To pick our second batch of the best food cities in America, we sniffed out places with less than 250,000 people and with a high ratio of acclaimed restaurants, innovative chefs and strong regional culinary styles to their population size.
Following the lead of our first Top 10 Foodie Cities list, we veered away from well-known food-lovers' cities like New York, Chicago, San Francisco and New Orleans, instead focusing on smaller towns with unexpected epicurean delights.
We consulted with experts at LocalEats, a website devoted to uncovering the best local restaurants, who recommended that we consider cities with traditions of good food and restaurants, which include a few beloved standard bearers, as well as nationally recognized chefs, food festivals, cooking schools and farmers markets.
“Don't overlook craft breweries and wine culture either,” says Charlie Harris, editor at LocalEats. “Wine-friendly cities and places that have an unusual number of small breweries are usually food-friendly places, as well.”
Our sources included the James Beard Foundation, Yelp, Urbanspoon, Zagat and TripAdvisor, as well as publications like the The New York Times, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine and Southern Living. In addition, we considered that the best food towns offer a high quality of life, in which restaurants are just one of the amenities that help residents thrive.
“Most foodies tie their quality of life to access to great food,” Harris says. “A lot of these smaller cities are trying to revitalize their downtowns and redefine themselves. With new businesses and an influx of artists, musicians and culture, good food often follows."
Grab a fork and dig into our second helping of the best food cities in America.