Surprise, surprise: Portland has really good shellfish. Boiled, steamed, plopped into a creamy stew, slurped raw, or drenched in mayo, Portland's abundance of fresh aquatic life is just one of the reasons it's Vacationland's best. If your world revolves around oysters (like mine), check out Eventide Oyster Co., a seaside seafood mecca with approx. 1 zillion different types of bivalves along with rich stews and life-changing lobster rolls, not to mention killer craft beer and cocktails. Slab is where it's at for deep dish, where light, pillowy pies cradle fresh, savory toppings. Hugo's and Fore Street have Portland's fine(ish) dining scene on lock with seasonal menus teeming with local ingredients and presented with the utmost precision. And only a true dummy would skip out on a visit to Duckfat, a hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop with belly-pleasing paninis and mind-numbingly delicious Belgian pomme frites fried in -- take a wild guess -- duck fat.
As tempting as it is to select Baltimore solely for those scenes in The Wire where Avon eats lake trout, or Bunk and McNulty eat crab from local joints, B-more is going to have to stay an underrated food city in 2016 as well, because Annapolis is the top food city in the state. If you don't go to MD and eat seafood, you might as well not go at all, and Annapolis has the very best crab spots (and basically anything else you want to eat from the ocean) in Cantler's and Carrol's Creek. What might be surprising to outsiders is the breadth of cuisine available there, from brick-oven pies at Vin 909, to modern Thai at Lemongrass, to Latin flavors at Sin Fronteras and El Toro Bravo. Baltimore, we're sorry. But being a bridesmaid has its perks...
Despite the fact that both Cambridge and Somerville have some serious chops, (West) Springfield has the greatest burger spot in THE WORLD, according to writer-at-large Kevin Alexander (who obviously wrote this), Worcester has many adorable lunch cars, and Hyannis has this one place with pretty good chowder, there was not huge competition in the Bay State. Boston, with its gloriously distorted accent and highly irrational sports fandom, is a food powerhouse, with nationally lauded chefs like Barbara Lynch (No. 9 Park, Menton, Drink, SO MANY OTHER GOOD PLACES), Ken Oringer & Jamie Bissonnette (Toro, Coppa), and Tim Cushman (O Ya), many of whom have gone on to open successful spinoffs in NYC, much to the chagrin of New Yorkers.
You can eat the greatest oysters in the world at Island Creek Oyster Bar, Row 34, and Neptune Oyster; have ridiculously delicious (and underrated) chowder at Ned Devine's, Summer Shack, Barking Crab, and yes, Legal Sea Foods. Get involved in the North End cannoli wars at Mike's and Modern (the correct answer is Mike's, dammit), eat shockingly good pizza at Santarpio's, Picco, Locale, or Galleria Umberto, and even indulge in the Northeast burrito cult that is Anna's Taqueria. Point being, if there is a national food dance, Boston is the only gal from Mass getting an invite.
Michigan: Grand Rapids
Detroit is great, but its overall food scene is more the sum of its metro area (Ferndale, Hamtramck, Dearborn… not Taylor), so that seems a bit of a stretch when naming the best proper food city. And while we've been on Traverse City's jock for a while now, that seems a bit disingenuous, considering the size. Grand Rapids, though, has been making a huge mark on the Mitten, rising as the state's best beer city and it's finest place to eat, thanks to fine dining on pan-Polish/German/Latin cuisine at the farm-fresh UN of eating that is Grove, Euro-flecked beer/food-obsessed Green Well, Mediterranean-inspired comfort food and breakfast courtesy of Marie Catrib's, duck-confit nachos at the gorgeous Brewery Vivant, and so, so much more. The whole "being a beautiful city" thing is icing on the cake. Oh shit, that reminds us: get a cake at Cakabakery.