The thing I noticed right away as I scanned the names of the 10 towns on Tastiest Town list was I know these towns from somewhere. I think almost all were on our best places to retire lists. I haven’t noticed good food being on the list of factors in deciding where to retire, but maybe it should be.
1. Birmingham - I remember there was a famous hot dog hole in the wall place in downtown Birmingham everyone raved about. According to SL: Frank Stitt changed the South’s culinary landscape. His restaurants Highland’s Bar and Grill, Chez Fon Fon, and Bottega showed us that in the right hands, a humble staple like grits can become a tourist destination. I know they made downtown walkable and closed off some streets. Must have some good eats somewhere. More on Alabama 55 Plus Retirement Communities.
2. Louisville KY – I remember some of the best ribs I ever had was in Louisville. Per SL: In Louisville, saddle up for amazing food and art (often in the same spot), a shrine to artisan hams (heaven is a single barrel bourbon and seat at a “ham bar”), perfect mint juleps, and buzzy hoods like Frankfort, NuLu, and Bardstown Road. I know one thing, they sure know how to party during Derby week. Kentucky 55 Plus Retirement Communities.
3. Houston – Well this is a city not a town. Per SL: We heart its incredibly diverse ethnic scene (from extraordinary interior Mexican to some of the best Vietnamese in the country) and the red-hot Lower Westheimer hood (including El Real, a Tex-Mex shrine from star chef Brian Caswell and Robb Walsh, and Chris Shepherd’s new Underbelly). I know Texas escaped the housing downturn like the rest of the country is suffering through. People seem to like living in Texas and keep moving there. More on Houston Retirement Living.
4. Raleigh NC - I just passed through the Raleigh area and haven’t spend any time there since my Dad used to go to the furniture mart there (I think they make furniture in China these days). Per SL: it’s the kind of place where local pork sausage from the farmers’ market finds its way into queso in a sports bar. With an obsessively local food scene (courtesy of Carrboro Farmers’ Market) and forward-thinking chefs like Ashley Christensen (her three new concepts Chuck’s Burgers, Fox Liquor Bar, and Beasley’s Chicken & Honey preserve their culinary heritage with a point of view and a sense of humor), Raleigh is rich in homegrown ingredients–and attitude–with a proud sense of place. NC has many small towns great for retirement and is one the hottest retirement spots. Best small towns in North Carolina
5. Decatur GA - As I said it does not good places to eat. Just outside of Atlanta, Decatur is an ever-emerging mecca for young foodies who adore pristine farmers’ market produce (from Love is Love Farm and DeKalb Farmers Market, among others). It has transportation (Marta rail station) and neat older homes. It was named one of the best places to live. More on retirement communities in Georgia
6. Charleston SC – This one I have experienced and the seafood is excellent. Per SL: There is no shame in planning a vacation around shrimp and grits—an increasing number of culinary tourists who flock to this red-hot restaurant town do just that. Charleston needs no introduction, but we’ll give a Lowcountry shout-out to smart, passionate chefs like Sean Brock at Husk (a forthcoming cookbook and ongoing dedication to heirloom American ingredients ensure he’ll continue to influence food trends), Robert Stehling at Hominy Grill, and Mike Lata at FIG. Chaleston has history, the beach and a good climate. South Carolina retirement communities.
7. Lafayette Louisiana – This is the one place on the list that I may have not visited. According to SL: A new batch of homegrown chefs is delving deep into the region’s robust culinary roots, with stellar takes on Acadiana classics.
8. New Orleans - I remember going to the Court of Two Sisters on my honeymoon 38 years ago and have been back many times. There is nothing better than New Orleans food. According to SL: There are several (hot sauce-soaked) reasons why New Orleans is one of the most important and seductive food cities in the country. Consider, among other things, its iced Abita and oyster meccas (Acme, Felix’s, Casamento’s, and Bourbon House, for example), time-honored landmarks that should be on anyone’s bucket list (Friday lunch at Galatoire’s, brandy milk brunch at Commander’s Palace), life-changing muffulettas and po’boys, a posse of power chefs like Donald Link, John Besh, and John Harris, and dangerously delicious cocktails (from historic sazerac bars like Napoleon House to new spots like Bouligny Tavern) make it an essential, irresistible food destination. Well they sold us didn’t they! As far as retiring to New Orleans, I am personally not so sure about, but I would love to visit again.
9. Charlottesville Virginia – We visited Charlottesville and just loved it! It sure is a nice and interesting place to live and I bet Charlottesville is a great place to retire. The downtown area has the streets closed off and there are many nice restaurants there. Per SL: Blame it on Thomas Jefferson, the original heirloom farmer—this wine-soaked region still celebrates farm-to-table goodness in everything from seriously authentic Spanish tapas at Mas Tapas to backyard spirits (pass the artisan moonshine). Take Harrison Keevil, the chef/co-owner at Brookville Restaurant, who cooked at nationally acclaimed Fat Duck in England and sources more than 90% of his menu from within 100 miles of his restaurant.
10. Baltimore – I guess Maryland is in the South but that always surprises me. I attended a convention there for few days right downtown and loved the crab cakes and the Italian food in Little Italy. Per SL: Baltimore’s fierce sense of place mixed with iconic dishes like Cast Iron Crab Cakes at Thames Street Oyster House earns our adoration as a must-visit food town. I agree on the food. More on Baltimore retirement living.
Anyways it does make sense to check out the food scene before picking a town to retire to. Bon appétit!