Tom Sietsema dined, drank and shopped at a total of 271 restaurants, bars and shops while reporting his Best Food Cities in America project. These are the best things he ordered in each city along the way.

[The 10 best food cities in America, ranked]

Charleston


(Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)

Proving the affinity of hush puppies for just about anything: scallop hush puppies served with chowchow tartar sauce at the seafood-themed Ordinary.

[Recipe: Diver Scallop Hush Puppies With Chowchow Tartar Sauce]

[The search for America’s best food cities: Charleston, S.C.]

Chicago


Chef Beverly Kim toasts customers while she prepares a dish at Parachute in Chicago. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

The bing bread at the eclectic Parachute shares delicious characteristics with a loaded baked potato.

[The search for America’s best food cities: Chicago]

Houston


The exterior to the restaurant El Real Tex-Mex in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston. (Photo by Martha Miller/For The Washington Post)

El Real, a Tex-Mex specialist in a former cinema, won me over with its puffy shrimp tacos.

[The search for America’s best food cities: Houston]

Los Angeles


Diners dig into an entree of bone marrow at Bestia in Los Angeles. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

One of the loudest restaurants in the city, Bestia, produces one of my favorite salads: farro tossed with cauliflower, pickled chili, mint and avocado.

[The search for America’s best food cities: Los Angeles]

New Orleans


(T.J. Kirkpatrick/For The Washington Post)

The best cocktail in a city awash with them? My vote goes to the Bonded Sazerac at the bar called Cure.

[The search for America’s best food cities: New Orleans]

New York


Diners at Carbone in Manhattan. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

The veal Parmesan at Carbone costs $64, but it’s the best marriage of meat, cheese and fried basil I’ve encountered anywhere.

[The search for America’s best food cities: New York]

Philadelphia

My favorite fine-dining restaurant in the city, Vernick Food & Drink, features a warm Parmesan custard scattered with chanterelles, Thai chilies and pistachio pesto.

[The search for America’s best food cities: Philadelphia]

Portland

A restaurant-within-a-restaurant, Langbaan executes a superlative Thai tasting menu that includes fiery lamb tartare with mint, avocado and rice powder.

[The search for America’s best food cities: Portland]

San Francisco


Liholiho Yacht Club’s steamed buns with beef tongue. (Lee Powell/The Washington Post)

A colorful shout-out to Hawaii, Liholiho Yacht Club slips beef tongue and kimchi into pillowy steam buns.

[The search for America’s best food cities: San Francisco]

Washington


Convivial Leeks Dijonnaise photographed in Washington, DC. (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post).

Leave it to chef Cedric Maupillier of the fledgling Convivial to turn leeks dijonnaise into an edible art statement.

[Recipe: Convivial Leeks Dijonnaise]

[The search for America’s best food cities: Washington]