9 Great Small Food Towns Slideshow
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville, N.C., has been acclaimed in recent years for being a pioneer in locally-grown, seasonal, eco-friendly cuisine. About a ten hour drive from New York City, some of Asheville’s best restaurants include Corner Kitchen, Fig, and Table. Asheville has plenty of other draws, too, with the Biltmore Estate nearby, a thriving music scene, and outdoor activities.
With San Francisco, Napa, and Sonoma all within a stone’s throw (if you’ve got a really good arm), it is no wonder that Danville is home to some fantastic food. With an array of cuisines available, Californian cuisine and sushi really shine here. Less than an hour from San Francisco, you can leisurely brunch at Patrick David’s and pick up a gluten-free cupcake at Miglet’s before heading out for dinner at The Peasant and the Pear. To satisfy sushi cravings, head one town over to Sakura in San Ramon.
Ithaca, New York
Ithaca is often only a temporary home for college students at Ithaca College and Cornell University, but the food scene is there to stay. Restaurants like Mercato Bar and Kitchen, John Thomas, Just a Taste, and the Souvlaki House all serve to elevate local cuisine from hot plate creations to delectable food. Pan Roasted Pork Chop and Ithaca’s famed gorges are just more than 4 hours from New York City.
On the easternmost side of Martha’s Vineyard, Edgartown is a town steeped in seaside charm. Just more than 2 hours from Boston on Martha’s Vineyard, Edgartown boasts an enviable small town food scene. Alchemy is one of the best restaurants in the area with Chesca’s, Détente, and L’Etoile following close behind. While you’re there, check out the South Beach State Park and the Vincent House Museum.
Less than an hour from Kansas City, Lawrence, Kansas is a small, liberal college town with a walkable one-mile stretch in the downtown area of locally-owned shops, restaurants, and public artworks. The town has a surprising spread of cuisines like Central American food at La Parrilla and a booming gastropub scene with Dempsey’s Burger Pub and Free State Brewing Company leading the pack. Go for the basketball, stay for the food.
A proud home for many of California’s happiest hippies, Ojai reaches well beyond granola-munching, sun-saluting stereotypes. From the Ojai Valley Inn’s gorgeous setting and delectable fare at their Oak Grill to the famous strawberry shortcake at Boccali’s Pizza and the carne asada burrito at Ruben’s Burritos, Ojai is as calming and creative as it is delicious. An hour and a half’s drive from Los Angeles, Ojai is also home to one of the best farmer’s markets in California.
A lakeside town in Vermont (one of Vermont’s largest), Burlington is an unassuming hub of laidback culture and food. Closer to Montreal (2 ½ hours) than to Boston (4 hours), Burlington offers as much to do as it does to eat – which is to say: plenty. After your tour of the Magic Hat Brewing Company and a stop at the Aquarium, head to Union Jack’s for a lip-smacking sandwich, more beer and regional cuisine at Bluebird Tavern, or head to L’Amante for their much-loved Italian dishes.
Home to Northwestern University, Evanston can easily be overlooked due to its proximity to food-loving Chicago. About a half hour from the city, Evanston has charm that fuses old-fashioned American kitsch with a young and creative spirit. Edzo’s Burgers serves some of the freshest and tastiest burgers, shakes, and fries around, while Dixie Kitchen takes on Southern cooking with dishes like Crawfish and Corn Fritters. Don’t forget to try the cookies at Al’s Deli or the breakfast at Bat 17.
New Haven, Connecticut
When most people think of New Haven, Conn., they think of frigid New England winters and Yale students. Fair enough, but what that stereotype misses out on is all the fantastic restaurants and great cultural activities. Restaurants like Louis’ Lunch, Ibiza (for tapas and paella), Zinc, and Union League Café are worth the 1 ½ hour drive from New York City or the 2 ½ hour drive from Boston. It also has a much loved (and lauded) pizza scene, with Frank Pepe's leading the pack.