You know what makes a good meal out taste even better? When the check arrives and it costs a lot less than you thought it would. Everyone wants to eat well when they’re on vacation, but for MONEY’s Best Destinations for Foodies list, we looked for destinations that had plenty of top restaurants as well as prices that would go down easy.
You can eat well for less in San Antonio than in most any big city in the country: a three-course meal for two at a mid-priced restaurant costs only $35 on average. And not just any meal, either. San Antonio is known as River City and Alamo City, but it could well be called Carnivore City, given the pervasiveness of off-the-bone restaurants.
Bohanan’s, which is housed in a converted, 19th century haberdashery, is touted as one of the best steakhouses in the country. You’ll save money on sides by going at lunch, when their mesquite-grilled USDA Prime 7 ounce filet ($40) comes with thin-cut french fries and sautéed peppers. (You can also try the Japanese Akaushi beef—a mega-splurge at $95 but cheaper than the flight to Tokyo).
Rather go whole hog than whole paycheck? Stop by The Big Bib, which serves barbecue that’s been mesquite-smoked for 16 hours. The seemingly endless lines are worth it: for $35, you can get a family “sampler” that serves four to six people, including multiple meats (from brisket to jalapeño sausage).
Los Angeles has more top-rated restaurants on TripAdvisor than any U.S. city other than New York, and a mid-range, 3-course meal for two will set you back only $60, $20 less than in New York. La-la-land’s cultural diversity and easy access to fresh California produce makes it a standout town for dining out.
A great place to start a day: The Griddle Cafe, where celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio and Jay-Z have reportedly been spotted. Breakfasts at the beloved Hollywood diner are full-fat, no-butter-barred affairs. Try the Scotch on the Rocks flapjacks, which are filled with butterscotch chips and pecans, then topped with whipped cream and Vermont maple syrup ($13).
For a late-night burger try Perch, a francophile bistro on an open 16th-floor rooftop overlooking the city, where the aged ground beef burger ($15) is served on a brioche with gruyere and garlic aioli.
Philly has been perfecting its food scene for a long time—since 1682, to be exact. You can taste some of the same foods the founding father’s salivated over at City Tavern Restaurant. Founded in 1773, the tavern features Thomas Jefferson’s beloved sweet potato biscuits (made with his original recipe and served gratis with every meal) and Benjamin Franklin’s fried tofu—yes, Ben is credited with introducing tofu to the colonies ($18).
The Oyster House, established in 1976, is another local institution, known for its family-style “dump dinner”: Maine lobster, sausage, mussels, and hand-cut fries, for $25 a person. Just $20 more will get you all-you-can-handle red and white wine, Narraganset Pounder beer, and Kelly’s Punch.
Hit the bar at The Duck Inn for a locally made dog of Tallgrass beef and duck fat, served in a housemade brioche bun and topped with onions, relish, and celery salt ($10). Pair it with the fried cheese curds with bloody Mary ketchup ($8), and you’ve got yourself the ultimate Midwestern meal.
For dessert, head to Bohemian House, Czech- and German-inspired restaurant where the apricot kolacky is served with elderflower-honey ice cream ($8), best washed down with their raspberry hibiscus iced tea ($3.50).
They call it Hotlanta for many reasons, and the growing food scene is definitely one of them. One reason to go this summer: the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, held June 2-5, where some 250 regional restaurants serve up tastings in Midtown. (Tickets from $45, with early bird specials available before April 15.)
For brunch, y’all should stop by South City Kitchen for their bourbon-cured salmon on avocado toast with creme fraiche ($10), and the cheddar biscuits served with housemade pork sausage and pepper gravy ($11).