Which city really has the most restaurants per capita?
Visit most of the city websites on the net and you will be surprised how many claim to have more restaurants per capita than anywhere else. This is affirmed by Saint Francis; Madison, Wisconsin; Washington DC; and Shreveport, Louisiana. At least Canadian cities have the same claim.
So which cities have a legitimate claim to the title of “Most Restaurants Per Capita”? The National Restaurant Association (NRA) publishes a list of restaurants per capita by state. According to the Association, California has by far the most restaurants with a staggering 87,225 food outlets. New York State has a measly 58,027. The top five are completed by Texas (53,631), Florida (41,901) Pennsylvania (31,466).
In terms of per capita by state, Washington DC tops the list according to the NRA. The US capital region powers about 0.4 restaurants per 100 people. The second is, surprisingly, Montana with .354 restaurants for every 100 people. Rounding out the top five of the NRA are Rhode Island (0.304 percent) Vermont (.303 percent) New York (.301 percent). If you’re a little hungry, you may want to avoid the three states with the fewest restaurants, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Utah.
In terms of North American cities, it’s a bit more difficult to determine who can claim the city title with the most restaurants per capita.
Here are ten cities with more than 100,000 people who have made the claim. But who has the real claim? Who offers the kitchen seeker more options or just the hungry shopper? Who can claim the title of The Restaurant City.
The city of San Francisco is a city of 744,230 residents and claims 2,662 restaurants within the city limits. There is no doubt that the standard of the restaurants in the city by the bay is exceptional. If you only include San Francisco correctly, your density is 279 people per restaurant. But because of housing costs, the number of people living in the city proper has decreased, while the number of businesses that include restaurants, San Francisco is a skewed figure. If you count the metro area, the number of restaurants comes to 4,300 (we will not include hundreds more in nearby Napa and Sonoma wine country). If you consider the population of the metropolitan area of 7,168,176 and divide it by 4,300, you get a per capita density of 1,667 people per restaurant.
Winnipeg is a city on the edge of the Canadian prairies that boasts a broad cross-section of immigrant communities, all of which have their local ethnic cuisines. If you want French toast for breakfast, perogies and sauerkraut for lunch, and Vietnamese imperial rolls for dinner, this is the place to come. This city usually claims to have more restaurants per capita than any other city. Some websites claim that the city has 900 restaurants, but in reality there are only 478. With a population of 619,544, Winnipeg can only claim one restaurant for every 1,296 Canadians covered in snow.
Victory. This city on Vancouver Island and the capital of British Columbia, Canada, regularly claims that it has the “second highest number of restaurants per capita,” which is perhaps clever psychology, as the city has never accused which is the best. . With a population of 335,000, the city claims 265 Italian, French, Greek, East Indian, vegetarian, German, Dutch, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and Thai restaurants. That means Victoria has one restaurant for every 1264 people. But with its spectacular location midway between Vancouver and Seattle, you wouldn’t mind if your claim is a bit off the mark.
Nobody cooks at home in New York City, and by the time you’ve heard of a restaurant, it’s probably already closed. Restaurants open and close with alarming alacrity in the Big Apple. On average, New York City can lay claim to 6,650 places to dine, from the posh Lespinasse to the greasiest corner restaurant, most restaurants anywhere on the continent. However, with 8,168,338 people, New York can only claim that it has 1,228 people per restaurant. It may seem like every second building in New York is a restaurant, but they have to serve a large number of vertically housed residents. That explains why it is difficult to find a table some nights.
The only Canadian city that can boast the highest number of restaurants per capita is Montreal, in the province of Quebec. With just over 5,000 restaurants in the metropolitan island area, there seems to be at least one restaurant on every corner. With its diverse immigrant population and majority French, the city has every type of cuisine available, from Lebanese to mainland French to native Canadian. Some 3,720,000 Quebecers live in the metropolitan area, making Montreal the second largest French-speaking city in the world. Giving you a per capita restaurant number of 744.
When you leave Austin, you enter Texas, the saying goes. This modern city in central Texas has 1,088 places to eat to enhance its reputation as Music City USA. That list includes 128 establishments in or around the University of Texas alone. Austin’s growing population is currently 690,252, bringing the ratio of people to restaurant to 634.
Louisville, home of the Kentucky Derby, is a small city of just over half a million people. Pap John’s Pizza and Yum Brands, the parent company of A&W, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, make Louisville their corporate home, so it’s not surprising that this city on the Ohio River has 1,089 restaurants. That makes 510 people per restaurant.
Madison owns the rights to the title of “city with the most restaurants per capita” and the capital makes the claim throughout its literature. However, losing the actual number of restaurants is quite difficult. The best available list points to 437 restaurants serving 221,551 people in the city of Wisconsin. But that means there are only 506 people in each restaurant. Good for only the third on this list.
Wichita, Kansas, is not usually a city that comes to mind when you think of cooking. But with an ethnically diverse workforce, the largest city in Kansas has a reputation for cultural diversity and is located in America’s barn. The 739 restaurants in the city only have capacity for 360,715 people. That translates to 488 people per restaurant, which is good for second place on our list.
Dallas This Lone Star State City has a population of 1,250,950 and a selection of restaurants numbering 2,666. While the city is known for its steakhouses and rotisseries, there is a surprising mix of great restaurants, from posh to basic. That means every restaurant, fast food joint, and steakhouse in Texas’ third-largest city can boast a potential pool of just 469 people. Making this city the winner of the title “City with the most restaurants per capita”.