How a diverse culinary scene bolsters tourism in Huntsville

single-meta-cal August 9, 2017

Huntsville Restaurant Week is happening August 11-20, and for those who love to dig into unique culinary experiences, it’s one of the best times of the year.

Huntsville Restaurant Week is a 10-day celebration of our local dining scene – and there’s plenty to celebrate. Unique dining experiences are enjoyed by both locals and visitors, and they provide an activity that can be indulged in year-round, regardless of the season.

In fact, food service is continually one of the top categories of travel expenditures. According to a recent report from the U.S. Travel Association, in 2016 travelers spent $248.5 billion on food services, which accounted for 25 percent of total travelers’ spending.

That’s a lot of dough.

Pun intended.

In terms of travel and tourism, a destination’s identity – its “brand,” if you will – is closely tied to its culinary landscape.

For example, what’s one of the first things that comes to mind when you think of Memphis, Tennessee? Barbecue.

New Orleans? Beignets and gumbo.

Philadelphia? Can’t leave without trying a Philly cheesesteak.

So, the million dollar question… what is Huntsville known for? What’s our “trademark food” that visitors look forward to marking off their bucket list when they arrive? Do we have one? Do we necessarily need one?

These questions will most likely be answered differently by each and every person you ask.

Why is that? Because Huntsville is, of course, a city rich in Southern history. You won’t get far without passing by a barbecue house, an old-school diner serving up a piping hot meat-and-three, or a café with pie so flaky, perfect and sweet you’ll write home about it.

But… we are also the Rocket City. We have a space line instead of a sky line. We helped put man on the moon, and ever since, we’ve bucked tradition in more ways than one.

To be the Rocket City, to be a city with the country’s second-largest research park, to be named one of the world’s smartest cities, you have to have a diverse population. Huntsville’s strong STEM industry has brought together brilliant minds from all over the globe – men and women, of all different nationalities, ethnicities, backgrounds and cultures.

This diversity is brought to the forefront in Huntsville’s dining scene.

Korean, Thai, Mexican, Jamaican, Persian, Indian, German, Irish, Japanese, Chinese, Greek, Italian… these are all types of fare that are represented in the Rocket City. (And that’s just scratching the surface!) One more bonus? Most of the establishments are locally owned or operated.

So maybe Huntsville’s claim to culinary fame doesn’t lie in a single signature dish, but rather the unique opportunity for locals and visitors to try a multitude of signature dishes all in one place.

When visitors travel to Huntsville, they can grab a kabob with their casserole, a sushi roll with their rack of barbecue ribs, or a gyro with their country ham.

They can explore an entire world of cuisine, all in one city – because this is Huntsville, and exploration is what we’re known for.

For a list of participating restaurants, special events, and other details on Huntsville Restaurant Week, visit