Lithia Park in Ashland, Oregon

#4. Asheville

Asheville, NC is one the best food cities in America. When hopping from brewery to brewery in Asheville, it’s common to also land in a restaurant that will tempt your taste buds. Some see Asheville as a “foodtopia” with great beer. Others view it as a beer city with amazing food. Either way, this city in the Blue Ridge Mountains offers pure decadence by way of things that make you say “yum.” We’ve ranked Asheville as one of the Top 10 Foodie Cities before and gladly go back for seconds.

Surrounded by local farms, many of Asheville’s independent restaurants take great pride in using garden-fresh vegetables and locally produced livestock in their dishes. That high yield of farms also keeps residents stocked with locally grown produce and fine cuts of meat while providing brewers with hops and malts. The Asheville area is home to 18 craft breweries, which helped it earn the moniker Beer City, USA. It’s hard to find a restaurant that isn’t serving beer brewed less than 10 miles away. In addition, many home cooks use wild berries and foraged mushrooms and leeks in their recipes.

Asheville’s creative vibe and acceptance of nontraditional lifestyles has attracted a collection of culinary superstars. Chefs Katie Button (Curate) and Elliott Moss (The Admiral) recently earned recognition from the James Beard Foundation. Button was a 2012 and 2013 semi-finalist in the category of “Rising Star Chef of the Year,” and Moss was a 2013 semi-finalist for “Best Chef: Southeast.” Curate serves Spanish-style tapas, while The Admiral delivers refined comfort foods like duck egg and waffles, Thai grilled chicken and pork chops. Breakfast lovers have good reason to wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in Asheville. Breakfast is one of the best meals you’ll find in the city, with places like the Early Girl Eatery, Tupelo Honey Cafe and Sunny Point Cafe serving up humongous portions of pancakes, omelets, potatoes and grits.

Like driving along the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway, walks through downtown Asheville lead to surprising discoveries. Tucked into beautifully preserved historic buildings are artisan bakeries, candy stores and specialty cooking shops.

Other places to sniff out: White Duck Taco Shop, Limones, Plant, Salsa’s

Don’t miss: The French Broad Chocolate Lounge, for artisan chocolate bars, brownies and truffles

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