Best Places for Foodies

These big cities have the highest ratio of eateries to people.

Many a food lover would consider New York City to be the foodie capital of the United States. And indeed, among U.S. cities it has the highest number of restaurants and grocery stores (and, of course, Michelin stars).

Yet New Yorkers often find themselves booking reservations months ahead of time or waiting on obscenely long grocery store lines. Blame the population of nearly 9 million residents—or at least the portion with the time and money to obsess over gastronomy.

With that in mind, MONEY looked a different metric to determine the best cities for people who really enjoy food: the proportion of eateries to people. These five metropolises have the highest number of restaurants and groceries relative to population, at least among urban centers with more than 300,000 people. With thousands of fabulous, creative places to eat—and some Michelin stars of their own—these cities are ideal for foodies who love a great meal but would like a little breathing room at their table. (Source: Trulia data.)—Susie Poppick

  • Washington, D.C.

    Pasta Bolognese at Mintwood Place Restaurant, Washington, DC
    Scott Suchman Pasta Bolognese at Mintwood Place Restaurant, Washington, DC

    Top-notch dining options abound in our nation’s capital, and the city offers a comfortable ratio of 3.5 restaurants or grocery stores for every 1,000 people.

    Pizza-lovers can enjoy Neapolitan pies at 2Amys, while those seeking an upscale experience can try foie gras at Estadio or delicate pastas and crème brûlée at Mintwood. For a serving of history with your dinner, there’s Old Ebbitt Grill, D.C.’s oldest bar and restaurant, clocking in at more than 150 years old.

    Prefer cooking? The metro area has more than 200 farmer’s markets selling fresh produce and other treats.

  • Portland, Ore.

    Portland food carts
    John Valls Portland food carts

    Contrary to stereotype, Portland has much more for hungry foodies to munch on than organic kale (though yes, there’s lots of that, too).

    There’s Blue Star’s fried chicken donut and Alma’s peanut butter bon bons—and, of course, Masala Pop’s spiced popcorn.

    Indeed, Portland’s snack scene is strong, with loads of food carts and lots of love for sandwiches, like the Meshugaletta at Kenny & Zuke’s.

    But with 3.63 restaurants or grocery stores for every 1,000 people, there’s also no shortage of more sophisticated dinner spots, whether you prefer the seared tuna at Higgin’s or the quinoa “laced with truffle oil” at Andina.

  • Seattle, Wash.

    Pike Place Public Market, Seattle, Washington
    Gabbro—Alamy Pike Place Public Market, Seattle, Washington

    Portland’s bigger brother to the north might not get as much media attention for its food scene, but Seattle chefs tend to clean up during awards season.

    And residents have plenty of deliciousness to go around, with 3.86 restaurants or grocery stores for every 1,000 people.

    Given the city’s proximity to ocean, it’s no surprise seafood is a big draw: You can pair a beer with seared scallops in brown butter at Some Random Bar, or wine with crab risotto at The Pink Door. Residents have also been known to go wild for the chowder and fish at Pike Place Market.

    But lovers of red meat aren’t without savory options (see Cask and Trotter’s BBQ ribs) and Seattle vegetarians comprise a huge community.


  • Honolulu, Hawaii

    Town Restaurant in Honolulu
    Marco Garcia Town Restaurant in Honolulu

    As residents of the tropical state can attest, Honolulu offers all manner of ono kine grinds (meaning “good food,” in the local dialect).

    And, with 4.39 restaurants or grocery stores for every 1,000 people, you won’t be elbowing people out of the way as you sample island seafood or authentic Chinatown noodles.

    The city offers many elegant options for dining, including New American eatery Town, Alan Wong’s—where you can order lobster lasagna or “kalbi-style” twice-cooked short rib—and an outpost of the popular Sushi Sasabune.

    But many of Honolulu’s most interesting local foods are very inexpensive, including the $5 kalua pork at Helena’s, the malasadas (Portugese-style “donuts”) at Leonard’s Bakery, and the noodle soups at Dillingham Saimin.

  • San Francisco, Calif.

    SPQR restaurant, San Francisco, California
    Alanna Hale Sea urchin panna cotta, SPQR restaurant, San Francisco, California

    The number one city for foodies—at least based on eatery options per person—is none other than San Francisco, where Michelin just handed out coveted third stars to media darlings Benu and Saison.

    With a generous 4.44 restaurants or grocery stores for every 1,000 people, the city by the bay is awash with food options, from Mission street snacks (hello, El Farolito) to Japantown sushi to Cowgirl Creamery cheese at the Ferry Building.

    Grocery stores also abound, and they include plenty of ethnic and independent operations, in addition to the nationally-branded usual suspects.

    Planning a date night? Residents might suggest you try lively Mexican joint Don Pisto’s, small-plate heaven State Bird Provisions, pasta purveyor SPQR, or the aptly-named Burma Superstar.

    Dessert, of course, has got to be one of the mind-boggling ice cream flavors (prosciutto??) at Humphry Slocombe.


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