Best & Worst States for Foodies

Foodie Index Score

Exploring Culinary Delights Across the States

Just as the diverse landscapes shape the character of each state, the culinary scene weaves a tapestry of flavors, traditions, and innovations that significantly influence the gastronomic satisfaction of residents.

This comprehensive analysis considered all 50 states, evaluating them across three key categories: Cuisine Affordability, Cuisine Diversity, and Cuisine Experience. Examining 21 metrics within these categories, our journey reveals the intricate balance of culinary richness, accessibility, and experiential delight that contribute to each state's overall foodies index score. 

Key insights from the data include:

  • California takes the lead with an impressive foodies index score of 59.8. The state's diverse culinary scene, encompassing everything from farm-to-table eateries to vibrant ethnic cuisines, contributes to its top-ranking position.
  • Following closely behind, Florida secures the second spot with a foodies index score of 54.7. The state's coastal location and rich cultural influences contribute to a varied and exciting food landscape.
  • Texas claims the third position with a noteworthy foodies index score of 53.3. The state's love for barbecue, Tex-Mex, and a fusion of culinary traditions enhances its standing among food enthusiasts.
  • Illinois, with a foodies index score of 52.4, occupies a significant spot on the list. Chicago, in particular, stands out as a culinary hub, offering a plethora of dining options that contribute to the state's overall score.
  • On the other end of the scale, states like Vermont (37.5), Delaware (38.5), and Rhode Island (39.7) may have lower foodie scores, indicating potential areas for culinary growth and exploration. 

Best States for Food


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U.S Rank

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To determine the best states for foodies, the 50 states were compared across three key categories:

  1. Cuisine Affordability
  2. Cuisine Diversity
  3. Cuisine Experience

Each of these was defined via individual metrics that were representative of the category. There were a total of 21 metrics which are listed below. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 being the max. Each metric had state scores distributed from 0 to 100.

Finally, each state’s weighted average was determined across all metrics to calculate category scores. These were then summed to generate the final rank order of the states.

Cuisine Affordability (20%)

  • Cost of eating out - Measures the affordability of dining out.
  • Cost of Eating In - Measures the affordability of cooking at home.
  • Agricultural Cash Receipts - Reflects the economic contribution of agriculture to the culinary landscape.
  • Food Conservation Practices - Evaluates efforts in promoting sustainable food consumption.
  • Culinary Schools Count - Considers the availability of culinary education institutions.
  • Chef Annual Earnings - Reflects the income level of chefs in the region.

Cuisine Diversity (40%)

  • Best Bakeries by State - Recognizes the quality and diversity of bakery offerings.
  • Best Steaks by State - Highlights the excellence and diversity of steakhouses.
  • Best Ice Cream by State -  Recognizes the quality and diversity of ice cream establishments.
  • Best Greek Food by State - Highlights the excellence and diversity of Greek cuisine.
  • Best Indian Food by State - Recognizes the quality and diversity of Indian cuisine.
  • Best Middle Eastern Food by State - Highlights the excellence and diversity of Middle Eastern cuisine.
  • Best Italian Food by State - Recognizes the quality and diversity of Italian cuisine.
  • Best Brewery by State -  Recognizes outstanding breweries contributing to culinary diversity.
  • Best Korean Food by State -  Highlights the excellence and diversity of Korean cuisine.

Cuisine Experience (20%)

  • Bars and Clubs - Measures the availability and diversity of nightlife establishments.
  • Restaurants per Capita - Reflects the density of restaurants in the region.
  • Yearly Spending on Eating Out - Reflects the regional spending on dining out annually.
  • Food Festivals by State - Considers the presence and significance of culinary festivals.
  • Fast Food Restaurants per capita - Reflects the density of fast-food establishments.
  • Full Service Restaurants per capita - Reflects the density of full-service restaurants.
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