Best Small Towns for Food Slideshow
April 4, 2012
Walla Walla, Wash.
Originally a farming community, the Walla Walla Valley is pretension-free and wine- and food-obsessed. It is popping up on many a wine-taster’s radar as the country's new region to explore, and the town of Walla Walla boasts great places to find good food and cool company. The Walla Walla Valley Farmers Market is proof of the region's bounty, but so are dishes like the fish tacos at Green Lantern, the pastas and flatbreads from Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen (pictured), and the seasonal menus at Whitehouse-Crawford.
Savannah is even more charming and idyllic than it sounds, sitting along the water as an old Southern port town with cobblestoned streets and endless amounts of mouthwatering Southern cuisine. The historic district is home to some of the city's most welcoming eateries, like B. Matthews Eatery, where locals flock for brunch, and the town's sugar-sweetness can be found at places like Back in the Day Bakery and the Gryphon Tea Room (pictured). More serious Southern meals can be found at Olde Pink House and Elizabeth on 37th.
Just north of Sonoma, Healdsburg is a postage stamp-sized town that packs in ample wine tasting with hole-in-the-wall restaurants, fine dining, and heaps of charm. The town wasn't always known for its food, to be sure, but now with Cyrus (pictured) at the helm of its fine dining options, Scopa serving a grandmother's kind of Italian food, the freshness of Dry Creek Kitchen, the burgers at Healdsburg Bar and Grill, and the cool vibe and fantastic seafood at Willi's Seafood, it definitely is now.
Rockland is that quaint New England seaside town that is the stuff of summer getaway dreams. The salty air and fresh-caught lobster are just the start; locals crowd into cozy Café Miranda, they find the town's best sticky buns at Home Kitchen Café, go for sushi at Suzuki's, and indulge in fresh, classic Italian at Primo. But declaring a favorite lobster roll is a must for visitors, so start at Linda's Beans, Waterman's Beach, or Miller's Lobster Company.
Traverse City, Mich.
Traverse City, Mich., was once known more for its proximity to nature — Lake Michigan, forests — than its food. But that has shifted, with food lovers now aware of it as a dining destination all its own. (That Mario Batali owns a vacation home nearby is surely some validation.) The town hosts the annual National Cherry Festival, but there are artisanal foods to try at Bay Bread, Morsels, and the Grand Traverse Pie Company, as well as dinners to be had at Trattoria Stella and The Cooks' House.
Lafayette is one of Louisiana's tastiest towns, and has long been considered the "capital" of Cajun Country. But locals aren't about to rest on those flavors; there is a thriving food scene in Lafayette with all sorts of options, from elevated Louisiana cuisine at Cochon and The French Press to sushi and sake at Tsunami and indulgent burgers at Judice Inn (pictured). Find an afternoon sweet at Meche's Donut King.
McMinnville sits just next to Oregon's gorgeous and ever-growing Willamette Valley, meaning it has unbridled access to the valley's fantastic wines. It also is home to award-winning restaurants that are focused on showcasing the bounty of the region (beyond just wine) — like La Rambla, Thistle, The Joel Palmer House, and Bistro Maison.
In Vermont, along Lake Champlain, you'd be hard-pressed to find a town that's not charming, vibrant, and intimate. But the leader of the pack is undoubtedly Burlington. The Penny Cluse Café and Red Onion are perfect examples of the Burlington brand of laid-back, local food you'll find throughout town. American Flatbread might be the best-known eatery, but Union Jacks, Bluebird Tavern, and the Magic Hat Brewing Company all make up the town's mouthwatering landscape.