Top Chef's Jamie Lauren on NY vs. SF (Who's Better?)


One of the things I've noticed over the past seven years that I have been in San Francisco is the clear differences between foodie culture here versus New York City—my hometown. Since I’m just finishing up a visit (snowed-in as we speak), I thought I’d weigh the benefits of two cities dear to my heart.

1. San Francisco has, hands-down, the best produce around. Seriously. I walked into a supermarket in NYC the other night to buy a bunch of mint for a cocktail party and it was the saddest experience. They had two bunches, both black, bruised and beaten. Both were way past their prime but they were still sitting there waiting to be turned into a mojito or a garnish for ice cream. If our local Safeway put out herbs like that, they would have a riot on their hands.

2. People in New York dine out to be seen. They go out late, eating dinner at 10 or 11 at night and do it in style. They get dressed up, make an event out of it and clearly have fun. It is one of the things I love best about the NY food scene. It is always so full of life and energy, even when it’s snowing and 15 degrees out. In SF, we’re often focused solely on the food. We Yelp about it, talk about it, expect to know where it is sourced and demand to know who made every little thing we are eating and then let everyone else know what we know.

3. Delivery. This one should speak for itself. But for those who aren't in the know about how NYC works, you can literally have anything delivered at any time: Coffee, potato chips, fancy food, beer, wine, a pack of gum. You name it, it comes to you. I won't state the obvious, but in SF, it's impossible to get anything except for bad Chinese and lukewarm pizza delivered to your doorstep.

4. 5. 6. and 7. You cannot get a decent bagel in SF and the hot dogs are better in NYC. You can actually get a good slice of pizza in NYC, but SF has amazing small farms, delicious local wines and some really, really fantastic dim sum.

Moral of the story? It’s a wash. Both cities have amazing things to offer. I'm lucky enough to be able to call them both my home.

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