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I really like Detroit. Other than Hard Rock, there were really no chains downtown, and I have had some great meals while on business there. My favorites were Seldom Blues, Pegasus, and Fishbones. Great atmospheres too.
 

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King of Flyover Country
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For a while (until last year), Cincinnati had the only 5-star restaurants in the Midwest (besides Charlie Trotter [sp?] in Chicago). I don't give a damn what that means but Cincinnati is one of the better restaurant cities in the country, let alone the Midwest.

Columbus is good for fusion and "new shit." And it does have a respectable scene as well.
 

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JUNCTA JUVANT
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ColDayMan said:
For a while (until last year), Cincinnati had the only 5-star restaurants in the Midwest (besides Charlie Trotter [sp?] in Chicago). I don't give a damn what that means but Cincinnati is one of the better restaurant cities in the country, let alone the Midwest.

Columbus is good for fusion and "new shit." And it does have a respectable scene as well.

Yeah, Cincy is pretty hard to beat on the restaurant scene ...

Cincinnati Restaurants and Cincinnati Dining
(Cincinnati, Ohio - OH, USA)


Cincinnati offers more award-winning restaurants and dining venues per capita than any other US city.
 

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How's Kansas City? I've been to KC, but it isn't like I've eaten at all of their independent restaurants. I hear it's pretty good.

And don't worry I hear that the Food Channel (or was it Travel Channel?) special survey show about barbeque where Kansas City came in fourth behind Memphis, Texas and North Carolina was fixed. :D
 

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I probably have a duty to post in this thread. I am a professional chef, I have worked in kitchens in the Twin Cities for the last 15 years including some pretty good ones. Currently I am the head chef of a busy, neighborhood institution type restaurant in Uptown, Minneapolis.

I am not going to say which city is the best because, frankly, I am not qualified to make such judgement. You would have to eat in a lot of restaurants in a lot of places to really be able to say.

Based on reputation in the industry I would say that for high end fine dining Detroit, Cleveland and the Twin Cities are probably the top tier (after Chicago which is the #3 food town in the country). Madison is noteworthy because it has L'etoile which is one of the best restaurants in the country. KC is also well regarded.

To be a good fine dining food town you need some combination of expense account diners, convention goers, a strong economy, lots of rich people or lots of tourists.

If someone wanted to create a statistical ranking of cities probably the best place to start would be the geographical distribution James Beard Award nominees over the last 5 or 10 years. The James Beard Awards are basically the Oscars of American cooking. Still, it may not be a totally meaningful list as it reflects biases within the small group of people who people who make up the James Beard society. You could aslo track how often restaurants in particular cities get press in major national food publications.
 

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Here is a list of the 50 best restaurants with midwestern cities bolded:

1. Chez Panisse, Berkeley, California
2. Jean Georges, New York, New York
3. The French Laundry, Yountville, California
4. Spago Beverly Hills, Beverly Hills, California
5. Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham, Alabama
6. Alan Wong's Restaurant, Honolulu, Hawaii
7. Charlie Trotter's, Chicago, Illinois
8. Ginza Sushiko, Beverly Hills, California
9. Daniel, New York, New York
10. Le Bernardin, New York, New York
11. Magnolia Grill, Durham, North Carolina
12. The Inn at Little Washington, Washington, Virginia
13. Campanile, Los Angeles, California
14. L'Etoile, Madison, Wisconsin
15. The Herbfarm, Woodinville, Washington
16. Fore Street, Portland, Maine
17. Babbo, New York, New York
18. Michel Richard Citronelle, Washington, D.C.
19. Nobu, New York, New York
20. Topolobampo, Chicago, Illinois
21. Sanford, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

22. Gramercy Tavern, New York, New York
23. Palace Kitchen, Seattle, Washington
24. Galatoire's, New Orleans, Louisiana
25. Radius, Boston, Massachusetts
26. Arrows, Ogunquit, Maine
27. Kinkead's, Washington, DC
28. Cafe Annie, Houston, Texas
29. Picasso, Las Vegas, Nevada
30. Parker's, Ohio City, Ohio
31. Tribute, Farmington Hills, Michigan
32. The Ryland Inn, Whitehouse, New Jersey
33. Blackbird, Chicago, Illinois
34. ¡Pasión!, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
35. Le Rêve, San Antonio, Texas
36. Zuni Café, San Francisco, California
37. Gotham Bar & Grill, New York, New York
38. Valentino, Santa Monica, California
39. Al Forno, Providence, Rhode Island
40. The Baricelli Inn, Cleveland, Ohio
41. Wildwood, Portland, Oregon
42. Clio, Boston, Massachusetts
43. Aquavit, Minneapolis, Minnesota
44. Restaurant Hapa, Scottsdale, Arizona
45. Lucques, West Hollywood, California
46. Canlis, Seattle, Washington
47. Café Azul, Portland, Oregon
48. Norman's, Coral Gables, Florida
49. Peter Luger Steak House, Brooklyn, New York
50. Obelisk, Washington, DC
 

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In Ohio I'd say its between Cleveland and Cincinnati. They both have local restaurants with good foog, and I guess that ranking above says Clevealnd has some of the better spots. Columbus is ok, but it is flooded with chains you could get anywhere else.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
MABCLE said:
In Ohio I'd say its between Cleveland and Cincinnati. They both have local restaurants with good foog, and I guess that ranking above says Clevealnd has some of the better spots. Columbus is ok, but it is flooded with chains you could get anywhere else.
I would disagree with you on Columbus. In the mid-90's, the dining scene was dominated by a local chain--Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, which is a very mediocre collection of restaurants. In the last 5-6 years, there's been a real dining comeback in Columbus. I'd rank the Ohio cities as: Cleveland 1; Columbus 1A; Cincinnati 3. Louisville, if one includes it in the midwest, has a great dining scene, and I would easily put it ahead of Cincy. The Maisonette may have been a 5* restaurant, but it was one that had become something of a dinasour for at least a decade before closing down this past year.

Madison has some great restaurants, including one of the best in the country, but its size does hold it back. I think the same holds true for Ann Arbor.

Indianapolis has by far the worst, most corporate dining scene in the region. When it comes to wine programs, Indy's restaurants lag even further behind the rest of the region.

FWIW, I'm a fine wine importer, so a great deal of my job is spent in visiting these cities for 2-4 days and meeting the wine buyers during the day, then having dinner in the evening.
 

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Somnifor said:
I am not going to say which city is the best because, frankly, I am not qualified to make such judgement. You would have to eat in a lot of restaurants in a lot of places to really be able to say.
Good point, and it goes for many threads, not just this one. If I were to guess, I'd say that nobody in this forum has eaten in a lot of restaurants in all of the major midwestern cities.

Somnifor said:
To be a good fine dining food town you need some combination of expense account diners, convention goers, a strong economy, lots of rich people or lots of tourists.
I'd guess the Twin Cities does well in all of those categories relative to other midwestern cities.
 

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JUNCTA JUVANT
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Let me get this straight ...

Sam and MABCLE, you are both saying Cleveland and Columbus have a better dining scene than Cincinnati, but Cincinnati has more award-winning restaurants and dining venues per capita than any other US city? And on a metro level, I do not think this would sway the outcome of the results either when compared to Cbus and Cleveland.

(For the report, google it. There are plenty of links out there with this info.)

Sam, as far as the Maisonette, I couldn't agree with you more. The Maisonette also had financial issues that went into family problems, BTW.
 

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Badgers77 said:
Here is a list of the 50 best restaurants with midwestern cities bolded:

1. Chez Panisse, Berkeley, California
2. Jean Georges, New York, New York
3. The French Laundry, Yountville, California
4. Spago Beverly Hills, Beverly Hills, California
5. Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham, Alabama
6. Alan Wong's Restaurant, Honolulu, Hawaii
7. Charlie Trotter's, Chicago, Illinois
8. Ginza Sushiko, Beverly Hills, California
9. Daniel, New York, New York
10. Le Bernardin, New York, New York
11. Magnolia Grill, Durham, North Carolina
12. The Inn at Little Washington, Washington, Virginia
13. Campanile, Los Angeles, California
14. L'Etoile, Madison, Wisconsin
15. The Herbfarm, Woodinville, Washington
16. Fore Street, Portland, Maine
17. Babbo, New York, New York
18. Michel Richard Citronelle, Washington, D.C.
19. Nobu, New York, New York
20. Topolobampo, Chicago, Illinois
21. Sanford, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

22. Gramercy Tavern, New York, New York
23. Palace Kitchen, Seattle, Washington
24. Galatoire's, New Orleans, Louisiana
25. Radius, Boston, Massachusetts
26. Arrows, Ogunquit, Maine
27. Kinkead's, Washington, DC
28. Cafe Annie, Houston, Texas
29. Picasso, Las Vegas, Nevada
30. Parker's, Ohio City, Ohio
31. Tribute, Farmington Hills, Michigan
32. The Ryland Inn, Whitehouse, New Jersey
33. Blackbird, Chicago, Illinois
34. ¡Pasión!, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
35. Le Rêve, San Antonio, Texas
36. Zuni Café, San Francisco, California
37. Gotham Bar & Grill, New York, New York
38. Valentino, Santa Monica, California
39. Al Forno, Providence, Rhode Island
40. The Baricelli Inn, Cleveland, Ohio
41. Wildwood, Portland, Oregon
42. Clio, Boston, Massachusetts
43. Aquavit, Minneapolis, Minnesota
44. Restaurant Hapa, Scottsdale, Arizona
45. Lucques, West Hollywood, California
46. Canlis, Seattle, Washington
47. Café Azul, Portland, Oregon
48. Norman's, Coral Gables, Florida
49. Peter Luger Steak House, Brooklyn, New York
50. Obelisk, Washington, DC
What's the criteria for this list?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
The_Life said:
Let me get this straight ...

Sam and MABCLE, you are both saying Cleveland and Columbus have a better dining scene than Cincinnati, but Cincinnati has more award-winning restaurants and dining venues per capita than any other US city? And on a metro level, I do not think this would sway the outcome of the results either when compared to Cbus and Cleveland.
There are some great, interesting restaurants in Cincy, and by no means, do I find it a bad restaurant city--as I do with Indy. At the end of the day, however, I simply find Cleveland and Columbus to have much broader, deeper restaurant scenes.

I'm only going on what my experiences have been, having made multiple marketing trips to each city, as well as what is the general concensus among my peers (fine wine importers & small CA winery owners/winemakers).
 
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