|All content presented here and elsewhere is solely intended for informational purposes only. The reader is required to seek professional counsel before beginning any legal or financial endeavor.|
If you want to open a business, opting to do so in one of the best restaurant cities in the US can be a great strategy. While the food, ambiance, and service are all crucial elements of any successful restaurant, location is equally important — and it can ultimately make or break your business. It’s essential to keep a city’s food culture in mind when you consider where to open a restaurant.
- Location can be a huge determinant of a restaurant’s success, so it’s crucial to do your research.
- The best food cities aren’t always the best places to open a restaurant, since opening your doors in an oversaturated market can be detrimental.
- Some cities are better homes for business models like food trucks, while others are better suited for sit-down restaurants.
Best U.S. Cities for Foodies to Visit
The US is home to a plethora of great food towns, all of which boast their own unique characteristics and cultures. The best foodie cities can be found across the country, so you can find great food from coast to coast. Take a look at the best places to visit for foodies:
- New York, NY: Known as the “City that Never Sleeps,” you can find any and every type of food your heart desires in the Big Apple — at all hours of the day. From fine dining legends to whole-in-the-wall secrets, this city has it all.
- New Orleans, LA: Creole, Cajun, and American cuisines combine in this foodie mecca. The Big Easy’s food culture permeates almost every aspect of the city. From world-famous beignets, to gumbo, to fresh seafood, New Orleans’ cuisine is distinct from anywhere else in the country.
- Los Angeles, CA: LA’s food scene is a melting pot of cuisines. Here you can find vegan fare alongside authentic Mexican staples, Korean fusion next door to a farm-to-table eatery, and street food in close proximity to high-end options.
- Chicago, IL: One of the best things about Chicago is that its residents take pride in Chicago foodie staples. From deep-dish pizza to hot dogs, there are certain things Chicago just does differently. Plus, this city is home to a wealth of unique restaurants that are sure to please a range of tastes and budgets.
- San Francisco, CA: With its focus on fresh produce and local ingredients, there’s no shortage of tasty eats in this hilly city. From dim sum, to cocktail bars, to Michlin-starred restaurants, the food scene in San Francisco is as diverse as it is delicious.
- Las Vegas, NV: While Las Vegas might be known for its casinos, plenty of renowned restaurants call this gambler’s paradise home. Visitors are no longer limited to buffet options since many famous chefs and restaurateurs have set up shop in Las Vegas.
- Philadelphia, PA: While this city’s famous Philly Cheesesteaks are certainly worth sampling, it’s also home to restaurants that feature nearly every type of cuisine under the sun. The “City of Brotherly Love” is also the city of delicious eats.
- Austin, TX: Somewhat of a newcomer in the food world, Austin has exploded with new restaurants, food trucks, and all the tacos you could ever dream of. The city offers a tasty blend of southern staples and Mexican food that give it a food culture all its own.
- Boston, MA: Since Boston is a major metropolis, there’s no shortage of dining options here. Staples like lobster rolls and clam chowder add to the city’s distinct food culture, and it’s also steeped in American history.
- Houston, TX: BBQ lovers will feel right at home in Houston. However, BBQ is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the diverse range of cuisines that are represented in this Texas food destination.
Best Places to Open a Restaurant in the U.S.
The best places for foodies aren’t necessarily the best cities to open a restaurant. When it comes to the best restaurant locations, it’s important to consider the balance between supply and demand. You want there to be enough interest to drive traffic, but you don’t want to have to compete in an oversaturated market. If you’re looking for the best place to open a restaurant, consider one of the cities below:
- Cedar Park, TX: Located just outside of Austin, this city is experiencing substantial population growth that doesn’t appear to be stopping any time soon. While the restaurant market in nearby Austin is extremely saturated, this city is in need of new eateries to feed the influx of new residents.
- Minneapolis, MN: Minneapolis doesn’t have the highest median income or the fastest-growing population. However, it does have a healthy economy in which its residents have enough disposable income to spend on dining, and an urban culture where restaurants can thrive.
- Fishers, IN: With its affordable cost of living, healthy economy, and a population that largely falls into the most desirable demographic for restaurants (between 35-54 years old), this city is an ideal location to start a restaurant.
- Alpharetta, GA: This Atlanta suburb is bustling with shops and restaurants — and the demand just keeps on growing. Alpharetta’s affluent population spends a sizable amount of money on dining, so this can serve as a great place to start a restaurant.
- Frisco, TX: This city is one of the wealthiest areas in the Dallas-Fort Worth region, which means its citizens can afford to patronize new restaurants. Its population is also on the rise, so you won’t have to worry about a shortage of customers.
Best Food Truck Cities in the U.S.
If you want to start a food truck, some cities will make better homes for your restaurant on wheels than others. The best food truck cities tend to be ones that feature pleasant climates, walkable areas, and a culture that values quick, delicious eats. Take a look:
- Portland, OR: Portland has a rich food culture that can be seen in its number of successful food trucks. Not only is the city extremely walkable, but the government has made it relatively easy to operate a food truck business within city limits.
- Raleigh, NC: Food trucks are already a staple in many residents’ daily routines, and this business model’s popularity means you won’t have to introduce customers to the idea of grabbing lunch on wheels.
- Salt Lake City, UT: One of the biggest benefits of opening a food truck in Salt Lake City is that the government is extremely food truck-friendly — so you won’t have to jump through hoops to get your business up and running.
- Austin, TX: If you’ve ever been to Austin, you already know that there are food trucks on seemingly every corner. While it might seem like there are already enough mobile vendors, citizens of Austin still eagerly visit new food trucks — so you’ll be in good company.
- Orlando, FL: Orlando is known for its bright and sunny weather, which makes it the perfect location for opening a food truck. You won’t have to worry about a blizzard deterring customers from grabbing an al-fresco lunch in this city.
- Denver, CO: The “Mile High City” has become a hotspot for young professionals in recent years, and its residents are all about food trucks. Denver’s walkable downtown area is another draw for potential food truck operators.
- Providence, RI: Rhode Island might be the smallest state, but there are still big opportunities for food truck owners in Providence. This coastal city is walkable enough to accommodate food trucks, and its residents are already on board since the city is home to many successful food truck businesses.
- Tampa, FL: This is another city where the weather is conducive to year–round outdoor dining — which is a big benefit for food truck owners.
- Seattle, WA: Known as a hipster’s paradise, Seattle’s food truck scene is blossoming as more and more trucks are starting to call this city home. This is one example where you shouldn’t let the rainy weather stop you — residents are used to it!
Best U.S. Cities for Entrepreneurs
Starting a new business requires taking a leap of faith. While there’s always some inherent risk involved in forging your own path, certain places can certainly be considered the best cities for entrepreneurs. These unique locations are rife with business needs, plenty of potential customers, and abundant financial opportunities. If you want to know the best city to start a business, take a look at the list below:
- Austin, TX: Austin’s population is exploding, and savvy entrepreneurs are quickly moving in to take advantage of the good weather, educated population, and fun, youthful vibe the city has to offer.
- Salt Lake City, UT: Home to tech companies and outdoor enthusiasts alike, Salt Lake City is an entrepreneur’s paradise. Although the city is quickly becoming a business hub, prices are still more affordable than in other cities with similar opportunities, making it a great place to start a business.
- Raleigh, NC: Startups and software companies abound in Raleigh, which is also the state capital. It’s also smack-dab in North Carolina’s “research triangle” which means entrepreneurs have the chance to capture the business of an educated and motivated population.
- Nashville, TN: There’s more to Nashville than just country music. From healthcare businesses, to universities, to a thriving tourist scene, there are plenty of niches for a new business to settle into in this Tennessee city.
- San Francisco, CA: Although this city is notoriously expensive, successful new businesses can really thrive if they can figure out how to overcome the challenges of a high-rent city. Home to a plethora of groundbreaking companies, innovation is at the heart of this town.
- San Jose, CA: If you want your customer base to include employees of some of the world’s most successful companies, San Jose is the place to be. Startup culture is strong in this California city, and it’s bursting with opportunities at every turn.
- San Diego, CA: Sunny, gorgeous weather isn’t San Diego’s only draw. The city’s nearby universities, military bases, and robust aerospace sector make it a great place to open up shop.
- Denver, CO: Young professionals are moving to Denver in droves, and this city is full of potential if you’re looking for a location where you can attract the business of a youthful, growing population.
- Orlando, FL: The tourism industry is still going strong in Orlando, but other sectors of the economy like tech and construction are also on the rise, making Orlando home to a diverse range of business opportunities.
- Portland, OR: Foodies, techies, and startup employees alike all call this northwestern city home — making it a highly desirable place to start a business.
- Miami, FL: Co-working spaces, incubators, and accelerators abound in Miami, which means this city has an inherent entrepreneurial spirit. With both the business of locals and tourists at your fingertips, it’s a great city to start forging your own path.
How to Choose the Best City for Your Restaurant
Choosing the right city is one of the most important things to consider when you’re thinking about how to open a restaurant. While personal factors such as where you’d like to spend a good deal of your time come into play, there are other more objective elements you should consider. When it comes to the best place to open, restaurant owners know to look at the following:
- Population growth: At the end of the day, you need to be able to bring enough customers through your doors to sustain your business. Opting to open up shop in a city with a growing population means your opportunities to capture new business will always be on the rise.
- Average income: No matter how many people reside in a city, they’re not going to eat out unless they have disposable income. It’s important to consider the average income of residents in various locations as you research, especially if you’re unsure of your exact concept. Lower-income cities are usually better suited for more casual options.
- Existing restaurant culture: This one is tricky because you want to choose a location that has a vibrant dining culture, but that doesn’t have too many restaurants competing for a small amount of business. It’s a good idea to consider the success of local restaurants as you choose a location, and to look into data pertaining to restaurant failures, as well.
- Funding opportunities: If you plan to start a restaurant, you may require extra funds to achieve your goal. To do so, it is advisable to stay aware of the opportunities available for restaurant business loans and federal or local grants offered to restaurant owners in your area. Additionally, you may want to check out our compilation of the best restaurant business loans.