NEW YORK (TheStreet) - From braised duck taquitos to vegetarian falafel, welcome to the new world of dining, with an unlikely warm-weather city has won the title of this year's best "foodie" city in the country.
In case you haven't gotten the memo, a "foodie" is someone who takes a particular interest in gourmet food and new food trends. Some may even call them "food snobs." These days the hot trends in the $710-billion restaurant industry are terms like "farm-to-table," "locally-sourced" meats and seafood and "locally grown" vegetables, as well as "craft beer." Essentially consumers want more healthy options than in the past and they want to know where their food is coming from.
Livability.com, a division of Journal Communications, explores "what makes small to mid-sized cities great places to live, work and visit," through its blog. In its annual report, it sought to rank the best "foodie" cities based on: their support of local farmers; showcase of regional cuisine; and number of "innovative and eclectic mix of restaurants and delicious food to eat."
To choose the best "foodie" cities, Livability analyzed U.S. Census data to find cities with high concentrations of restaurants and bars. They then analyzed data to determine cities "whose residents choose to eat at independent restaurants rather than chains or fast-food establishments" as well as how accessible healthy food and farmers markets were to residents there. Livability also factored in a city's adult obesity rate. And finally, took into account other factors, such as James Beard Award winners, Michelin stars and Yelp reviews.
Now let's get to those cities.
10. Walnut Creek, Calif.
Walnut Creek ranked No. 10 in Livability's "Best Foodie Cities" list.
That's because the city has an "innovative and eclectic mix of restaurants" and residents who "strongly support regional farmers and have managed to keep their obesity rate lower than similar sized cities," Livability said.
The city also fosters a bunch of up-and-coming chefs who are elevating the city's status to a restaurant destination, the blog noted.
Livability said not to miss these places -- ice cream at Lottie's Creamery, Sichuan Fortune House and sandwiches at Morucci's Si Mangia Bene.
9. Tempe, Ariz.
Tempe ranked ninth in Livability's "Best Foodie Cities" list.
The chefs and restaurants in this city outside of Phoenix are stopping at nothing to raise the bar and that means "Tempe residents get treated to innovative new meals that push the local food scene to new heights," Livability said. And judging from the amount that residents eat out, they are "eager for new dining experiences and like what local chefs are creating."
Livability said not to miss these places -- Essence Bakery, Hong Kong Asian Diner and burgers at The Chuckbox.
8. Burlington, Vt.
Burlington ranked eighth best city in Livability's "Best Foodie Cities" list due to its "impressive number of farm-to-table restaurants, gastropubs and artisanal producers," the blog said.
That said the city's emergence as a go-to restaurant destination is still new. "Tourists have been coming to Burlington for decades to experience the city's hippie vibe and fantastic views of Lake Champlain. Restaurants in Burlington have become a main attraction thanks to national attention from the cooking elite. The city's solid collection of beer makers also draws tourists," Livability said.
Livability said not to miss these places -- Lake Champlain Chocolates or City Market/Onion River Co-op.
7. Bellevue, Wash.
Bellevue ranked seventh best city in Livability's "Best Foodie Cities" list.
The city ranks at the top of its region for restaurant-goers who prefer independent establishments rather than chains. Bellevue's growing number of local restaurants meets those expectations as does its proximity to Seattle.
Livability said not to miss these places -- Xiao long bao (pork buns) at Dough Zone, Wildflour Gluten-Free Baking Co. and El Maestro del Taco.
6. Stamford, Conn.
Stamford ranked sixth best city in Livability's "Best Foodie Cities" list.
In Stamford, a beloved establishment by locals is the El Charrito taco truck, demonstrating that food quality is not only at five-star restaurants. The city's highest food establishment ratings via Yelp go to authentic ethnic eateries, according to Livability. Stamford as a population also "manages to keep its obesity rate below the national average, perhaps a testament to the many healthy food options the city offers," it said.
Livability said not to miss these places -- Moroccan meals at The Fez, specialty hot dogs at Bridge Street Wienery and the cannoli nachos at DiMare Pastry Shop.
5. Duluth, Minn.
Duluth ranked fifth best city in Livability's "Best Foodie Cities" list.
"Many first-time tourists are awestruck by how sophisticated and diverse this lakeside city's culinary scene is. A small, but growing crop of independent restaurants, residents who support them and a reliance on local ingredients" make Duluth one of the top-ranked cities, according to Livability.
Livability said not to miss these places -- Friday night fish fry at New London Cafe, sweets at Positively 3rd Street Bakery, and the Stoned Surf IPA at Canal Park Brewing Company.
4. Rockville, Md.
Rockville ranked fourth best city in Livability's "Best Foodie Cities" list.
Rockville is no stranger to the food scene. It's been a dining destination for over a decade. Yet the food scene "has exploded and now includes dozens of eateries that get four or more stars on sites like Yelp," according to Livability.
Livability said not to miss these places -- gelati at Carmen's Italian Ice & Cafe, pulled pork at Urban Bar-B-Que and ramen at Temari Japanese Café.
Pittsburgh ranked third best city in Livability's "Best Foodie Cities" list.
Once an industrial center, Pittsburgh is changing with the times and embracing the tech industry. The city's growing food scene is playing a playing a big role in helping companies attract talent.
"Inside the former factory buildings that once churned out construction materials and textiles are innovative kitchens and hip, trendy restaurants and bars that anchor the city's entertainment scene," Livability said.
Livability said not to miss these places -- a cocktail at Tender Bar + Kitchen, treats at La Gourmandine Bakery & Pastry Shop and the Big Hop IPA at East End Brewing Company.
It's not hard to see why Omaha ranked second best city in Livability's "Best Foodie Cities" list. This Midwest city leads the country in restaurants utilizing local ingredients, adding to its success of the farm-to-table movement.
With food driving the local economy, "farms raising lamb, pigs, cows and a variety of vegetables surround Omaha, giving local chefs a bounty of fresh, sustainable food choices," the blog post said. "Residents tend to dine at independent restaurants and strongly support local farmers, acquiring many ingredients at markets or co-ops." Omaha is also headquarters for ConAgra Foods (CAG) - Get Report .
"One of the biggest misconceptions about Omaha, from those who haven't been here, is that the city lacks diversity. This certainly isn't the case when it comes to food," Livability noted.
Livability said not to miss these places -- dinner and dessert at Dario's Brasserie, brunch at Lot 2, an evening at J. Coco.
1. Coral Gables, Fla.
Coral Gables, Fla., has taken the gold to rank first in Livability's "Best Foodie Cities" list.
From the more than 140 restaurants in the city to the winter farmer's market, the city of Coral Gables prides itself on high standards for its visual preservation as well as for its multitude of chefs. Often compared with - Miami -- its Southern counterpart, "Coral Gables restaurants and chefs have long been noticed by the cooking elite," Livability said.
Livability said not to miss these places -- Palme D'Or, Pascal's on Ponce and Swine Southern Table & Bar, and Ortanique on the Mile.
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