You make an excellent case for the Rustbelt, but the South would still be my #1 choice. Growing up with a Southern mother and grandmother, I love that type of cooking. And then you consider that the best barbecue is from the South, well…. The Rustbelt and New England would be in close competition for my second choice.
I also liked that you included Pittsburgh in with the Midwest cities. Even though Pennsylvania is considered in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic, Pittsburgh is more of a Midwest city. It has much more in common with Milwaukee, Indianapolis and Cincinnati than it does with Philly, New York or Washington, D.C.
By the way, the Pirate game was so long last night (15 innings), that I had time to eat two Primanti sandwiches at PNC Park!