Composite Score Breakdown
Across the 490 U.S. cities evaluated, the average Foodie Score was 41 out of 100. Insurify’s data science team rated cities using a proprietary scoring algorithm on factors including the number of full-service restaurants per 100,000 residents, the number of mobile food establishments per 100,000 residents, the number of grocery stores per 100,000 residents, the number of specialty food stores per 100,000 residents, and the overall cost of food and dining out. Select cities received bonus points for their unique food traditions and exceptional top-end restaurants. A higher score indicates a greater prevalence of favorable factors, such as abundant full-service restaurants, a high number of specialty food stores, or relatively low grocery and dining costs.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, popular vacation destinations boast some of the busiest restaurant scenes of all U.S. metropolitan areas. Ocean City, New Jersey has the highest density of full-service restaurants of any U.S. city at 350 per 100,000 residents, a prevalence almost 5 times greater than the national average. Key West, Florida and Branson, Missouri, a popular leisure retreat in the Ozarks, round out the top three dining scenes in the country. On the other hand, Opelousas, Louisiana has 64 percent fewer eateries per 100,000 residents than the national average, with only 27 restaurants per 100,000 residents.
Specialty Food Stores
The average city in the United States has 6.8 specialty food stores for every 100,000 residents. Ocean City, New Jersey, however, is once again a hotspot. In fact, the city’s ratio of 54.3 specialty food stores per 100,000 residents is nearly 8 times greater than the national average, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Meanwhile, with only 0.2 specialty food stores per 100,000 residents, Richmond, Virginia has a 97 percent lower ratio than the national average.
Food and Dining Price Index
According to the most recent data, purchasing food at a restaurant or grocery store in Kapaa, Hawaii is 65 percent more expensive than in the average American city. This makes Kapaa the city with the most expensive food in the country. This cost can be attributed to the fact that many groceries and other household items must be shipped to Hawaii from the mainland. El Paso, Texas, with a food and dining price index of 49.8, has the lowest food costs considered in this study, at 36 percent less expensive than the average city. Fun fact: New York City has a food and dining price index of 100.0, which means that Brooklyn diners are paying more than twice as much as their El Paso counterparts for the same meal.