9 Top Small Food Towns

Finding great food where you might least expect it


Restaurants in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have all won awards, been lauded by critics time and again, and often serve as landmarks in many travelers’ memories. But what about those towns you drive by on your road trip to San Francisco or that you fly over on your way to Chicago?

There are small towns all across the U.S. that you could easily pass by not knowing what you’re missing. Places like Evanston, Ill., Danville, Calif., and Ithaca, N.Y. are serving food to rival that of any award-winning meal in neighboring cities. From holes-in-the-wall to fine dining hidden treasures and from "down home" Southern cooking to delicious sushi, the options are manifold. So, next time you’re yearning for a weekend away or want to plan a few great stops on an upcoming road trip, one of these nine towns should prove surprisingly tasty. 

Click here to see the 9 Great Small Food Towns Slideshow.


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21 Comments

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i have never been to lawrence ks. but as i get older i am getting wiser. the person who wrote the negative comment maybe got in trouble, dui or?

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Wow... "Small town" and "food" together, and you only ventured to the South as far as Asheville? I guess it would be unfair, as the South would dominate even more than it does in college football.

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New Haven has the best restaurants. One needn't be afraid to dine there . Great walking through the ivied halls of Yale. This is the most beautiful time with the cherry trees in blossom in Wooster Square very close to Sally's and Pepe's Pizzas. Great Italian food at Caffee Bravo on Orange and Willow Streets. Take it from one who has lived in the area for over 70 years!

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Coming to Lawrence, Kansas from the SF, CA area, I was very happy to discover the great restaurants that it has to offer. I moved here 9 years ago as an outsider, and have loved it here ever since. The people are friendly, and the restaurants are diverse and creative, with quite a few focusing on local foods. Yay, Lawrence! You deserve a mention. :)

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I moved to Lawrence from KC 30 years ago and have never been sorry. The town is great, the food is fabulous, I was sorry to see Pachamama's wasn't mentioned as a great place to din, it by far has the best restaurant in Lawrence.

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ANONYMOUS HAS NEVER BEEN TONnEW HAVEN AND DOES NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT. I GO TO THE RESTAURANTS ALL THE TIME ALMOST ALL ARE IN A SAFE A FUN AREA YOU CAN ACTUALLY WALK AROUND LIKE NY.

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How about Charlottesville, VA?

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Ojai has many charms. Great restaurants are not one of them. We need an infusion of Bay Area cooking brilliance. I dream that one day talented chefs will discover this amazing community and that they will come and cook healthy, locally grown food at affordable prices.

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Athens, Georgia should be on this list, there are several James Beard nominees in the area, including Hugh Acheson who was on Top Chef Masters.

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All the Yalies killing people. I hear the locals are terrified to eat in any of these restaurants without looking over their shoulder for some crazed Ivy League maniac.

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I am very extremly sorry that you want to mention Lawrence. Kansas as a great place to come and eat. Lawrence doesn't like outsiders coming to this town. They don't take people too kindly coming into town and trying to fit in. They hate it!!!!!! So I advise you taking Lawrence off the list.

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Uhhh... I type this from the heart of Mass St. as a proud longterm resident of Lawrence I can assure all readers that whoever typed that rubbish about Lawrence hating outsiders apparently doesn't live here nor spent much time here. Lawrence is an amazing little social oasis in Kansas, with an amazing and diverse local food scene. It definitely deserves to be on the list.

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LOL I live in Lawrence Kansas... never once have I ever not welcomed an outsider into the town. We do not hate it.. Please don't let this troll persuade you all.

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Great food in Lawrence, KS without a doubt. Glad to see that town on the list. Also agree with the inclusion of Edgartown. Had many great meals there.

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This needs to be worded much better. The towns are small, not the food. ;) The food is faaaaaantasticly large.

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Lawrence, KS, rocks! Love this town.

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"Small food town?" as an English professor, I cringe--and then laugh. And then I cringe again.

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Ojai is a delicious small town destination. I agree that the strawberry shortcake at Boccali's is legendary. Many of the restuarants feature fresh local ingredients from Ojai farms and ranches -- tangerines, oranges, lemons, walnuts, olive oil, lavender and all kinds of vegetables. A few of my personal favorites are Suzanne's, Feast Bistro, Azu and Knead Baking Company.

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New Haven has so much amazing food, but the picture they chose to represent New Haven did not do it justice. Yuck.

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Ibiza, Caseus, Heirloom, Miya's, Zinc, Union League . . . I could go on & on. New Haven is eclectic and gastronomic. A melting pot of epicurean delights. I, for one, would take a bullet in order to dine in any one of these places.

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With the crime and shootings in New Haven, I wouldn't eat at any restaurant in New Haven.

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