Are We There Yet? – Livability.com Names Top 10 Best Foodie Cities, 2015

Annual list identifies and ranks America’s foodie cities.

Jennifer Coxby Jennifer Cox
Foodie culture continues to marinate in U.S. cities, along with its various cousins the farm-to-table and craft-beer movements. Many cities are encouraging restaurant districts and boutique eating, and reaping the benefits. With this in mind, Livability.com has named the Top 10 Best Foodie Cities, 2015. These cities strongly support local farmers, showcase regional cuisine, and provide residents with an innovative and eclectic mix of restaurants and delicious food to eat.
 
When choosing the best foodie cities, their editors first analyzed Census data to find cities with high concentrations of restaurants and bars. Using data from Esri and other sources, they looked for cities whose residents choose to eat at independent restaurants rather than chains or fast-food establishments. Their editors also looked at access to healthy food and farmers markets, which provide at-home cooks with fresh ingredients. Finally, just because these cities have great food doesn’t mean they should be eating it to excess, so they even factored in the adult obesity rate. 
 
Here are the top 10 best foodie cities:

10- While its innovative and eclectic mix of restaurants played a factor in Walnut Creek, Calif., making our list of the Top 10 Best Foodie Cities, the city’s residents were the icing on the cake. The percentage of people living in Walnut Creek who prefer independent and locally owned restaurants over fast-food and chains exceeds the national average. Walnut Creek residents strongly support regional farmers and have managed to keep their obesity rate lower than similar sized cities.

9- Much like an upcoming prize fighter, chefs and restaurants in Tempe, Ariz., are hungry for a victory. They have nothing to lose in the quest to become a standout in the metro Phoenix area, and that means Tempe residents get treated to innovative new meals that push the local food scene to new heights. Getting noticed among the elite cooks in Phoenix and Scottsdale takes true talent. That helped Tempe get noticed by our editors and earn a spot as one of the Top 10 Best Foodie Cities 2015.

8- An impressive number of farm-to-table restaurants, gastropubs and artisanal producers make Burlington, Vt., one of the Top 10 Best Foodie Cities. But Burlington’s emergence as restaurant destination is a relatively recent occurrence. 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. Burlington was named one of Livability.com’s Top 10 Best Beer Cities in 2011.

7- When it comes to savvy diners who prefer independent and locally owned restaurants over fast food and chains, residents of Bellevue, Wash., rise to the top in the Northwest. A growing batch of restaurants in Bellevue satisfies those sophisticated palates, and if the foodies here ever run out of options, Seattle’s enormous restaurant scene is just a short drive across Lake Washington. In fact, Bellevue’s proximity to Seattle played a factor in the city making our Top 10 Foodie Cities list.

6- One of the most beloved places to eat in Stamford, Conn., is the El Charrito taco truck, which illustrates how this city’s residents rank food quality above atmosphere and ambiance. And while there are plenty of hip, trendy restaurants in Stamford to try (Hudson Grille for example), it’s the authentic ethnic eateries that hold the highest ratings on Yelp and other review sites. Stamford residents, including a large college population, largely choose independent restaurants over fast food or chains when it comes to dining out, which helped it land on our list of Top 10 Best Foodie Cities. The population as a whole also manages to keep its obesity rate below the national average, perhaps a testament to the many healthy food options the city offers.

5- Restaurants in Duluth, Minn., pack pleasant surprises, from small brewpubs churning out full-bodied beers to greasy spoons with vegetarian and even vegan options. 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 10 Best Foodie Cities in the country.

4- The emergence of Rockville, Md., as a dining destination in the D.C. area occurred more than a decade ago. Back then, food critics gave props to a handful of restaurants steared by chefs willing to test the culinary waters. Today, restaurants in Rockville make weekly agendas for those living in both Washington D.C. and Baltimore. The food scene in Rockville has exploded and now includes dozens of eateries that get four or more stars on sites like Yelp.

3- Just as the economy in Pittsburgh, Pa., transitioned from industrial to technological, the city’s food scene has gone from bland to bold. Restaurants in Pittsburgh play a big part in what makes the city attractive to companies like Google and help draw in talented, young professionals. Inside 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. Pittsburgh residents’ preference for local restaurants over fast food and a push by local farmers and health advocates to make fresh fruits and vegetables more accessible further cements the Steel City’s status as one of the Top 10 Best Foodie Cities.

2- It’s only natural that restaurants in Omaha, Neb., lead the nation in utilizing local ingredients and the farm-to-table movement. Farms raising lamb, pigs, cows and a variety of vegetables surround Omaha, giving local chefs a bounty of fresh, sustainable food choices. Residents tend to dine at independent restaurants and strongly support local farmers, acquiring many ingredients at markets or co-ops. This makes Omaha one of the Top 10 Foodie Cities in the country.

1- Coral Gables, Fla., tastes as good as it looks. Tree-lined boulevards, mansions covered in ivy, Mediterranean Revival-style architecture and a large freshwater Venetian Pool make Coral Gables one of the most delicious looking cities on our foodie cities list. Strict zoning regulations and building standards ensure the city doesn’t lose its visual appeal. Chefs in Coral Gables are held to the same high standards, often being judged by their counterparts in Miami. A writer for the Miami New Times wrote, “Coral Gables heralds a cool era of dining. There are cocktails, funky foods and young chefs.” The city’s range of outstanding restaurants, discerning diners and availability of healthy foods makes Coral Gables our top pick out of the Best Foodie Cities 2015. 

Bon Voyage,

Jenn

Jenn Cox is a Montreal-based freelance journalist. Visit her website or email her at info@wordaddict.ca.