Charlottesville – America’s Next Great Food City

Creativity, innovation, diversity, and deliciousness are the hallmarks of America’s seven most exciting up-and-coming destinations for food lovers. Plus, we shine a light on four smaller cities punching well above their weight with their vibrant food and drink scenes.

It’s an exciting time for food in America. The culinary landscape in cities big and small around the country has matured exponentially in the past two decades, a shift that has been thrilling to experience and to taste. The immense challenges of the last two years in particular have seen many chefs, restaurateurs, and makers leave bigger urban centers and return to their smaller home cities. This returning talent, plus a new generation of entrepreneurs, are spurring a burst of creativity, innovation and deliciousness in under-the-radar destinations all over the country. It is these destinations that make up Food & Wine’s inaugural list of the next great food cities: the seven most exciting big cities, plus four smaller towns with populations less than 60,000 that have big food scenes. Each city profile highlights local chefs, restaurants, producers, pop-ups, retailers, food halls, markets, distillers, brewers, incubators, and more that make up the dynamic and diverse food culture of each place. Here are the 11 food cities worth traveling for in 2022.—Melanie Hansche

Octopus mole at Conmole in Charlottesville, VA

Charlottesville has emerged as a vibrant dining destination. The city’s first food hall, Dairy Market, brings together some of the area’s brightest talent, like local restaurateur Wilson Richey of South and Central, a steakhouse inspired by the grilling cultures of South and Central America, and Angelic Jenkins of Angelic’s Kitchen, where crispy fried whiting dredged in her signature seafood breading is the specialty. Along the Rivanna River, The Wool Factory, a lovingly preserved historic textile mill, offers three distinct options: ales at Selvedge Brewing, fine dining at Broadcloth, and coffee-wine nook The Workshop. For exceptional pastries like brioche feuilletée and the original Prezzant (a flaky, chewy pretzel-croissant hybrid), drop in to European-inspired bakery MarieBette. Proving that the tiniest restaurants can indeed be the mightiest are the colorful Conmole, where Benos Bustamante prepares moles based on family recipes from growing up in Oaxaca, and Luce, a hole-in-the-wall doling out fresh pastas like the Bolo (pappardelle tossed with pork ragù, mint, and toast crumbs) in paper cups to go. Because the region is the birthplace of American wine, a visit to In Vino Veritas by industry superstar Erin Scala is a must. To all of the above, add last year’s reopening of the renovated Keswick Hall (rooms from $423,, and there have never been more compelling reasons to visit. —Katie Chang 

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