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Unlikely foodie cities

Published: 06/26/2015
By Nicole Rupersburg, Fox News -- We all know that the hottest food cities are the major metropolises: New York, San Francisco, Austin, Chicago. Then there are the midsized cities that have national culinary impact – Portland, New Orleans, Nashville, Boulder. And everyone loves a good story about a small-town foodie haven – Healdsburg, Richmond, Traverse City, Cooperstown.

But what about the outlier cities, the ones that are too small to hold their own against the heavyweights, too earnest/industrial to be sexy and too big to be "idyllic" and "charming"?

Here are some cities you've almost certainly heard of and may even have driven through, but never really thought much about – the kind of cities you just assume don't have much going on beyond the basic bar and grill. Well, you're wrong. Here's why.   

1. Salt Lake City, Utah
Downtown Salt Lake City doesn’t strike the same chord of other downtowns, but it has its fine points of dining, even despite Utah’s wonky liquor laws. Beer fans should visit the "tapless tap room" at Epic Brewing, where the laws mandate that you must eat if you're going to drink. But the sandwiches are tasty, the bartenders are friendly and the bar that sits maybe six people at a time is cozy. Or hit their gastropub, The Annex by Epic Brewing, for a full beer lineup for lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch. Artisan butcher enthusiasts should check out the new Frody's Salt & Smoke Meats. Whiskey and beer enthusiasts should check out Whiskey Street. And while you're in town, grab a slice at The Pie Pizzeria and enjoy the trademark spicy ApocalyptDough crust, sample some contemporary new American bistro fare from Bambara or Pago and splurge on the exemplary tasting menu at Forage.

Other cities to make the list:

2. Ft. Collins, Colo.
3. Omaha, Neb.
4. Columbus, Ohio
5. Ann Arbor, Mich.
6. Madison, Wisc.
7. Baltimore, Md.
8. Greenville, S.C.
9. San Antonio, Texas