Top 10 Food Cities for Your Wallet (Slideshow)

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These food cities will leave your both your wallet and your stomach pleasantly full

Top 10 Food Cities for Your Wallet

These food cities will leave your both your wallet and your stomach pleasantly full.

#1 Providence, R.I.

Who knew this small East Coast city had such good eats? Providence has 24 restaurants for every 10,000 citizens, ranking the city among the top 10 most restaurant-dense towns in the nation. From New York System restaurants (the local term for hot dog joints) to purveyors of clam cakes, Providence is full of places serving delicious, unpretentious fare. What’s more, a meal at moderately priced restaurant will only set you back, on average, about 15 bucks a person where as a mid-range, three-course meal for two will cost you about $60.

#9 Madison, Wis.

Believe it or not, Madison, Wisconsin, is becoming a major food-lover hot spot. That’s probably because this small city sits smack in the middle of America’s heartland, and farm-to-table dining here was a way of life before the trend hit the coasts.  You won’t have to pay San Francisco prices for Madison’s local fare. The average meal price per person runs about $15 here, and a three-course meal for two at a mid-level restaurant will only cost about $55.

#8 New Orleans, La.

New Orleans is known for food, but ever since Katrina, the laid-back port city has seen a 70 percent increase in new restaurant openings, bringing the city’s total number of restaurants to around 1,400 establishments. And all that food remains relatively inexpensive; a moderately priced meal only runs about $14. On the other hand, if you’re looking to dine out with a date, a three-course meal for two will cost you about $50 here. 

#7 Jersey City, N.J.

Jersey City often gets overlooked in favor of flashier New York City, but if you’re a money-conscious food aficionado, crossing the river can mean great taste and big savings. Jersey City is home to many classic Italian restaurants and even historic beer gardens. What’s more, many Brooklyn chefs are moving to Jersey for the less saturated market. In Jersey City, you can find yourself paying a lot less for the same food you’d eat in trendier parts of town: an average meal costs about $12.50 per person while a three-course meal for two will run you about $70, making meals in Jersey City one of the pricier bills on our list.

#6 Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas, is a city that loves food, and not just barbecue. Last year, more than 200 restaurants opened in Downtown Austin alone. This city is home to some serious fine dining, from Asian fusion to upscale Mexican. However, a trip to Austin won’t break the bank; you can eat at a moderately priced restaurant (including one of Austin’s famous taco trucks) for about $12. A three-course meal for two? That will cost you about $50 total in Austin. 

#5 Oakland, Calif.

Oakland has one of the most culturally diverse populations in the country, and in this small city a stone’s throw from San Francisco, adventurous diners can get everything from authentic dim sum to Caribbean soul food for around $10 a plate. If you’re looking for a meal for two, expect to pay around $60 for a three-course meal. 

#4 Denver, Colo.

Denver isn’t traditionally known as a “food town,” but lately, the culinary scene in the mile high city is booming. More than 200 new restaurants opened in Denver in 2013 alone. An average meal in Denver will run you about $10 per person. Going for something bigger? A three-course meal for two at mid-priced restaurant only costs, on average, about $50 total.

#3 Orlando, Fla.

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Most diners don’t think past “Disney” when someone mentions Orlando, which is really a shame. The small city is actually home to 8.28 restaurants per 10,000 residents —higher than the state average of 7.45 — not to mention nearly 100 food trucks selling everything from chicken and waffles to Cuban sandwiches. Average meal prices in Orlando will cost about $10 per person while a meal for two will cost about $45.00.

#2 Salt Lake City, Utah

Yes, really. Much like Madison, Salt Lake City is seeing a boom in affordable farm-to-table food. Stop by the Downtown Farmer’s Market for some local fare so cheap that it could make New Yorkers faint, and feel proud that your delicious, locally sourced meal only cost around $10. If you’re looking to dine for two, then a three-course meal for you and your partner will cost about $35. 

#1 Huntington Beach, Calif.

The “O.C.” is often portrayed as an upscale beach haven for the rich and spoiled, so it may come as a surprise that this sunny California beach town is a great place to grab a cheap bite. Since there are 16 million annual beach visitors, restaurants in Orange County vie for tourist money, and food lovers reap the benefits of that competition. On average, a meal will cost around $10 per person, and a moderately priced meal for two will only run about $26.