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culinary_sceneWilling to travel for good food? Booking.com recently announces the top 7 emerging food capitals in the U.S. New data according to the experts – Booking.com travelers – confirms several U.S. cities that are pushing New York, San Francisco and New Orleans off their perch.

“There’s no doubt that there’s something exciting about discovering the newest, hidden gem foodie capitals,” says Leslie Cafferty, VP of Communications at Booking.com. The company used review data that shows where travelers are rating highly for food in the U.S. “The number of incoming food endorsements we’ve seen so far in 2015 in most of these cities is more than three times what we saw in 2013.”

Off the beaten plate, there’s a chance to experience the places where the culinary scene is taking off and bringing new concepts, ingredients and tastes to the table.

Asheville, NC
For such a small mountain city, Asheville is garnering a huge amount of praise for its creative and buzzing culinary scene. An entrepreneurial ambience means a rapidly-growing selection of new restaurants, farmers’ markets and foodie start-ups, producing everything from artisanal cheese to chocolate and preserves. And a visit to Asheville’s grand Biltmore Estate, a château-esque mansion built by the mighty Vanderbilt family in 1895, is great to explore once you can’t eat anymore.

What to Try
The craft beer movement has really taken off here so order everything with a pint of local brew. Chai Pani, an Indian streetfood-style hotspot, was recommended by several Booking.com travelers and has been featured in GQ and the New York Times. And stop off at the Gourmet Chip Company to try the irresistible Napa (lavender honey, blue cheese crumbles, sea salt) or Parisian (white truffles, herbed goat cheese, sea salt) potato chips.

Savannah, GA
Oozing Southern charm, the historic coastal city of Savannah is hardly new on the tourist trail. Its grand colonial architecture, pretty squares and parks filled with magnolia blossoms have been attracting visitors for years. But its food endorsements from Booking.com customers have been growing at such a rate that it is now a big player on the U.S. foodie scene. Its culinary prowess lies largely in its seafood offering (Savannah crab cakes are the stuff of dreams) but also in its high standard of home comfort food eateries.

What to Try
Back in the Day Bakery is a prime example of traditional Southern fare with a menu offering enticing baked goods such as Bourbon Bread Pudding and Chocolate Heaven Cupcakes.  The bakery also serves savory specialties, heavily featuring bacon in true Savannahstyle. Booking.com reviewers lauded Mrs. Wilkes restaurant, where bbq pork, sweet potato soufflé, fried chicken and other Southern classics are served up buffet-style.

Santa Fe, NM
As the second-oldest city in the U.S., New Mexico’s eccentric capital has spent centuries developing a vibrant culinary culture blending the best of Native American, mainstream American and Mexican flavors. While staying true to its chili and chorizo roots, Santa Fe also offers a dynamic dining scene with new restaurants constantly cropping up and lots of mouth-watering street food.

What to Try
The restaurant scene in Santa Fe is buzzing with diverse eateries but places that feature local specialties like stacked, blue corn enchiladas came highly recommended by Booking.com customers. At Second Street Brewery, the menu is a medley of local classics like habanero-citrus bbq wings and a selection of New Mexican cheeses, with plenty of craft brews to choose from.

Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia may still be associated with its iconic fast foods – namely cheesesteaks and pretzels – but over the last decade or so, the city’s culinary culture has blossomed. Thanks in no small part to its rich ethnic fabric, this energetic urban culinary hotbed plays host to a strong selection of cuisine, from quintessential Italian and French food to a growing network of high caliber Japanese restaurants.

What to Try
The Italian Market on 9th Street is a real gem for fresh ingredients and local produce, as is the downtown Reading Terminal farmer’s market, located on the ground floor of a former train shed. This bustling foodie heaven came highly recommended by Booking.com customers; in particular the donuts, ice creams and Italian-style pulled pork sandwiches.

Honolulu, HI
The recent boom in farmer’s markets means that Honolulu is quickly becoming known for more than just its pineapple production. Young and creative chefs are utilizing the island’s natural resources and reimagining traditional recipes to launch a culinary revolution. Island living and a laidback culture still prevail in this tropical paradise, but now visitors that come for the surf and sand, stay for the food.

What to Try
Yama’s Fish Market is local Hawaiian food at its best with a vast selection of fresh fish, meat and specialties such as the gorgeous haupia (Hawaiian coconut pudding). Look out for culinary pop-ups from celebrated chefs that are appearing all over the city, particularly in the newly redeveloped, trendy district of Kakaako. And if you’re looking to cool down in the Hawaiian heat, Shave ice – the local dessert of choice – will work wonders.

Houston, TX
Step aside Austin, Houston is now regularly touted as the new ‘it’ city in Texas, a trend backed up by its significant recent growth in Booking.com food endorsements. From high-end dining to quirky cafés and restaurants, the city’s eclectic culinary offerings are sophisticated yet still unpretentious and fun.

What to Try
The ante has been noticeably upped by ambitious chefs changing the foodie landscape, such as Bryan Caswell with his restaurant Reef, offering an unprecedented variety of seafood for Houston. The city also has the finest of Vietnamese, Chinese and Hispanic cuisines, plus a stand out Italian restaurant, Coltivare, where ingredients are harvested from the restaurant’s on-site garden. And for Indian, the incredible bistro Pondicheri serves up a blissful breakfast ‘thali’, a typical round platter of various Indian dishes.

Monterey, CA
A lesser known foodie destination than nearby San Francisco, the picturesque seaside city of Monterey has seen huge recent growth in Booking.com food endorsements. It goes without saying that the city’s seafood is its forte, often making it from boat to table in just a few hours. But Booking.com customers also noted that between the old part of the town, fisherman’s wharf and Cannery Row, there’s a high concentration of impressive dining options.

What to Try
Although Cannery Row-the strip that gave its name to the 1945 John Steinbeck novel-is both atmospheric and full of diverse restaurants, it can be a tad touristy. If you fancy going further afield, you’ll come across yet more interesting options. Restaurant 1883 (recommended by Booking.com customers) is now known for farm-fresh, James-Beard-nominated food such as tuna belly tartate with black garlic puree, Granny Smith apple with wasabi, yuzu vinaigrette and sliced serrano peppers.

For more information, visit www.booking.com.

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