When taking on a day trip, stopping for lunch and dinner is usually part of the adventure, but if you’re a food lover like me, sometimes eating is the adventure. Lucky for us in the Northeast, there are plenty of nearby food destinations to seek out.
There’s nothing wrong with putting on a few miles to satisfy a craving. Like spending all morning on the road to get to New Haven in time for lunch to taste the original hamburger or driving a few hours for a real deal Philly cheesesteak. Some things are worth traveling the distance for. And of course, any extra time you have for exploring is a bonus.
When you’re going on a trip, sometimes the best thing to do is to follow your stomach. In recent years, food tourism has become more and more popular.
These are some our favorite food destinations in the Northeast.
Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture
Pocantico Hills, NY
Stone Barns is a must-visit food destination for anyone who loves cooking, gardening and eating. The nonprofit four-season, fully sustainable farm and educational center works to inspire change in the way that Americans eat and farm through example. Tour the greenhouses, planting fields and pastures, located just 25 miles north of New York City. Free self-guided and ticketed intensive tours are available. Check website for hours and schedules.
Also on the property is chef Dan Barber’s AAA Five Diamond Rated restaurant Blue Hill, which offers an enlightening formal dining experience with ever-changing tasting menus based on the freshest seasonal and local ingredients that the surrounding farm and the Hudson Valley have to offer. For a more casual and kid-friendly option, Blue Hill Cafe & Grain Bar sells snacks, salads, baked goods and Blue Hill’s own line of savory vegetable yogurts.
Omni Parker House
Grab a table at Parker’s Restaurant for a taste of history. The restaurant lays claim to creating the original Boston cream pie and has been serving it since the Parker House hotel opened in 1856. It’s also the birthplace of Parker House rolls.
The hotel is in the heart of downtown Boston, near Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall Marketplace, and along the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile route that leads to 16 historically significant sites including museums, churches and burying grounds that tell the story of the American Revolution.
The Culinary Institute of America
Hyde Park, NY
Taste your way around the “world’s premier culinary college.” Tour the scenic campus overlooking the Hudson Valley and dine at one of the four student-operated restaurants. Enjoy Italian specialties or wood-fired pizza at Caterina de’ Medici, relax with farm-to-table dishes at American Bounty or try modernized French classics at The Bocuse Restaurant. For a casual lunch (and great desserts!), try the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe.
Student-led tours for the general public, which can be scheduled on weekdays when classes are in session ($6 per person), allow visitors a glimpse into the world of future culinarians, who can be seen busily prepping in the kitchens that line the hallways. Don’t miss the bookstore, stocked with kitchen tools, gadgets and cookbooks.
While you are in the area, visit the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt, take a stroll on the Walkway over the Hudson, or head up the road to the historic town of Rhinebeck for shopping and more dining options including Terrapin and The Tavern at The Beekman Arms & Delamater Inn.
New Haven, CT
Home of Yale University, the diverse and growing culinary scene in New Haven naturally boasts some of the best college town foods (i.e. pizza and burgers), making it one of the smartest and tastiest nearby food destinations.
Louis’ Lunch lays claim to being among the first to introduce America to the hamburger sandwich. Taste their original hamburger, hand-rolled from a blend of five different meat varieties, cooked to order and grilled vertically in cast-iron grills that date back to 1890. Louis’ Lunch does not offer any condiments and there’s a lingo to ordering – learn it before you go. Try another classic – Frank Pepe’s Neapolitan-style “tomato pie” known locally as apizza (pronounced “ahbeetz”) at Pepe’s Pizzeria main location on Wooster Street in New Haven’s Little Italy neighborhood.
On your way to New Haven, stop into the Pez factory (about 15 minutes away), where you can view the largest collection of Pez memorabilia on public display in the world, shop in the factory store and see the world’s largest Pez dispenser. Because it is a working factory, tours are self-guided, but there are plenty of windows to peer into the manufacturing area.
Road trip for a sandwich? Totally worth it when there’s an authentic Philly cheesesteak waiting at the end. There’s certainly no shortage of places to find one – it’s deciding where to go that’s the hard part. Many claim to be the best, though not all are, but chopped or sliced, whiz or no whiz, “wit” onions or without, it’s mostly a matter of preference. Shop around, ask the locals, and maybe try more than one place. Learn how to order a Philly cheesesteak.
Cheesesteaks with high recommendations include Sonny’s Famous Steaks, Pat’s King of Steaks, Geno’s, Campo’s Deli and John’s Roast Pork (which is also, as the name suggests, an excellent place to try a classic Philadelphia roast pork sandwich). Tony Luke’s is another good spot for a roast pork sandwich. In the mood for a different comfort food? Don’t miss the fried chicken, doughnuts and coffee at Federal Donuts.
Walk the city to find famous and historic attractions like the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and LOVE Park, then finish the day off with something sweet. Among the history that was made in Philadelphia, Ben Franklin is said to have invented ice cream there during the Constitutional Convention of 1787. It is also where the soda fountain and the ice cream soda were born. Order a homemade root beer float at The Franklin Fountain, an old-school ice cream shop and soda fountain that pays homage to a delicious piece of the city’s past.
Come to Hoboken hungry! You can spend an entire day on your own little food tour, exploring all of the intriguing and multicultural dining options here.
Munch on Latin American tapas and wood-oven-fired entrees at James Beard award-winning chef Maricel Presilla’s Chucharamama, grab a beer with authentic Austro-Hungarian beer garden cuisine at Pilsener Haus & Biergarten, or enjoy naan and samosas with a mango lassi at Indian bistro Karma Kafe. For a sophisticated internationally inspired menu, visit the much raved-about Amanda’s.
If you’re looking for a snack, perhaps to take to one of Hoboken’s parks overlooking the Manhattan skyline, visit Carlo’s Bakery of the famed reality show “Cake Boss,” which offers up a variety of irresistible desserts from cannoli to crumb cake. Or get a coffee at one of the city’s many coffee shops, such as Maroon Cafe, which has two separate locations.
Food destinations in NYC
We could go on and on about food destinations in New York City. Here are just a few:
In the Bronx, Arthur Avenue is the true Little Italy of New York City. Sample high-quality and authentic Italian specialties in the Italian bakeries, salumerias and restaurants, many of which have been a part of the neighborhood for generations.
A Slice of Brooklyn pizza bus tour will guide you to the most essential slices in the area. And beer buffs will love the tastings and tours available at the Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg (a tasty food destination in its own right).
Queen’s is perhaps the ultimate, yet most underrated foodie destination. Being such an ethnically diverse place translates to an amazing selection of cuisine. A walking food tour through Astoria is like a walk around the world. Go on a self-guided tour, or try an official Queen’s Food Tour.
What’s your favorite nearby food destinations? Share it with us in the comments.