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Winter 2022

FODOR'S TRAVEL: 10 Unexpected U.S. Cities With a Surprisingly Good Food Scene

10 Unexpected U.S. Cities With a Surprisingly Good Food Scene

By: Karthika Gupta

Foodie or not, these small towns will have you licking your lips and patting your belly.

From Michelin-starred restaurants and James Beard-nominated chefs to small-town moonshine distilleries and neighborhood diners that have been serving since 1914, these small towns are quickly emerging as unique foodie destinations to visit in the United States. With a diverse and vibrant food scene, the following ten cities will excite and delight even the pickiest of eaters with a wide variety of offerings that are sure to please all the senses.


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From sophisticated seafood to exotic cocktails and decadent desserts, many of Birmingham’s restaurants are out to change the perception that the south is only known for grits and gravy. Not only will you find soul food and new twists to Southern classics, but the city also boasts a vibrant international food scene. Of course, don’t miss the typical shrimp and grits, which is practically Alabama’s official dish. If a more international menu is what you’re aft4er, Birmingham delivers everything from Indian cuisine, Asian fusion, Latin fare, Italian classics, and Moroccan dishes.

Birmingham’s cocktail scene is buzzing with creative mixologists who are shaking up modern takes on classic drinks. Go underground to visit the clandestine Pilcrow Cocktail Cellar for a menu highlighting agave-based spirits. Another unique spot is The Lumbar, a science-themed bar that also features collaborative workspaces. Don’t miss Helen for some biscuits with whipped cane syrup butter and Ovenbird for unique South American tapas. For fresh gulf seafood, look no further than Automatic Seafood and Oysters and The Fish Market.