Americans today apply the term “foodie” to anyone who loves gourmet dining. But foodie culture isn’t limited to restaurants. Foodies enjoy discovering new and unique flavors wherever they can find them, including in their own kitchens and less prominent establishments like street food stalls. For these people, the experience of eating is elevated to a hobby or even a lifestyle. So, what are the best foodie cities in the U.S.?
Naturally, being a foodie can be quite expensive, especially during times of high inflation. Restaurant prices rose 6.5% just between August 2022 and August 2023. Even cooking your own gourmet meals can be pricy, as grocery store prices rose 3% between August 2022 and August 2023.
Fortunately, culinary hotspots across the U.S. offer plenty of affordable options for cash-strapped foodies. These wallet-friendly cities cater to diners who prefer to cook at home, explore the local flavors or both. To determine the best and cheapest best foodie cities in the U.S., WalletHub compared more than 180 U.S. cities across 28 key indicators of foodie-friendliness. Our data set ranges from cost of groceries to affordability and accessibility of high-quality restaurants to food festivals per capita.
Arizona had five cities rank among the 100 best cities for foodies in the U.S. They are:
Phoenix ranked No. 22.
Tucson ranked No. 47.
Tempe ranked No. 65.
Gilbert ranked No. 85.
Glendale ranked No. 97.
In order to determine the best and cheapest local foodie scenes, WalletHub compared 182 cities — including the 150 most populated U.S. cities, plus at least two of the most populated cities in each state — across two key dimensions, “Affordability” and “Diversity, Accessibility & Quality.”
We evaluated those dimensions using 28 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions and costs for foodies. For metrics marked with an asterisk (*), we used the square root of the population to calculate the population size in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across cities.
Finally, we determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order the cities in our sample. In determining our sample, we considered only the “city proper” in each case and excluded surrounding cities in the metro area.