Thibodaux ranks 2nd in the country in small-town dining scene

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USA Today confirmed this past week what locals already knew: this area is one of the best places in the country to grab a delicious bite to eat with family and friends.

The famous national newspaper’s “10 Best” series takes different aspects of society and ranks some of the places around the country that excel in certain areas. Recently, they named the small towns in the country that have the best dining scene — based on a question from a reader who requested the list.

Thibodaux ranked No. 2 in the country for its food scene — the only small town in Louisiana to earn a place on the nationwide list.

Locals eating lunch at various eateries in the city on Wednesday afternoon were not surprised at the honor for the city.

“That’s why it’s a great place to live,” Thibodaux native Ann Guidry said, while her half-eaten seafood poboy from Spahr’s Restaurant sat in her plate. “The food is terrific. Every, single day here, you can eat like a King or Queen. That’s just our way of life.”

USA Today hires a panel of five experts to come up with 20 nominees nationwide for each of its 10 Best lists.

Once the nominees are set, the actual Top 10 is determined by a popular vote.

To qualify as a “small town,” an area must have a population of fewer than 35,000 people, per 10 Best criteria. They said they also were looking for chef-driven restaurants, unique local flavors and variety — despite the small size of the area.

In listing Thibodaux for the competition, the panel of experts cited the city’s local flare and diverse offerings.

“The town of Thibodaux, situated in Southeast Louisiana’s Bayou Country, is an excellent jumping off point for exploring local flavors on the state’s Cajun Bayou Food Trail,” the excerpt reads.

The experts list Bubba’s II Poboys, Spahr’s Downtown, Bourgeois Meat Market and Fremin’s as local favorites.

Thibodaux ranked just behind Abingdon, Virginia as the top small-town dining scene in the country.

The city’s power position in the list goes along with the opinions of several prominent people who host events in the city and laud Thibodaux’s cuisine.

The Biddy Basketball International U8 boys’ basketball tournament is hosted annually in Thibodaux — a showcase for parents, coaches and some of the best players around the Southeast.

Biddy Basketball National Director Firmin Simms has said repeatedly over the years that one of the reasons why they continue to come back to Thibodaux is because of the hospitality in the city.

“It’s all here,” Simms said, pointing out toward the downtown area. “You can eat some of the best food in the world here. You can meet some of the best people in the world here. You can do it all without getting in the car. There is so much to do in such a small area — all walking distance. It makes it easy for us.”

The famous Manning family agrees.

Like the Biddy International Tournament, The Manning Passing Academy is hosted every summer in Thibodaux on the campus of Nicholls State University.

Each summer, hundreds of the best football players in the country ascend to Thibodaux. And, like clockwork, the campers all fall in love with what the city has to offer.

“I may not even know what it is that I’m eating, but it’s delicious,” said Andrew Luck, a former Stanford quarterback and now Indianapolis Colts star quarterback during his time as a camp counselor. “Everything we’ve had here has been tremendous.”

“I could talk for 20 minutes about the food,” added national sports analyst Charles Davis. “I may need to get fitted for some new clothing before the week is through.” •


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