, order some buffalo cauliflower bites at Lulu's Local Eatery or indulge in vegan shepherd's pie at Tree House. The range of international options means that you always have a new delicacy to try. Wherever you eat, bring your reusable bag so you can stop at the Tower Grove Farmers' Market on your way home.
Union Square (Boston, Massachusetts)
Though Union Square is technically in neighboring town Somerville, its recent surge in artisan restaurants as well as the success of old favorites is bound to peak your interest. It's popular among young professionals, in part to its lively arts scene which include PorchFest, ArtBeat and the world's smallest museum. In anticipation of a new subway stop, both established and up-and-coming chefs are opening haunts in Union Square. You can head over to beloved Union Square Donuts for a bacon-covered doughnut, Area Four (A4) pizza for a shiitake mushroom slice or to Bronwyn for a modern take on traditional German fare. The Neighborhood Restaurant and Bakery, a longtime institution for Portuguese cuisine, still serves the best breakfast in town, so get there early.
As you consider the next steps on your professional and personal journey, explore some of the best foodie neighborhoods for some delicious fuel and inspiration. You can learn a lot when you taste your way through a city!
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