How can a city that has over three million people and thousands of restaurants not qualify as the best food city in a state?

That's what I was telling myself when I was reading Mediafeed's Best Food City in Every State list.

Photo by Eaters Collective on Unsplash
Photo by Eaters Collective on Unsplash

As I was scrolling through, I more than expected to see Chicago represented. I thought, "Well, maybe there's an outside chance they pick a low-key awesome food city like Rockford but what are the chances of that happening?"

So as I make my way through the list, I saw something strange, California's top food city wasn't Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Oakland. It wasn't even Sacramento. California's best food city was Ukiah. I have no idea where that city or town is but I immediately started thinking Illinois' might not actually be Chicago.

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Turns out I was right. Illinois' best food city isn't Chicago, at least according to Mediafeed, but Ottawa.

Say what? Ottawa, Ottawa? Like Ottawa in LaSalle County, Ottawa? Like population less than 20,000 Ottawa?


Mediafeed says Ottawa's "Foodie Score" is 41% higher than the state average, and the food and dining price index is at about a 68.

Google Maps
Restaurants in Ottawa, IL. Credit: Google Maps

Ah, now I understand. The lower cost of food matched with higher enthusiasm for dining out is the reason why Ottawa was ranked as the best food city in Illinois.

Turns out, people will have more taste for going out to eat if 1. the food is good, and 2. you're not getting gouged on price.

You can't always get that in Chicago. Most of the time you'll be likely to get one of the two.

Bianchi's Pizza in Ottawa, IL Credit: Google Maps
Bianchi's Pizza in Ottawa, IL Credit: Google Maps

So it seems, Ottawa manages to do both. Have you ever ate in Ottawa before? What's your favorite restaurant?

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