Our readers are fiercely proud of our region’s , and when it comes to the , it is one of our most contested categories. This year, many of our made return appearances, but we were also pleasantly surprised to see some new tiny tastemaking towns make it into our top ten. St. Augustine, Florida, worked its way from the bottom to be our overall champion with their ever-burgeoning food scene anchored by restaurants like Preserved, which shows off the wealth of local ingredients in a modern way in the country’s oldest city. Last year’s winner, , Mississippi, dropped into second place, but not by much, a testament to its nationally acclaimed food community. And tiny towns like Kinston and Davidson demonstrate that it’s not how many restaurants make a dining scene, but how great they are at serving a community and a purpose. See which towns made the list, and which spot might take first place next year. Travel and Culture Editor Hannah Hayes tells you where to explore in each one.

1. St. Augustine, Florida

Where to go: Preserved, The Ice Plant, The Hyppo, The Floridian

2. Oxford, Mississippi

Where to go: St. Leo, Snackbar, Oxford Canteen, City Grocery

3. Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina

Where to go: Graze, Grace and Grit, Bon Banh Mi

4. Charlottesville, Virginia

Where to go: MarieBette, Lampo, The AlleyLight

5. Kinston, North Carolina

Where to go: The Chef and the Farmer, Benny’s Big Time, Boiler Room Oyster Bar

6. Fredericksburg, Texas

Where to go: Pontotoc Vineyard Weingarten, Otto’s, Emma + Ollie

7. Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

Where to go: Cajun Claws, Maison Madeleine, Joie de Vivre Café

8. Winter Park, Florida

Where to go: 4 Rivers Smokehouse, Prato, Luma on Park

9. Brunswick, Georgia

Where to go: Indigo Coastal Shanty, Southern Soul Barbeque, Jerk Shack

10. Davidson, North Carolina

Where to go: Kindred, Hello Sailor, The Pickled Peach