Top 10 U.S. Cities for International Foods

Whether you’re on the hunt for tapas, a pho bowl or spicy noodles, here are the 10 cities across the U.S. you'll want to be when you’re craving exotic flavors from around the world. 

By: Erin Gifford

Photo By: Rachel Renee Photography / Visit Oakland

Photo By: Visit Orlando

Photo By: Joshua Lurie

Photo By: Travel Portland

Photo By: Helen Greek Food and Wine

Photo By: Thai Rock

Photo By: Choose Chicago

Photo By: Joey Marion

Photo By: Zenebech Injera

Photo By: Marion Liou / We Love Bu Hi

Oakland, California

Whether you’re craving Thai, Japanese, Mexican or Halal, Oakland has you covered. Estately recently mapped U.S. food preferences with the help of Yelp and found that Oakland ranked high in the top-five in nearly every category of international restaurant, even food trucks. Clearly they’ve got something going on when it comes to world cuisines. Try Juhu Beach Club, an Indian restaurant that puts a creative twist on traditional recipes. The JBC Pavs (sliders) and the bhel salad are must-trys.

Orlando, Florida

Orlando has more food trucks than any other city in the U.S., according to data compiled by Business Insider. A favorite is Jamaica Jamaica, which serves up to-go food with a Caribbean flair. Or, take a stroll along International Drive for your pick of Greek, Italian, even Ethiopian. Order up a pho bowl at Little Saigon or try the ceviches and tapas at Cuba Libre. Then, of course, there’s Epcot, which boasts flavors from nearly a dozen countries, including Norway, Japan, Mexico and Germany.

Los Angeles, California

In Los Angeles, there’s a section of town for just about every type of cuisine. A few to look for include Koreatown, Little Tokyo, Tehrangeles, Little Armenia and Thai Town. It’s even been ranked as among the most diverse cities in America. Try the short ribs at Genwa Korean BBQ or the spicy lamb noodles at Jitladala. Or, head the Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles where you’ll find everything from falafel at Madcapra to carnitas at Villa Moreliana.

Portland, Oregon

Portland's food truck scene (or, as they say in Portland, food cart) is the stuff of legend with more than 500 food carts all across town. It's so big in Portland that there are “pods” around town, like Rose City Food Park, with multiple food carts offering up cuisines from all over the world. Before you go, visit Food Carts Portland for maps and tour dates. Among the most popular carts is Nong’s Khao Man Gai, which boasts simple yet delicious chicken and rice dishes from Bangkok.

Houston, Texas

When Anthony Bourdain goes to Houston, his first stop isn’t for barbecue or Tex-Mex. Not long ago, he filmed an episode of his popular series, “Parts Unknown,” and made stops at Udipi Café for vegetarian Indian cuisine and Himalaya, which serves up flavorful Indian and Pakistani dishes. Or, try Helen Greek Food and Wine where their Sunday Brunch is a favorite. Order the Greek Taverna Benedict and a Trojan Horse, a refreshing morning cocktail made with sparkling wine, lemon and cherry.

Queens, New York City

In New York City’s most diverse borough, Queens, more than 135 different languages are spoken, so it’s no surprise that the food and restaurant choices are just as diverse. In Flushing’s Chinatown, you’ll find regional cuisines from all parts of China. Go to Fu Ran for Dongbei-style dishes or head to Sifu Chio for Cantonese cuisine. For Thai, Thai Rock is a favorite for creative dishes and refreshing cocktails. Try the Pad Kee Maow with Chicken and a Mango Frozen Dackery.

Chicago, Illinois

The international flavors in Chicago are as diverse as the people who set up the distinctive neighborhoods all across the city. You’ll find Irish, Mexican and German, as well as Costa Rican, Swedish and Nepalese. On the West Side, head to Jim’s Original for a Polish Sausage Sandwich before indulging your sweet tooth with traditional Greek pastries, like Baklava and Kataifi, at Artopolis. Or, go to the North Side for Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines. The Crazy Squid at Asian fusion-style Fat Rice is a must-try.

Boston, Massachusetts

Whether you’re craving Vietnamese, Italian or Irish food, take-out is just a phone call away with more than 40 world cuisines offered to-go at restaurants all around Boston. Pick up the Drunken Noodles at Pho Basil (considered by many to be the best in Boston) or bring home an order of Penne Puttanesca from Artu, a popular Italian eatery in the North End. If you prefer to dine in, try The Beehive for a mix of flavors. The Lamb Moussaka and Seafood Ceviche are local favorites.

Washington, D.C.

In a city where nearly every country in the world has its own embassy, you’ll find that most every cuisine is also represented. The Washington Post even compiled a listing of the most essential dishes, like Unagidon (a Japanese rice bowl featuring barbecued eel) at Donburi and the Lebanese-style Falafel Burger at Zaytinya. Ethiopian cuisine is also well-known in Washington, DC. Order the Veggie Combo at Zenebech Injera, which comes with lentils, shiro, tomato salad, collard greens and traditional flatbread.

Atlanta, Georgia

When you’re hungry, there’s so much to choose from in Atlanta and Buford Highway is the place to go. This international corridor is jam-packed with cuisines of all kinds, from Indian to Greek to Soul, one right next to the other. You’ll even find restaurants boasting dishes from Nigeria, Nepal and Jamaica. Try the Bun Rieu (crab noodle soup) at Chateau Saigon or stop in Las Delicias de la Abuela for a Sunday brunch filled with traditional Colombian flavors.

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