Minneapolis - St. Paul Wins Best Local Food Scene!

Louisville, Nashville, Providence and Raleigh, N.C. also winners

Forget chain restaurants! In each of our 20 nominees for Best Local Food Scene, foodie appeal takes the form of local chefs, regional ingredients and big flavors.

  • Charleston

    There are plenty of reasons why Condé Nast has voted Charleston the #1 City in the U.S. for four years running, but it’s the cuisine that grabs visitors these days. At Husk, Sean Brock finds his ingredients south of the Mason-Dixon Line, while the bounty of local waters fills menus at FIG and The Ordinary, both co-owned by Chef Mike Lata. Other local joints like Xiao Bao Biscuit, Leon’s Oyster Shop and 167 Raw typify the independent eateries that leave diners clamoring for more.
    Photo courtesy of Andrew Cebulka / Husk Restaurant

  • Portland, Maine

    Voted “America’s Foodiest Small Town” by Bon Appétit magazine, Portland takes full advantage of its location on the coast of Maine. The city’s five James Beard Award-winning chefs–Sam Hayward of Fore Street, Rob Evans of Hugo’s, Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier of Arrows and Melissa Kelly of Primo–not only have access to impeccably fresh lobster and other locally harvested seafood, they also draw from a collection of nearby purveyors who craft products from farmstead cheeses to artisanal breads.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • New Orleans

    Eating is an integral way to let the good times roll in New Orleans. Beignets and coffee are de rigueur for breakfast at Café du Monde. At lunchtime, Central Grocery piles their signature muffuletta sandwich–named for the round loaf of crusty bread it’s served on–with Genoa salami, mortadella, ham, mozzarella, provolone and chunky olive salad. Crawfish from area waters star in Cajun étoufée at night. And every cook has a different recipe for boudin sausage, stuffed with pork and rice.
    Photo courtesy of Navin75 / Flickr

  • Oakland

    Long eclipsed by its big sister, San Francisco, across the East Bay, Oakland has come into its own as a restaurant town. From fantastic fried chicken to righteous ramen and Mumbai street food, a staggering array of diverse eating experiences awaits in Oakland. In historic Swan’s Market alone, The Cook and Her Farmer, Cosecha Café (the name is Spanish for “harvest”), and Miss Ollie’s serve up the best of local farms. Independent eateries line Telegraph Avenue in the hip Temescal district.
    Photo courtesy of Arnold Gatilao / Flickr

  • Asheville, N.C.

    Celebrated for its bohemian spirit, Asheville nestles in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, where the food scene is as independent as the residents. Boasting more breweries per capita than any other U.S. city, Asheville pairs its beer with equally notable dining. Downtown favorites Table, The Market Place and Early Girl Eatery have long embraced the farm-to-table philosophy. Nearby in the River Arts District, All Souls Pizza, White Duck Taco Shop and 12 Bones barbecue echo the artistic vibe of an up-and-coming quarter.
    Photo courtesy of Asheville CVB

  • Raleigh, N.C.

    Hub of the Research Triangle, Raleigh buzzes as a culinary destination. Start with local artisanal products like Videri Chocolate’s bean-to-bar confections, Boulted Bread’s crusty loaves made from house-milled flours, and Slingshot Coffee Company’s Cold Brew. Add in chefs Ashley Christensen, 2014 winner of the James Beard Best Chef: Southeast Award; Drew Maykuth, formerly of The Admiral in Asheville; and Scott Crawford, of the soon-to-open Standard Foods and Nash Tavern, and you have a recipe for a delectable local food scene.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Providence

    While Providence dining standards Pot Au Feu and Al Forno introduced Rhode Islanders to a more sophisticated way of eating, the locavore movement hit this New England City more recently in the form of independent restaurants like Bacara, New Rivers, Nick’s on Broadway, and Gracie’s. On Federal Hill, Venda Ravioli rolls out ravioli by hand each day, while family-owned Scialo Brothers Bakery has been baking Old World-style Italian cookies, biscotti and irresistible cakes since 1916.
    Photo courtesy of PWCVB/Nicholas Millard

  • Nashville

    Nashville is not just famous for country music anymore. More and more, this western Tennessee city is hailed for its restaurants and food trucks. Nashville is the birthplace of tongue-searing hot chicken as well as Goo Goo Clusters, a harmony of caramel, marshmallow nougat, peanuts and milk chocolate. Quintessential Music City dining experiences include a gut-busting breakfast at Loveless Café, Sunday Supper at City House, and snagging a reservation at the U-shaped bar at The Catbird Seat for a memorable multicourse tasting.
    Photo courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp

  • Louisville

    In a city known for small-batch bourbon, it’s not surprising that the restaurant scene likewise revolves around local artisans. Carefully curated relationships with area farmers lie at the heart of the menu at Proof on Main and Harvest, both downtown. One of the original farm-to-table restaurants in Louisville, Lilly’s highlights free-range beef, organic vegetables and artisanal cheeses. At 610 Magnolia, Edward Lee puts a contemporary spin on Southern fare, while Chef Anthony Lamas highlights fresh seafood at Seviche.
    Photo courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels

  • Minneapolis - St. Paul

    Minneapolis and St. Paul, neighbors across the Mississippi River, are boiling over with new restaurants and award-winning chefs. Dubbed by Food & Wine as “America’s next great food city,” Minneapolis is rediscovering its heartland roots. Chefs in the Twin Cities are looking to the local fields and waters for inspiration, with Doug Flicker at Piccolo featuring pig hearts and pig tails on his playful menu, and the three chef/owners at Travail blazing the city’s molecular gastronomy trail with creative multicourse dinners.
    Photo courtesy of Minneapolis.org

These 10 world-class culinary scenes, voted as the best in the nation by USA TODAY 10Best readers, cater to every budget with tasty bites found everywhere from curbside food trucks to fine dining establishments.

The top 10 winners in the category Best Local Food Scene are as follows:

  1. Minneapolis - St. Paul
  2. Louisville
  3. Nashville
  4. Providence
  5. Raleigh, N.C.
  6. Asheville, N.C.
  7. Oakland
  8. New Orleans
  9. Portland, Maine
  10. Charleston, S.C.

A panel of experts picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Caroline Potter (OpenTable, Inc.), Eric Grossman, Megy Karydes, M. Linda Lee (10Best), Akila McConnell (The Road Forks), Larry Olmsted (Great American Bites) and Kim Sunee were chosen based on their extensive knowledge of food and travel.

Other cities nominated for Best Local Food Scene included Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, Napa, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle.

10Best and USA TODAY extend their congratulations to all the winners.

 

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Alert The Experts

Caroline Potter

Eric Grossman

Megy Karydes

M. Linda Lee

Akila McConnell

Larry Olmsted

Kim Sunee

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