Hawaii’s Kailua-Kona makes Best American Foodie Towns list

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Kailua-Kona on the “Big Island of Hawaii,” was named the #2 top 5 foodie town to visit in the Pacific West in the 2017 report of Best American Foodie Towns. To help foodie travelers discover where to dig in next, 100 cities and towns with populations less than 100,000 were analyzed and evaluated on 9 key metrics. The ranking breaks down the top 5 foodie destinations across 6 major US geographical regions.

Here’s a peek at some of the highlighted destinations:

• Healdsburg, California, ranks first in the Pacific West. Healdsburg is located within an enclave of the world’s best wineries, giving its cuisine a reputation for being fresh and tasty. The town has about 11,000 residents, but 25 percent of Healdsburg’s 119 restaurants enjoy 4 stars or more on Yelp, TripAdvisor, and other review websites.

• Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, takes second in the Pacific West. Not only does it rank high in the region, it also does nationally taking sixth place overall. Kailua-Kona boasts 21 restaurants per 10,000 residents. Kona Coffee is grown on the island itself, so grab a certifiably fine cup o’ joe while you enjoy the white sand beaches and clear blue water.

• Napa, California, takes the bronze in the Pacific West. Napa is world-famous for wines, but it also has an incredible food scene to pair with the region’s top-notch vino. There are almost 500 restaurants in this small city, which is remarkable when compared to other cities of the same size.

Major metropolitan hubs are known to house exceptional culinary institutions. “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, the organization that conducted the research and compiled the report, “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.

“Food travel has become increasingly popular. Many travelers go to far-flung and big, urban destinations to experience culinary delights. The great thing about America is that by sheer size, it encompasses such a diverse range of local flavors. Travelers don’t have to go too far to try something new!”

These are the top foodie towns by region:

• Burlington, Vermont, ranks first in the Northeast. It has 8.6 restaurants per 10,000 residents and 40 restaurants with at least a 5-star rating on Yelp. The town is also known for its breweries, which make it a very well-rounded city for foodie options.

• Traverse City, Michigan, ranks first in the Midwest. Michigan is sometimes overlooked as a foodie state, but the Great Lakes Culinary Institute is located in Traverse City. This means that young and ambitious chefs are peppered throughout the state bringing incredible culinary experiences to small towns in the region.

• Santa Fe, New Mexico, ranks first in the Mountain West. Santa Fe is one of the larger towns analyzed, boasting over 400 restaurants. Santa Fe is known for chefs who create innovative Southwestern fare and is home to a number of award-winning restaurants.

• Healdsburg, California, ranks first in the Pacific West. Healdsburg is located within an enclave of the world’s best wineries, giving its cuisine a reputation for being fresh and tasty. The town is home to only about 11,000 residents, yet 25 percent of Healdsburg’s 119 restaurants enjoy four stars or more on various review websites.

• Tuscaloosa, Alabama, ranks first in the South Central region. Tuscaloosa is home of classic Alabama southern cooking and hosts over 400 restaurants. According to our findings, 42.4 percent of Tuscaloosa restaurants are rated four and a half stars or more on a combination of review websites.

• Asheville, North Carolina, ranks first in the South Atlantic. Asheville has over 700 restaurants and more than any other town we analyzed within the region. Asheville is known for its great barbecue and craft breweries, but the town has many wonderful fine dining establishments to offer, as well.