Bay Area burg beats Walla Walla for food town title

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WALLA WALLA — In the competition to find the best small town for food, San Mateo proved to be a cut above.

The California community beat Walla Walla for the title of Best Town for Food in the 2013 Best of the Road contest through Rand McNally.

Winners in that category and five others were announced online today.

Tourism Walla Walla officials were hoping for a second win in the contest. In 2011, the community was named Friendliest Small Town. That honor was followed up last year when Walla Walla was a finalist in the food category.

The annual competition seeks to find the best of the best off the beaten track. It looks for the Most Beautiful, Most Patriotic, Best Food, Friendliest, Most Fun and Best for Geocaching among communities with populations of 150,000 or fewer.

“We are very honored to have been considered one of the five finalists,” Tourism Walla Walla Executive Director Ron Peck said this morning.

Winning towns will receive a feature in the 2015 Rand McNally Road Atlas and a free custom iPhone app and online travel guide promoting the town as a top destination.

Sandwiched between San José and San Francisco, San Mateo is a dining destination for surrounding communities. Other competitors in the food category were Roseburg, Minn.; Galesburg, Ill.; and Charlottesville, Va.

Of Walla Walla, the judges said: “Talk about civic pride: this southeastern Washington State town won the Friendliest category in 2011 and was a 2012 finalist in this category. Folks rave about all the cafés, restaurants, bistros, pubs, wine-tasting rooms ... the list goes on. And, oh, yeah ... the community college has a culinary program, too.”

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