Culinary tourism is on the rise. In a recent survey by the World Tourism Association, 87% of respondents believe that food defines “the image and brand of their destination”. That’s a pretty phenomenal statistic—and a great opportunity for marketers to highlight their own brand by tying it to the gastronomic heartbeat of one of America’s great foodie cities.

Food is an integral—albeit often uninspired—part of event planning. People need to eat. So up the game at your next event; get rid of the rubbery chicken and showcase local flavors. We promise it will make a positive and lasting impact on your clients.

Banzai’s can’t-miss list of amazing food cities is by no means exhaustive, but offers some of our favorites for B2B events with a special emphasis on tasty bites. Here are our top food ideas for dining out or catering in at your next event.

Austin

Austin’s food scene is as hot at the serranos that pepper the landscape. Despite being nestled within the quintessentially American state of Texas, Austin is a proper mash-up of international and Texan cuisine. This vibrant city embraces it all, from barbeque brisket to tacos off the cart, jambalaya to toothsome ramen, and boasts some pretty amazing sushi. (We know. We were surprised, too.)

Dine out: Kemuri Tatsu-ya is ramen heaven (and just made Bon Appetit’s 2017 Best New Restaurants list). Try Odd Duck or sister company Suerte for modern Mexican food in a hopping setting. Want something more posh? Get advance bookings at Yuyo for upscale Peruvian fare or Guild for eclectic seafood.

Cater in: Bring in burgers from Cow Bells or hire a food cart like Valentina’s to sling tacos during the lunch hour.

Philadelphia

Philly is bursting with award-winning chefs like Michael Solomonov of Zahav and Greg Vernick of Vernick Food & Drink, and cutting-edge restaurants like Tinto and Cheu Fishtown are shaking up a scene that’s still heavily laden with meaty and bready goodness. So while we love the Philadelphia’s classic tomato pie and piping soft pretzels, we recommend taking advantage the city’s diverse food offerings.

Dine out: For a venue with a chic trendy vibe, throw a large or small soirée at El Vez or Lebanese gem Suraya — voted the best new restaurant in 2018 by Philadelphia Magazine. Or if you want to impress some super clients, host an intimate dinner at a boutique steakhouse like Barclay Prime or Butcher and Singer.

Cater in: Go tradition with cheesesteak, but stray from the traditional and opt for Cleaver’s more robust catering menu. For a less meaty menu, Goldie’s vegan falafel is all the rage.

San Francisco

After New York City, San Francisco is the second most densely populated US city in the country. And it’s home to a whopping 4,415 restaurants with its 46-square-mile limits. (That’s 96 restaurants per square mile!) And let’s not even get started on Oakland, which has its own bumping food scene.

So there’s a lot to choose from. San Francisco cuisine was once tethered to Alice Water’s romance with farm-to-table dishes, still offered at world-famous Chez Panisse, but today is infused with the cultural traditions of its diverse ethnic population. You’ll find flavors from across China, Korea, Ethiopia, Morocco, Spain’s Basque region, and more. For your next marketing event, you can take your menu plan way outside the box.

Dine out: True to its name, State Bird Provisions is a local institution that offers California-inspired fare, so try that or head next door to its big brother The Progress. Book into Hong Kong Lounge II for evening strategy sessions over dim sum and crisp fried noodles. Treat your clients to dinner at Nopalito for contemporary Mexican or Robin for creative omakase. The list goes on (and on).

Cater in: Treat attendees to Cuban sandwiches from Media Noche and Del Popolo’s wood-fired pizzas out of their enormous kitchen on wheels. Or give a nod another great city with a NOLA-inspired menu from Brenda’s French Soul Food. And speaking of New Orleans…

New Orleans

Mardi Gras aside, most visitors think of New Orleans for its rich culinary pedigree. Our minds can’t even go there without flashes of beignets, steamed crawfish, po’boys and jambalaya. Unlike the other cities on our list, the best eating in New Orleans still revolves around the iconic classics, as well as signature cocktails like the Sazerac and Hurricane. Whatever dish you go for in The Big Easy, it’s bound to be dripping with French and Creole influence, as well as butter and sugar. So forget your diet and food inhibitions and indulge.

Dine Out: Go classy with cocktails at award-winning Arnaud’s French 75 Bar or dinner at Herbsaint. Indulge in oysters and drinks at Seaworthy. For some fusion flair, host a client dinner at Saffron NOLA for indian-inspired local dishes. Or if you want pure atmosphere for some real conversation, head to Café Degas.

Cater in: Obviously, beignets by the dozen and chicory coffee from The Beignet Truck. For mouthwatering meats and southern sides (yes, we do mean pimento cheese), try Cochon Butcher. Bring in fried chicken from Willie Mae’s Scotch House for a decadent, if not tidy, lunch extravaganza.

If your next marketing event lands in one of these great foodie cities, (a) we’re jealous and (b) let us know if you tried any of these hotspots!

At Banzai, we help professionals build and host B2B events across the globe. Whatever your goals, we can create a strategy that will make your event the most effective and rewarding possible for your target audience. So you plan the food, we’ll handle attendee acquisition.