On the Road: 10 Must-Eats in Summer Travel Destinations

Craving a delicious vacation destination? Food Network stars visited these spots and sampled specialty dishes that are worth traveling for.

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10 Must-Eats in Top Travel Spots

Craving a delicious summer vacation? No need to break the bank or hop any borders; we’ve scoured the States for the top domestic destinations with specialty dishes that are worth traveling for. Check out the must-eat spots around the United States and who’s dishing up versions of local recipes that Food Network chefs praise as being The Best Thing I Ever Ate.


By Joanna Gryfe

San Francisco, Calif.

Sourdough, sweets and wharfside treats will keep you fueled to hike the hills of San Fran all summer long. But if there’s one thing that’s not to be missed on a summer visit to the city, it’s the seafood. Bowls of the best and freshest catch can be found at Tadich Grill, a Best Thing I Ever Ate pick from Tyler Florence and a San Franciscan institution that’s been serving up the country’s best cioppino since the mid-1800s! Stop in for lunch or dinner to sample the city’s freshest fish and don your finest lobster bib. 

Chicago, Ill.

The staple of summer cookouts is the hot dog, and Chicago’s got a reputation for making the juiciest and most-unusual links in the country. Ted Allen praises The Wiener’s Circle for serving up the best thing he ever ate: their famous dogs … served with a side of sass. Skip the hassle of hosting a backyard BBQ this summer and head to the Windy City!

Brooklyn, NY

New York is a fun getaway any time of the year, but there’s no better way to beat the summer heat than with a little something sweet. Rocco DiSpirito has started spreadin’ the news: Junior's Cheesecake & Desserts is a Brooklyn icon with the best New York-style cheesecake in the state. 

Portland, Maine

Lemonade stands lining the streets and the smell of sunscreen in the air can make you feel nostalgic for the summers of your childhood. Take a trip down memory lane with a treat worthy of a Best Thing I Ever Ate nod from Chuck Hughes: Maine’s classic dessert, Whoopie Pies, from Two Fat Cats Bakery in Portland. But don’t try to fit into your childhood swimming trunks … that won’t be nearly as delicious.

The BBQ Belt

Summer means barbecue, and the United States has some of the best the Food Network hosts ever ate! The BBQ Belt is the region stretching from Texas to Virginia, wherein each state touts its own unique sauces, brines and smoking methods, often showcased at state fairs and competitions throughout the summer months. Anywhere in there is good, but everywhere is different. Bar-B-Q King will give you an intro to North Carolina-style chicken, Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q has the juiciest smoked turkey in Alabama, and if Tennessee-style pulled pork tickles your taste buds, then Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous is waiting for you to be the judge.  

Philadelphia, Pa.

Think outside the cheese steak! Head to the home of the hoagie and eat your way through any variation of the mega-sized sandwiches created in the city. Robert Irvine’s Best Thing I Ever Ate pick is a cheesy falafel, omelet and pepper hoagie topped with Sriracha from A&M Halal Food Truck. Suddenly a summer sandwich tour sounds pretty good!

Honolulu, Hawaii

If a new spin on a classic American ingredient is what you’re after this summer, Honolulu has taken a kick at that can; Hawaiians consume more Spam than any other state, and they’ve cooked up some creative ways to eat it. Save some room between the fresh fish, plate lunches and shaved ices for Spam sushi. Yes, you read right; Aida Mollenkamp’s Best Thing I Ever Ate order of Musubi at Mana Bu's combines two of the island’s most beloved foods in a dish that’s attracting the mainlanders.

Los Angeles, Calif.

Head to L.A. for a different kind of summer road trip: cruising the streets for the top food trucks in the country. With almost 200 trucks to chase, let Twitter map your route, with your tummy as your guide. Start with one of the pioneers of the U.S. meals-on-wheels scene, Kogi Korean BBQ, whose Mexican-Korean fusion made with L.A. attitude got Adam Gertler hooked and helped make the food trucks worth hitting the road for!

New Orleans, La.

Go where the flavor is big and the eating is easy this summer. Gumbo is a dish best served with a side of slow jazz on a summer night. That’s the specialty at New Orleans’ Dooky Chase, where John Besh has been known to lick his bowl clean!

Miami, Fla.

Bring the heat with the best of Latin cuisines without leaving the country. Cuban, Mexican and Puerto Rican restaurants line the ocean drives, and traditional dishes pepper the menus of seafood spots around the city. A caliente gem was discovered by Guy Fieri at Benny’s Seafood Restaurant, where the Mofongo is a must-eat after a day in the waves. International eats, and no passport required!   

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Summer Road Trips