Tooting your own horn is one thing, but claiming your city as one of the best in America to eat at is quite another. Yes, there are some really good places to dine at in each state, however, creating a top 10 list is much harder than it seems.
With a little help from the good folks at Livability.com, this comprehensive list is about as good as it gets. And, while “Foodie” culture continues to marinate in U.S. cities, along with its various cousins the farm-to-table and craft-beer movements, many cities are encouraging restaurant districts and boutique eating, and reaping the benefits.
These cities strongly support local farmers, showcase regional cuisine, and provide residents with an innovative and eclectic mix of restaurants and delicious food to eat.
Of course, palates are a subjective thing, so some other factors like James Beard Award winners, Michelin stars and even Yelp reviews have been taken into consideration. If you’re ever planning a Foodie journey, be sure to stop by the final Top 10.
1. Coral Gables, FL
Coral Gables restaurants and chefs have long been noticed by the cooking elite. Among the most recent attention getters is Eating House Miami chef Giorgio Rapicavoli, who was named a semifinalist for James Beard Foundation’s “Rising Star Chef of the Year” award in 2013. A brunch menu that has included Cap’n Crunch pancakes and eggs Benedict carbonara keeps a steady stream of customers coming to Eating House on Sundays.
2. Omaha, NE
It’s only natural that restaurants in Omaha, NE, lead the nation in utilizing local ingredients and the farm-to-table movement. Farms raising lamb, pigs, cows and a variety of vegetables surround Omaha, giving local chefs a bounty of fresh, sustainable food choices. Residents tend to dine at independent restaurants and strongly support local farmers, acquiring many ingredients at markets or co-ops.
3. Pittsburgh, PA
Restaurants in Pittsburgh continuously receive good reviews from both local and national food critics, and several have been recognized by the James Beard Foundation. Primanti Brothers, which first opened as a sandwich cart in the 1930s, received the designation of “American Classic” from the JBF in 2007. While Primanti Brothers has expanded to include more than 20 locations from Florida to New York, the original location in Pittsburgh’s Strip District retains a unique feel.
4. Rockville, MD
What cements Rockville as one of the Top 10 Foodie Cities is the easy access residents have to healthy foods and fresh ingredients along with a preference for locally owned restaurants over fast-food places or chains. A low obesity rate – well below the national average – shows Rockville residents care about what they’re eating and/or they are burning off those high-calorie meals.
5. Duluth, MN
Restaurants in Duluth, Minn., pack pleasant surprises, from small brewpubs churning out full-bodied beers to greasy spoons with vegetarian and even vegan options. Many first-time tourists are awestruck by how sophisticated and diverse this lakeside city’s culinary scene is. A small, but growing crop of independent restaurants, residents who support them and a reliance on local ingredients make Duluth one of the Top 10 Best Foodie Cities in the country.
6. Stamford, CT
One of the most beloved places to eat in Stamford, Conn., is the El Charrito taco truck, which illustrates how this city’s residents rank food quality above atmosphere and ambiance. And while there are plenty of hip, trendy restaurants in Stamford to try (Hudson Grille for example), it’s the authentic ethnic eateries that hold the highest ratings on Yelp and other review sites.
7. Bellevue, WA
When it comes to savvy diners who prefer independent and locally owned restaurants over fast food and chains, residents of Bellevue, Wash., rise to the top in the Northwest. A growing batch of restaurants in Bellevue satisfies those sophisticated palates, and if the foodies here ever run out of options, Seattle’s enormous restaurant scene is just a short drive across Lake Washington.
8. Burlington, VT
An impressive number of farm-to-table restaurants, gastropubs and artisanal producers make Burlington, Vt., one of the Top 10 Best Foodie Cities. But Burlington’s emergence as restaurant destination is a relatively recent occurrence. Tourists have been coming to Burlington for decades to experience the city’s hippie vibe and fantastic views of Lake Champlain. Restaurants in Burlington have become a main attraction thanks to national attention from the cooking elite. The city’s solid collection of beer makers also draws tourists.
9. Tempe, AZ
Much like an upcoming prize fighter, chefs and restaurants in Tempe, Ariz., are hungry for a victory. They have nothing to lose in the quest to become a standout in the metro Phoenix area, and that means Tempe residents get treated to innovative new meals that push the local food scene to new heights. Getting noticed among the elite cooks in Phoenix and Scottsdale takes true talent.
10. Walnut Creek, CA
The percentage of people living in Walnut Creek who prefer independent and locally owned restaurants over fast-food and chains exceeds the national average. Walnut Creek residents strongly support regional farmers and have managed to keep their obesity rate lower than similar sized cities. The Art and Wine Festival in Walnut Creek draws thousands of visitors in for a two-day celebration that includes unique wines and micro-brewed beers.