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BY JESSICA BOHLMAN
5 Foodie Vacations With International Cuisine In The U.S.
Going out to eat is half the fun of vacation, but how can you indulge in international cuisine while still staying stateside? Fortunately for you, these five unique towns specialize in serving up a world of flavors. From the colorful cuisine of Greece to the rich tastes of Germany, read on to discover where in the U.S. you can find authentic, delicious international foodie vacations — without using your passport.
It’s All Greek To You
Find Greek Food In: Tarpon Springs, Florida
Located just 20 minutes north of Clearwater, the historic riverfront town of Tarpon Springs has transported visitors thousands of miles away to a coastal village in Greece for decades. Greek sponge divers arrived in the city in the early 1900s and Greek heritage is still strong in the area. If you’re searching for authentic Greek food, you’ve landed in the right place.
Like other Mediterranean cuisine, Greek food is rich in extra virgin olive oil, herbs, and fresh vegetables, plus it’s colorful and nutritious. Mezze, or small dishes, frequently help make up the main meal served with salads, dips, and pita bread.
Stroll along Dodecanese Boulevard to see the docked sponge boats and take your pick of more than 15 restaurants, several of which are internationally known. Hellas, Mama’s Greek Cuisine, and Mr. Souvlaki are a few of the city’s best-known, and most traditional Greek restaurants serve up tasty dishes like stuffed grape leaves, gyros, Greek salads, and baklava.
With rolling hills dotted with small towns, farms, and woodland pastures, New Glarus, Wisconsin, reminds many visitors of the alpine farmlands of Switzerland. The city, known as America’s Little Switzerland, is proud of its Swiss heritage with classic Bernese Mountain Chalet-style architecture, two museums celebrating Swiss history, its famous festivals, and a wealth of specialty shops and restaurants serving up delicious, savory Swiss fare.
Swiss cuisine combines influences from the German, French, and North Italian, however its cuisine varies from region to region. Traditional dishes include cheese fondue, rösti (fried grated potatoes), Cordon bleu, and beef bourguignon. Of course, no meal is complete without dessert — and decadent Swiss chocolate is the perfect way to end a meal. Top area restaurants include Chalet Landhaus Restaurant and Glarner Stube.
While you’re dining, don’t forget to sample some of Wisconsin’s best craft beers from New Glarus Brewing Company. These brews are only sold in Wisconsin, and its Spotted Cow variety is a favorite of many visitors.
Find Vietnamese Food In: Little Saigon neighborhood in Westminster, California
Home to the highest concentration of Vietnamese Americans, the Little Saigon neighborhood of Westminster, California, bursts with Vietnamese culture, and you’ll feel transported to a different land. The neighborhood encompasses around three square miles of the city and boasts hundreds of restaurants and shops. It’s best to appreciate this community on a walking tour.
Vietnamese food is touted as some of the healthiest cuisines in the world, featuring a balance of fresh herbs, meats, and a selective use of spices. French fare is a major influence, with the traditional Banh Mi sandwich using crusty French baguette as its foundation. Pho, a soup served with Vietnamese rice noodles, herbs, and meat, is the ultimate comfort food. Some of the area’s can't-miss restaurants include Mai Phung, Ngu Binh Restaurant, and Brodard Restaurant.
While in the area, stroll through the Asian Garden Mall, the largest majority Vietnamese-owned and -operated mall in America. The two-story mall boasts shops and wholesale shops, including a wide variety of imported products and foods for fun souvenirs of your trip. If your visit coincides with the annual Southern California Tet Festival, you are in for a treat. It celebrates the Lunar New Year and is the largest celebration of its kind outside of Vietnam.
Located between Boston and Worcester, Framingham, Massachusetts, is home to one of the largest Brazilian populations in the United States. Like the United States, Brazil is a melting pot, so its cuisine is heavily influenced by a variety of countries. Many dishes use rice or beans as a base ingredient, and common meats include beef, pork, and different kinds of seafood and fish. In the area, check out Terra Brasilis Restaurant or Framingham Station Brazilian Steakhouse.
Breakfast is often fruit-based, so incorporating superfood açai in a smoothie bowl is the perfect way to start the day. In general, lunch is the largest and most filling meal of the day. Feijoada, a bean stew typically made from black beans cooked slowly with pork or beef, is largely recognized as the national dish. Pão de Queijo, a delicious cheese bread, is perfect to split as an appetizer.
If you have a sweet tooth, you are in luck with plenty of tasty options. Brigadeiros are chocolate truffles popular at parties. Beijinho de Coco, or little kiss of coconut in Portuguese, is made with condensed milk and butter rolled in coconut flakes.
The serene backdrop of the Texas Hill Country makes Fredericksburg, Texas, a beautiful small town with breathtaking views, award-winning wineries, and authentic German food. The city’s historic Main Street is a mix of architectural styles, including original limestone and signature Basse block building dating back to the late 1800s, and now is home to boutiques, galleries, and restaurants. Pioneer Museum Complex is a great place to learn about the area’s history and what brought German settlers to Texas.
With hearty meat portions and rich, creamy sauces washed down with a pint of beer, traditional German food is hearty and rich. Typical German dishes include schnitzels, bratwurst, cabbage rolls, and steaks. Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, or Black Forest Cake, makes for a decadent dessert, or go for a lighter option with a fruit pastry or German cheesecake. Notable area restaurants include The Auslander Restaurant & Biergarten, Der Lindenbaum, and Otto’s German Bistro.
During your visit, be sure to sample the best Texas Wine Country has to offer with more than 50 wineries in and around Fredericksburg. There are plenty of local wine touring companies that can customize a half or full-day private itinerary for you.