The Manual Awards 2018

the manual awards 2018

Unlike TV, film, and the internet would like us to believe, there really is an America that exists outside of the major urban conglomerations of the East, West, and Southern Coasts. These towns and cities in the “other America” are just as cool, collected, and cultured as hipster Brooklyn and overpriced San Francisco.

From Houston to Boston to Minneapolis to Milwaukee, urban areas across the country are experiencing a rebirth and revitalization in arts, food, and culture that only a decade ago would have been unimaginable. With flourishing social scenes and booming economies, each of these cities is a destination equal to the LAs and NYCs of the world. For this year’s edition of The Manual Awards, we highlight the best restaurants, coffee shops, local brands, breweries, and more in each of these seven destination cities.

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Houston, Texas

houston, texasHailing from South Texas originally, Managing Editor Nicole Raney provides all the details on the very best of the most populated state’s most populated city: Houston. With the horrors of Hurricane Harvey still on many American minds, it’s up to The Manual to impress upon the people of this country that there’s more to this city than disaster; Houston is back and better than ever. From finger-licking, no-frills barbecue at Killen’s to the upscale and refined Manready Mercantile (winner of best local brand), Houston’s laid-back and welcoming atmosphere, combined with all the options of a world-class city, make it a true standout in the American South.

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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You might not expect it from a reportedly decrepit, Rust Belt city, but Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a pretty happening place. Writer Amanda Gabriele attests to that with her choices for the best of the best of the Steel City. When the greatest watering hole in town is a Tiki bar, and the best local brand is a bow tie manufacturer, critics of Pittsburgh will turn head and realize that this vibrant, 21st-century city will not square with their outdated vision of it from the 20th. From craft brewing, Italian eateries, and SUPing on the city’s three rivers, Pittsburgh has more than enough for a relaxing weekend away. Pay a visit this summer and prepare to be impressed.

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Louisville, Kentucky

manual awards 2018 tm louisville kentucky webThere’s more to Louisville than just horse-racing and bourbon. But, if we’re being honest (and Food and Drink Editor Sam Slaughter always is), these are reason enough on their own to visit Louisville. However, Slaughter encourages you to break out of the horse-racing and whiskey-drinking carousel and head further afield for a bit more culture and nuance. Check out Louisville’s best barbershop (aptly named Beards and Beers) and catch a straight-razor shave followed by a spin down the Ohio River on the Belle of Louisville boat tour. But whatever you do, don’t leave the city without checking out Bourbon Barrel Foods and the terrifyingly-named, but ultimately excellent Apocalypse Brew Works. See, we told you there was more than bourbon in Louisville–there’s beer, too!

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Boston, Massachusetts

manual awards 2018 tm boston massachusetts webAs travel writer Mike Richard notes in his picks for the best of Beantown, Boston is more American than any other city in the country (yes, even you, Philadelphia). Because of its patriotic reputation, it may come as a surprise to some that the city’s best restaurant is a Japanese-Peruvian fusion restaurant called Ruka, but Bostonians will tell you this sort of cultural blending and fusion occurs everywhere in this almost 400-year-old city. Don’t believe us? The best barbershop in the city, Boston Barber and Tattoo Co., will not only will give you a cut and shave, it’ll give you some fresh ink too. Now that’s what we call ‘doing double-duty.’

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Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Located squarely in Minnesota’s Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minneapolis is, according to Sam Slaughter, a can’t-miss American travel destination for 2018. With best local brands like Red Wing Shoes, great restaurants that offer up “amusements” with each course, and a barbershop whose mascot is a pit bull called Bertha Mae, Minneapolis stands head and shoulders above its twin city across the river. And thanks to its vibrant, unique, and ever-expanding culture and economy, it looks like it will stay that way for the foreseeable future. So head to the city at the head of the Mississippi this summer and spend some time in the Upper-Midwest’s mecca of cool.

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Athens, Georgia

manual awards 2018 tm athens georgia webEditor-in-Chief Cator Sparks wants you to know that Athens, Georgia, is more than just a Southern college town. The city has come a long way since its days as an alternative music mecca, with new restaurants, shops, and bars popping up every year. Make a reservation at one of chef Hugh Acheson’s restaurants and you won’t be disappointed. Follow that up with a trip to Local Bar, where you can wet your whistle while waiting on a delivery from Atomic Pizza next door. After your midnight snack, hit the hay, because you’ve got a long day of hiking the gorgeous Oconee Forest Park ahead of you. Athens is a place for relaxation, rest, and maybe a little light reading — if only to please its namesake.

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Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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According to Associate Editor Chase McPeak, there’s more to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, than just beer, cheese, and funny accents. Okay, most of the appeal is in the beer, cheese (our fave shop is a cheese market!), and funny accents, but seriously, there’s so much more. With a heaping helping of excellent restaurants, gourmet coffee shops, surprisingly-well curated museums (including Harley-Davidson’s), and a prime locale directly on Lake Michigan, Milwaukee is a true Midwestern sleeper hit. What makes it even better? Tons of yearly festivals and a little something called STIHL Timbersports Lumberjack Competition. What else can you expect from a city at the edge of the Great Northern Woods. Timber!

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