Deeply Rooted: Cuisines Simmered in Local Traditions

Food & BeverageMeeting Planning

In 2016, Tucson, Arizona, joined international destinations such as Parma (the Italian city that gave the world parmesan cheese) as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy; it was the first place in the United States to be so designated. Why would this international agency give such recognition to a city that gets 12 inches of rain a year and bakes in the Sonoran Desert? Not for its verdant gardens or reputation as a foodie haven, but for having a history of farming that stretches back 4,000 years, the longest in North America. And for its deep devotion to what the surrounding desert provides to eat: agave, cactus pads, amaranth, mesquite pods and a wild hot pepper, chiltepin. In short, long before the term became trendy, Tucsonans revered the hyper-local. Other U.S. cities venerate regional foodstuffs and food traditions, too. Here are hotels that offer them to locals and visitors alike.

Omni Parker House, Boston

Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh once worked in the bakeshop and Malcolm X was a busboy at Parker’s Restaurant, the iconic dining spot in this famed 551-room hotel. Real chefs have left their mark there, too, including Emeril Lagasse. Current chef Gerry Tice incorporates New England products such as Vermont cheddar. But the most fiercely local distinctions of this kitchen are its inventions of Boston cream pie, Parker House rolls and Boston scrod.

Renaissance Cleveland Hotel, Cleveland

This elegant, 491-room grand dame on Public Square became the best hotel address in the city at its debut in 1918. It remains true to its Northern Ohio roots by serving Lake Erie walleye, a freshwater fish that can grow to 25 pounds and is prized for its delicate flavor, on its catering menu. The hotel features nearly 60,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and is a short walk to Huntington Convention Center.

Hacienda del Sol, Tucson

Another only-here product revered in the desert city is the tepary bean. At this historic, 59-room guest ranch, chef Bruce Yim tucks a puree of these drought-tolerant beans that are native to the Southwest beneath an Arbuckle Coffee-brined pork chop, next to a “rattlesnake egg” (jalapeno pepper stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon). At check-in to this luxury property, arrivees are gifted his mesquite-flour chocolate-chip cookies.

Hotel Monteleone, New Orleans

Since 1886, this 570-room, French Quarter landmark has hosted literary giants and starred in films. Hemingway wrote about its revolving Carousel Bar. And, true to its Louisiana roots, the hotel’s Criollo restaurant celebrates local crawfish (mudbugs, crawdads, crawdads) and file (“fee-lay”) in its cuisine. The latter is a Creole staple, especially in gumbos, and is made from powdered sassafras leaves. The hotel offers more than 25,000 sq. ft. in meeting space.