Durham voted ‘Tastiest Town in the South’

Southern Living magazine contest winner won most reader votes among 10 cities
Apr. 09, 2013 @ 08:55 PM

The votes are in, and Durham has been named Southern Living magazine’s Tastiest Town in the South. More than half a million votes were cast from mid-January through February for the magazine’s contest between 10 Southern food locales. Memphis, Tenn., was runner-up.
The Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau made the announcement Tuesday morning. Jennifer Cole, a features editor at Southern Living, said Durham was named to the 10 competitors because of its tie to the land and a variety of price points offered for dining, from food trucks to restaurants like Nana’s. Cole, who serves on the James Beard Foundation Award committee, noted that Nana’s chef-owner Scott Howell was recently a Beard award nominee.
The article about Durham will be featured in the May issue of Southern Living, on newsstands April 19. Or read it online now at www.southernliving.com/tasty. The headline under “Durham, NC” says: “A scrappy scene of artisans devoted to coffee beans, brews, and the craft of humble foods.” Local places to eat and drink mentioned in the article include Fullsteam Brewery, Geer Street Garden, Pizzeria Toro, Scratch Bakery, Nana’s, Counter Culture Coffee, Cocoa Cinnamon, Monuts Donuts and Mateo Bar de Tapas.
Geer Street Garden owner Andy Magowan said Durham had the most dedicated voters in the competition.
“I think it’s really cool and Durham deserves it,” Magowan said. “I’m heartened and happy for Durham. I think Durham is a great town for dining, and there are a lot of options. I like that it hasn’t gotten precious yet – there’s very little pretention about it,” he said.
Fullsteam Brewery owner Sean Lilly Wilson said he knew the voting was close with Memphis, and it was exciting and fun to watch. He doesn’t look at it as just another notch for Durham.
“I’m really proud of Durhamites and non-Durhamites recognizing accomplishments over decades,” Wilson said. It was the hard work of pioneers over several years, he said, and didn’t happen overnight. Considering the other cities Durham was competing with, the voting “shows the spirit of Durham” coming together to win, Wilson said. There’s such optimism in the food and drink scene in Durham, he said.
Durham County Board of Commissioners Chairman Fred Foster said he was proud as a peacock about the accolade, and thinks the impact will be felt for years to come. “Now we have an opportunity to make a big difference,” Foster said.
Southern Living has 3 million subscribers. The South’s Tastiest Towns contest was first held last year, with Lafayette, La., as the winner. Others in the running this year included Asheville; Miami; New Orleans; Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Charleston, S.C.; Greenville, S.C.; and Louisville, Ky.
Durham Mayor Bill Bell said he hopes people come to Durham not only for entertainment at the Durham Performing Arts Center, but also now just for the restaurants.
DCVB CEO Shelly Green said they’ll try to engage people who love to eat to come to Durham. The Tastiest Town logo will be used in Durham marketing materials.
Cole said the criteria for the 10 Tastiest Towns included the community food scene, food event, and rising talent and recognitions.