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Sure, NY and LA top any list of the best foodie cities across the country, but there are plenty of other spots that may not automatically spring to mind — smaller cities like Birmingham, Alabama, or metropolises that are undergoing major rejuvenations, like Detroit. Here are a list of the most exciting foodie cities in the U.S., so pack your stretchy pants and make a beeline to these culinary powerhouses.
Charleston — South Carolina
This bona fide culinary hotspot has celebrated chefs like Sean Brock (Husk, McCrady's) and Mike Lata (FIG, The Ordinary), trendy brewpubs like Edmund's Oast, creative small plates at 492, and lobster rolls at 167 Raw. The Charleston Grill is a classic, and the French Quarter Inn offers plenty of foodie amenities in the rate, including a welcome glass of bubbly, an evening wine hour with charcuterie and local treats like pimento cheese, late-night cookies and port, pralines at turndown, and a breakfast of mini quiche, Callie's biscuits, pastries, and other tasty treats.
Portland — Maine
New Englanders have long known that Portland is a first-rate foodie city, and now the rest of the country is catching on. Leading the way with three restaurants, Eventide Oyster Co., Hugo's, and The Honey Paw, is the James Beard Award-winning duo of Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley. Pioneering spots like Fore Street are still going strong, as is the craft brew scene with places like Lone Pine Brewing Company.
Indianapolis — Indiana
You can definitely tuck into a great steak in this town (St. Elmo has been around since 1902), but many chefs are also dazzling diners with farm-to-table fare at places like Locally Grown Gardens, Milktooth, Bluebeard, and The Loft, located on a working dairy farm. Indy also has fabulous food truck, coffee, and craft beer scenes — try Pierogi Love Indy, Bee Coffee Roasters, and The Tap Brewery, respectively.
Richmond — Virginia
L'Opossum, Rappahannock, and Brenner Pass, from the same owners as Metzger Bar & Butchery, are just a few of Richmond's foodie hotspots. Sub Rosa and Sugar & Twine are first-rate bakeries, and the Scott's Addition neighborhood is home to a rapidly growing craft beer and spirits scene — check out places like Veil Brewing Co. and Blue Bee Cider. And each fall brings the four-day Fire, Flour & Fork festival.
Portland — Oregon
Portland's chefs are all about showcasing the Pacific Northwest's bounty in creative ways. Joining established spots like Little Bird, a French-inspired bistro, and Farm Spirit, with a plant-based menu, is newly opened sushi spot Nimblefish and seafood mecca Roe. PDX's food truck scene is second to none (especially the Alder Street Food Cart Pod), and you can't leave town with a Voodoo donut and cup of Coava coffee. Less than an hour's drive is the Willamette Valley wine region, where you can dine at JORY Restaurant, a fine dining farm-to-table restaurant at The Allison Inn & Spa.
Houston — Texas
Houston has long been a top foodie city, and its big-time chefs aren't resting on their laurels. Hugo Ortega of Xochi is fresh from winning the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest, and Chris Shepherd frequently switches up the menu and decor at his One Fifth concept restaurant. Space City is also garnering attention for its cocktail scene — one of the latest lounges is the speakeasy-style Tongue-Cut Sparrow.
Baltimore — Maryland
In the past few years, Baltimore has definitely upped its culinary game. Celebrity chef Andrew Carmellini now has two hotspots: Rye Street Tavern, serving coastal comfort food (it's adjacent to the new Sagamore Spirit Distillery), and Rec Pier Chop House, located at the swanky Sagamore Pendry Baltimore hotel. Of course, seafood (crabs, yes!) is king in Charm City, and the buzziest spots are the harborfront Loch Bar and Dylan's Oyster Cellar.
Birmingham — Alabama
Birmingham is a full-on foodie city. Favorites like Highlands Bar and Grill and the Hot and Hot Fish Club, which pioneered the city's farm-to-table movement, are going strong, and joining them are Fish Club's sister spot OvenBird, serving small plates, such as roasted bone marrow (Mark Zuckerberg dined here recently), and the year-old Pizitz Food Hall, selling everything from organic biscuits to Hawaiian poke.
Miami — Florida
The big news food-wise in Miami is the proliferation of food halls, including places like La Centrale, an Eataly-style spot in Brickell City Centre, and Asian-themed 1-800-Lucky in Wynwood (think dim sum and matcha green tea ice cream), and South Beach's Time Out Market debuts later this year. There's also the new Wharf Miami, a hipster outdoor space on the Miami River with food trucks, bars, and live music.
Pittsburgh — Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh has long been on the upswing, and young chefs opening creative restaurants are one of the driving forces behind Steel City's resurgence. Two such cooks are Bethany Zozula of the Whitfield in the boho-chic Ace Hotel in East Liberty, and Justin Severino of Cure (the spot for charcuterie) and Morcilla, both of which are in trendy Lawrenceville. Coming soon is downtown's Oxford Market food hall.
Detroit — Michigan
Motor City is revving back to life with buzzy restaurants like Lady of the House, Mabel Gray, The Apparatus Room, and Prime + Proper Steakhouse. Snack on flavored Nutella macarons and cappuccinos at For the Love of Sugar, and this spring, keep an eye out for the grand opening of Detroit Shipping Co., a beer garden and food hall, featuring vendors such as Brujo Tacos & Tapas, Motor Burger, and Bangkok 96.
Honolulu — Hawaii
While no one was looking, the Hawaiian capital has quietly become a foodie city. There's Stripsteak Waikiki, chef Michael Mina's first Hawaiian restaurant (he also runs The Street food hall, with stalls like Maui Onion Burger and Aloha Ice for shave ice), along with Mahina & Sun's at the trendy Surfjack Hotel and Ravish at Modern Honolulu, both Waikiki standouts. Nearby are Mud Hen Water and Senia Restaurant.
San Antonio — Texas
San Antonio is celebrating its 300th birthday, so look for events like April's ¡Viva Hemisfair! food and music festival. Restaurant-wise, newcomer Nonna Osteria (the gnocchi with braised rabbit is the bomb) joins Pearl District standouts like Cured, specializing in charcuterie, and Supper, a farm-to-table spot in the Hotel Emma. The district is also where you'll find the Bottling Department, a snazzy new food hall.
Minneapolis — Minnesota
Many midwestern cities are going through foodie renaissances, and Minneapolis isn't being left behind. Top Twin Cities toques include Gavin Kaysen of Spoon and Stable, with a New American menu, and Ann Kim of Young Joni, serving small plates and wood-fired pizzas. The city has also seen an influx of distilleries, so you can try craft whiskey and gin at hotspots like Tattersall Distilling and Norseman Distillery.
Nashville — Tennessee
Nashville's red-hot foodie scene welcomes newcomers like Tansuo for modern Chinese cuisine and the seafood-centric Henrietta Red, while Gray & Dudley at the buzzy boutique hotel 21c Museum Hotel has been attracting attention with its market-drive menu. Craving fried chicken? Hit Prince's Hot Chicken for local speciality "hot chicken" and Biscuit Love for fried chicken on a buttermilk biscuit.
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