Bang for Your Buck
New York City may be brimming with Michelin stars, “world’s best” pizza spots, and bagels worth the hour-long wait, but who can actually afford to eat there? For every dollar Americans spend on food, about 33 cents goes towards eating out, so it pays big to live in a city with affordable restaurants, groceries, and drinks. That’s what WalletHub set out to measure with its annual study of the best and cheapest cities to be a foodie.
The financial website compared the 150 largest cities in the country across key metrics in two categories: affordability and accessibility, diversity, and quality. Not surprisingly, NYC didn’t fare well in the affordability category, but lucky for us — and our wallets — Austin did.
Overall, Austin ranks No. 18 on the list of best cities for foodies, with a top ranking in the affordability category and a good showing for accessibility, diversity, and quality. WalletHub calculated the affordability score by comparing the cost of groceries, beer, wine, restaurants, and food sales and restaurant taxes for each city. Austin is the second most affordable city to be a foodie, topped only by our neighbor Houston. San Antonio is eighth, making Texas the most represented state in the top 10.
Austin boasts the most affordable and accessible high-quality restaurants, the lowest food tax, and the lowest restaurant tax. We also live in the cheapest state to buy groceries, with four of the top five cities in Texas. Austin has the fifth lowest cost of groceries, behind Laredo; Brownsville; San Antonio; and Knoxville, Tennessee. Honolulu, on the other hand, has the most expensive groceries in the country, double the cost of Laredo.
Austin ranks 29th for diversity, accessibility, and quality of food. That grade was based on metrics like the number of healthy food options, food trucks, farmers markets, and breweries and restaurants per capita, as well as the diversity of restaurants. While we rank 46th for coffee shops per capita, we take first place for the highest number of food trucks per 100,000 residents. And we consider that a delicious win.