North Carolina knows what's up.

By Bridget Hallinan
Updated January 27, 2020

Beyond being a source for user-generated restaurant reviews, Yelp often takes those reviews and turns them into data, with ranked lists like “The 100 Best Places to Eat in 2019” and “The Ten Most Popular Dishes in the Country” determined by user ratings. The latest? “The Top U.S. Foodie Destinations of 2020,” which recognizes five cities and one island for having exciting, dynamic food scenes, with one big winner.

To generate the winners, Yelp’s Data Science team looked at cities that had the highest ratings from visitors, as well as which restaurants and businesses in those cities the customers were loving. In the end, Asheville, North Carolina came out on top, which Yelp dubbed a “regional-food powerhouse” with a slew of restaurants, breweries, and food businesses “powered by generations-old family farms.” Portland, Oregon; Charleston, South Carolina; Maui and Honolulu in Hawaii; and New Orleans, Louisiana also made the list.

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If you’re planning on visiting Asheville soon, we’ve got a restaurant guide straight from Katie Button, a Food & Wine Best New Chef alum and chef-owner of two local restaurants, Button & Co. and Cúrate, her iconic Spanish tapas destination. She recommends ordering the croque madame at OWL Bakery, where the team smothers thick toast in mustard, ham, cheese, béchamel, dressed greens, and a soft-boiled egg. For a blowout meal, Cucina 24 has an affordable (and creative) tasting menu, she says. If it’s cured meat you want, your best bet is going straight to Cúrate—if you ask to buy any of their meats, the team will slice them and sell them to you at a special retail price.

We can also speak to the city’s beer scene—it’s home to an ambitious, experimental community of brewers who are making everything from wild peach lager to a Thai green curry-inspired beer. (Not to mention, some serve great food along with their brews, too.) These eight are our top picks: Bhramari Brewing Company, Brouwerïj Cursus Kĕmē, Burial Beer Company, Green Man Brewery, Highland Brewing, Wedge Brewing Company, and Zebulon Artisan Ales.

Previously, Yelp has also published the top 10 U.S. cities for food-lovers—in 2019, San Francisco topped the list.

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