CNN TRAVEL: From Buffalo to Birmingham, veteran chefs highlight surprising foodie cities


Text by Stacey Lastoe, CNN; Video by Jeremy Harlan, CNN • Published 3rd January 2020

(CNN) — No one needs convincing that New York City is one of, if not the, best food city in the United States. Few would argue about Chicago, Portland (Oregon, though Maine is not too shabby either), San Francisco and Los Angeles making the definitive list.

Las Vegas, too, has been a leader in the food and drink scene for some time now, and Washington, DC's culinary chops have proven reason enough to visit the capital city.

But what about Buffalo? Birmingham? Louisville?

Other cities around the US, including Denver, Minneapolis and Philadelphia, should be on every food lover's radar, according to big-name chefs at the Food & Wine Classic culinary event in Aspen, Colorado, which took place in June.

Man of many hats -- restaurateur, television host and food writer to name a few -- Andrew Zimmern is super into Birmingham, Alabama.

Sure, he's a fan of Miss Myra's Pit Bar-B-Q and Frank Stitt's well-regarded spots -- Chez Fonfon and Highlands Bar & Grill -- but Zimmern insists there's more to the Southern city than well, its Southern food roots.

The city has "gone from hot to blazing hot," he says.

"There has been a development underneath all the well-known restaurants there that has just bubbled up and exploded. I find Birmingham a very exciting town to eat my way through," Zimmern says.

Zimmern likens Birmingham's current rise to recent food trailblazing cities Portland, Oregon, and Portland, Maine.

Geoffrey Zakarian, a chef and owner of restaurants in New York City, Miami and Atlantic City, also praises Birmingham's growing culinary cred.