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Worst U.S. Cities For Food Enthusiasts

globocity Sep 8, 2013 09:55 PM


1. San Bernardino, CA
2. Garland, TX
3. North Las Vegas, NV
4. El Paso, TX
5. Laredo, TX
6. Fort Worth, TX
7. St. Petersburg, FL
8. Corpus Christi, TX
9. Detroit, MI
10. Chesapeake, VA

Gotta agree with San Bernadino but I have never been to the other cities that made the list.


  1. KatheM Sep 12, 2013 03:55 PM

    totally missed Chelan, WA

    1. g
      gfr1111 Sep 12, 2013 04:32 AM

      So the standard used in the article is how MANY restaurants and other food establishments there are per capita. It makes no judgment about the quality of the restaurants that are there. I agree that the standard used is odd and unfair.

      1. Caroline1 Sep 11, 2013 09:27 PM

        They aren't at all clear on their judging criteria, or did I miss something?

        3 Replies
        1. re: Caroline1
          tcamp Sep 12, 2013 05:25 AM

          From the site I linked above, this is their explanation. Think crowdsourcing and yelp.

          How We Cooked This Up

          You can look at our Big Deal Lists kind of like a menu at a restaurant. You’ve just had the appetizer, and next we’re going to serve up the main course. Like any gourmet meal, it’s made up of several dishes; in this case, these are our ranking criteria. In order to prepare this ranking for you, we looked at the 100 most populous cities in the U.S. based on these nine criteria:
          •Restaurants per capita
          •Bakeries per capita
          •Food Trucks per capita
          •Ice Cream Shops per capita
          •Candy Shops per capita
          •Food and Wine Festivals per capita
          •Caterers per capita
          •Gourmet Grocery Stores per capita

          Each city was ranked from 1 to 100 based on these criteria individually, with 1 being the worst for foodies. Then, we put all the criteria in our blender and whipped up an average Big Deal Score for each city. The higher a city’s Big Deal Score, the worse it is for food lovers. For more on how we come up with our trademark Big Deal Lists, check out this page.

          There are a couple of things we should point out, kind of like the fine print on the ingredients list. For starters, our data comes from crowdsourced reviews site Yelp, with the exception of our food and wine festival data which originates from a good, old-fashioned scouring of several online resources for the events. Secondly, we only factor in businesses and events that take place within city limits; nothing in this ranking is based on metropolitan area.

          So, now that we’ve whet your appetite, let’s move onto the main course—a breakdown of why we picked each criterion and which cities ranked particularly low in it.

          1. re: tcamp
            chowser Sep 12, 2013 05:32 AM

            That works for people who value quantity over quality. Food courts, anyone? That must rank highly.

            1. re: tcamp
              Caroline1 Sep 12, 2013 03:45 PM

              Well, they don't seem to understand the concepts they're trying to use. For example, they have two cities (Garland and Fort Worth) that are both integral parts of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, which is a clustered blanket of humanity piled up in north Texas that, last I heard, counted something like 8 million souls in the melting pot.

              Their "restaurants per capita" is a joke for this area! When I first moved here 8 years ago, the natives were all very happy to share with me that the DFW metroplex has more restaurants per capita than New York City (and boroughs). I will admit to most often responding, "Yes, but NYC has all of the good ones!" Which may or may not be true, depending on the restaurant. The area, including Garland and Fort Worth, has a wide diversity of good, bad, ugly, pretty, wonderful and disgusting restaurants, which means simply, something for everyone!

              Anyway, all these guys are trying to do with their "scientific" analysis is sell magazines... Or whatever. Which does not change the fact that their study doesn't hold water! John Donne said, "No man is an island," and the same holds true for cities in this little corner of the world.

          2. JonParker Sep 10, 2013 03:27 PM

            Any list of this type that leaves off Oklahoma City isn't trying.

            1. ChefJune Sep 10, 2013 02:14 PM

              Who makes these lists? Irrelevant at best, I think.

              1. chowser Sep 9, 2013 02:27 PM

                "based on a ranking system that crunched numbers for the amount of restaurants, bakeries, food trucks, and gourmet grocery stores (among other "foodie" haunts) per capita for the United States' 100 largest cities."

                It's a terrible way to rank "worst." Plus, they do it based on Yelp reviews. I've been to far too many cites where the only restaurants were chains. There are a plethora of them so they'd do great on this ranking. Chesapeake? It abuts a few cities that have decent food. I tend to lump Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake all in one area.

                1. r
                  rasputina Sep 9, 2013 12:54 PM

                  North Las Vegas? Right, because the Vegas valley is so huge and has such heavy traffic that it's a struggle to drive to the great places. /rolls eyes /end sarcasm

                  I had some good meals at camp in the San Bernardino mountains as a kid, but they probably don't count lol.

                  Fort Worth? Really? Come on.

                  I've been to St Pete and nothing stands out good or bad in my mind food wise of my stay.

                  1. tcamp Sep 9, 2013 08:53 AM

                    Yikes, after reviewing their methodology for coming up with this list, I'd say it is suspect. I've had some pretty good meals in several of those locations listed.


                    3 Replies
                    1. re: tcamp
                      alliegator Sep 9, 2013 08:58 AM

                      I think most list of cities type things are suspect. I recently read a list of best cities in the US to retire, and most of the listed places would drive any retiree I know to go stark raving mad.
                      But the lists are great for entertainment and chat :)

                      I do stand by my Ft. Worth opinion, though. A good meal could be had in Dallas, but that could be quite a hike. And in traffic, not even worth it.

                      1. re: alliegator
                        globocity Sep 10, 2013 05:18 PM

                        Was the "Best Cities to Retire" list in an AARP article? It was laugh-out loud ridiculous; only listing East Coast cities and/or expensive places (SF.)

                        1. re: globocity
                          alliegator Sep 12, 2013 07:05 AM

                          No, I don't remember, it was quite some time ago. This list was mostly made up of tiny towns in the south and Midwest with low living costs, but probably limited services for seniors. And SF for retirement? That's certainly ambitios!

                    2. alliegator Sep 9, 2013 08:05 AM

                      I almost spit my breakfast out from laughing. I recently ended a 4 year stint in Ft. Worth and found the food scene atrocious. It was only my opinion, but I see that others feel the same way.

                      1. a
                        akachochin Sep 9, 2013 07:47 AM

                        Like most of these contrived lists, the results are debatable. For the most part, the list appears to be the complement to places that are demographically young, have a large affluent segment in the population, and are "destinations". I can't argue with the Texas choices; Garland will always be the home of prime beef cooked well-done for me. But I wonder how many of the yelps are from people who were looking for sushi in Laredo or oysters in Detroit?

                        And how did Chesapeake get on the list? Is the more than 1:100 who could tell you where it is?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: akachochin
                          chris2269 Sep 9, 2013 08:32 AM

                          I agree. having lived in Vegas for 10+ years pointing out North Las Vegas is pointing out a suburb of a large city where if you drive for 10+ mins your on Freemont Street, the strip or any other great food populated area. Eater is the TMZ of food news IMO.

                        2. i
                          INDIANRIVERFL Sep 9, 2013 06:44 AM

                          By my definition, the only cities I see are Fort Worth and Detroit. The rest may have the population, but not the pedigree.

                          And Detroit is getting closer and closer to dog pound Tramp.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: INDIANRIVERFL
                            charlesbois Sep 9, 2013 07:01 AM

                            I'm not sure what you mean by "dog pound Tramp" but don't believe everything you hear or read about Detroit. Lots of thriving artisan and high-end eateries downtown and in the surrounding areas. Eat It Detroit has a great article exposing the doofus who wrote the Eater article.

                            1. re: charlesbois
                              INDIANRIVERFL Sep 9, 2013 07:15 AM

                              "Lady and the Tramp" You live this close to the Mouse and it becomes part of your genetic code.

                              1. re: charlesbois
                                tcamp Sep 9, 2013 08:41 AM

                                Yes, I spent some time in Detroit and surrounding areas this summer and had several great meals. Brought back a sack of delicious Michigan peaches too.

                                1. re: charlesbois
                                  Wahooty Sep 11, 2013 09:51 PM

                                  Can you provide a link to that post? I looked for it, but all I could find was EID explaining why they weren't interested in the Eater Detroit gig. (Also a worthwhile read, btw.)

                                  Been meaning to do a long food/drink weekend in Detroit for a while now...this has just lit the fire under my ass to make it happen that much sooner.

                                  1. re: Wahooty
                                    charlesbois Sep 12, 2013 05:56 AM

                                    My mistake, it was in Crain's Detroit. EID just linked to it on their FB page.


                              2. Tripeler Sep 9, 2013 01:59 AM

                                Looks like Texas has really been messed with.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Tripeler
                                  globocity Sep 9, 2013 06:22 AM

                                  A state that large and vast, no wonder! At least it has Austin and Houston for food lovers.

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