LAFAYETTE — Rand McNally has named Lafayette the best city for food in its “Best of the Road” competition.
The award, announced Thursday, means Lafayette will be featured in Friday’s edition of USA Today, in the 2013 Rand McNally Road Atlas, and on the website http://www.bestoftheroad.com.
Lafayette beat out five other American cities in the “Best for Food” category.
Lafayette was the only city in Louisiana nominated.
Jim and Bonnie Parr, who judged the food category, visited Lafayette earlier this month on a road trip that also included stops in Addison, W.Va.; Burnsville, Minn.; Costa Mesa, Calif.; Visalia, Calif.; and Gulfport, Fla.
The winning cities were announced in New Orleans at the Destination Marketing Associations International Conference.
The Parrs spent about 40 hours in Lafayette and visited more than 10 local restaurants, according to a news release.
The couple’s biggest surprise: flavor not spice.
“True Cajun food is flavorful — but not overly spicy. Too much spice covers the flavors of the food,” the Parrs were quoted as saying in USA Today, which co-sponsored the event.
Lafayette also stood out for its connection to its food, USA Today reported.
“At every meal, the main goal seemed to be introducing people to Cajun cooking and the history behind it,” the couple was quoted as saying. “And we could work off the calories with zydeco dancing.”
Lafayette Convention and Visitors Center Executive Director Gerald Breaux said in a statement that the quality of the city’s local restaurants is one of the main reasons people visit.
“Now we have the bragging rights to back it up,” Breaux said.
Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel singled out Chef Patrick Mould, who served as the couple’s personal chef during their stay, along with others “for helping us show the judges what great food Lafayette has to offer.”
“The exposure that winning this award will give to our restaurants and to our tourism industry over the next several years will be wonderful,” Durel said in a statement. “Once again, we are glad that the rest of the country has an opportunity to learn what we already know, Lafayette has the best food around.”