Can Orlando Really be the Second-Best Foodie City in America?

According to a new analysis from the personal-finance website WalletHub, O-Town is behind only Portland when it comes to culinary excellence

The Orlando skyline seen during twilight.
O-Town is the No. 2 destination in America for foodies.
Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty

Before delving into how it is even remotely possible that Orlando is the second-best foodie city in America, it should go without saying that Florida and its residents could use some assistance right now dealing with the fallout from Hurricane Ian and there are plenty of ways to help.

With that out of the way, it’s time to question the results of a new analysis from the personal-finance website WalletHub that ranks Orlando as the best foodie city in America behind only Portland, Oregon. In general, it just seems impossible that O-Town would be ahead of world-class food destinations like New York (No. 18), Chicago (No. 12) and Los Angeles (No. 15). After all, when you think of fine dining, it’s not as if Mickey Mouse, Universal Studios and the Orlando Magic spring to mind. But, then again, Shaquille O’Neal certainly ate well during his days with the Magic so perhaps WalletHub has a point.

Here is the methodology that the site used: “In order to determine the best and cheapest local foodie scenes, WalletHub compared 182 cities — including the 150 most populated U.S. cities, plus at least two of the most populated cities in each state — across two key dimensions, ‘Affordability’ and ‘Diversity, Accessibility & Quality.’ We evaluated those dimensions using 29 relevant metrics.”

Of those metrics, WalletHub assigned the most weight to “Restaurants per Capita,” “Ratio of Full-Service Restaurants to Fast-Food Establishments” and, for some reason, “Percentage of Residents Who Are Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19.”

While it’s tough to imagine Orlando is one of the leading cities in America with regard to vaccination status, the City Beautiful did take top honors for Gourmet Specialty-Food Stores per Capita, Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt Shops per Capita and overall Restaurants per Capita. There are also 33 restaurants in Orlando that made the Michelin guide, compared to New York, which only has 507.

It’s certainly possible Orlando has a world-class food scene, but we’re more inclined to believe it actually hasn’t improved all that much since 2017 when O-Town ranked No. 6 in WalletHub‘s seemingly annual survey behind San Francisco, Portland, New York, Los Angeles and Miami. Frankly, No. 6 seems about 100 spots too high.

Here are the top 25 cities on WalletHub’s 2022 list.

  1. Portland, Oregon.
  2. Orlando, Florida.
  3. Miami, Florida.
  4. San Francisco, California.
  5. Austin, Texas.
  6. Sacramento, California.
  7. Seattle, Washington.
  8. Tampa, Florida.
  9. Las Vegas, Nevada.
  10. San Diego, California.
  11. Denver, Colorado.
  12. Chicago, Illinois.
  13. Washington, D.C.
  14. Atlanta, Georgia.
  15. Los Angeles, California.
  16. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
  17. Portland, Maine.
  18. New York City, New York.
  19. Charleston, South Carolina.
  20. Oakland, California.
  21. Cincinnati, Ohio.
  22. St. Louis, Missouri.
  23. Richmond, Virginia.
  24. Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
  25. Grand Rapids, Michigan.


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