Those among us who love fine dining, or even not-so-fine dining, (or really dining of any kind, anywhere, at any time) have been given a title in recent years: foodie.
The term captures the essence of those who simply love eating — the diners who are always looking for new flavors, combinations, restaurants and possibly even a new city with a new culinary culture just waiting to be explored.
A recent WalletHub study compiled a list of the country’s most prolific foodie cities, rating each location on the basis of price and overall quality for 2019.
With many Americans opting to eat out rather than dine at home, having diverse options to choose from is important.
WalletHub’s study placed a heavy emphasis on cost-effectiveness when ranking these U.S. food hubs, taking into account the USDA’s latest report on food pricing, which projects rises in both grocery costs and restaurant prices.
With this in mind, the resulting list is the financially-savvy eater’s guide to the country’s top gourmet contenders.
To start, here are the top five.
5. Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles is famous for just about everything — so famous that it might be easy to overlook the fact that it boasts the fifth-best cuisine in the country.
According to LA Weekly, the metropolis is home to some of the nation’s best sushi, ramen and Thai food, though LA Weekly admits that the city is “founded” on Mexican food.
Because hundreds of celebrity foodies call the city home, Los Angeles restaurants also offer celebrity sightings in addition to fantastic food.
The city is listed as number 107 on the affordability spectrum, making it one of the pricier options overall, but makes up the difference in the quality, accessibility and diversity category at number 4.
4. San Francisco, California
Another Golden State city comes in at number four. The popular tourist hub is jam-packed with foodie favorites, such as bakeries and coffee shops, as well as brunch spots and grills. According to Yelp, the restaurant with the best view of the city is the aptly named View Lounge, an SF favorite.
The city by the bay is best known for signature seafood dishes such as cioppino, a seafood stew according to Matador, and clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl. Dozens of seafood restaurants line Fisherman’s Wharf, boasting creamy chowders and top-notch shellfish.
Also home to one of the country’s most successful chocolate companies, San Francisco offers diners with a sweet tooth a variety of specialty treats and sundaes just a short walk from the Wharf in Ghirardelli Square.
However, stingier foodies will be disappointed, as the city ranks 172nd when it comes to affordability.
3. Miami, Florida
This city offers diners scenery like no other. With waterfront views, the ambiance is as much a factor as the food — almost. Okay, not quite. But still, there’s nothing like a Florida sunset while you’re enjoying a stone crab or two. The most famous place for seafood lovers to pick up this Miami delicacy is at Joe’s Stone Crab, according to Eater Miami.
In addition to its wide variety of seafood options, the city is also known for its Latin American fare.
Cuban cuisine is a Miami signature, but other influences have found their way into the foodie circles, too.
Everything from Haitian restaurants to classic American watering holes like Stubborn Seed pepper the streets of number three on the list.
Beating out some of the other top contenders when it comes to affordability, Miami ranks 123rd.
2. New York, New York
The Big Apple is known as one of the cultural hubs of the U.S., and its foodie culture is no exception. An eclectic assortment of signature styles has sprung up out of New York City since its beginning — everything from Manhattan clam chowder to Waldorf Salad, to New York-style pizza, bagels, cheesecake and pastrami.
Another magical thing about the city that never sleeps is that excellent take-out is available nearly 24/7. Whether diners are in the mood for Chinese, Ukranian, or American, the options are close to limitless.
According to WalletHub, the city ranks at number 175 in terms of affordability, making it one of the most expensive places for diners out of the 182 locations evaluated.
1. Portland, Oregon
Known for its food carts, coffee and gourmet donuts, it’s no surprise that this culinary city ranks number one.
Stumptown is famous for its diverse assortment of cuisine across a wide range of ethnicities and styles, with plenty of alternative options for vegetarians and vegans.
The city is listed as 13th in terms of affordability by WalletHub’s standards, making it by far the cheapest in the top five. The city makes up for some of its higher prices with overall quality and flair.
Sprinkled with markets and offbeat grocery vendors such as New Seasons Market, which is stocked with healthy options from local farmers, ranchers and fishermen, or Barbur World Foods, full of imported goodies, the possibilities for foodies looking to cook at home are nearly endless.
Of course, it’s hard to want to eat at home in a city like Portland.
From upscale Korean cuisine like Han Oak to the city’s world-famous Voodoo Doughnuts, to the delectable delicacies of Salt and Straw’s handmade ice cream, to the hundreds of cafes and more coffee shops than anyone could visit in one lifetime scattered throughout its streets, Portland definitely deserves the culinary crown.
The rest of the top 20 rankings fall in the following order:
- Portland, Oregon
- New York, New York
- Miami, Florida
- San Francisco, California
- Los Angeles, California
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- San Diego, California
- Seattle, Washington
- Chicago, Illinois
- Austin, Texas
- Orlando, Florida
- Sacramento, California
- Tampa, Florida
- Atlanta, Georgia
- Denver, Colorado
- Charleston, South Carolina
- Washington, DC
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Oakland, California
The complete list of WalletHub’s study breaks down the top 182 cities in the U.S. Where does your hometown fall on the list?
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