There's no place like home, especially when it comes to food. But America's melting pot has made cities all over the U.S. a close second for the scents and flavors of kitchens in the homeland. For centuries, newcomers to America have settled into small enclaves in their new cities, bringing a taste of home with them – and everyone else benefits.
In some cases, it can even be argued that fresh, high-quality ingredients that might not be available back home have resulted in food that's as good or better than the original. So where can you find the best food from Vietnam? Mexico? Brazil? Read below to discover the best cities in the U.S. to find various cuisines.
Mexican food in Denver
Tex-Mex might have a nice ring to it, but the Lone Star State’s Mexican cuisine has got nothing on Den-Mex when it comes to good eats. Denver’s Mexican food scene is vast and varied in scope, but just like neighboring New Mexico, green chile is the pride of Denver.
This sauce, generally made with pork, chilies, tomatoes, and any number of other ingredients is eaten by the bowl or thrown on just about anything from enchiladas to tamales.
We recommend checking out La Loma, where the portions are heaping, the margaritas are fresh and the chile’s thick and savory.
Brazilian food in Miami
There are few food-coma-inducing joys greater than shoving round after round of perfectly tender all-you-can-eat Brazilian BBQ – at least at a churrascaria that knows what it’s doing. And when it comes to churrasco, Miami knows what it’s doing, as illustrated at spots like Fogo de Chão and Area Code 55 Brazilian Steakhouse.
But what makes Miami’s Brazilian dining scene so special is that while Brazilian in most cities is synonymous with churrasco, Miami’s Brazilian cuisine expands well beyond the meat delivered to your table via metal skewer.
If you want to expand your boundaries, we recommend hitting Little Brazil for classics like stroganoff, feijoada and moqueca dishes.
Ethiopian food in Washington D.C.
Sometimes getting what you want means getting your hands dirty – at least that’s the case with Ethiopian food. And if you’re in D.C. – home to the largest population of Ethiopians just about anywhere outside of Addis Ababa – you shouldn’t leave without tasting East African food.
This vegetarian-friendly cuisine features dishes like spiced lentils and braised veggies. If you’re into meat, fear not. Dishes like kitfo (minced raw/rare meat) and tibs (sautéed lamb covered in berbere spices) will keep you satisfied.
Just be ready to replace your fork and knife with injera, a spongy, pancake-like bread used to pick up your food and sop up the residual sauce. We recommend Dukem for a great meal at reasonable price, not to mention live music on Thursdays.
Russian food in New York
So you’ve toured Chinatown? You’ve eaten your fill of Korean BBQ in K-Town? You’ve done Little Italy like a local? Well, the most unique cultural enclave in New York might just be Brighton Beach, a former 19th century resort town in South Brooklyn, now home to a huge population of Russian and Ukrainian immigrants.
Little Odessa, as it’s commonly called, also has some of the best Eastern European fare outside of (or inside of, for that matter) the former U.S.S.R. This is the place to come for pirozhki, blintzes and dumplings.
It might be far from Manhattan, but a stroll down the boardwalk and an evening at Tatiana’s Restaurant and Night Club are more than worth the journey to this foreign land.
Middle Eastern food in Detroit
Detroit is best known for Greektown and coney dogs, but this ethnically diverse city is a Mecca for Middle Eastern food. Immigrants from all over the Middle East – Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan – moved to the area in the 50s and 60s, forming the largest population of Arabs outside of the Middle East.
Detroit’s Arabic food is largely a blend of these disparate cultures, but Lebanese has had the strongest influence in defining the flavor of Detroit’s Arabic restaurants.
The neighboring city of Dearborn is the area’s hub of Middle Eastern culture, but great bites can be found across the Detroit metro area. Beirut Palace has several locations throughout metro Detroit, with dishes ranging from classics like shawarma and mezes to more adventurous menu items like lamb tongue and swordfish kebabs.
Vietnamese food in Orange County
Steaming bowls of pho waft throughout many major U.S. cities, and it’s not difficult to find solid bánh mì. But in terms of quality and variety of Vietnamese food, Orange County’s Little Saigon is in a league of its own.
Some 200,000 Vietnamese immigrants live in or near the cities of Garden Grove and Westminster, and an estimated 200+ restaurants specialize in food from north, south, and central Vietnam. For a real taste of Vietnam in one place, hit the massive Asian Garden Mall, which has a spectacular food court with a sampling of Vietnamese street food.
Italian food in Boston
The North End is Boston’s version of Little Italy, but unlike New York’s Little Italy, the North End is actually where you can still find some of the city’s best Italian food. The Italians who originally settled in this neighborhood have moved on, but their legacy remains in the form of pizza and ravioli.
At Giacomo’s, the line is almost as famous as the homemade pasta and lobster with fra diavolo sauce. But ask anybody who has eaten at this North End institution and they’ll tell you the food was worth the wait.
Korean food in Los Angeles
Los Angeles’ Korea Town is home to the largest population of Koreans outside the homeland, and about the closest thing you’re going to find to Seoul outside of Korea. That means 24-hour multi-story jjimjilbangs (Korean bath houses), L.A’s best karaoke, and a whole lot of bibimbap, kimbap and Korean BBQ.
In addition to the classics, Los Angeles has put its own twist on this East Asian cuisine, like kimchi rice balls and galbi fries. For a taste of L.A. fusion, check out Kogi, a fleet of food trucks that serve up Mexican-Korean hybrids like short rib tacos and kogi kimchi quesadillas.
Indian food in Houston
Houston’s Mahatma Ghandi district – commonly referred to as Little India – was literally built around Indian food. In the 1980s, Raja Sweets opened in what was then an area with no Indian businesses.
Within a few years, Indian grocery stores began popping up, and by 2010 so many Indian businesses had moved in, the city officially changed the name of the district.
Now, Houston’s Little India is home to a wide variety of Indian restaurants, ranging from the progressive menu of Indika – which serves up dishes like sweet potato samosas and duck tandoori – to the more traditional institutions, like Shiva Indian Restaurant, which has been doling out North Indian fare like saag paneer and aloo gobi for more than two decades.