One of the great philosophical questions of our time is "What, exactly, is a foodie?" Is a foodie simply a person who loves to eat? Or are they more discerning? Are they willing to climb every mountain, ford every stream, scour every restaurant in every town and city for the most creative and delicious of meals, and even snacks? And what is the difference between a foodie and a gourmet, a gourmand, or even a gastronome? Are they less pretentious? Do they consider the lowly cart of street meat on the same plane of esteem as the priciest, most Michelin-starred restaurant?
All of this is a way of saying that no matter what a foodie is, they should be quite happy in Miami, according to a new study by WalletHub. The Magic City has been ranked the third best food city in the United States, behind Portland at number one and New York at number two.
According to the financial services website, the study ranked 182 cities on two scales: "affordability" and "diversity, accessibility, and quality." Obviously, Miami is not the most affordable city on Earth — it ranked 123rd — but its third-place ranking in the latter category, which judged cities on criteria such as "food freshness" and "coffee and tea shops per capita," was enough to put the Big Orange near the top.
WalletHub also lists Miami in several subcategories. The city has the third most restaurants and the second most "gourmet specialty-food stores" per capita. Miami is also in a six-way tie for first place with Las Vegas, New York, Chicago, Austin, and San Antonio for most ice-cream and frozen-yogurt shops.
It's hard not to be somewhat flattered by this result. Miami is a city of culinary highs and lows. One can easily blow a fortune at ultra-luxe places such as Novikov or enjoy a humble Haitian meal at Chef Creole. It's a city of unique food experiences, from sushi in the Versace mansion to cafecito and pan con bistec at a ventanita. No wonder tourists come in droves for the sun and sand but stay for the croquetas, the fritas, and, apparently, the ice cream.
Other Florida cities also made the list. Overall, Orlando ranked 11th, Tampa ranked 13th, Fort Lauderdale 33rd, and Jacksonville 64th. Hialeah made it to 87, while the lowest-ranked city in the Sunshine State, Port St. Lucie, sits at a distant 169. In the specialty categories, Cape Coral has the second-highest ratio of full-service restaurants to fast-food establishments, while Pembroke Pines comes in at 128th in craft breweries and wineries per capita, and Port St. Lucie ranks 179 in gourmet specialty food stores.