For tourists who don't venture beyond South Beach's trendy hotels and celebrity-studded eateries, Miami Beach can be an expensive place to eat and drink. Look beyond the city's flash and there's plenty of value for your food dollar.
WalletHub has just ranked Miami as one of the best food cities for your wallet, making us officially one of the cheapest places in the U.S. in which to be hungry.
Miami just slid into the top list, with its number ten spot. Portland was listed as the country's friendliest food city, with Orlando coming in at number two and Tampa placing number eight. Hialeah was the only other city in South Florida to make the grade, coming in mid-pack at number 68 of 150. The worst city for your food dollar is Moreno Valley, California, halfway between Los Angeles and Palm Springs.
Miami was also ranked number five in having the most ice cream and frozen yogurt shops per capita, with Orlando coming in at number one in the icy treats department. Not surprising, when you consider the year-round balmy temperatures in both cities.
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The website, which reviews financial institutions and ranks credit card and insurance companies, just conducted an an in-depth analysis of the 150 most populated cities in the country to come up with this list, using compiled data ranging from cost of groceries to the number of restaurants in each city. Other factors included beer and wine prices, the number of coffee shops, and the number of breweries in each city. WalletHub also took into consideration factors like restaurant and food sales tax and access to healthier food options in each city.
Data was compiled from a number of sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Council for Community and Economic Research, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Federation of Tax Administrators, the Tax Foundation, and Yelp.
In the end, how can we make our food dollars go farther? Brendan R. Walsh, dean of culinary arts at the Culinary Institute of America and WalletHub advisor, says to make the most of your discretionary restaurant dollars. Instead of eating out all the time, save your money for a really good meal. "My wife and I figured after another 100 dollar quick decision dinner that we could get an over the top wine and eat an unbelievable two meals, at least, with the remaining cash saved — it is those last-minute meals that you waste time, money, and energy that you have to eliminate. Put the money towards that great meal and time you have wanted to have together or with friends."
So what to do with the rest of our meals? Dean Walsh has a solution for that, too. "Not trying to be a wise guy or self-promoting — OK maybe a little bit, but, really, learn to cook!"