Leaving behind the nation’s culinary capitals, like food-crazed cities San Francisco and Chicago, RewardExpert set out to find the best towns, with populations sub-100,000, to dine in. The result: an insider’s look at the Best American Foodie Towns.

“Everyone knows that places like New York, San Francisco, and Chicago are home to top-notch eateries,” says RewardExpert CEO and co-founder Roman Shteyn, in a statement. “But America is a big country and its many nooks and crannies are treasure troves of local delicacies and innovative cuisine. This ranking dives deep into the heartland of America to examine which towns are must-see destinations for foodie enthusiasts.”

Here are the top cities in each region. Check out the entire report here


RewardExpert found 40 restaurants with at least a five-star rating on Yelp, which is no small feat in today’s ultra-critical society. Vermont’s most populous city, which sits on the eastern shoreline of Lake Champlain, has 8.6 restaurants per 10,000 residents and is a beer-lover’s haven. RewardExpert’s recommendations: “For a classic French dining experience, go to Leunig’s. For pizzas made completely from scratch, go to American Flatbread. Grab a beer at the brewery Zero Gravity.”

More than just home to July’s annual Cherry Festival, Traverse City features a hotbed of culinary talent. The Great Lakes Culinary Institute, which is located in the city, pours talented chefs into restaurants and venues across town. RewardExpert found 19 restaurants per 10,000 residents in Traverse City, located on the shores of Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay. The view can only be matched by the fare. RewardExpert’s take: “We recommend Patisserie Amie or Trattoria Stella.”

With more than 400 restaurants, Santa Fe is one of the larger towns profiled in the rankings. Southwestern cuisine, of course, reigns in the diverse area. There is no shortage of top-notch spots, including Geronimo, which was recently named one of the top 100 restaurants in America by OpenTable. RewardExpert also recommends Sazon, and Coyote Cafe, as well as Palacio Cafe or TIA Sophia’s for a more casual feel.

Located in the heart of Wine Country, Healdsburg is a fine-dining powerhouse. While there are just 11,000 or so residents, 25 percent of its 119 restaurants feature four stars or more on review sites. Not to mention, it’s just a short trip to the bountiful eateries in Napa Valley and Sonoma. RewardExpert’s recommendations: Will’s Seafood and Raw Bar or Healdsburg Bar and Grill. For wine, enjoy a tasting at Simi Winery.

The University of Alabama dominates much of the fanfare in Tuscaloosa. Barbecue might be a close second. There are more than 400 restaurants in the town and a touch over 40 percent clear four-and-half stars on Yelp, TripAdvisor, and other sites. RewardExpert’s picks: Dreamland Bar-B-Que. For soul food, check out Epiphany Cafe. If you’re looking for a fine-dining experience, go to Evangeline’s.

No city had more restaurants in the region than Asheville, which features more than 700 spots. There’s a little bit of everything in the eclectic mountain city. Breweries and barbecue are plentiful, but so is fresh, farm-to-table, and fine-dining cuisine. RewardExpert recommends 12 Bone Smokehouse, the barbecue joint where former President Barack Obama likes to stop by. Other picks are White Duck Taco Shop and Corner Kitchen.

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