Hey, Los Angeles, want to know a really good food city? How about Carmel-by-the-Sea?

Russ Parsons
The California Cook
Conde Nast Traveler's newest reader survey leaves Los Angeles off the list of great eating cities

Conde Nast Traveler’s readers may be seriously out to lunch, but it won’t be at Providence, Mozza or any other Los Angeles restaurant.

In its annual readers’ choice survey, the magazine asked participants to rank their favorite American cities for eating. Los Angeles didn’t make the Top 20.

“This year, we were surprised by some of the winners in our Top 20,” the magazine chirps on its website. “We think you will be too.”

Uh, yeah. “Surprised.” That’s not quite the word I was looking for.

Clicking through the list, what started as surprise quickly turned into astonishment. OK, sure, New York as No. 1. Ho hum. Even Traveler admits that “it's no surprise that New York landed in the No. 1 spot on our readers' list of America's top food cities. This is, after all, a city of culinary experts and of culinary upstarts. It's the foodie mecca where other chefs come to learn to be chefs, and where regular citizens learn to be food critics.”

Napa as No. 2? Seriously? Sure, there’s the French Laundry and the rest of the Keller-plex in Yountville. Meadowood is good, too. But after that? Much as I love Model Bakery, that’s going a little too far.

San Francisco (of course), Charleston, S.C. (loved “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” but …), New Orleans (OK, can live with that, too), Chicago (much better than most people realize).

But then it just gets goofy. In fact, you can click through all 20 of the favorite restaurant cities and you won’t find Los Angeles anywhere.

Carmel-by-the-Sea as the seventh-best eating city in America? “This coast city's quaint downtown area is a perfectly walkable size, which means you can cover a lot of ground (and some notable restaurant newcomers) in just one weekend.” In other words, there’s not much there, so you can enjoy it?

And then Santa Fe? Healdsburg? Boston, for crying out loud. Aspen? This is getting really silly. Portland (Maine! Not Oregon), Telluride, Naples, Fla.!

The crowning insult? San Diego made the list and Los Angeles didn’t. San Diego? You’ve really got to wonder how much Conde Nast Travelers actually, well, travel. And certainly what they eat when they get there.

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