The list of the “30 Most Exciting Food Cities in America 2017” has been released – and Charlotte is nowhere to be seen.
Instead, you’ll find not one, but two other North Carolina cities: Asheville, which is believable, and Raleigh, which will likely raise eyebrows in North Carolina.
Zagat, which compiled the list, collects and analyzes ratings and reviews from diners across the country, so this is not an uninformed compilation.
But Raleigh? It was No. 12 on the list, for gosh sakes, ahead of San Diego, Portland and Miami.
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Here’s some of what Zagat had to say about Raleigh:
“This Southern capital city has often been overshadowed by hipper-seeming neighbors like Asheville, Charleston and Durham. But no more. This year finally saw local restaurant legend Ashley Christensen, who owns six spots in the city, as a much-deserved James Beard Award semifinalist for Outstanding Chef (she’s a past winner for Best Chef: Southeast). And, her Poole’s Downtown Diner was named by Eater as one of America’s Essential Restaurants for the second year in a row.”
Zagat goes on to mention Brewery Bhavana nabbing spot No. 10 on Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants for 2017 as helping to cement “Raleigh’s place in the South as a food city on par with its flashier neighbors.”
As for Asheville, Zagat notes it has more breweries per capita than any other city in the U.S. and it’s home to renowned chefs like James Beard–nominees Katie Button (Cúrate and Nightbell), John Fleer (Rhubarb) and pit master Elliott Moss (Buxton Hall Barbecue). “That’s enough to make food lovers in other small cities envious; however, the dynamic dining destination just keeps getting better.”
Other southern cities on the list include: Nashville; Lexington, Kentucky; Birmingham, Alabama; Richmond, Virginia; Dallas-Fort Worth; Atlanta; New Orleans; Charleston and Austin.
No. 1 on the list is Los Angeles.
Zagat noted that dining across the nation is improving because top chefs are moving to smaller markets, inspiring “culinary innovation.”