Can Sioux Falls be a culinary hot spot?

Weekend three-course meals that explore various ethnic cuisines, exposed brick buildings, draft beer and wood beams, all of these images bring to mind the Brooklyn food scene. But this isn’t NYC – it’s the newly food-centric Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Online cooking school students may be surprised to hear that the little town of just 166,000 residents has been reborn as a culinary hot spot.

The first flavor
This Midwestern town used to be filled with fast food restaurants, but now the downtown area features over 660 dining establishments, and many of them have gourmet food in mind. It all started with a little Mediterranean-inspired place that seated only 80 people. Run by nutritionist and chef Sanaa Abourezk, Sanaa’s Gourmet Mediterranean got many of the locals buzzing about ethnic foods. Abourezk decided to open the restaurant when she had trouble acclimating to the small-town life in Sioux Falls after moving there from Damascus, Syria. Locals loved the food, and soon other chefs noticed the opportunities Sioux Falls could provide.

The full course
The group of chefs who have moved from big cities to open locally run spots in Sioux Falls even includes a “Top Chef” winner. Chris Hammer won the contest for “Top Chef Just Desserts” in 2011. He married a South Dakota resident and saw that the city was lacking a French pastry restaurant. He decided he would leave his work in Las Vegas for the small town, and his gamble has paid off. His bakery is called C.H. Patisserie and looks much like a cafe you would find in Paris.

“Since there wasn’t an upscale patisserie in town, I sensed an opportunity,” Hammer told the New York Times.

Other gourmet establishments in Sioux Falls include an upscale deli that serves farm-fresh meals made with local ingredients, as well as a specialty grocer called The Market. The Market offers many impressive items, but what makes it so remarkable is its listing of 400 wines. If the success of the major downtown restaurants is any indication, it is not only the chefs of Sioux Falls who are giving Sioux Falls a culinary name, but its the residents.

“The people here are suddenly talking about the ones they’ve tried and what they’re going to check out next,” Cory Myers, a Sioux Falls food blogger, told the source.

With food shows and apps available on every computer and handheld device for food lovers across the country, it is no wonder that even a small town in South Dakota can carry culinary weight.

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