America’s Best Small Towns for Food 2013 (Slideshow)
Home to the University of Virginia, this college town has great dining options. If eaters care to venture outside of the campus, they’ll find a variety of restaurants that are embracing the farm-to-table movement. Many utilize nearby farms and wineries, and watering holes like Brookeville Restaurant, Tempo, and MAS have only grown in popularity with the local community.
Galesburg, Ill. is known for its strong ties to the railroad industry, but it is quickly gaining steam among the culinary community as well. Local restaurant Landmark Café and Creperie, in the historic commercial district, provides perfect comfort food, while Q's Café has the best selection of sandwiches in town with a menu that changes daily. The Packinghouse Dining Company is another spot that offers their famous cinnamon rolls.
Tarrytown, N.Y. is rising up in the culinary ranks. Once looked upon as being less affluent then some of its neighboring towns, Tarrytown has seen an influx of great restaurants, bars, tea shops, and the like take up residence in the small town. Mint Premium Foods, which began as a gourmet shop, is now a restaurant where diners can sample Moroccan-inspired dishes.
Besides great local eateries, the area is also home to one of the most celebrated farms and restaurants in the United States; the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. Stop for a coffee at Coffee Labs Roasters in between restaurant hopping and farm touring.
Richmond, Va., is now home to the Richmond Food Truck Court, which offers diners a variety of food trucks with cuisines ranging from wings to Asian fusion to Vietnamese. The small town is also home to Belmont Butchery, where meat lovers can watch owner Tanya Cauthen work her magic. If cooking isn’t your thing, Richmond also boasts local but elevated cuisine at restaurants like Pasture or Comfort, both owned by chef Jason Alley.
Hilton Head Island isn’t just a golf destination anymore. It has a variety of restaurants that range from traditional island seafood at Skull Creek Boathouse to local Gullah cuisine at restaurants like Roastfish and Cornbread. It also has higher-end dining experiences available, like Vine Bistro & Wine Bar, which embraces the farm-to-table movement and uses local ingredients whenever possible. And family-run Hudson’s on the Docks is a great place to experience a traditional low-country boil.
San Mateo made the list this year due to the variety of restaurants it offers in its small area. As a 2012 Best for Food finalist in the Rand McNally Best of the Road contest, it has captured the hearts of locals and tourists with its culinary artistry. Diners can sample Indian one night at All Spice and the next try Lebanese at Tannourine Restaurant and Catering. Also, Jeffery’s, a tasty old-fashioned burger joint, is a must-try as well.
Right in the heart of wine country is the small town of Healdsburg. If you throw a stone two feet in either direction in this town, you’ll wind up hitting a spectacular restaurant. Guests on wine country tours often stop in the quaint, popular town for a quick yet amazing lunch before resuming tasting. For those who love seafood, Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar is your pick, and if you’re in the mood for burgers and the best seasoned garlic fries in town, try the Healdsburg Bar & Grill. Bistro Ralph is another local favorite that won’t disappoint with items like moules frites.
Known by locals as the "capital" of Cajun cuisine, Lafayette, La., is a town made for true food lovers. For traditional Southern cuisine, eaters may find themselves at staples like The French Press. To learn how to make traditional gumbo while you’re in town, swing by The Accidental Chef Cooking School. And for those looking to veer away from Cajun, Spanish tapas joint Pamplona never disappoints.
Local cuisine is at its finest in Traverse City, a beautiful small town situated in close proximity to Lake Michigan. Locally grown morel mushrooms, cherries, and apples can be found in the dishes of the many restaurants in town. As for fish, the town is known for its fresh whitefish, perch, and salmon from area waters. Check out seasonal items at spots like Morsels and the Grand Traverse Pie Company, as well as at Trattoria Stella and The Cooks' House.
Normally, college towns are filled with chain restaurants and late-night greasy spoons, but Boulder’s cuisine is nothing short of phenomenal. With a heavy emphasis on local, seasonal dishes, The Kitchen and its sister restaurants are offering very healthful cuisine packed with flavor. Shine Restaurant and Gathering Place boasts a local, seasonal, and allergy-free menu catering to those with gluten and lactose intolerance, as well as offering vegan and vegetarian options. And finally, there’s Frasca Food & Wine for a fine-dining Italian experience.
If it’s fresh lobsters you want, it’s lobsters you’ll get in Rockland, Maine. This New England seaside town is home to the Maine Lobster Festival during July and August and offers locals and tourists the opportunity to taste and indulge in some of the world’s freshest lobsters. For charming lobster joints, try Linda's Beans or Miller's Lobster Company. For a bit of variety, Rockland also offers traditional Italian food at Primo.