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.


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


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


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

Los Angeles

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

New Orleans

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

New York

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


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


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

San Francisco

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


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