6 U.S. Cities with Seriously Affordable Gourmet Food

Between the farm-to-table movement, the rise of culinary TV and celebrity chefs, and the explosive popularity of food trucks, foodies are having a moment. There’s never been a better time to be a person who loves to eat high-quality, artfully prepared food. But if you’re not a member of the 1%, you’ll need to pick your culinary destinations wisely.

That’s where these six cities come in. In any of these locales, you’ll be able to enjoy a gourmet appetizer and an entree (and, in some cases, a cocktail) for less than $50. Eat your heart out.

1. Baltimore, MD

Baltimore’s gourmet food scene can best be summed up in one word: “eclectic.” Whether your preference is for traditional French fare or experimental fusions, pristine white tablecloths or seasonal food served at community tables, Baltimore has you covered. Not sure where to start? Head to b bistro for thoughtfully prepared (and often seasonal) dishes; hit up B&O American Brasserie for earthy New American fare; or visit Bookmakers Cocktail Club for amazing cocktails paired with unique dishes such as rye gnocchi with pastrami sugo.

2. Charlotte, NC

Charlotte’s Southern gentility extends into its restaurants. You’ll want to dust off your nicest pair of pants before heading to any of the city’s upscale food establishments, but don’t worry—you’ll still be able to afford the food (provided you know where to look). Head to Barrington’s for simple, seasonal, and delicious dishes such as seared organic chicken or scallops with veal cheek ravioli; visit Kindred Restaurant for nationally-acclaimed fare from a husband-and-wife duo; or dine in The Asbury or Evoke, both of which feature menus that speak to the distinct perspectives of their respective head chefs.

3. Columbus, OH

It took Columbus some time to find its bearings in the food world, but now the city’s food scene is up and running—and making up for lost time. Restaurants in Columbus range from starched-tablecloth affairs to casual dining; the city is also developing a name for itself as a hub for stellar Indian, Pan-Asian, and Mediterranean fare, and Korean and Persian restaurants are currently on the rise. You can’t go wrong at Kihachi Japanese Restaurant, a nationally recognized establishment that’s held its own in Columbus for more than 20 years. If New American food is more your style, then don’t miss a meal at the trendy M.

4. Indianapolis, IN

“Gourmet food” might not be the first thing you think of when Indianapolis comes up in conversation, but it’s high time you adjusted your expectations. There’s something for everyone in this Midwestern city: From farm-to-table and organic fare to upscale, handcrafted pizza, gourmet burgers (think peppercorn-bourbon glaze with horseradish Havarti), ice cream made fresh from local cows, a classic (and exceptionally high quality) steakhouse, artisanal meats, and the nationally acclaimed Milktooth, which is redefining brunch—Indy’s got it all.

5. Pittsburgh, PA

Steel City has certainly refined its palette. Bon Appetit designated Pittsburgh as the “next big food town” in 2013, and the city’s food scene has only continued to explode since then. Upscale elegance and trendy ambience define Pittsburgh’s restaurant scene, which is home to several James Beard Award-nominated chefs and a strong local aesthetic. Perhaps surprisingly, you’ll be able to enjoy all this good food for a relatively affordable price. Don’t forget to make reservations at local favorites Cure and Bar Marco, or head to up-and-coming establishments such as Gaucho Parrilla Argentina or Eighty Acres Kitchen & Bar.

6. St. Louis, MO

When it comes to great-yet-low-budget restaurants per capita, St. Louis might just take the cake. Whether you’re looking for farm-to-table fare (bison sausage, anyone?), down-home ambience spearheaded by celebrity chefs, old-fashioned ice cream parlor desserts, outstanding sandwiches, Chinese-American fusion, or anything in between, you’ll find affordable upscale food in St. Louis by throwing a stone in any direction.

In addition to amazing food, each of these cities offers an exciting array of attractions, from arts, music, and nightlife, to sightseeing and outdoor adventures. So book your flight and eat up—you’ll need the energy to go exploring.


This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on March 11, 2016.

The Best Hotels in Charlotte, NC

If you are planning a trip to the south, and Charlotte in particular, you are no doubt looking from some real southern hospitality. While you certainly can find some almost anywhere in the south, these independent hotels will give you southern hospitality plus great service and value.

Photo by Ashley Patterson via Trover.com

The Dunhill Hotel

The Dunhill Hotel is a boutique uptown property listed in the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Historic Hotels of America. Dating from 1929, the guest rooms still have that 1920s ambiance with writing desks, armoires, and marble bathrooms, but with modern hotel perks. Amenities include a flat-screen TV, iPod docking station, Keurig coffeemaker, Wi-Fi, and turn-down service. Among the hotel amenities are a complimentary tea and coffee bar, evening homemade cookies, shoe shine service, and free area shuttle. The Asbury, the property’s celebrated restaurant, serves classic and updated Southern specialties. With a central Charlotte site and steps from downtown, its best to book early. The hotel has just 60 rooms with rates starting at $210. For an extra special stay, the 10th floor Penthouse Suite features two balconies for the best views of Charlotte.

Drury Inn & Suites Charlotte University Place

Guests appreciate the friendly staff, great site, and free breakfast and Wi-Fi at Drury Inn & Suites Charlotte University Place. Add an indoor pool, outdoor pool, fitness center, and pets (if you bring one). Rooms are comfortable and make you feel like you are at home, with microwave, refrigerator, coffeemaker, and desk. Perhaps best of all, rooms start at $132 per night.

Drury Inn & Suites Charlotte Northlake

Drury Inn & Suites Charlotte Northlake has the same great features as its sister property at University Place. The area is even better if you are going to Bank of America Stadium. It’s a short drive to catch a football game (NFL’s Carolina Panthers; University of North Carolina football) or a major concert. Room rates start at $132 per night.

Photo by Robert Ruvalcaba via Trover.com

The Morehead Inn

if you are looking for a warm and inviting beautiful neighborhood inn, this is the property for you. The Morehead Inn is a Colonial Revival mansion dating from 1917 in the historic district of Dilworth. With beautiful gardens and public rooms, The Morehead Inn is classic south with an elegant atmosphere and gracious southern hospitality. The property features just 12 suites decorated with antiques, with some having fireplaces. Rooms are cozy and comfortable and include breakfast and Wi-Fi. It’s a short drive or walk to the city center of Charlotte. Rates start at $129 per night.

The Duke Mansion

Housed in a grand building dating from 1915 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Duke Mansion, a boutique bed-and-breakfast property, sits on 4.5 acres of landscaped grounds not far from downtown Charlotte. Each of 20 guest rooms blend vintage southern charm and feature designer toiletries and luxury robes, plush beds with fine linens and goose-down pillows, plus free Wi-Fi and a TV with DVD player. Some rooms have whirlpool tubs and/or sleeping porches. The property offers a complimentary breakfast. There’s a guest library, fitness center, and attractive gardens. Room rates start at $240 per night.