Houston's fine dining may be more affordable than you think. Especially compared to the rest of the country. (Photo taken by Rita Castre, Latin Bites)
You may be living in a foodie nirvana and not even realize it. Sure, Houston’s restaurant credibility has long been established. But its food affordability — and downright cheapness — is something that surprises many.
It turns out Houston is the second cheapest food city in all of America. It’s only beaten out in affordability by Austin in new rankings of the 150 largest cities in the United States. In fact, Houston is deemed to be cheaper, restaurant and grocery store-wise, than cities where you might have little interest in eating, including Indianapolis (No. 3), Cincinnati (No. 4) and Denver (No. 5) — — hardly anyone’s dream Murders’ Row of compelling food cities.
If you’re dropping $250 on a dinner at Oxheart or $80 for lunch at Kata Robata, this may not seem possible. But the methodology behind these new rankings is solid. Affordability was determined by calculating each city’s grocery costs, average beer and wine costs and the prevalence of affordable restaurants with ratings of 4.5+ stars as determined by WalletHub, the financial site behind the rankings.
Houston’s high-end grocery-store wars seem to have helped — as hard as that may be to stomach after staring at your Whole Foods’ bill. The Bayou City is lauded for having the third lowest grocery costs in the country, behind only two other Texas cities — Laredo and Corpus Christi (Austin finishes fourth in grocery costs).
The number of high-end restaurants with cheap — Okay, relatively reasonable — prices in Houston means just as much. There’s definitely something to be said for a city where you can get a $25 business lunch at a restaurant the caliber of Tony’s.
It’s certainly better than how the other half lives — in New Jersey. The least affordable food city in America? That would be Jersey City, whose views across the river at Manhattan are apparently only matched by its high grocery costs and scant number of reasonable high-end restaurants.
Sometimes, it’s better to be a Texan — especially a well-eating Houston one.