When you think of the best food in America, most of us think about heading to major cities like New York City, Los Angeles, or Miami. But with such a big country to explore, it’s easy to miss the amazing culinary experiences that reside in less trodden areas. America has an abundance of restaurants filled with tasty treats but it might be hard to find the right places. Here’s your guide to get you off the beaten path to America’s best small culinary towns in every region.
Burlington, Vermont sits just south of the Canadian border and is perfect for a much needed weekend vacation – especially if you’re a foodie. Known for its beers and breweries, Burlington is now making its mark on the culinary world in a variety of cuisines. To start, head to Zero Gravity Brewery to take advantage of some of the craft beer Burlington has to offer before heading to American Flatbread to indulge in delicious, handmade pizzas. Have the flavours of France on your mind but don’t want to leave the northeast? Leunig has classic French dishes for you to enjoy. Bon appetite!
Portland, Maine is another hotspot in America’s northeast, and since Maine sits on the Atlantic Ocean, it’s no surprise that many flock to this region to get their mouths on delicious Maine lobster. A trip to Portland is not complete without the must-have lobster roll. If you’re looking for an amazing lobster roll experience, Scales Restaurant is a top choice. For other exceptional foodie choices, Central Provisions has grown in popularity with their eclectic style and rustic setting, while East Ender serves up delicious traditional chowder.
Considering its size, you might think visiting Rhode Island would make for a quick trip. But if you consider that 20% of Newport’s restaurants has perfect ratings, it may take you a little longer to eat your way through this small area. Since Newport is a seaside town, taking a dinner cruise is a smart idea to take in the sites while enjoying seasonal and local food. For more local fare, head to Bowen’s on Newport’s scenic waterfront for super fresh seafood.
You might be surprised to find that you can get a taste of eastern Europe in Michigan. Hamtramck, Michigan is the place to be for authentic Polish cuisine. By the twentieth century, Hamtramck’s population was mostly Polish after receiving many immigrants from Eastern Europe over the years. With top rated restaurants like Polonia Restaurant and Polish Village Cafe, it’s clear that these immigrant families have kept tradition alive in a delicious way. If you’ve eaten your way through the mentioned restaurants, no need to worry, as there are 200 foodie spots for you to explore.
While most people head to Chicago for a regional culinary experience, the real foodies head to Galesburg. This hidden culinary gem of a town sits on Illinois’ west side with over 100 top rated restaurants to explore. Galesburg is home to the town’s longest running restaurant, Coney Island. This restaurant opened in the early 1920s and still manages to bring in a ton of customers fiending for regional style comfort food. If you prefer to stay in the present, you can head to the quaint Landmark Cafe and Creperie for French style cuisine throughout the day.
No trip to the mid-west is really complete without visiting the cheese capital of the world. Monroe, Wisconsin isn’t just the place to head to for it’s Cheese Festival, but it also offers up some restaurants for cheese loving foodies to enjoy. Baumgartner Cheese Store and Alp and Deli Cheesery offers a variety of cheeses to try from swiss to aged cheddar that can easily be paired with local brews.
When most people think Aspen, their minds usually wander to the hills and slopes of this well-known ski town. Though most people tend to travel to Aspen with their snowboards in tow, real foodies should bring an appetite as well. 21% of Aspen’s 130 restaurants have perfect ratings making this one of the best culinary towns in America. Head to Chef’s Club chic eatery at the St. Regis Hotel to experience one of the country’s top restaurants or Wild Fig for fine dining in between slopes. If you’re in the mood for taking it easy with burger and tacos, 520 Grill has you covered.
Santa Fe, NM
If you’re looking for southwestern flavours with a twist, Sante Fe, New Mexico is your answer with over 400 restaurants, many of which are award winning. Coyote Cafe offers fine-dining and a rooftop bar featuring local cuisine, while those who are after a more casual dining experience can head to family owned Palacio Cafe. Sante Fe’s Geronimo has been given the title of one of the top 100 restaurants in America and is definitely worth a visit when in the country’s mountain-west region.
Nestled at the foothill of the rocky mountains is Logan, Utah boasting some of the country’s top rated restaurants. Over the years, the culinary scene has taken off in Logan with restaurants like Le Nonne, run by critically acclaimed chef, Pier-Antonio Micheli. Other top restaurants in the area include Angie’s Restaurant serving up mountain-west comfort food and Mexican bistro, Cafe Sabor. With the rockies in the background as you enjoy these culinary experiences, both taste and sight senses will be satisfied in Logan.
If you’re a foodie thinking of heading to Hawaii, skip Honolulu and head to Kailua-Kona located on Hawaii’s Big Island. Kona Coffee is perfect for getting your caffeine fix while you enjoy the typical Hawaiian postcard sites of idyllic turquoise water and white sandy beaches. For authentic Hawaiian eats like the popular poke bowl and ahi tuna, head to Umeke’s.
Most foodies have Napa on the radar for the iconic Napa Valley and its flavourful wines, but this town in America’s Pacific West offers so much more for food lovers. This small city holds over 500 restaurants so you can easily pair delicious food with equally delicious vino. Michelin Star restaurant La Toque serves up New French cuisine next to the river while The Cadet has wine and beer on hand for you to enjoy in a modern setting with traditional cheeses and other appetizers. If you happen to be in Napa for Cabernet Season, checking out culinary and wine festival, Flavor, is always a good idea.
While Sonoma is another California town best known for its wineries, it’s easy to overlook the fact that this town has an abundance of top rated restaurants. Head to The Girl and The Fig to indulge in wine while getting a twist on French country dining, while El Dorado Kitchen offers up more locally sourced options in a beautiful setting.
When most of us think American barbecue it’s common for our minds to wander to the south. Alabama’s town of Tuscaloosa doesn’t disappoint, being the home of classic southern cooking. Almost half of the town’s restaurants has over a four star customer rating with restaurants like Dreamland BBQ dominating the scene with traditional barbecue fare. Their menu includes comforting favourites like ribs, smoked sausage and banana pudding while fine-dining favourite Evangeline’s offers a New American twist.
When in Texas, it is highly recommended that foodies go beyond Austin to Driftwood. Driftwood sits just outside of the state capital with only twelve restaurants serving up more barbecue favourites. With such a small restaurant population, it’s a surprise that 85% of them have a five star rating, so it’s hard to go wrong when in Driftwood. To start, Salt Lick is famous for its barbecue and is one of the most famous restaurants in the state. It’s easy to feel comfortable at this casual eatery offering up ribs, brisket and sausage. You can even BYOB!
Ocean Springs, MS
We hope you aren’t sick of barbecue yet. How could you be in the country’s south? Ocean Springs has been dominating the barbecue scene with many of its restaurants winning an array of culinary awards. Award-winning restaurant, The Shed, is a great place to start even if it’s just for their mouth-watering sauce. This popular restaurant has been awarded over twenty awards for their barbecue sauce alone which can be enjoyed on their ribs, wings, or platters. For southern seafood head to Aunt Jenny’s Catfish Restaurant for a scenic dinner near the waterfront.
Winter Park, FL
Foodies are better off skipping the theme parks and tourist attractions in Orlando and heading right through to Winter Park. Visitors will be spoiled for choice with top-rated options like scenic, upscale eatery, Hillstone Restaurant, sitting right on the waterfront. Winter Park has 57 restaurants per 10,000 citizens to choose from so food lovers won’t have a lack of options while visiting. Other top picks include modern Italian restaurant Prato, and New American cafe, 310 Park South.
While Asheville has an array of barbecue and breweries to explore, it doesn’t stop there. This South Atlantic area has a number of fine-dining restaurants for foodies to indulge in. To start, head to the stunning Corner Kitchen Restaurant where visitors can dine on New American dishes in a classic Victorian cottage. If fine-dining isn’t your style, 12 Bone Smokehouse is a must for lunch. Glistening ribs and pulled pork won’t disappoint. Don’t believe us? Just ask former President Obama who made a trip to the establishment during each visit to Asheville.
It may be no surprise Charlottesville made our list being home to Restaurant Week held every summer. This event is definitely worth a visit as Charlottesville is home to over 500 restaurants from fine-dining, to burgers and breakfast. New York style breakfast spot, Bodo’s is great for bagels and sandwiches while Citizen Burger Bar offers no fuss dining and craft brews to pair with their classic American menu. For more local beer, it’s easy and rewarding to partake in a brewery tour at one of Charlottesville’s five breweries.
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