usatoday.com – While it may seem like all the best restaurants are concentrated in big cities like New York, San Francisco and Portland, Ore., the suburbs surrounding certain metropolises are giving their adjacent cities a run for their money. From fine dining to fast casual to robust ethnic offerings, the suburbs often offer what the urban city can’t: space, parking and a table without a two-hour wait. Plus, there’s often a high concentration of family-owned businesses.
“One of the reasons the food scene of Alexandria, Va., [a suburb of Washington, D.C.] is so exciting is the fact that many of the restaurants here are family-owned small businesses,” says Meghan (Megg) Baroody, who owns counter service eggroll eatery Meggrolls. “And a lot of them are owner operated, so you’re getting a direct connect to the passion behind each concept.”
Baroody operated Meggrolls food truck that roamed Northern Virginia for several years before settling on her native Alexandria to open the brand’s first brick-and-mortar store in 2017.
“Alexandria provides a similar variety in cuisine and service [to Washington, D.C.], but with a more intimate, relaxed vibe,” Baroody says. “When you’re here, you notice a small-town feel that’s sort of a refreshing change of pace compared to the hustle of D.C. There’s a slight urban vibe in Alexandria, but it’s paired with some serious small-town charm.”
That sentiment rings true in other suburban cities, like Armonk, N.Y., a hamlet 38 miles north of New York City. Known for its farm-to-table fare and roster of chefs that have spent time learning from some of NYC’s best, Armonk is a sleepy enclave packed with top-quality restaurants.
Moving south, Atlanta is a capital of Southern food that has garnered more than 60 James Beard Award semifinalist nominations in the last five years. Its surrounding suburbs gladly absorb its overflow, including stylish Buckhead town, known for its art and shopping scene — and its food. The suburb even has a few food award nominees of its own.
When you think of food, Orlando may not be the first Florida city that comes to mind, but it has become more of a foodie destination thanks in no small part to the suburb of Winter Park, Fla., just north of the city. From acclaimed barbecue to third wave coffee shops to James Beard Award-nominated chefs, Winter Park is the foodie hub of Orlando.
In the Midwest, Detroit has been slowly but surely becoming a culinary powerhouse over the last five years. But locals have known for decades that the suburb of Dearborn, Mich., (conveniently on the way to the Detroit Metro Airport) has amazing restaurants, thanks in no small part to it being home to the largest proportion of Arab Americans in the country. Immigrants from countries including Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Palestine live in Dearborn, and many have opened up restaurants serving the food of their native countries, making the suburb an extremely delicious place to be.
Seeing that my family is from Detroit this is no surprise to me but i’m happy their starting to get some recognition. I told the story about how Leer, Chris and myself went on a Saturday night foodie crawl stopping at no less then 6 different establishments in about a 2 hour span. It was so fat and glorious that I’m smiling while typing this, I think it’s time for a part 2 of this and this time i’ll make sure to document the journey.