From English, Dutch and German settlers to the growth of the Latina population and the influence of Italian cooking in New York and Chicago, the USA can be best described as a melting pot of cultures that have played an important role in the culinary history of the USA. There is no better way to experience this than by visiting the best food festivals in the US.
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Barbecue is a big deal in the US, and no other festival celebrates this quite like the Lexington Barbecue Festival which is held in Lexington, North Carolina. Known as the Barbecue Capital of the World, the Lexington Barbecue Festival features food stalls from over 20 different local food restaurants and food vendors. If you like open fire cooking, then the Lexington Barbecue Festival is for you.
Venue: Lexington, North Carolina.
Cuisine / Theme: Barbecue.
Things to do: Wennonah Mills Emporium, the Davidson County Historical Museum, the Junius Lindsay Vineyard.
Tourist attractions: Boone’s Cave Park, High Rock Lake, and Childress Vineyards.
Places to stay: Quality Inn & Suites, Affordable Suites Lexington, and the Hampton Inn Lexington.
Organisers: Lexington Barbecue Festival organizing committee.
Visitors: 200 000
Life in Maine is slower than New York, but is always on the go. To cater for this lifestyle, sandwiches are a popular street food. Embracing the fact that seafood is another staple in the state, Maine came up with the idea of the lobster sandwich. This, and the sustainability that goes into a highly regulated industry (when it comes to fishing) are celebrated in a five day festival that highlights the beauty of lobsters.
Date: end of July – beginning of August
Venue: various restaurants in Maine.
Cuisine / Theme: seafood (particularly lobster)
Things to do: Around The Peninsula Bike Tour, A Walk Through Time Tour in Portland, and a Windjammer Classic Sunset Sail.
Tourist attractions: the Rockland lighthouse
Places to stay: Hampton Inn & Suites Rockland, 250 Main Hotel, the Rockland Harbor Hotel.
Organisers: Maine Lobster Festival Organising Committee
Price: general admission tickets start from $100
Visitors: 30 000 over the five days of the festival.
If you are looking for a town that epitomises the melting pot that is US culture, you don’t have to look much further than San Francisco. At East Drink SA, more than 200 restaurants and winemakers showcase their talents. Some of the big names in the industry want to appear at Eat Drink SF and you may be lucky to catch a demonstration by a celebrity chef or two.
Venue: various restaurants across San Francisco.
Cuisine / Theme: there is no set theme
Things to do: Muir Woods & Sausalito Half-Day Tour, Small Group Yosemite and Giant Sequoias Day Trip, and Alcatraz with San Francisco Bay Cruise.
Tourist attractions: Alcatraz Island, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Oracle Park.
Places to stay: the Grant Plaza Hotel, The Mosser Hotel, and Hyatt Regency San Francisco Downtown.
Organisers: Eat Drink SF Organising Comittee
Price: Prices vary sepending on the restaurant
Visitors: 50 000 over 10 days
The taste of Chicago is the worlds biggest food festival. The original festival was held in Michigan Avenue. The festival had to be moved to Grant Park the following year as over 250 000 showed up for the original event. The event showcases the best of Chicago’s restaurants and fast food vendors, so you will almost certainly be able to sample a slice of the best deep dish pizza in the world.
Venue: Grant Park
Cuisine / Theme: there is no set theme.
Things to do: Chicago Craft Brewery Barrel Bus Tour, Gangsters and Ghosts Tour, Chicago Architecture River Cruise.
Tourist attractions: Wrigley Field, the Museum of Science and Industry, and The Art Institute of Chicago.
Places to stay: Club Quarters Hotel Central Loop, Congress Plaza Hotel Chicago, Hotel Blake.
Organisers: Taste of Chicago Organising Committee
Visitors: 250 000
From Mexican food, to Polynesian cuisine to barbecue, Los Angeles is a city that has attracted many food lovers over the years. These different flavours are highlighted and celebrated at Taste: Los Angeles. The festival attracts thousands of foodies who are eager to sample the best that the east coast has to offer.
Date: Labour Day Weekend.
Venue: various restaurants in Los Angeles
Cuisine / Theme: no set theme
Things to do: Griffith Park, La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, and Universal Studios Hollywood.
Tourist attractions: Walt Disney Concert Hall, Griffith Observatory, The Getty Center.
Places to stay: Hollywood Celebrity Hotel, Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel, AC Hotel by Marriott Downtown Los Angeles.
Organisers: the LA Times
Visitors: over 50 000
A melting pot of cultures and backgrounds means that to get the best overview of the cuisine of the USA, it is recommended that you attend the best food festivals in the US. And like many chefs that work in the US, you can take these experiences home and try them in your own cooking.