This Year’s Best Cities for Foodies

If you’re a traveler that prioritizes culinary experiences and local food, make sure to take a look at the cities that topped the “Best Foodie Cities” ranking for 2023. WalletHub recently compared over 180 destinations in the US to determine which had the best local food scenes.

In order to determine the top destinations for food, WalletHub evaluated data in two key categories: “Affordability” and “Diversity, Accessibility & Quality.” Each category looked at metrics such as average restaurant meal prices and grocery costs; food and sales taxes; the number of restaurants, food trucks, farmers markets, cafes, breweries, and more per capita; access and availability of international and specialty item grocery stores, food festivals, tours, and culinary supplies stores; as well as restaurant diversity and recognition.

Set aside those dieting plans for after the new year begins, and take a peak at what makes the destinations below so delicious.

A taco stand in Miami, Florida by Daniel Lee – Unsplash

Cities in Florida dominated the rankings, with Orlando coming out as the number one spot for foodies. It’s no surprise—the city is a tourist hot spot thanks to its numerous theme parks and attractions. It tied for first place in multiple categories including the most restaurants, ice cream and frozen yogurt shops, gourmet specialty food stores, and coffee shops per capita, making it the ultimate destination if you are looking for variety and options when it comes to eating. While it didn’t do as well when it came to affordability, the quality and diversity of the food scene make Orlando more than worthwhile for people looking for a tasty trip.

With a bustling international food scene, Miami came in at fourth overall thanks to its top spot in the category of Diversity, Accessibility, and Quality. Cuban food is a particularly well-loved cuisine in the city, but the Miami dining scene also has an incredible amount of influence from several Latin American cultures. The south Florida gem also tied for first place in restaurants per capita and ice cream shops per capita.

Tampa, Florida, ranked sixth overall, tied for most ice cream shops per capita and ranked fifth for most gourmet specialty food shops. While not making it to the top 10 overall rankings, Cape Coral also made an impressive showing as the city with the highest ratio of full-service restaurants to fast-food establishments

A seafood restaurant in San Francisco by Yaopey Yong – Unsplash

California was another state that topped the lists in WalletHub’s research. Overall, Sacramento ranked third, San Francisco ranked fifth, and San Diego ranked seventh. Additionally, just outside of the top 10, Los Angeles made it to 13th place, Oakland came in at 21st, and Santa Ana was close behind at 23rd.

San Francisco took second place in the category of Diversity, Accessibility, and Quality—which comes as no surprise thanks to its award-winning restaurants, bustling Chinatown, fresh-caught seafood, local farms, and international food scene. Sacramento and San Diego also had great showings in the same category, ranking seventh and eighth respectively. San Diego topped the list for most craft breweries and wineries per capita. Both Los Angeles and San Francisco tied in first for most restaurants per capita.

Other notable California towns in the study include Fresno, which ranked fourth for lowest average beer and wine prices, and Santa Rosa, which tied for most craft breweries and wineries and came in second for highest ratio of full-service restaurants to fast-food establishments.

Las Vegas lights up the night by Ameer Basheer – Unsplash

Destinations west of the Mississippi made a great overall showing, often due to the lower costs associated with food and dining. In eighth place overall, Las Vegas tied for most ice cream shops per capita and most restaurants per capita. While its affordability ranking was modest at 88th place, Sin City actually fared better than many of the other overall top-ranked cities (several of which fell near the bottom of that category, though they were redeemed with their incredibly diverse culinary scenes). Denver took 11th place overall, also with one of the better affordability rankings of the top ranked towns—the “Mile High” city doesn’t quite have mile-high prices, coming in at decent 48th place.

Texas towns had an impressive showing and are also more affordable overall. Austin made it just inside the top 10 at ninth place overall, came in at 13th in the Diversity, Accessibility, and Quality category, and ranked fifth for lowest cost of groceries. San Antonio showed up for a first place tie with the most ice cream shops per capita. Additionally, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, and Laredo ranked first, second, and third respectively for lowest cost of groceries—though they might not be as fun for dining out as the bigger cities.

Coffee shop in Pike Place in Seattle by Brett Wharton – Unsplash

It’s all about craft breweries and good coffee in the Pacific Northwest, and that certainly helped the rankings for towns in Washington and Oregon. Amidst all the Florida and California destinations, Portland, Oregon, snuck into second place overall, thanks to an impressive 5th place finish in the Diversity, Accessibility, and Quality category. Tenth-ranked Seattle also came in fourth for Diversity, Accessibility, and Quality. Both Seattle and Portland tied for most craft breweries and wineries per capita; Spokane also tied for most coffee shops per capita.

—To view the full rankings and data, visit WalletHub.

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