Stuck in the shadow of cities like New York City, Miami, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles, Portland and Atlanta have been able to carve out some pretty significant shares of the American culinary scene. Offering everything from amazing craft beers to brilliant fine dining. Portland and Atlanta are fraternal twins on opposite sides of the country. Each uniquely impacted by the geography, culture, and weather of their particular locations. Let’s take a look at what each city is doing in the culinary game that should have everyone that plans to visit excited.


Craft Beer Breakdown

While craft beers can be found around the world, some will argue that Portland holds the crown of the world’s best craft beer destination. With over 70 world class breweries churning out some of the best beers money can buy, it’s no surprise that its reputation has continued to grow in the Craft Beer community. Portland is a must visit destination for anyone in love with Craft Beer. Grab a hotel near Downtown Portland because you might not want to have a long walk after a few pints. Although not as famous as Portland, Atlanta is taking it’s bootlegging roots to the next level with Craft Beers.

The southern United States has a long history of alcohol production. While the Volstead Act didn’t do too much to curb alcohol production, it certainly helped establish the legendary southern spirits culture. Today, Atlanta is positioning itself as the Craft Beer capital of the South. With about 10 new breweries opening in the last couple of years, it’s easy to see why Atlanta is pushing the boundaries of what Southern alcohol production is.

WE RECOMMEND: Produce Row in Portland and Max Lager’s Wood-Fired Grill & Brewery in Atlanta

Soul Food Paradise

Given Georgia’s history of slavery, it’s pretty easy to see why the state has the countries best Soul Food by far. Soul Food is at its core, Black Food. Recipes and techniques passed down from generation to generation of black families and cooks. Starting during the slave era in the South. Today, Atlanta boasts the countries highest concentration of brilliant Soul Food establishments. If for nothing else, Soul Food is an excellent reason to book a hotel and plane ticket to Atlanta.

Oregon doesn’t have the sorted past of racism that Georgia has. Nor does it have the population of African Americans that have traditionally opened and patronized Soul Food restaurants. But with its open and diverse culinary scene, a few restaurants have carved out a niche in this bohemian capital city. Offering up everything from Po Boys to Catfish, Portland is the place to be in the Pacific Northwest for quality Soul Food.

WE RECOMMEND: Paschal’s or Mary Mac’s Tea Room in Atlanta and Po’shines Cafe De La Soul in Portland

Fine Dining Extravaganza 

Atlanta takes Southern Hospitality to new heights with its fine dining offerings. Harkening back to their southern roots (and yes, oppressive), the culinary scene in Atlanta has pushed through their disgraceful past to offer some of the United States best fine dining options. Atlanta embraces the “heavy” flavors and portions that have become synonymous with southern cuisine. Something hardly seen in fine dining these days. With areas like Buckhead, Midtown, and Ansley Park offering excellent culinary options, Atlanta is definitely the place to visit for Southern fine dining.

Not to be outdone, Portland has some excellent options as well. Portland leans on their Bohemian culture to set them apart in the fine dining realm. Offering an eclectic mix of establishments which will appease almost any palate. While many stand alone options are available, this is a popup and casual fine dining city. Making fine dining far more accessible to more people. Something every city should strive for.

WE RECOMMEND: Staplehouse in Atlanta and Coquine or Ox in Portland

Food Truck/Street Food Fusion Powers

I hear that our slow roasted pulled pork could win a BBQ contest it’s so good, this is what I hear.

A post shared by Blaxican Food (@blaxicanfood) on

Portland’s Street Food/Food Truck scene can pretty much be summed up by looking at Pok Pok. The brain child of chef Andy Ricker, Pok Pok started as a simple concept. Bringing simple Thai street food to America. Offering the same ingredients and recipes which have made Thailand the street food capital of the world. Pok Pok took Portland by storm, launching an empire for Ricker and putting Portland on the street food map. Inspiring countless others to do the same with varying levels of success. Today, Portland offers over 500 food carts throughout the city.

While smaller than Portland with a bit over 100 recognized food carts, Atlanta might seem like an underdog. But what Atlanta does better than anyone else, take what others have done and improve it. While few new culinary concepts are born in Atlanta, some are taken to great heights. One of those things, Lemon Pepper Wings. Lemon Pepper Wings in Atlanta have become a pop culture phenomenon thanks to hip hop and tv. Atlanta is also considered the strip club capital of America. Where kitchens proudly compete to see who can serve the best Lemon Pepper wings. Needless to say, it’s a fun competition to watch.

WE RECOMMEND: Pok Pok in Portland and The Blaxican in Atlanta

While this isn’t a win/lose competition, it’s easy to pick what city you’re most likely to visit for culinary satisfaction. But one thing is universal. Portland and Atlanta both offer amazing food and it’s hard for me to pick one or the other. My recommendation, visit both. I know that’s a bit of a cop out but come on, it’s definitely worth it.

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