Fargo draws rave reviews, defies expectations in recent New York Times article
New York Times freelance reporter Danielle Braff paid Fargo a visit over the summer. While Braff has visited some of the world's biggest cities, her time in Fargo exceeded expectations in more ways than one.
FARGO — Start spreading the news.
Showing it can truly make it anywhere, Fargo was the subject of a New York Times travel article which sung the praises of the city’s redeveloped downtown and other popular cultural, dining and shopping attractions.
The headline, “ Geez, Even Fargo Has Gone Upscale ,” speaks simultaneously to downtown’s renaissance as the city has attempted to fight off its reputation among outsiders as a small pin-drop in flyover country.
Freelance reporter Danielle Braff and her daughter Anya paid Fargo a visit over the summer and by all accounts the well-traveled duo left impressed. “We had plenty of expectations: It would be a very sleepy community that says “geez” in every sentence, has lots of diners and lots of farmers,” Braff wrote. “We were wrong about everything.”
Braff went on to summarize the recent investments in downtown Fargo before offering a roundup of several destinations familiar to locals.
Braff also sung the praises of Luna Fargo, 701 Eateries , BernBaum’s and Rosewild , with BernBaum’s receiving particularly high praise. “You may assume this wouldn’t be possible in Fargo, where the Jewish population is fewer than 1,000, and more likely closer to 400,” Braff wrote. “But as a Jewish New Yorker currently living in Chicago, I can now say that the best Jewish deli I’ve ever visited was BernBaum’s.”
Of course, no visit to Fargo would be complete without a trip to the visitor’s center to see the woodchipper from “Fargo,” the movie that — for better or worse — has played an integral role in shaping the city’s perception. The Braffs even took a trip west to Jamestown and marveled at the concrete bison outside the National Buffalo Museum.
Speaking with The Forum, Braff said she first heard of the new developments in Fargo through the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau. Looking for something off the beaten path, Braff and her daughter took the two-hour flight from Chicago for a visit. “I just thought it would be a cool place to explore,” she said. “I’m always looking for different articles than what’s usually out there.”
Braff had done “very little” research before her visit, but naturally “Fargo” provided much of her background knowledge. “I just thought, ‘This is going to be really fun and funny and we’re going to see something that we have never seen before,’” she recalled.
Fargo — with its tiny airport and few if any cars on the road — met Braff’s expectations right away. Ten minutes after getting behind the wheel of her rental car and driving downtown, that initial impression faded away. “We got to downtown and that was when everything changed,” she said. “We realized that this was not the Fargo we had envisioned.”
After her first visit, Braff remarked that Fargo can easily hold its weight with more prominent vacation destinations. “I was so impressed, especially with the restaurants. For a city that size to have such good restaurants, it was incredible,” she said. “I want those restaurants in Chicago.”
“The shopping was super fun. The attractions were great. I was just blown away,” she continued.
The big question though, would Braff come back to Fargo? Citing its accessibility, affordability and friendliness, her answer is yes. “I feel like we did it all now, but I would say in a few years it would be fun to come back and see what else Fargo has to offer,” she said. “I would love to come back with my husband next time.”
As reporter Tammy Swift has seen in a string of recent stories, however, that's far from the case. New businesses are finding big success in small towns, where unique incentives and creative use of space have helped launch a number of notable startups.
Tammy joins host Thomas Evanella to talk about her recent reporting, which you can find here: https://www.inforum.com/tammy-swift.