Small Towns, Big Flavor: Yelp Names 2022 Foodie Cities

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Looking for inspiration for your next summer travel getaway? We’ve compiled a list of the top trending destinations for foodies across the United States. This year, Asheville, NC and the Hawaiian Islands top the list alongside cities like Charleston, SC, which is home to Michelin-starred and James Beard Award winning restaurants.

To name this year’s top US destinations for foodies, our Data Science team looked for the cities that had the highest restaurant ratings from out-of-towners and then took a look at what visitors were loving on Yelp. We limited this year’s list to cities with populations under 250,000 that have must-know food scenes.

Below, we’ve listed this year’s trending destinations and a few restaurants and dishes to bookmark for the itinerary, whether you’re in the mood to make a stop for fry sauce in Boise City or fill up on crab cakes and hush puppies on the North Carolina coast.

  1. Asheville, NC – Blending the flavors of the American South with Appalachian fare, Asheville boasts a unique mountain-to-urban creative food scene. If you’re heading to the “Land of the Sky,” be sure to make a reservation at Cúrate or Chestnut Yelpers love the lamb skewers and fried eggplant at Cúrate.
  2. Hawaiian Islands – If you’re visiting the Aloha State, be sure to look for dishes that incorporate kalua pork, coconut shrimp or mahi mahi. On Lahaina, Yelpers love the fish tacos at Down the Hatch and on Kapaa, they rave about the coconut shrimp at Lava Lava Beach Club.
  3. San Luis Obispo, CA – Nestled along the Central California Coast, San Luis Obispo is home to a booming foodie scene, bolstered by new additions like SLO Provisions and Park 1039. Yelpers love dishes like tri-tip sandwiches and bread bowls at beloved spots like Old Slo BBQ and Mo’s Smokehouse BBQ.
  4. Kill Devil Hills, NC (Outer Banks) – The Outer Banks of North Carolina may be known for their open-sea beaches but its food scene is one to keep an eye on. If you’re planning a beach vacation, make sure to check out Yelper’s Dorothy S’s collection of top local spots.
  5. Bend-Redmond, OR – There is no shortage of 5-star breweries and cider houses in the Pacific Northwest. From tiny tasting rooms to massive restaurants, Bend offers something for anyone looking to appreciate craft beers and local drinks.  10 Barrel BrewingBend Brewing Company and GoodLife Brewing Company are among some of the top-rated breweries in the area. Looking for a women-owned brewery? Try Spider City.
  6. Charleston, SC – Charleston restaurants regularly make Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat list, making it no surprise as a top destination for food lovers. Jackrabbit Filly (no. 6 on this year’s list) and Lola (No. 22) are just two of the popular spots for a quick bite in the city.
  7. Wilmington, NC – A popular vacation destination for its beach views, Wilmington also has a must-try food scene filled with Southern cuisine and seafood. Yelpers love the crab cakes at Bridge Tender and the crab dip at Cape Fear Seafood Company.
  8. Boise, ID – A growing culinary mecca, Boise has boomed with restaurants like The Lively and Trillium.  James Beard Award nominated chefs like Dan Ansotegui (of Ansots) and Khatera Shams (of Sunshine Spice Bakery & Cafe) have also helped to put this city on the map to Yelpers.
  9. Santa Fe, NM – From Pueblo-influenced New Mexican dishes to Christmas sauce, the Santa Fe culinary scene can feel like a breath of fresh air. The city’s food scene blends Indigenous, Spanish and Anglo-American flavors to create a unique aesthetic and style in the Southwest. Yelpers love classic dishes like huevos rancheros from places like Pantry and The Shed.
  10. Savannah, GA – Savannah’s growing food scene has become a growing draw for tourists in the South, in part due to chefs like Chef Mashama Bailey of The Grey. Earlier this year, Chef Bailey was recently named 2022’s Outstanding Chef by the James Beard Foundation. Yelpers love the crab beignets and fried chicken at the restaurant. Whether you’re in the mood for a drink at a rooftop watering hole, fireside martinis or traditional Southern fare, Savannah’s rapidly evolving food scene has it all.
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