HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >

Discussion

The city with the most restaurants per capita population?

  • 27
  • Share

Watching "Chefs vs. City" on the Food Network tonight, They mentioned, San Francisco as the city with the most restaurants per capita population in the US.
I was always led to believe Dallas held that distinction. Could they have meant the city with the most, non-chain restaurants?
What do you think?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. I think it's a common misnomer. Every city I have ever lived in spun the yarn 'if you don't like the weather wait a minute...'. And every major city I have lived in gave themselves the restaurant per capita honor. Giggidity.

    9 Replies
    1. re: DallasDude

      Well some city has to have the highest number of restaurants per capita despite the claims of the other cities. This is a quantifiable question.

      Acoording to this pretty credible article the winner is Dallas.
      http://www.articlealley.com/article_1...

      1. re: KTinNYC

        "The city of San Francisco is a city of 744,230 people and claims to have 2,662 restaurants within the city boundaries. There is no doubt that the standard of restaurants in the city of the bay is exceptional. If you just include San Francisco properly your density is 279 people per restaurant..."

        "Dallas. This Lone Star State city has a population of 1,250,950 and a selection of restaurants that add up to 2,666. While the city is known for its BBQ and steak houses there is a surprising mix of great eateries from chic to basic. That means every restaurant, fast food place and steak house in Texas’ third largest city can boast an potential pool of just 469 people. "

        I'd say based on the article the winner is San Francisco. I guess it depends on how you define "city". It's interesting because I would have expected it to be a city that has a large visitor contingent so they're not just relying on locals to support the eateries.

        1. re: hsk

          "It's interesting because I would have expected it to be a city that has a large visitor contingent so they're not just relying on locals to support the eateries."

          I think most restaurants rely on regulars to be the core of their business. There are very few restaurants that can depend on visitors to pay their bills. This is true even in well known NYC restaurants that people coin "touristy" like Babbo. This is why restaurants give their regulars preferential treatment.

          1. re: KTinNYC

            Well of course, good restaurants rely on regulars to be the core of their business, but I don't think lots of resident regulars that eat out a lot could win a city the "most restaurants per capita" distinction.

            I just meant I thought it would be a city that has a lot of diners that don't go into the "capita" calculation - i.e. customers who don't live there.

          2. re: hsk

            San Francisco is a city with a large visitor contingent, plus, it helps the mathematics that the city itself has a relatively small population but it's in the center of a very large metro area. So "visitor" includes not only people who travel there from outside the area, but the hundreds of thousands of people who come into the city from other parts of the metro area on a daily basis.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              SF has lots of small, intimate restaurants as contrasted with the giant money-sucking goliaths in Las Vegas, which tends to make the distinction of the highest ratio a less than meaningful statistic.

              1. re: Veggo

                Yes. It might be interesting to compare restaurant *seats* per capita, since the average chain restaurant is also much bigger than the average SF restaurant.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  That town on the side of the interstate with the most and the biggest Taco Bells could finally be distinguished for something.

            2. re: hsk

              Toronto has a population of just over 2 million, and has over 5,000 restaurants, according to Tourism Toronto. Think that means we slide in ahead of Dallas, but can't quite catch 'Frisco.

        2. Not Dallas itself, but one of its suburbs, Irving, I think.

          It;s really something to see, one restaurant after another. However, many of them are chains of questionable quality.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ekammin

            You might be thinking of Addison. Irving is an armpit with few decent restaurants.

          2. I was always told that Victoria, BC was second in North America after San Francisco. Straight from the mouth of a Tourism Victoria "head honcho". Totally unbiased.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Jetgirly

              In terms of per capita per state, Washington DC tops the list according to NRA. The US capital region boosts some 0.4 restaurants per 100 people. Second is, surprisingly, Montana at .354 restaurants per 100 people. Rounding out the NRA’s top five are Rhode Island (0.304 per 100) Vermont (.303 per 100) New York (.301 per 100).

              Funny how unbiased all cities are, really. Here are some shining examples of tall tales in motion:

              Madison, WI: It also is believed to have more restaurants per capita than any other U.S. city. Madison ranks near the top in a wide variety of categories and publications, including the arts, health, living, working, friendliness, entertainment, sports, families, and overall quality of life. http://www.bus.wisc.edu/mba/why/madis...

              Portland, ME: In light of a recent article in Bon Appétit which calls Portland the "America's foodiest small town of 2009," I would like to put forth a new statement that Portland also has the most blogs about local food and restaurants. Although some of the food blogs around here only post links to other articles calling Portland the best food city/most restaurants per capita/etc.. http://portlandmainedaily.blogspot.co...

              Dallas, TX: (I live here and note how 2 cities in the same article are credited for this epic award) With nearly one and a quarter million residents, and almost twenty-seven hundred restaurants, Dallas, Texas is generally considered the U.S. city with the most restaurants per capita, and within it borders is the town of Addison, about fifteen minutes outside of downtown, that boasts the most restaurants per capita in Dallas. http://www.associatedcontent.com/arti...

              Doral, FL: (huh??) Forbes.com surmised that although Doral is probably most famous for its world-class golf courses and resorts, it is also a vibrant center of multinational importing and exporting businesses due to its proximity to the Miami airport. It ranks second for the number of sole proprietors running their own business and third for its share of young and educated workers. It also ranks toward the top for restaurants per capita due to the resort communities found in Doral and high-end clientele. http://www.cityofdoral.com/cityofdora...

              Austin, TX: Austin is the third best place to live in the U.S., the second fastest growing city in the U.S., and home to the most restaurants and bars per capita than any other American city! http://www.earthcam.com/usa/texas/aus...

              San Francisco, CA: San Francisco is a great restaurant town. There are more restaurants per capita here than in any other city in the United States, offering a dizzying array of choices. http://www.cs.uwaterloo.ca/~plragde/f...

              Saratgoga Springs, NY: (note they are calling a tie with City by the Bay) Actually, Saratoga Springs has just as many restaurants per person. Based on the National Restaurant Association's tally, San Francisco has the same number of restaurants per capita, with 744,230 residents and 2,662 restaurants. http://albany.bizjournals.com/albany/...

              Omaha, NB:
              If there's one thing Omahans love to do, it's eat. You'll find more restaurants per capita in Omaha than in any other U.S. city. http://www.marriott.com/city-guide/ci...

              Ithica, NY: With more restaurants per capita than New York City and a bounty of local and organic produce, dining in Ithaca is diverse. http://www.lawschool.cornell.edu/admi...

              Toledo, OH: Looking for great food? Toledo has the most restaurants per capita than any other city in the Continental United States!http://law.utoledo.edu/admissions/tol...

              Cleveland, OH: It's been said that Cleveland has more restaurants per capita, and more GOOD restaurants per capita, than most cities. http://www.coolcleveland.com/index.ph...

              Wichita, KS: (note that Wichita claims to be number 2 after Dallas. Cooool.) Wichita has the second highest number of restaurants per capita (after Dallas, Texas). This article states:
              Wichita, Kansas is not usually a city that leaps to mind when one thinks of cuisine. But with an ethnically diverse work force, the largest city in Kansas has a reputation for cultural diversity and is located in the breadbasket of America. http://www.math.wichita.edu/MAA2007/i...

              Honolulu, HI: Businesses 150 miles northwest in Honolulu, which is believed to have the highest concentration of restaurants per capita of any city in the nation. http://www.nrn.com/breakingNews.aspx?...

              NYC, NY: (let it be noted it took 15 Google pages to see this boast) New York swept the rankings because of its sheer number of hot spots. With its 3,844 bars, 35,421 restaurants and 734 museums, it ranked No. 1 for every category except major league sports teams. http://english.sina.com/life/p/2009/0...

              San Luiss Obispo, CA: With perhaps more movie screens and restaurants per capita than found in most major metropolitan areas, San Luis Obispo is the cultural hub of the County. http://www.coldwellbankerliberty.com/...

              Knoxville, TN: (The NYC of the Smoky Mountains) Knoxville has the most restaurants per capita of any American city. http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A446429

              Springfiled, MO: Springfield is a test city for restaurants and has more restaurants per capita than most cities. http://www.pgatour.com/tournaments/h0...

              Santa Barbara, CA: A large part of Santa Barbara’s culture is the dining scene, one which is enhanced by the abundance of farmer’s markets and fresh seafood. Because of this, it is said that the city has more restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the country. http://www.lowfares.com/blog/?tag=san...

              Portsmouth, NH: Portsmouth is easily within reach to the east where you can enjoy sunny Atlantic beaches, quirky specialty shops, beautiful gardens and parks, or sitting by the harbor. The town's numerous seafood restaurants and cafes give Portsmouth the title of most restaurants per capita in America. http://www.breakthroughmanchester.org...

              I could have literally done this all night, as I had 1000s of Google hits. Everyone wishes to earn this title. Interesting enough, while perfoming the searches, I found the most strips clubs per capita, bookstores, fast food joints, you name it. every one wishes to have a claim to fame, and if its not true, they make it up. It's the job of every good president of the local Chamber of Commerce.

              I might add my entry into the records book for the Most Restaurants per Capita. Luchenbach, Texas technically has one with three residents (any given day). We have been going about this all wrong!

              1. re: DallasDude

                I would have guessed DC would rank high. Even with the uncounted multitudes living in wretched poverty in our nation's capital, lobbyists need nice places in which to stroke our elected leaders.

            2. Having recently returned from a visit there, I'd nominate Prague. Some 60% of the city's revenue derives from tourist-related activities, and dining out is foremost among them.

              1. Are we talking about big cities or any city?

                According to http://www.articlealley.com/article_1......

                "The city of San Francisco is a city of 744,230 people and claims to have 2,662 restaurants within the city boundaries. There is no doubt that the standard of restaurants in the city of the bay is exceptional. If you just include San Francisco properly your density is 279 people per restaurant. But because costs of housing the number of people living in the city proper has declined while the number of businesses including restaurants, San Francisco is a distorted number. If you count the metro area, the number of restaurants climbs to 4,300 restaurants (we won’t include hundreds more in the nearby wine country of Napa and Sonoma). If you consider the metro area population of 7,168,176 and divide by 4,300 you get a per capita density of 1,667 people per restaurant."

                ... and ...

                "Dallas. This Lone Star State city has a population of 1,250,950 and a selection of restaurants that add up to 2,666. While the city is known for its BBQ and steak houses there is a surprising mix of great eateries from chic to basic. That means every restaurant, fast food place and steak house in Texas’ third largest city can boast an potential pool of just 469 people. Making this city the winner of the title “City With The Most Restaurants per Capita.”

                Depending upon the validity of the above, the city - albeit small - with the most restaurants per capita is Old Forge, Pennsylvania. With less than 8,800 residents according to the 2000 census and 26 establishments, that makes the average 1 restaurant for every 338 people.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Marne

                  Actually, when compared to central Texas bbq, the stuff in Dllas is considered pretty mediocre by most Texas bbq fans.

                  1. re: James Cristinian

                    Agreed.

                2. nevermind. did some math wrong there

                  1. Nuf said by the others....Santa Fe has 290 restaurants and 70,000 residents with excellent to very good noodles, Cuban, Mexican, American, French, African, SE Asian and Spanish.

                    1. I don't have a single fact to back this up, but I would put my money on Hong Kong. Obviously, not in U.S.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mwhitmore

                        Tokyo seems to come up as a common response to this query too, though a bunch of links just focus on the Michelin star aspect.

                        BuildingMyBento
                        http://collaterallettuce.com/

                      2. Dunno about city but I'm pretty sure that Pitcairn Islands has the most restaurants per capita of any country in the world.

                        9 restaurants by last count with a total population of 50 (give or take a few deaths and/or births).

                        1. I don't know about per capita, but when we visit our son in Manassas Va, just outside of DC there are restaurants of every ethnic variety you can think of. I would love to live near all that diversity of food. He always takes us to somewhere fabulous and that we do not have at home. How fun and exciting!!

                          1. This is an old post....and I don't know any facts to say which city holds the true distinction for the title today....however, i can recall reading or hearing that is everyone who lived in San Francisco went out to dinner in every restaurant available, there would still be empty seats.

                            1. This is a little late to the game but it seems a lot of people are confusing Dallas, TX with Addison, TX.

                              Addison, TX has a restaurant density of 1 restaurant per 79 people. This puts it well ahead of San Francisco.

                              Addison is located in Dallas County but it is not the same thing as Dallas, TX the city.