Most people like to eat, and when given the opportunity, we generally prefer good food over bad food. This is one of the things that separates us from dogs, who also like food, but are less picky.
So whether you’re an epicure, a gourmet, a gourmand, a gastronome or just a foodie—a word that The Washington Post once found extremely annoying—this list is for you. Being one of these things isn’t just about enjoying good food, it’s about the things that make eating interesting—atmosphere, cuisine, unique experiences—and all the things that bring diversity and quality to the gastronomic experience.
To find the best and cheapest local foodie scenes, WalletHub compared 182 U.S. cities — including the 150 most populated, plus at least two of the most populated cities in each state — across two key dimensions, “Affordability” and “Diversity, Accessibility & Quality.” They scored these on 29 relevant metrics that include everything from cost of groceries and restaurant meals, cost of beer and wine and sales tax, to the number and diversity of restaurants, farmers markets, grocery stores, coffee shops and the freshness of the food available.
Check out the international list: Tasty Cities Worth Visiting for Their Culinary Creativity
When in comes to diversity, San Francisco wins the prize. In San Francisco, you can dine in a laundromat, eat in a pitch-dark restaurant, and partake of cuisines that range from the popular Californian, Chinese, Italian and Mexican to the lesser-known Eritrean, Basque, Uyghur, Salvadoran, Yemeni, and even Ohlone, a tribe indigenous to the Bay Area region.
But, of course, you pay the price: San Francisco is one of the 10 most expensive cities for restaurants. New York City and Pearl City, Hawaii, are the two most expensive, and to add insult to injury, Pearl City also ranks as one of the least diverse food cities on this list.
For the budget-minded, turn to Grand Rapids, Mich., which ranks No. 1 for affordability and No. 17 on this list of best food cities in America.
In Grand Rapids you can enjoy Scandinavian food, Soul food, or Southwestern food. One restaurant, Roam, covers all the bases, with dishes from Morroco, Ireland, India, El Salvador, Vietnam, Korea, Germany, Ghana and more. A burger at Roam is $15, fish and chips are $14.
Based on WalletHub’s research, these are the best U.S. cities for foodies, epicures, gourmets, gourmands, gastronomes or whatever you want to call yourself.