America’s Next Great Food Cities

Creativity, innovation, diversity, and deliciousness are the hallmarks of America’s seven most exciting up-and-coming destinations for food lovers. Plus, we shine a light on four smaller cities punching well above their weight with their vibrant food and drink scenes.

It’s an exciting time for food in America. The culinary landscape in cities big and small around the country has matured exponentially in the past two decades, a shift that has been thrilling to experience and to taste. The immense challenges of the last two years in particular have seen many chefs, restaurateurs, and makers leave bigger urban centers and return to their smaller home cities. This returning talent, plus a new generation of entrepreneurs, are spurring a burst of creativity, innovation and deliciousness in under-the-radar destinations all over the country. It is these destinations that make up Food & Wine’s inaugural list of the next great food cities: the seven most exciting big cities, plus four smaller towns with populations less than 60,000 that have big food scenes. Each city profile highlights local chefs, restaurants, producers, pop-ups, retailers, food halls, markets, distillers, brewers, incubators, and more that make up the dynamic and diverse food culture of each place. Here are the 11 food cities worth traveling for in 2022.—Melanie Hansche

CINCINNATI, OHIO
The next generation of chefs and makers is driving a culinary renaissance in the queen city.

There is something very special about a weekend morning in Cincinnati’s Findlay Market, a historic quarter centered around a mid-1800s hall brimming with fresh-picked produce and the energy of thousands of hungry locals. They come here because they’ve been coming here their whole lives, in good times and bad, because it’s tradition—which, in Cincinnati, is just about a religion; think New Orleans, but a day’s drive to the north.

Love of food is nothing new around here. Some of us are old enough to remember when Jean-Robert de Cavel’s Maisonette was one of the finest French restaurants in the country. (And don’t get the locals started on their quirky regional dishes, like that famous cinnamon-laced chili typically served over spaghetti, with roots in restaurants owned by Macedonian immigrants.)

These days, however, a new generation of chefs and makers, some of them native sons and daughters returning from stints in cities as far away as San Francisco and New York, can be found turning all that tradition on its head. This is how you end up with Zuni Café–influenced, hyper-seasonal cooking at Tony and Austin Ferrari’s Fausto; modern Lebanese cooking (Kentucky lamb kofta) and baking (cardamom apple pine nut tarts) at Dominique Khoury’s pop-up favorite Looqma; little omakase thrills at Hideki and Yuko Harada’s Kiki; and cocktails in a salon-like environment at the lush Anjou. Even an ultra-mod food hall, Oakley Kitchen, made its splashy debut back in the early summer of 2021.

Add in a few seriously committed chefs, like Jose Salazar of SalazarMita’s, and now Goose & Elder, and restaurateurs like Ashley and Austin Heidt at Dear Restaurant & Butchery, where you can take your charcuterie plate to go, and it all starts to get the tiniest bit overwhelming. Mull over your choice of chic Japanese-inspired pastries at Cafe Mochiko or perfect cappuccinos at the Ferrari brothers’ Mom ‘n ’em Coffee & Wine. The latter is one of the Midwest’s essential cafés—so popular, they’re building another across town. —David Landsel


 

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA
A new guard of food entrepreneurs is striving to make indy a city where everyone can eat well.

CREDIT: JOSH CLEMENTS

Few cities can claim to have a real diversity of cuisines; an abundance of affordable, quality dining options; and a vibrant mix of personalities championing food access for all. Indianapolis is one of them. Thanks to its exceptional ability to welcome a new wave of entrepreneurs while supporting those who paved the way, the Circle City has emerged from the past few challenging years as a destination where everyone can eat well.

 

CREDIT: COURTESY OF BOTTLEWORKS HOTEL

Baked goods, in particular, have taken off. At downtown’s Gallery Pastry Bar, Ben Hardy and Youssef Boudarine craft elaborate sweets like Brûlée Trillium (a croissant stuffed with berry compote, pecans, and brûléed Trillium, a decadent local triple-cream cheese) in an open-air kitchen and a dining room decorated with Moroccan lights and an Anthony Bourdain painting by Egyptian artist Salma Taman. And at the second outpost of Amelia’s Bread—the sister business of city institution Bluebeard by acclaimed chef Abbi Merriss—guests have even more room to dig into the bakery’s fudgy salted chocolate buckwheat cookies and croissant cinnamon rolls.

BOISE, IDAHO
This new culinary capital can hold its own against northwest food hubs like Seattle and Portland.

OMAHA, NEBRASKA
Storied steakhouses have been joined by a new wave of restaurants—and the best ice cream for miles around.

JERSEY CITY, NEW JERSEY
New York City’s secret “sixth borough” is packed with vibrant food businesses and tastes.

TUCSON, ARIZONA
There are many delicious reasons Tucson was designated a UNESCO city of gastronomy in 2015. 

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
The city and surrounding region are filled with ingenuity and forward-looking food projects.

SMALL CITIES WITH BIG FOOD SCENES

BOZEMAN, MONTANA
BIDDEFORD, MAINE
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA
GREENVILLE, SOUTH CAROLINA

Read the full article here: https://www.foodandwine.com/travel/best-food-cities

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