San Juan has tropical produce, Atlantic and Caribbean seafood, and Chuck tastes it all on Fortaleza Street. At Aguaviva, Chef Hector Cresto teaches Chuck how to catch spiny lobster in the ocean and then turn it into delicious ceviche with coconut cream and lime. At Siglo XX, chef Olga Flores and Chuck use an enormous 54-inch paella pan to make seafood paella for 80. At Cafe El Punto, Alejandro Jeffs teaches Chuck how to make a traditional mofongo with skirt steak that rivals that of any Puerto Rican grandmother. Then Chuck washes it down with coconut water straight from the source at Santana Nubios' street stall, Cocos Frios.
Dallas, Texas, has a big reputation, but on the other side of the river, in the little neighborhood of Bishop Arts, is the center of the best food scene in Big D. Everyone goes crazy for the little pasta and salumi spot called Lucia, where chef David Uygur shows Chuck how to use a hand-cranked machine to churn out the bigoli pasta that accompanies duck ragout. At German-influenced Lockhart Smokehouse, Chuck learns the history of legendary Texas barbecue from pitmaster Will Fleishman who serves up both brisket and shoulder clod. Dessert is handmade, artisanal chocolate "salami" at chef Katherine Clapner's simple, storefront lovingly called Dude, Sweet Chocolate. How sweet it is.
San Antonio has a beautiful river winding through downtown, cool art deco, old Spanish missions and fantastic food. On the colorful and quirky street called St. Mary's, Chuck digs into a new spin on a classic Tex-Mex breakfast, the Chalupa Robert, that Amador Montoya prepares at El Milagrito. At The Monterey, chef Chad Carey demonstrates his high-end take on a Texas football favorite, Frito pie, by smothering a po'boy with smoked pork chili, jalapeno mayo, cheddar and corn chips. At Gwendolyn, Chuck samples chef Michael Sohocki's pre-Industrial cooking and makes braised quail with oyster mushrooms using only tools and methods that existed before 1850. Where St. Mary's crosses the river, Chuck stops in at legendary Biga on the Banks where he samples Chef Bruce Auden's oysters, an ode to Texas' love affair with everything fried.
Nowadays, Aspen is famous for being a swanky winter hangout, but it was built by miners, ranchers and even hippies. Those folks are still here, and they eat on Hopkins Avenue. A snowball's throw from the slopes, rodeo rider turned chef Kathleen Crook serves Chuck a massive 30-ounce steak with a big rib-bone handle called the Tomahawk. At Ute City, so named for the original Ute Indians of the region, chef Rob McLanahan shows Chuck how to grill duck a la plancha. After stopping in at Sarah Helsley's Cheese Shop, Chuck indulges in fondue, the ultimate post-ski meal. Chuck finds dessert at Creperie du Village, a cozy eatery where chef Jason DeBacker makes a sweet crepe with a jaw-breaking German name: the Schokoladepalatschinke. Try saying that with your mouth full.
Santa Fe is one of America's oldest cities, and, in every bite, you can taste its history -- native culture, Spaniards who founded the city, the Old West, and the artists, writers and chefs who came from everywhere else. Chuck's first stop is on Water Street at Coyote Cafe to try a dish rooted in the American West, chef Eric DiStefano's elk tenderloin marinated in hoisin and beer. At Rooftop Pizzeria, Chuck dives into chef Russell Thornton's Southwest pizza with its signature blue-corn crust and green chiles. After a tour of New Mexico's most famous food, chile, Chuck answers the state question at Chris Beck's Chile Shop: red or green? Finally, Chuck and chef Katherine Kagal of Cafe Pasqual's make a roasted turkey and sides in a unique outdoor oven, but not before hand making the pottery in which it cooks.
Between great food and good manners, Charleston, S.C., has a lot to brag about. "Holy City" used to be its nickname, but these days "Hungry City" is just as appropriate. Chuck tastes the best of Charleston's rivers, farms, oceans and marshes where they all converge on King Street. At Grocery, Chef Kevin Johnson roasts softshell crab and fresh asparagus in a wood-fired oven. Chuck discovers the Lowcountry classic Frogmore Stew at Chef Michelle Weaver's elegant Charleston Grill. At Butcher & Bee, Chef Stuart Tracy shows Chuck how to make a sandwich with chorizo and guacamole and then it's off to Glazed for gourmet doughnuts filled with local goat cheese, seasonal berries and lavender glaze.
People from nearly every country make their home in Washington, D.C., and they don't keep their food traditions locked inside the gates of the embassies. A mile past the White House is an old neighborhood that's become the new capital of the Washington food scene -- 14th Street Northwest. At Estadio, Chuck learns the secret to making the perfect tortilla Espanola, a dish that chef Haidar Karoum went to the far corners of Spain to learn. At The Pig, chef Robert Cain blends American farm-to-table philosophy with European technique to prepare barbecued pigtails. Chuck visits Pearl Dive Oyster Palace where he samples the saltiest oyster around along with the best fried chicken in D.C., then stops by Andy Shallal's Busboys and Poets, a cafe named for D.C.'s most famous busboy, poet Langston Hughes.
Sure, you know the Bronx, N.Y., has a zoo, the Botanical Garden and Yankee Stadium. But did you also know it is home to New York City's biggest Little Italy? Here, on Arthur Avenue, Chuck gets his fill of Italian home cooking. Starting at the legendary Mario's, known from a famous scene in The Godfather, Chuck samples Joseph Migliucci's octopus salad. At Zero Otto Nove, chef Roberto Paciullo makes pasta al forno, the homey baked pasta dish just like mamma used to make. Next, Chuck heads to Casa Della Mozzarella where Orazio Carciotto turns plain old milk into amazing fresh mozzarella. At Vincent's Meat Market, Peter De Luca and Chuck make lamb sausage that Peter's Aunt Lillian prepares with peppers and fresh bread to make a delicious sandwich. Mangia already!
The easternmost city in North America, St. John's, Newfoundland, sits right where Arctic currents meet the warm Gulf Stream. That combination produces some nasty weather, the greatest fishing ground the world has ever known and some killer restaurants all located on Water Street. And that means good eating for Chuck Hughes. At Aqua, chef Mark McCrowe bakes speckled trout, stuffed with shrimp and topped with lemon-caper beurre noisette and lobster meat. Chef Jeremy Charles blends rustic and refined at Raymonds, where he and Chuck place pan-seared diver scallops and parsnip puree in the scallop shell and drizzle it with sea urchin beurre blanc. It's back to basics, Newfie-style, at The Ship Pub where chef Dianne Glass makes moose bourguignon with toutons (a traditional fried-bread pancake). Last, Chuck meets ninth-generation Newfoundlander Jason Brake, chef at restaurant and boutique hotel, Blue on Water, for tea ... tea made with fish.
Everybody loves a comeback story, and Detroit has one of the best. The city that gave us Motown and muscle cars also has people with grit, pride and food traditions they stick with through thick and thin. To find them, Chuck Hughes follows Michigan Avenue to Slow's Bar-B-Q where Chef Brian Perrone pairs smoked St. Louis ribs with potato salad. At Hygrade Deli, Stuart Litt teaches Chuck about the art of meat with a triple-decker roast beef sandwich, aka the "Packing House." At La Pita, Chef Hassan Hamid introduces Chuck to Lebanese home cooking with a dish called Melokhieh, made with Egyptian mallow leaves. Then, he hitches a ride with Brenda Matthews who distributes fresh produce throughout city neighborhoods by way of a mobile market called Peaches and Greens. Finally, Chuck cooks up a Motown classic -- a grilled bologna sandwich with a "smosh" of potato chips -- with Chef Ariel Millan at Mercury Burger Bar.
Catalina Island is a unique place, with species of plants and animals that are found nowhere else on earth. You can find them, however, on diners' plates all along Crescent Avenue, a hotspot for cruise ship tourists and foodies alike. Lloyd's of Avalon is famous for caramel apples, and Taylor Wilson shows Chuck how to make their iconic creation replete with all the trimmings. Chuck stops in to Steve's Steakhouse where Chef Frank Blair prepares stuffed Channel Island swordfish and garlic mashed potatoes. At Cafe Metropole, Chuck and Pam Albers forage for wild fennel to incorporate into her cole slaw and deconstructed elote salads. Finally, Chuck can't resist the fried sea bass and French fries that Miguel Tejeda prepares at Avalon Seafood.
San Diego has it all; the beaches, zoo, aquarium and marine park, the whole sunny California dream. But for a deep dive into some of the best food in California, you'll want to venture inland to 30th Street. Every morning, Jenna Woodruff and Salpi Sleiman wheel a custom-made cart, the Roast Coach, onto the sidewalk to wake up the North Park neighborhood with pour-over coffee drinks shaken cocktail-style and spherical Danish pancakes called aebelskivers. After his morning caffeine, Chuck visits San Diego City College's Urban Farm to pick up fresh ingredients for the broiled sea bass, tomatoes and tzatziki that Chef Ricardo Heredia prepares at Alchemy. At The Smoking Goat, Chuck makes a classic French dish called Poulet Basquaise with Chef Fred Piehl. Chef Matt Gordon tops it all off with a fresh watermelon salad at Urban Solace.
On any list of the most food-friendly towns in America, Asheville, N.C., figures high in the rankings. There's great eating everywhere, but nowhere more so than on Biltmore Avenue. Chuck Hughes is in for a treat at his first stop, Blackbird, where pastry chef Roslyn Taubman bakes a decadent and uniquely Southern coconut cake. Then it's off to the largest privately-owned house in America, the Biltmore Estate, which is more than just a beautifully preserved relic of the Gilded Age. It's also where Chef Damien Cavicchi prepares historic meals, specifically smoked lamb with corn bread, grilled plums and brown butter vinaigrette. At Tomato Jam Cafe, Chuck gets a lesson in southern cooking from chef Daniel Wright when he bakes cat head biscuits with the eponymous tomato jam. Last, Chef Laurey Masterton introduces Chuck to the local produce, and the local producers, namely honey bees, whose bounty she uses to make honey-glazed pork tenderloin with fresh peach salsa.