The Best Bike-Friendly Food Cities in the Country
Even when gas prices are down, they're up—this summer is no different. So why guzzle your way through America when you can breeze through on two wheels?
Bike-friendly cities are on the rise across the country, from the front-runners adding more bike lanes—we see you, Chicago—to a few late-blooming newcomers that are rolling out brand-new cycling infrastructure. The following five cities are also flourishing with restaurants, making it easier than ever to work for that destination brunch.
Forgive yourself if you missed SXSW. The streets are calmer on the flip side, and there's more room along Austin's 30 miles of bike trails. The city plans to build 50 more, and its B-cycle bike share will also add more docks and stations. Kick-start the day with an Iced Turbo from the roadside Jo's (made with hazelnut, cream and coffee), spin across the river to Franklin Barbecue and thank your lucky spokes for burning off that famous brisket. Then, consider a dinner detour; at L'Oca d'Oro, a new spot a few miles outside the City Center, a Franklin Barbecue alum cooks fiery Italian worth the trek.
Maryland's largest city just launched its first Baltimore Bike Share, with both eight-gear and electric-assist bicycles. Escape the touristy Inner Harbor and visit Baltimore's flourishing neighborhoods. It's a bumpy road to Fell's Point's cobbled harborside, where Andrew Carmellini's Rec Pier Chop House opened inside the new Sagamore Pendry Hotel, but early rides are rewarded with ricotta pancakes and polenta waffles. Meanwhile, a half-hour ride to R. House takes it up a notch: Local chefs command the new food hall's individual stalls, serving up casual foods like arepas and fried chicken sandwiches, all under one roof.
A new grant will increase Philly's protected bike lanes throughout the city, giving riders more reason to jump on two wheels. Pedal toward hipster-prone neighborhoods that are on the fringe but on the rise—Fishtown, for one, is home to a surprising nexus of pizza illuminati. Pizzeria Beddia (the country's best pizza, according to Bon Appétit) makes only 40 pies a day; Wm. Mulherin's Sons, the newest crowd-pleaser, turns out blistered wood-fired pizzas; and Pizza Brain, home to the world's first pizza museum, serves up casual pies with a slice of history.
④ Salt Lake City
Outdoorsy types visiting Salt Lake City's surrounding mountains might want to circle back for a wind-down; the city was one of the first to construct a protected intersection for cyclists. Meanwhile, new bicycle boulevards make Salt Lake City's under-the-radar restaurant scene especially accessible. Early-morning riders can stop by Publik Coffee Roasters' flagship for one of the best local roasts; later on, graze the shelves of Tony Caputo's Market & Deli, known for its takeaway sandwiches and its tucked-away cheese caves—yes, there's more than one.
Chicago’s cycling infrastructure is speeding ahead, with more than 100 miles of protected bike lanes—and counting. Of course, you might spin out of control trying to decide where to brake for a bite. The North Branch Trail weaves through the concrete jungle and riverside forests, connecting neighborhoods like Rogers Park and Edgewater; Uncommon Ground has its own organic beer and rooftop farm, while Devon Avenue is an entire strip of Chicago's best Indian restaurants. From the same trail, circle back toward Logan Square where broad boulevards lead to brilliant dining options, like Cellar Door Provisions for rustic dishes with a spin (tempura green tomatoes, anyone?), Reno for wood-fired pizza or Billy Sunday, where buzzy cocktails take the lead.
Keith Flanagan is a Brooklyn-based food and travel writer — he’s never met a pastry he didn’t eat. Follow his every meal on Instagram at @keithflanny.
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