Best Places to Live

2015 10 Best Foodie Cities

As foodie culture continues to marinate in cities across the U.S., and its various cousins the farm-to-table and craft-beer movements reach a slow boil, it's almost become harder to find a place that isn't a foodie city. That makes picking the top 10 foodie cities all the more challenging, even with our focus on small- to mid-sized cities. Cities have certainly seen the benefits of encouraging restaurant districts and boutique eating. Having great places to eat adds vibrancy to a downtown and can provide a foundation for a nighttime economy and entertainment district. But let's face it, the economic advantages are nice and all, but this list is really about the food itself and the talented chefs who prepare it day in and day out.

As always, we start with a data-driven approach to creating our rankings. First, there have to be places to eat, drink and be merry, so we analyzed Census data to find cities with high concentrations of restaurants and bars. Using data from Esri, we then looked for cities whose residents spend money eating out and do so at independent restaurants, not chains or fast-food establishments. Cooking at home is another aspect of foodie culture, so we also looked at access to healthy food and farmers markets. Finally, just because these cities have great food doesn't mean they should be eating it to excess, so we also factored in the adult obesity rate. You can have your flourless chocolate cake, but you should have some Chard salad with roasted Shiitakes, too. 

Of course, palates are a subjective thing. So Livability's editors also layered in some other factors like James Beard Award winners, Michelin stars and even Yelp reviews. Finally, we used our experience and judgment to narrow the list into the final top 10.

Now, let's stick a fork in this introduction, and dig into the list.

Ranking Criteria
critically acclaimed restaurants
residents who prefer independent restaurants
access to healthy food and farmers markets
low obesity rate
James Beard Award winners
  • 9

    Tempe, AZ

    Population: 169,816
    Photo courtesy of Culinary Dropout

    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. 

    See where Tempe ranks on's list of the Best Places to Live 2015. You can also read Why Tempe, AZ Is a Top 100 Best Place to Live.

    Tempe residents eat at locally owned restaurants at a higher rate than most cities, which shows they’re eager for new dining experiences and like what local chefs are creating. One of the newest restaurants in Tempe to earn consistent praise from diners is The Revival. The Mexican menu features dishes like braised duck taquitos and pork osso buco. Diversity appears to be the spice of life in Tempe, as the top-ranked restaurants on Yelp include Hummus Xpress, Haji-Baba, Yupha’s Thai Kitchen and Nandini Indian Cuisine. Vegans and vegetarians feast at Desert Roots Kitchen, which is run by an Arizonia State University graduate. Some of the best beers in Arizona are served in the tasting room and restaurant locations of Four Peaks Brewing Company in Tempe. Among the hottest places for breakfast in Tempe is Crepe Bar, which offers savory crepes filled with buffalo chicken, duck Cuban, or smoked turkey and sweet crepes filled with vanilla bean custard, chocolate hazelnut and banana brulee.

    Don’t Miss: Essence Bakery, Hong Kong Asian Diner, burgers at The Chuckbox

    Find out where Tempe ranked on's list of the Top 10 Best College Towns 2014