Best Places to Live

2013 10 Best Foodie Cities

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.

Ranking Criteria
Excluded known food-lovers’ cities
Populations less than 250,000
Number of food festivals, farmers markets and cooking schools
Ratio of top-rated restaurants to residents
Number of nationally recognized chefs
Number of craft breweries and wineries
  • 10

    Burlington, VT

    Population: 42,570
    Photo: Kevin Young

    Burlington is one of the best food cities in America. Beer may be Burlington's biggest consumable attraction, but any legit foodie knows that where there's good beer there's usually good food. Local restaurants in Burlington receive strong support from residents, and in turn, support the city's breweries. Farm-to-table restaurants, sandwich shops, pizzerias, bistros and brew pubs permeate this college town.

    Vermont Pub & Brewery, the state's oldest craft brewery, serves traditional English pub grub and elegant dinner entrees with more than a dozen beers, in a surprisingly intimate dining area.

    Farmhouse Tap & Grill offers an assortment of Vermont cheese and house-made charcuterie with local, seasonal ingredients used in most dishes. American Flatbread, a local chain and brewery, creates highly craved pizzas with locally sourced meats, cheeses and vegetables.

    Summer and winter farmers markets provide artisan wares, seasonal produce, baked goods and other prepared foods. 

    See where Burlington ranked on our Top 10 Beer Cities list.

    Burlington also made these lists:

    Top 10 College Towns 2011

    Top 10 Downtowns