The 10 Best College Towns for True Foodies


College towns are often more well known for their hole-in-the-wall joints than their culinary hotspots, but there are several college towns that are an oasis for lovers of great food. Thanks to culinary schools, increasing interest in farm-to-table dining, and pairings with local beer, wine, and spirits, these college towns are great places for foodies to study and enjoy good food. Check out our picks, listed in no particular order, for the best foodie college towns, and be sure to share your favorite in the comments.

  1. Walla Walla, Wash.:

    Nestled in between Seattle and Portland, the home of Whitman College and Walla Walla University also happens to be an incredible wine and food destination. There are more than 100 wineries in the Walla Walla Valley, and Walla Walla Community College offers an associate degree in wine making and grape growing through its own commercial winery, College Cellars. In addition to the growing wine scene, town favorites like the fish tacos at the Green Lantern college pub make Walla Walla a great place to eat, drink, and of course, study.

  2. Boulder, Colo.:

    Walla Walla may have wine, but the foothills college town of Boulder certainly has a lot of beer to satisfy University of Colorado students. As a state, Colorado ranks 4th nationally in craft breweries per capita, and many of those are located in the Boulder area, including Avery Brewing Company and Twisted Pine Brewing Company. But it’s not just the beer that makes Boulder a great food town: a focus on healthy living, fresh foods including seasonal local ingredients, and vegetarian-friendly dining really make it a unique place to catch a great meal.

  3. Portland, Maine:

    This New England town, home of University of New England, is simply one of the best places to enjoy fresh seafood. Lobsters, oysters, scallops, mussels, and cod are all plentiful in this seaside town, and Portland serves up losts of them. The local visitor’s bureau reports that per capita, more money is spent in Portland restaurants than any other city (short of San Francisco and New York). It’s no wonder, considering that Portland ranks among the top U.S. cities in restaurants and bars per capita, many of which cater to niche markets. Like Boulder, the Maine town is also host to many notable breweries and brewpubs, including Allagash Brewing Company and Shipyard Brewing Company.

  4. Austin, Texas:

    The Texas capital and home base of the University of Texas has a fun and funky food scene that leaves students, politicians, locals, and tourists satisfied. Popular local food trucks gather at “trailer parks” to dish up everything from tacos to gourmet donuts, and the BBQ in Austin is nothing short of legendary. Long known as a drinking town, Austin is home to a trifecta of craft cocktails, an exploding craft beer scene, and close proximity to Texas hill country wineries to complement food offerings that are cutting edge and often, charmingly weird.

  5. Providence, R.I.:

    Another coastal New England college town that’s great for student foodies is Providence, Rhode Island. This small town is big on education, with Brown University, Johnson & Wales University, and the Rhode Island School of Design, to name a few. But it’s big on food, too, with a great “boat-to-table” seafood culture that offers fresh catches at some of the best restaurants in the country. And thanks to the world-renowned College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University, students can enjoy both food and learning at the same time.

  6. Louisville, Ky.:

    Wine and beer may be the beverage darlings in the foodie world, but in this Kentucky college town, bourbon takes center stage with the Urban Bourbon trail that takes whiskey lovers on a tour full of whiskey-infused sauces, desserts, and other culinary delights. Sullivan University’s culinary school has had a lot to do with Louisville’s rise as a foodie town, as it has a farm-to-table program and excellent local farmers’ markets.

  7. Wichita, Kan.:

    Wichita, Kansas is the home of Wichita State University as well as the loose-meat sandwich created by local fast-food chain Nu Way Cafe. Plus, a growing food truck culture means WSU students can find a great meal on the go. Students craving something sweet don’t have to go far to find satisfaction: Wichita is home to two great candy makers, Cero’s Candy and Cocoa Dulce.

  8. Eugene, Ore.:

    In Eugene, Oregon, you’ll find not only the University or Oregon, but also what’s been called an “organic paradise.” Eugene has the longest-standing farmers’ market in the U.S., a huge collection of wineries, and a focus on slow food. Plus, there’s a virtually endless supply of organic restaurants, artisan chocolates, and pinot noir for student foodies to enjoy.

  9. Kansas City, Mo.:

    Kansas City is most famous for its legendary steak and barbeque, and has been crowned as a “world capital of barbeque” thanks to its unique style and preparation. But KC is surprisingly well-rounded, offering University of Missouri and DeVry University students plenty of options off the grill. Fried chicken dinners, hot cinnamon rolls, and even apple cider donuts are some of the treats that are available to foodies in this college town.

  10. Asheville, N.C.:

    Asheville has begun to call itself “Foodtopia,” a title that is well deserved thanks to a great farm-to-table scene, farmers markets, award-winning chefs, gourmet shops, and numerous breweries. Students at Warren Wilson College are able to regularly enjoy locally-grown, seasonal cuisine that’s not only good, but good for them. And we’re sure that the city’s five annual beer festivals are well attended by students as well.

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