The Best Cities for Meat Lovers in America

Mostly in Texas, of course, but also in barbecue hotspots, burger towns and destinations for regional cuisine across America. So, what are the best cities in the nation for meat lovers? Don’t have a cow, we got your cut-of-the-day selections straight off the chopping block, bone in.

Best cities for meat per capita

We looked at every city in the U.S. with more than 100,000 residents and ranked them based on the number of BBQ joints, hamburger restaurants, steakhouses, meat retailers, butcher shops and any spot where beef is what’s for dinner (or lunch, or heck, even breakfast) per resident.

We’ve highlighted the top 10 beefiest cities for meat lovers with more than a half-million citizens from Music City to Sin City. You’ll find the top rankings for medium-sized cities and small cities in the tables at the bottom of the page.

10. Nashville, TN

nashville tn meat lovers

While Memphis gets all the attention in the state of Tennessee, Nashville has a hearty meat-lovers tradition all its own. The Music City is not just Hot Chicken, but also a local custom known as Meat and Three.

Meat and Three is a city-wide special available at a number of restaurants where customers choose one meat dish and three sides, which is then served with cornbread and sweet tea. This mix-and-match favorite can be found at popular spots such as 417 Union, Chef’s Market Café and Copper Kettle.

If you live in Smashville and grab a Meat and Three every day, a one-bedroom apartment will run you $1,487 a month on average.

9. Louisville, KY

louisville ky meat

No one will fault you for thinking Louisville is chicken, chicken and more chicken. But KFC isn’t the only game in town. And it’s not the only thing fried in The ‘Ville either. Chicken fried steak is an integral part of the local cuisine.

Kentucky also has a unique spin on Southern barbecue, with mutton often served as the primary meat. But whether mutton or traditional pork and beef, find some of the best barbecue spots in Louisville at Feast BBQ, Frankford Avenue Beer Depot and Shack in the Back BBQ.

Bring some stacked barbecue home with a side of Kentucky bourbon, where your one-bedroom rental averages $948 per month.

8. Houston, TX

houston tx meat lovers

Houston is a big town. Houston is a rich town. And make no mis-“steak,” Houston is a meat town. It’s a mix of Gulf, cowboy, Mexican and Southern influences, all coming together to create a high-end beef metropolis.

Burgers, barbecue and barbacoa are all outstanding, but steak tops them all in H-town. Find some of the best T-bones, filets and high-end burgers in the nation at steakhouses like Taste of Texas, Steak 48 and B&B Butchers, one of the few spots in America serving true certified Japanese Kobe beef.

With enough beef to fill the Astrodome, stick around Houston a while, partner, where an average one-bedroom rents $1,197 a month.

7. Dallas, TX

Dallas tx meat lovers

Carolina is hog-wild for pork. In Alabama, pulled chicken rules the roost. But in Dallas, beef-based barbecue is no bull. In the heart of Texas, chicken and pork are stopped at the border and cow is king.

Traced back to the influence of Czech and German immigrants, North Texas barbecue means beef, where the meat is front and center and sauces and sides are afterthoughts. Dishes like pulled brisket, beef ribs and burnt ends smoked over local pecan and oak wood satisfy even the biggest Texas hunger. So check out some of the best beef barbecue joints in Big D, including Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse, Mac’s Bar-B-Que and The Slow Bone.

Like smoking some ‘cue at home? Ask your landlord first, then hand them over $1,355 a month, the average for a one-bedroom in Dallas.

6. Tucson, AZ

tucson az meat lovers

In 1922, Tia Monica Flin opened El Charro Café at the corner of W. Franklin Street and N. Court Avenue in what is now Tucson’s El Presidio Historic District, establishing the oldest continuously-operating Mexican restaurant in the U.S. That same year, Tia Monica accidentally dropped a burro percherón into a hot-oil frying pan and invented the chimichanga.

Whether you’re enjoying that deep-fried ground beef burrito or their famous carne seca — a lean, tender beef jerky — you can thank Tia Monica for bringing Mexican food to the masses in the Southwest. From tacos to tamales and especially to locally-perfected carne asada, authentic is the name of the beef game in Tuscon, where locals will tell you their cuisine is “Sonoran,” not “Mexican.”

Find your perfect hacienda in Tucson, were an average of $701 a month will snag you a great one-bedroom rental.

5. San Antonio, TX

san antonio tx meat lovers

While Tucson’s Mexican food heritage is authentic Sonoran, San Antonio is pure Tex-Mex blend. Tex-Mex’s beef-based international amalgamation is one of America’s oldest regional cuisines, merging the tastes of indigenous Tejano peoples and Spanish colonists. Born of this combination were the meaty foods Tex-Mex is known for such as cheese enchiladas with chili con carne, crispy beef tacos and chalupas and beef nachos.

In 1900, a Chicago businessman named Otis Farnsworth opened the Original Mexican restaurant in what would become the San Antonio Riverwalk, bringing Tex-Mex to the Anglo masses. A version of that restaurant remains popular today to satisfy your carne cravings, along with SATX Tex-Mex stalwarts like Garcia’s, Henry’s Puffy Tacos and Los Barrios.

After you fill up, River-walk your way home to your one-bedroom apartment, which runs for an average of $983 per month in the Alamo City.

4. Indianapolis, IN

indianapolis in meat lovers

Take a pile of sliced roast beef, perch it on one slice of white bread, cut it corner to corner, set it on a platter in a “V” shape, dollop a couple of scoops of mashed potatoes in-between the halves and douse the entire concoction in beef gravy.

That’s exactly what a group of Indianapolis fabricators did when they had a local deli try to replicate an open-faced sandwich they discovered while training in New York during World War II, which they named the “Beef Manhattan.” Thus was born a staple of Indianapolis cuisine.

While places like Texas or Kansas come to mind first, Indiana is certainly also beef country. The Midwestern metropolis is even home to the original “steakburger” chain Steak ‘N Shake, which has been headquartered in Indy since 1971, long before competitors like Shake Shack, Smashburger and Five Guys.

And if you want to shake it right on home, set aside $929 a month, the average rent for a one-bedroom in Indianapolis today.

3. Jacksonville, FL

jacksonville fl meat lovers

So, let’s be honest. On a list of Best Cities for Meat Lovers, you wouldn’t have thought Jacksonville to be in the top three. Or the top 30. Then again, you’d be wrong. Jacksonville is equal parts soul food, Floribbean and seafood, with a cuisine that combines all three.

But a couple of local sandwiches make JAX stand out in the meat world. The Lubi sandwich — originated at the namesake Lubi’s Hot Subs but available under different names at nearly any J-ville sandwich joint — is a mess of ground sirloin, cheese and onions on a steamed bun and the derogatorily-sounding camel rider sandwich, which features lunchmeat (try it with roast beef) smothered in Italian dressing shoved into a pita with a side of tabbouleh and a cherry limeade.

You’ll also tabbou-love the prices for a one-bedroom in the 904, which go for $993 a month on average.

2. Memphis, TN

memphis tn meat lovers

North Carolina has vinegar, South has mustard. Kansas City is steeped in molasses, mops are keen in Texas and Alabama (God help us) is mayo-based. In barbecue culture, the sauce is king. Or it’s not. Both are correct in Memphis, the nation’s best BBQ town.

Most often pork, but occasionally beef and chicken, Memphis barbecue meat is cooked very low and very slow, encrusted with that famous dry rub textured with garlic, paprika and spices and served with a thin, tangy tomato-based sauce on the side, not cooked in it. It’s this unique combination that differentiates Memphis BBQ from the rest. But don’t take our word for it, find out yourself at any neighborhood joint in the City of Blues, including Central BBQ, A&R Bar-B-Que and Rendezvous.

You don’t have to be Elvis to find your own Graceland in The Little Easy where just $965 a month will snag you an average one-bedroom, uh-huh-huh.

1. Las Vegas, NV

las vegas nv meat lovers

With one “meatery” for every 3,937 residents, there’s no better city in America for meat lovers than Las Vegas. That shouldn’t be that much of a surprise, though. Between the giant casino-hotel all-you-can-eat steak buffets, five-star celebrity chef barbecue joints and an incredible 132 combined Burger Kings, McDonald’s and Wendy’s, meat is nearly everywhere.

When tourists visit Las Vegas — which some 43 million do each year — they want to eat. Some choose familiar Big Macs and Whoppers to satisfy kids with a known quantity while others throw diets — and budgets — to the wind and chow down on a 20-ounce New York strip on The Strip or a wagyu truffle burger at a fancy chophouse. But locals have to eat, too, so it’s to their benefit to have such variety readily available.

Don’t gamble your entire fortune away, though. Save enough to cover the $1,063 per month for an average Vegas one-bedroom rental.

Top 10 midsized cities for meat lovers

We all know that medium-sized cities have as many carnivores (if not more!) than some of the larger locations. These are the top midsized cities (250,000 – 500,000 people) for meat lovers.

RankCity, StateMeat Establishments per Resident
1Orlando, FL1 per 3,259
2Atlanta, GA1 per 3,829
3Cincinnati, OH1 per 4,635
4Saint Louis, MO1 per 4,978
5Pittsburgh, PA1 per 6,720
6Tampa, FL1 per 6,762
7Cleveland, OH1 per 7,010
8Tulsa, OK1 per 7,305
9Lubbock, TX1 per 7,694
10Buffalo, NY1 per 8,082

Top 10 small cities for meat lovers

Just because these cities might be a little smaller doesn’t mean people living there don’t have a big appetite. Here are the top small cities (100,000 – 250,000 people) for meat lovers.

RankCity, StateMeat Establishments per Resident
1Chattanooga, TN1 per 3,894
2Columbia, SC1 per 4,034
3Birmingham, AL1 per 4,132
4Lakeland, FL1 per 4,322
5Knoxville, TN1 per 4,684
6Tyler, TX1 per 4,772
7Lewisville, TX1 per 5,301
8Peoria, IL1 per 5,375
9Columbus, GA1 per 5,391
10Mobile, AL1 per 5,436

Top cities based on total number of meat establishments

If you’re just looking for the cities with the most total number of meat-related establishments, here’s how the top 10 would be dished out.

RankCity, StateTotal Meat Establishments
1Houston, TX209
2Las Vegas, NV163
3San Antonio, TX161
4Chicago, IL142
5Memphis, TN135
6Dallas, TX129
7New York, NY124
8Jacksonville, FL114
9Los Angeles, CA99
10Indianapolis, IN98

Methodology

We took cities with populations more than 100,000 according to the U.S. Census Bureau and used 8 million commercially available business listings to count the number of meat retailers and steak, burger and BBQ restaurants with a mailing address in each city. We then divided each location’s population by this total to determine a ratio of the number meat businesses for each resident to come up with our quantitative ranking. These listings may not reflect recent business openings or closings.

The rent information included in this article is based on March 2019 multifamily rental property inventory on ApartmentGuide.com and Rent.com and is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein does not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

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Michael HochmanMichael is a Philadelphia-based writer with a variety of interests, including music, TV, politics, travel, and sports (Fly Eagles Fly!). His background includes a decade as a programming executive in network television, six years as a marketing executive at a technology company, and time at two magazines and two advertising agencies. He also sits on the board of a non-profit law firm that assists veterans with disabilities. Michael is a proud Syracuse grad (Newhouse) who has lived in Kansas, Chicago, Saratoga, and beyond, and can be found at @phillyparttwo.

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