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Poll: Thinking of moving

I'm doing a lot of research on cities I would like to relocate to and I'm wondering which of these cities wins the food category?? We like a wide variety of cuisines and I would love to live in a city that has a great variety of delicious foods. The cities that we are considering are:

Albuquerque, NM
Santa Fe, NM
Flagstaff, AZ
Denver, CO
Colorado Springs, CO
Portland, OR
Kansas City, MO
Austin, TX

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    1. i don't see charleston, sc on that list. ;-)).

      6 Replies
      1. re: alkapal

        Yeah, what's up with no Charleston? lol. I've lived lots of places and never ate better than I did there! The hardest part was keeping myself in decent enough shape to go to the beach without a big food belly!
        How nice that the OP gets to chose where that want to live, I'm at that stage in life where the location kind of choses me. Earthtokarmen, best of luck deciding!

        1. re: alkapal

          I don't see SF, Paris or Hong Kong either. But that's not the question.

            1. re: alkapal

              somebody had a bad yesterday.......twice

              1. re: fourunder

                perhaps you are right......
                ha ha, when do chowhounds ever answer THE question? usually...but...sometimes we try to have some fun.

                sorry to peterL.

                1. re: fourunder

                  Agreed that it wasn't the question. Anytime I see Charleston, I have to promote--I just loved it that much :D And hey, maybe that list of cities is not totally firmed up yet. Ya never really know...

          1. On your list, I've only been to Austin, and I found it to be pretty good. I have a friend who recently visited Portland, OR and he said it was great. With my limited knowledge of the other cities on your list, I would say Kansas City if you like BBQ or Beef. any of the others if you like SoutWestern-Tex-Mex fare.

            Charleston is a great food town as the others have mentioned.

            1. I'd have to eliminate all your smaller towns and Albq/SF first. That leaves KC, Portland and Denver + Austin, but you're in SA so you have some idea. That leaves Denver, KC, and Portland, so that begs a question as to what you mean by wide variety. Historic or new? Beard nominees or street food? All 3 have a thriving food culture. Portland would be the most different from SA, where I see you're from. KC it seems you've been to.
              Give us the next clue.

              1 Reply
              1. re: bbqboy

                I love Mexican food in San Antonio but I don't find the variety that I am looking for.
                I used to live in Kansas City and love all of the little restaurants that are sprinkled throughout and LOVE Kansas City BBQ but I wouldn't expect to find that anywhere else :D

                1. re: cookingasshole

                  One thing that would hold me back from choosing Portland.....the amount of rain they receive annually.

                  1. re: fourunder

                    There is actually not that much rain in inches. It is just gray and misty most of the year. Downpours are uncommon.

                    1. re: cookingasshole

                      I went to college in Tucson, where they say there is 300 days of sunshine a year.......a friend, who originated from Portland, laughed when I told her that.....she said it rained in Portland 300 days a year...:)

                      1. re: fourunder

                        we definitely earn our two months of summer! After a while you get used to it.

                        1. re: fourunder

                          at least 300 days of sunshine. Lately it seems like 350. Not that I don't love it but we all get to wishing for a couple of weeks of solid, soaking rain.

                          1. re: EWSflash

                            The sun started to drive me crazy during my 4 years in Phoenix. Praying for rain isn't just a saying down there. :)

                        2. re: cookingasshole

                          I worry about the rain also, I like a lot of outdoors activities and I'm worried that Portland would be too damp for hiking and such but it sounds like you don't think its that way?

                            1. re: cookingasshole

                              Yes the culture in Portland is very outdoors, you almost feel guilty staying inside.

                              And to paraphrase a quote from a recent article I read There is no bad weather only bad clothes. It was a People Magazine article about a total outdoors kindergarten/preschool, I think on Vachon Island off of Seattle.

                    2. Of the cities I've been to, I'd rank them this way.

                      Kansas City

                      Denver, by the way, wins my award for best ice cream town on that list. FWIW.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        ooooh, we are outside of Boulder in the mountains and are making a rare trip to Denver. What would be your two top ice cream shops there?

                        I've only been to one in Denver...Splitz maybe or Lickity Splits.

                        Thank you!

                        [I just realized you were asking about food!!! Sorry for the long post, I've kind of truncated it to fit the topic...}

                        For cities, I don't like Denver because it seems to be in a hollow so that the smog resides just above the city, kind of yucky air. And, the industry is awfully close to the main part of the city. I do like the proximity to the rockies though which is where I live and where I play. if you are a climber, hiker, mountain biker, camper, fisher or sun-lover then you'll love it here. Just not sure you'd want to be in the city proper.

                        For Portland, yes, you do get used to the rain and the summers become some kind of magical, wonderful uber-summers. But, I had trouble finding a place to live that didn't have mildew. Geez, damp all the time! Consider a dehumidifier. I found Portland to be a lovely city that I miss. It has a clean and compact metro district, lots of boroughs and it is a college town so there is a lot of open thinking and diversity.

                        As far as food-wise, I'm hands-down Portland. maybe because I like the food trucks downtown, maybe just because I don't venture into Denver that often and tend to eat out in Boulder instead. I still haven't had crepes as good as the Snow White crepe truck in Portland...still looking.

                        Have fun checking into places and maybe do a job search to see what careers are hiring.

                        1. re: MinkeyMonkey

                          no, jobs wise, KC is doing better than Portland, don't know about Denver, but the OP didn't ask about work so I didn't include that parameter.
                          Oregon's weird tax structure(high income and property tax, no sales tax) is a double whammy during the recession. So bring a wheelbarrow full of cash and rent. :)

                      2. Portland with Sante Fe a distant second. While others have an occasional restaurant like 'The Fort' in Denver, or one good theme as beef BBQ in Austin or KC, for long term living, you would find it challenging to be happy foodwise if going to these cities, after time in NYC, SF, LA, Phila, or NO.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                          Actually Denver is more than just a steak town. It is really coming into it's own foodwise. It has a wide variety of restaurants from high-end to street food. To name a few...Rioja, Euclid Hall, TAG, Osteria Marco, Solera, Steubens, Bones, Biker Jim's Dogs, D Bar Desserts, Udi's, etc...not to mention the numerous mexican food & pho joints located throughout the city. It is also home of the Denver 5, which is a select group of Denver chefs who cook together throughout the year & cook at the James Beard house. Denver also is booming with craft breweries & is also home to Stranahan's wiskey. Denver has a ton of sunshine even in the middle of winter, is close to the mountains, has a major international airport, and the people tend to be friendly & helpful. While it's not NYC, LA, SF, NO, or philly, I doubt you would be bored exploring the culinary scene of Denver. Denver has some great farmer's markets and the street food vendors group together (Justice League of Street Food) at times and have a party featuring food, drinks & music.

                          1. re: jcattles

                            Thanks for your detailed response. I love that you mentioned the craft breweries, thats something we are interested in. Thanks again.

                            1. re: Earthtokarmen

                              You're welcome! Another nice thing about Denver is it's location. It's close to Boulder & Ft. Collins (home of quite a few microbreweries with more coming). Colorado Springs, Santa Fe, Albuquerque , & Flagstaff (all on your list) are less than a days drive away. Denver also has one of the best sushi restaurants in the country, Sushi Den, which flies it's fish in daily.
                              I've never been to Portland (wait does the airport count? lol), but the fresh seafood and the ability to grow a great garden would be a huge draw for me. You wouldn't be too far from Seattle & Vancouver (Pikes' Market & Poutine!!) either.

                        2. I say this with the utmost respect to the wonderful people of Albuquerque: Do not move there looking for delicious food. It has gotten a lot better in the last ten years but it's still light years away from somewhere like Portland.

                          Santa Fe has some nice restaurants, but I don't know that there's enough variety in the mid and lower levels on the price scale to warrant moving there for the food.

                          I've spent time in most of the cities on the list and I would have to say IMHO Portland is in its own league compared to the others. The more time I spend in Portland the more I think it's one of the best food cities in the country. Denver would take my #2 spot. Kansas City and Austin might not be bad choices if you really like to eat meat.

                          1. Flagstaff cannot be considered a food destination. It is a great town, but good restaurants are few and far between.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: 512window

                              Hmmm! Been to the Tinderbox? Flag is a college town and they run the gamut of dining places.

                              1. re: 4culiniarians

                                I have been to many many places in Flagstaff, including the Tinderbox. Compared to the other towns on the OPs list, Flagstaff doesn't rank.

                                Flagstaff has many other wonderful qualities, but I wouldn't think great restaurants are at the top of even the most ardent boosters list.

                                1. re: 512window

                                  Ditto 512window.

                                  Flagstaff is fine, but as a food destination? No.

                            2. You might consider Seattle; Vancouver BC gets thrown in for free. Two great seafood cities each with a great Chinatown and other rich diversity.

                              San Francisco an option? Honolulu?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                I agree, if I ever moved frm NJ it would be to Seattle. Great place, great food, wonderful culture, lots of public art all over, And Vancouver rocks as a food city.

                                1. Of all of those on the list, I'd go with Colorado Springs. For a town that size it is very diverse and you are only 70 or so miles fron Denver. Winters are a little cold but all in all it's a great town, been there many times, lot's of locally owned places to eat.

                                  1. Well, now that you've thrown in those qualifiers, definitely Portland. Ocean, mountains, mild climate, tons of people growing interesting things all around the state.
                                    Not just beer, but wine ,cheese and spirits too.
                                    If the rain gets to be too much, you can always come visit us in Ashland or head over to Bend.
                                    SF and Seattle aren't that far away either. :)
                                    You can find BBQ at Podnah's and K & Z's fresh Pastrami too!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: bbqboy

                                      Oh yeah the growing climate is amazing!!! The best food of grown I ever ever saw was Pike Market in Seattle, where local growers are given huge preference. Amazing, I love that place.

                                    2. Good things about Portland:

                                      Thriving and diverse food/street food culture
                                      Interesting neighborhoods with plenty to do
                                      Great surrounding areas with lovely day trips
                                      Easy access to urban/rural areas within a couple of hours
                                      I find it to have the interesting cultured vibe of Seattle, minus the tediously cliquish vibe of Seattle (and I have spent many years in Seattle, so it's like your kid brother, I can talk bad about it)
                                      The cost of living is high, but still not as high as the Puget Sound and can be very affordable if your willing to share housing. There is an abundance of shared housing available.
                                      The mass transit in Portland puts the rest of the region to shame.

                                      The bad news:

                                      If you are used to living some place with lots of sunny days it can be an adjustment. When they say it "rains" 300 days a year, it doesn't really mean what most people think of when they say rain. It means that on any given day, the odds of leaving your house to find a climate that's somewhat like sitting under a patio mister on a 50 degree day is pretty good. Some days it will honest to god dump buckets of water on your head. But probably less often here than most places. It will be grey. You will have days where you will wonder if it's ever going to get truly light again. You will understand why everyone drinks buckets of coffee, buys their clothing at the thrift store, dumpster dives for their furniture, and owns a $250 gore-tex water proof coat and a good pair of boots. You will develop an unnatural interest in qualities like "wicking." You will understand why it is considered totally reasonable why one might actually take a personal day because the sun is out.

                                      Which brings me to my last point:

                                      Do you have a trust fund? A home based business that is portable? Because the unemployment rate in Portland is... pretty bad. But the underemployment rate in Portland? Is legendary. Pretty much everyone I know has spent time in living Portland (not me, couldn't ever get a job and I have a pretty high-need job field) and pretty much every one I know is now back in WA. A number of people have made the trip two of three times because Portland really is great.

                                      It just seems like you're about to make a whimsical move, which I've done a couple times and had great success with every time. However, I always benefited from careful information gathering before hand and Portland,from a distance, always looks like a place where a person would be able to get a job, but everyone knows someone who is looking for a job and many of the jobs out there are part time.

                                      It's sort of a joke that part of the reason Portland can manage to be so very awesome and crafty and small business minded is that no one can afford to go out, everyone has plenty of time on their hands and it's not like anyone has to quit their job to start a business...

                                      But if you think you can handle they grey days in exchange for amazing summer weather and you've got the job situation covered, I'd say Portland is by far one of the best places in America to live.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: alitria

                                        alitria, you should be a professional travel writer! (maybe you are). you are informative, humorous, and this reader has a sense of sitting next to a good, knowledgeable friend who is giving me the lowdown.

                                        1. re: alkapal

                                          I'm not a travel writer, but oddly, it is the profession have always dreamed of having so I will take that as a huge compliment!

                                          Instead, I am just someone who was a transplant to the PNW so I feel like I am well equipped to comment on all the wonderful things about living here and the downsides (because every place on earth has them) that each person has to weigh.

                                      2. I've lived in Denver & Colorado Springs and frequent Albuquerque, Sante Fe and Flagstaff often for family & friends. Also have vacationed to Austin and Portland. Hands down, purely from a dining and food options perspective, Portland wins.
                                        There is incredible access to seasonal, sustainable produce, meats, fish, dairy as well as the local microbrews and wineries. There are an amazing variety of restaurants from food carts of every cuisine at just about every intersection to casual cafes to fine dining. The variety and quality make Portland the stand out among your options. Good luck!