City Lights Series: Best Foodie Cities


These culinary cities present a hearty menu of options for those who follow their palates toward adventure.

Just like you have your own taste in food, IHG® Hotels & Resorts has a place to stay for everyone’s travel tastes in these delicious cities. Check out recommendations from local concierge staff in some of the best foodie cities in U.S., Canada and Mexico, to discover the most authentic local flavors.


Of course, a classic cheesesteak is a must-eat in Philadelphia. Sample a sandwich from two infamous South Philly mainstays: Pat’s or Geno’s. They’re right across the street from one another, so you can form your own opinion on who does it best.

Although you’d be remiss to pass one up when you visit, the cuisine the City of Brotherly Love is known for goes far beyond cheese steaks. To break away from gooey meat and cheese if only for just a meal, 26-year Philly resident and Holiday Inn Express Midtown-Philadelphia Sales Representative Clinton Chen recommends Double Knot for sushi, El Vez for tacos, and Opa for cocktails to cap off a great evening.

Touted as America’s oldest continuously-operating outdoor market, the Italian Market on 9th Street offers unique local ingredients to savor and bring home. There you’ll find nearly 200 ethnic, family-owned businesses across 20 city blocks, with curbside vendors serving up fresh meats and seafood, cheese, produce, sweets, and more.

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Although plenty of professional sports venues and stunning red rock scenery abound in Denver, food is part of what makes Mile High City soar. For upscale dining that pays homage to northeast Italy, Frasca Food and Wine is the place to be. If you’re looking for an Asian culinary adventure, try the fried soft-shell crabs in butter lettuce with lime mayo at Hop Alley. Or, eat sustainably at Potager, where farm-to-table authenticity has had locals and visitors coming back for more than 20 years.

Just steps from the Kimpton Hotel Born, located in Union Station, Mercantile is another foodie favorite for a casual walk-up lunch or intimate sit-down dinner. The eatery also includes a small, on-site market with handpicked produce, fresh yogurts and cheeses, fruit spreads, pastries, and more, so you can take a taste of Denver home with you. If you’re staying at the hotel, be sure to visit Citizen Rail onsite for a stellar dining experience with dry aged meat and some of the best cocktails in the city, recommended by Assistant General Manager Jenn Gile.

Of course, Denver is known for its Rocky Mountain oysters (which are not oysters, but bull testicles). Those looking for a little liquid courage to down this local delicacy can find a wealth of beer tasting rooms in Denver’s River North neighborhood.

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San Francisco

San Francisco may be known for its regional fare, including abalone, bay shrimp, and Dungeness crab, but depending on where you are in the city, you’ll want to make a beeline for that particular neighborhood’s unique gastronomic offering. George Fairbanks, Chef Concierge at InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco, leads us through his top recommendations.

Head to Tadich Grill, the city’s oldest seafood restaurant, or Rue Lepic for authentic French cuisine in the heart of Nob Hill. Chinatown’s Dim Sum Bistro can’t be missed, while Fisherman’s Wharf plays host to the highly-praised Fog Harbor Fish House. In the Tenderloin neighborhood, Brenda’s French Soul Food has some of the best southern-style cuisine on the west coast.

The City by the Bay has a culinary identity all its own, touted as the birthplace of chop suey, fortune cookies, sourdough bread, and cioppino, an Italian-American seafood stew. Though some of those claims are more myth than true history, there’s no doubt that San Francisco is the world’s preeminent destination for each of those delights today.

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Mexico City

If you’re on the hunt for truly authentic Mexican cuisine — no surprises here — Mexico City cannot be beat. The lively city is full of delicious eats, including super-sized chicharrónes, esquites (an off-the-cob version of the better-known elotes), the barbacoa at El Hidalguense and the pescado a la talla (a whole grilled fish with creamy mayo and spicy pico de gallo) at Tacos El Patán.

A must-eat dish in Mexico City is the tacos al pastor. A collaboration between the local culinary history and the seasoned, spit-roasted pork introduced by Lebanese immigrants, the delicious street food is at its best at El Vilsito — an auto-repair-shop-by-day and taqueria-by-night. It doesn’t get much more authentic than that.

Adventurous travelers can delve deeper into local cuisine by trying the crunchy fried chinicuiles and buttery escamoles, also known as “Mexican caviar.” Locals and visitors rave about these delicacies made with red caterpillars and ant larvae, respectively. Wash ’em down with a churro at El Moro.

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Toronto is a certifiable gastronomic sleeper hit where wildly delightful eateries are often tucked into unassuming neighborhoods. Start with the city’s signature dish, the peameal bacon sandwich with tangy mustard, which is best experienced at Carousel Bakery.

Toronto is no stranger to wild, yet incredible fusions either. This culinary city likes to take risks, which pay off deliciously. One example is the unique fare at the Italian-Jamaican restaurant Rasta Pasta. The unexpected cultural merger results in dishes like the unforgettable “reggae lasagna,” which combines layers of ricotta, mozzarella, and pasta with island-inspired spices.

And of course, no trip to Toronto would be complete without some gooey poutine, and there’s no better place to find it than Poutini’s House of Poutine. Gravy, cheese curds, and fries combine to form the ultimate late-night snack and, arguably, Canada’s most delectable national treasure.

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