A guide to the top culinary cities in the U.S. - United Hub
eat & drink

A guide to the top culinary cities in the U.S.

By The Hub team, January 29, 2016

Great food and culture go together, and if you're planning a visit to one of the cities below you won't be disappointed. You'll find everything from pizza to gourmet, BBQ to soul food, and even healthy fare in these award-winning foodie cities. Our culinary guide serves up 10 picks, all boasting a wide variety of cuisine, and as a bonus, you'll find cultural and calorie-burning activities to do between feasting.

Charleston: Served with graciousness and charm

It's one of the politest, friendliest cities in the U.S., making Charleston's award-winning culinary delights all the more inviting. If you are craving soul food, head to Jestine's, and try the fried catfish with melt-in-your-mouth cornbread. Splurge at Husk, with its superb cuisine, served in a gracious, circa-1893 Queen Anne home. You won't want to miss Charleston's Farmers Market, a 200-year tradition. In between meals, view Rainbow Row's pretty pastel homes, and then relish the sea breeze on Charleston's coast.

Portland, Oregon: Enjoy fresh foods in this green city

The nation's bicycling capital on the Columbia River encourages you to burn the calories it tempts you to consume. Portland's award-winning restaurants are a foodie's dream. At Lincoln Restaurant, Jenn Louis — a farm-fresh chef — makes luscious pasta dishes from scratch. If you can't decide what to eat, sample your way through the year-round Portland Farmers Market. Then explore the progressive city by rented bike, wander Forest Park, or lose yourself in Powell's City of Books.

Honolulu: Ride the surf to local delights

In Honolulu, don't settle for mainland foods Hawaiianized with a pineapple slice. "Nana I ke kumu" means looking to the source within, and many award-winning chefs and growers' markets extend this to food sources. While here, take a dip in Waikiki's waters or walk in the footsteps of royalty at Iolani Palace. Famed Japanese-American chef Roy Yamaguchi of Roy's restaurants opened his restaurant in Honolulu offering international and Hawaii inspired fare. For home-style Hawaiian cooking, head to circa-1946 restaurant Helena's Hawaiian Food.

Austin: Keeping it weird and wonderful

Austin's unofficial motto “Keep Austin Weird" embraces creativity, and that includes the culinary scene. (Austin won the honor of Condé Nast's America's Best Food Cities in 2014.) Food trucks and diners don't take a back seat here. Savor weirdly delicious meals like the hot dog topped with peach salsa at Down Home Diner or a breakfast taco from the food truck Veracruz All Natural. Follow the acclaimed barbecue trail to nostalgic Franklin Barbecue. After you eat, dance off the calories in the Music Capital of the World.

San Francisco: Multicultural foods and festivals

The City by the Bay will capture more than your heart. Watch chefs at work on Avital Tours and then gather for gourmet foods and wine at the Ferry Building Marketplace and Bluxome Street Winery. Some say America's obsession with local food radiates from San Francisco, and in this tradition, Zuni Cafe serves some of the best roasted chicken. At State Bird Provisions, it's encouraged to take your dishes dim sum-style off waiters' platters. Last but not least, head to Craftsman and Wolves for San Francisco's famous sourdough, and then explore Golden Gate Park.

New York: From pizza to fine dining and everything in between

The Big Apple's eateries consistently win awards from a long list of travel experts. No surprise, considering its cultural richness. Among the city's most enjoyed culinary adventures are pizza and fine dining. Dubbed New York City's best pizzeria, head to legendary Totonno's Pizzeria Napolitano on Coney Island where they've been making pizza for 89 years. Dine with locals at Ludlow Hotel's Dirty French and savor classics with delightful global twists such as the duck l'orange with Moroccan spices. Or try the many tasting counters for a fun twist on dinner. Next, indulge in after-dinner drinks at one of the city's many ambrosial cocktail bars. In between, peruse the array of galleries, stores and luxury boutiques.

New Orleans: Creole and the birthplace of jazz

Creole — Dire Straits sang this one word with a sound that sums up the culture of New Orleans and its cuisine, which melds French, Spanish and West African traditions. Sample old favorites, like gumbo at Commander's Palace and world-famous Bananas Foster invented by Brennan's. The Big Easy is also known as the birthplace of jazz, so after you indulge in the Creole cooking, head straight to one of the city's many jazz clubs. For old-style NOLA jazz head to The Spotted Cat or if you are looking to dance the night away head to The Davenport Lounge inside the Ritz-Carlton.

Philadelphia: City of Brotherly Love deserves plenty of foodie love

Philadelphia, with its indie style and gastronomical delights, has grown into a foodie city of its own right. When in town, make sure to visit High Street on Market. According to Travel + Leisure, the bakery/restaurant combo has some of the best artisan breads and pastrami ragù. Or, combine historical sightseeing and food at one of Philly's top tourist destinations, Reading Terminal Market. The historic market features hyper-local vendors peddling everything from handmade trinkets to Amish goods, and for your sweet fix, visit Bassetts Ice Cream, established in 1861. Another must-try is Philly's iconic cheesesteak, made traditional-style with sliced rib-eye and melted cheese.

Seattle: Enjoy forest-to-plate and fresh seafood in the Emerald City

Though most visitors know this city's claim to great seafood and coffee, Seattle restaurants also offer local food fresh from the garden, sea or forest. Coupled with its adventurous, James Beard-award-winning celebrity chefs, Seattle has given foodies around the world something to talk about. Seattle specializes in New American, French and Asian food with a Pacific Northwestern twist — think berries, wild salmon, Dungeness crab and forest foods. Watch the sunset over a plate of fresh seafood at Ray's Boathouse, or eat while you shop while exploring the year-round Pike Place Market. Walk off the calories at Kerry Park with its breathtaking backdrop of Mount Rainier, and end your day at the Park with a modern-day fairytale view of the city lights, the Space Needle and Puget Sound's ferries aglow.

Kansas City, MO: Beef up on the barbecue in this Midwestern gem

One of the best barbecue cities, Kansas City boasts more than 100 barbecue joints. Barbecue with the KC trademark almost always includes hickory-smoked meat topped with a molasses-tomato sauce. Then there are burnt ends — the flavor-packed brisket chunks. For a great introduction to KC barbecue, head over to BB's Lawnside BBQ. A KC institution (the owner founded the Kansas City Blues Society), BB's Lawnside BBQ offers great food with a side of world-class blues entertainment. For fine dining, try an aged steak and cocktail at Pierpont's where the mixologist manages a 30-foot mahogany bar. After dinner, view the architectural wonders of 1914-built Union Station and take a walk around the iconic Country Club Plaza modeled after Seville, Spain.

Indulging in cuisine, experiencing local culture and enjoying good company is all part of the fun of exploring a new city. And if you're one of those who choose a destination based on its culinary offerings, all the more reason to visit one of these cities. Visit united.com or use the United app to experience great food. Happy travels.

Jessica Kimbrough named Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer

By The Hub team, July 10, 2020

Jessica Kimbrough, currently Labor Relations and Legal Strategy Managing Director, will take on the new role of Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Managing Director.

Jessica assumes this new and expanded position to focus on global inclusion and equity as part of our enhanced commitment to ensure best practices across the business to strengthen our culture.

In this role, Jessica will be responsible for helping United redefine our efforts on diversity, equity and inclusion – ensuring that our programs and approach are strategic, integrated and outcome-oriented, while we continue to build a culture that reflects our core values. She will report to Human Resources and Labor Relations EVP Kate Gebo.

"Jessica's appointment to this role is another critical step our executive team is taking to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion remains a top priority at United," said CEO Scott Kirby. "Given her drive, experience and commitment to champion collaboration and allyship among our employee business resource groups, she is uniquely qualified to take on this position and I look forward to working closely with her."

As Labor Relations and Legal Strategy Managing Director, Jessica worked closely with senior management to create and maintain positive labor relations among our unionized workforce, providing counsel on labor litigation, negotiations, contract administration, organizing issues and managing attorneys who represent United in labor relations. Previously, she served as Labor and Employment Counsel in our legal department.

Jessica has a passion for creating a pipeline of diverse lawyers and leaders, and was honored as one of Chicago Defender's "Women of Excellence" for excellence in her career and civic engagement in 2017. She currently serves as President of uIMPACT, our women's employee business resource group.

Jessica's new role is effective immediately.

United Cargo and logistics partners keep critical medical shipments moving

By The Hub team, July 02, 2020

By working together and strengthening partnerships during these unprecedented times, our global community has overcome challenges and created solutions to keep the global supply chain moving. As COVID-19 continues to disrupt the shipping landscape, United and our industry partners have increasingly demonstrated our commitment to the mission of delivering critical medical supplies across the world.

United Cargo has partnered with DSV Air and Sea, a leading global logistics company, to transport important pharmaceutical materials to places all over the world. One of the items most critical during the current crisis is blood plasma.

Plasma is a fragile product that requires very careful handling. Frozen blood plasma must be kept at a very low, stable temperature of negative 20 degrees Celsius or less – no easy task considering it must be transported between trucks, warehouses and airplanes, all while moving through the climates of different countries. Fortunately, along with our well-developed operational procedures and oversight, temperature-controlled shipping containers from partners like va-Q-tec can help protect these sensitive blood plasma shipments from temperature changes.

A single TWINx shipping container from va-Q-tec can accommodate over 1,750 pounds of temperature-sensitive cargo. Every week, DSV delivers 20 TWINx containers, each one filled to capacity with human blood plasma, for loading onto a Boeing 787-9 for transport. The joint effort to move thousands of pounds of blood plasma demonstrates that despite the distance, challenges in moving temperature-sensitive cargo and COVID-19 obstacles, we continue to find creative solutions with the help of our strong partnerships.

United Cargo is proud to keep the commercial air bridges open between the U.S. and the rest of the world. Since March 19, we have operated over 3,200 cargo-only flights between six U.S. hubs and over 20 cities in Asia, Australia, Europe, South America, India, the Caribbean and the Middle East.

Celebrating Juneteenth

By United Airlines, June 18, 2020

A message from UNITE, United Airlines Multicultural Business Resource Group

Fellow United team members –

Hello from the UNITE leadership team. While we communicate frequently with our 3,500 UNITE members, our platform doesn't typically extend to the entire United family, and we are grateful for the opportunity to share some of our thoughts with all of you.

Tomorrow is June 19. On this day in 1865, shortened long ago to "Juneteenth," Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce that the Civil War had ended and all enslaved individuals were free. For many in the African-American community, particularly in the South, it is recognized as the official date slavery ended in the United States.

Still, despite the end of slavery, the Constitutional promise that "All men are created equal" would overlook the nation's Black citizens for decades to come. It wasn't until nearly a century later that the Civil Rights Act (1964) ended legal segregation and the Voting Rights Act (1965) protected voting rights for Black Americans. But while the nation has made progress, the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have made it undeniably clear that we still have a lot of work to do to achieve racial parity and inclusion.

Two weeks ago, Scott and Brett hosted a virtual town hall and set an important example by taking a minute, as Brett said, "to lower my guard, take off my armor, and just talk to you. And talk to you straight from the heart."

Difficult conversations about race and equity are easy to avoid. But everyone needs to have these conversations – speaking honestly, listening patiently and understanding that others' experiences may be different from your own while still a valid reflection of some part of the American experience.

To support you as you consider these conversations, we wanted to share some resources from one of United's partners, The National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum will host an all-day Virtual Juneteenth Celebration to recognize Juneteenth through presentations, stories, photographs and recipes. The museum also has a portal that United employees can access called Talking About Race, which provides tools and guidance for everyone to navigate conversations about race.

Our mission at UNITE is to foster an inclusive working environment for all of our employees. While we are hopeful and even encouraged by the widespread and diverse show of support for African Americans around the country – and at United - we encourage everyone to spend some time on Juneteenth reflecting on racial disparities that remain in our society and dedicating ourselves to the work that still must be done to fight systemic racism. By honoring how far we've come and honestly acknowledging how far we still must go, we believe United – and the incredible people who are the heart and soul of this airline - can play an important role in building a more fair and just world.

Thank you,

UNITE (United Airlines Multicultural Business Resource Group)

Leadership Team

Scroll to top