Miami ranked No. 5, Fort Lauderdale No. 30 and West Palm Beach not at all in a list of America’s best “foodie” cities formulated by the finance website WalletHub. The top four: San Francisco, Portland, Ore., New York and Los Angeles. Orlando came in sixth, Tampa 11th.
WalletHub says it came up with the best cities for food lovers by factoring in diversity, affordability, accessibility and quality of top restaurants, grocery stores, craft breweries, coffeehouses and food festivals.
I say the methodology is flawed and that some results defy common sense. To wit: Hialeah (55th) is ranked higher than New Orleans (56th), widely regarded as one of the best food cities in America. And three other cities with respected and vibrant food scenes failed to crack the top 50: Charleston, S.C. (60th), Nashville (65th) and Portland, Maine. (73rd).
WalletHub compared 182 U.S. cities, the 150 largest and 32 others that were among the largest two in their states. Besides using data such as food and grocery costs, restaurants per capita and the ratio of full-service to fast-food restaurants, the rankings also included dubious factors such as national Yelp rankings and the number of Michelin-starred restaurants. Michelin critics only circulate in a handful of large American cities.
Instead of using broader metropolitan areas, the survey focused on single cities. It is unclear if Miami Beach was combined with Miami (Yelp often fails to properly distinguish between the two), but Hialeah was assessed separately. Pembroke Pines (111th) and Port St. Lucie (149th) were considered, but food-rich Palm Beach County was absent entirely because of the smallish populations of its largest cities.
Miami can bask in the glory of its high showing, but I say foodies throughout South Florida should take this latest list with a very large grain of fleur de sel.