Asymmetrical Information - Megan McArdle

02.01.13

Friday Forum: What's the Most Underrated City?

The best place to work or visit that no one knows about is . . .

A propos of an article about DC, wherein Cindy Adams discovers to her horror that there are poor, somewhat dirty neighborhoods in our nation's capital, Matt Yglesias tweets: "NYC journos’ constant DC-dissing is weirdly insecure; DC writers don’t feel the need to rag on random much-smaller cities."

I snarked back "You know what sucks?  Omaha!"  But this is a lie.  Omaha has very good steaks (though not, alas, as Warren Buffett's favorite steakhouse).  It has a charming, if limited, little downtown.  And it has my favorite whiskey bar in the United States.  I won't lie, Omaha: that habit y'all have of slowing down to let me merge made me very nervous until I realize that you weren't trying to carjack me.  But otherwise it's a charming place.  

In fact, there are very few cities I don't like.  There are places I wouldn't want to live, because my tastes incline more to Victorian row houses than spacious lawns and swimming pools.  But there is no city I actually want to rag on.  

So I was going to ask reader what their least favorite city was.  But then I thought, that's mean and negative, not at all the sort of thing with which I want to start off the new year.  

So instead: what's the most underrated city, either to live in or to visit?  Restaurant suggestions are heartily encouraged.  

DC, my chosen home, is alas not an underrated city.  The food is slowly improving, but only at massive cost.  No, I don't mean "the environment" or "longstanding local businesses"; I just mean the price of the food.  What's good here costs more than its equivalent in New York City.  What isn't good isn't even all that cheap, etiher.  The arts are overrated, but the real estate is bubbling like the witch's cauldron in MacBeth.  I love my city.  But judging by real estate prices, people are all too aware of its charms.

So my candidate is Detroit: cheap hotels, a lovely, convenient airport, and plenty of great food.   Also decent music, museums, and (in the summer) waterfront strolling.  A long weekend there is my idea of a great holiday.

What about y'all?  Where's the most underrated place to visit or live? The more obscure, the better.