15 Cities with the Most Local Restaurants

For food lovers, whether or not a city has a great dining scene can make or break the decision to live there. While there’s nothing wrong with chain restaurants, establishments that are owned and operated by local families or individuals offer numerous benefits to their hometowns.

For one, diners are investing in the local economy, supporting chefs, farmers and a whole host of other professions that work in the restaurant industry. For another, it opens you up to new experiences and cuisines, giving you the opportunity to broaden your epicurean horizons. Finally, a dining scene primarily made up of local restaurants gives a city an overall more interesting, vibrant culinary culture, keeping eating exciting for locals and visitors alike.

If living in a great food city with tons of local dining options is a must for you, then you’ll find yourself perfectly at home in these 15 cities. Living here, local restaurants make up the majority of dining choices. For gourmands who always prefer the local mom-and-pop to major national chains, these cities could be the place for you.

The 15 top cities with the most local restaurants

Offering everything from Mission-style burritos to Portuguese seafood, these 15 cities are true culinary melting pots. Here, local chefs with a dream can grow a business and share their passion with local diners, while food lovers can support local businesses and enjoy delicious meals at the same time.

15. Baltimore, MD

Connecting to the rich bounty of the Chesapeake Bay, Baltimore‘s local food scene is renowned for its fresh seafood offerings like crab cakes, steamed crabs and oysters. But it’s also a fantastic place for locavore dining. Out of 4,461 restaurants in the Baltimore area, 83 percent of them are locally owned for a total of 3,703 independent eateries.

That gives hungry diners thousands of local options to choose from like Cajun and Creole cuisine, tasty tacos paired with smoky mezcal cocktails and savory Thai curries. In recent years, Baltimore’s expanding food scene has caught the attention of the James Beard Awards and national outlets, finally shining a spotlight on this up-and-coming foodie haven.

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14. San Francisco

If you’re looking for fantastic local dining, move to San Francisco. The City by the Bay has long been hailed as one of America’s great foodie destinations, so it comes as no surprise that the majority of its restaurants are rooted in the local community. Eighty-three percent of San Francisco‘s roughly 10,129 restaurants are locally owned, far outstripping chain restaurants.

Who would want to settle for a fast food burger when you have delicious Mission-style burritos, creamy clam chowder in giant bread bowls and one of the best Pan-Asian dining scenes of any American city?

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13. New Orleans, LA

From a foodie perspective, who wouldn’t want to live in NOLA? Po-boy sandwiches. Jambalaya. Beignets. Gumbo. Crawfish. Bananas Foster. The list of local dishes that the Crescent City is known for goes on and on.

A rich blend of French, Spanish, West African and Amerindian influences, New Orleans‘ local dining scene is one of its defining features. Visitors from all over come to get at famous local joints like Antoine’s or Commander’s Palace, and locals are fiercely supportive of their favorite establishments.

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12. Huntington Beach, CA

Located southeast of Los Angeles, the surfing hub of Huntington Beach also has a healthy dose of local dining options squeezed into its roughly 28 square miles. With options like Sancho’s Tacos, fresh sushi from Sushi on Fire and seafood-centric Mexican fare, diners can enjoy the fruits of the nearby ocean at 924 local restaurants. That’s more than three-quarters of Huntington Beach’s 1,107 dining options.

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11. Buffalo, NY

Sorry, New York City. For diners looking for a city in New York State where local restaurants outnumber generic chains, it’s not the famed foodie hub of NYC. It’s Buffalo, which is mainly known for its vibrant arts scene.

But the local food offerings are not to be outdone, making up nearly 84 percent of the restaurants around Buffalo. Flavors and cuisines from across America and the world can be found at local eateries here like Southern-style barbecue at Dinosaur-Bar-B-Que, soul food at Margie’s and classic Italian at Tappo.

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10. Fremont, CA

Exploring outside of San Francisco, diners will find that other cities in the Bay Area are just as big fans of local dining as the City by the Bay. Case in point is Fremont, a Bay Area city that attracts families with its quality schools and lovely parks. But good, locally-owned-and-operated eating is also to be found here at spots like Dog Haus with its gourmet hot dogs and classic comfort food at Country Way. Out of 912 restaurants around Fremont, local operations make up 85 percent of what’s available.

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9. Saint Petersburg, FL

Accounting for 85 percent of the restaurants in this Gulf Coast city, local dining is alive and well in Saint Petersburg: In fact, 1,227 restaurants out of 1,436 are owned by local proprietors. Along with fresh seafood dishes, diners can broaden their culinary horizons at spots like Alesia, a French-Vietnamese fusion spot with banh mi and ratatouille or tuck into shrimp tacos and margaritas at Casita Taqueria.

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8. Worcester, MA

From traditional Vietnamese at Pho Dakao to hearty sandwiches at Maddi’s, local restaurants make up nearly 86 percent of the restaurant offerings around Worcester. As New England’s second-largest city, Worcester is home to numerous colleges and universities like Clark University. A hungry student population always seeking great flavor at affordable prices keeps the demand and desire for local dining options high here.

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7. Fort Lauderdale, FL

Along with boating along its winding canals and chilling at the beach, this breezy, coastal city in southeastern Florida is climbing the charts for local dining options. With choices like Milk & Money, a hip New American dining spot, to the popular Quarterdeck local chain of seafood restaurants — you can likely find a locally owned spot for any kind of food you’re craving.

That’s especially true because local restaurants account for 86 percent of dining options around Fort Lauderdale. Plus, Fort Lauderdale is one of the most bike-friendly cities in America, so you’re bound to work up an appetite while you get to your choice restaurant.

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6. Glendale, CA

Located west of Griffith Park in Los Angeles County, the city of Glendale is a fantastic place for Angelenos to dine locally. Elena’s is a go-to for Greek and Armenian dishes, the Great White Hut is a longtime staple for burgers and tacos since 1947 and Glendale Phở Co is a family-owned establishment serving up delicious pho, banh mi and more. Local restaurants here make up 87 percent of the restaurant choices, so diners are never far from a local spot to patronize.

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5. Newark, NJ

With 88 percent of its area restaurants being locally owned, Newark is a fantastic city within the New York metro area for local dining. Walking around the neighborhoods of New Jersey’s biggest city, you’ll find no shortage of local restaurants. Soul Food Chess House serves up wings alongside comfort food sides, La Cocina is also about Cuban-American favorites and Don Pepe is a beloved spot for traditional Portuguese seafood.

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4. Oakland, CA

Just like San Francisco across the bay, Oakland takes its local dining very seriously with 88 percent of its area restaurants being locally owned. Instead of spending their money at chain restaurants, diners around Oakland prefer to spend their hard-earned money supporting local outfits like Yimm Oakland for tasty Thai, ABURAYA for Japanese fried chicken and Happy Burrito, a local institution, for massive burritos and other Mexican classics.

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3. Jersey City, NJ

Along with Newark, Jersey City is another prime place for local eats from around the world. Eighty-nine percent of its restaurants come from the community with local owners and operators. From barbecue at Hamilton Pork to White Mana Diner, a burger joint that’s been serving burgers, hot dogs and fries since the 1939 World’s Fair, dining options here truly showcase the city’s cultural and culinary melting pot.

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2. Providence, RI

Rhode Island‘s capital city may be best known for being the home of Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. But Providence is also a hot spot for local dining, with 89 percent of its restaurants being locally owned.

Los Andes transports you to Peru and Bolivian with its South American fare, while the Haven Brothers restaurant holds a claim to fame as one of the oldest restaurants in the state and a must-go for good, old-fashioned burgers and hot dogs. Vegans will also have a field day at Plant City, an entirely vegan food hall.

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1. Yonkers, NY

Claiming the top spot for the most local restaurants, Yonkers is a paragon of local dining, with 91 percent of its restaurants being locally owned. Cuisines from across the world come together at this city on the Hudson River including the Caribbean, Filipino, Mexican and much more. Out of 891 restaurants, 831 are local spots that represent the city’s diverse population and tastes.

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Find an apartment in your dream food-obsessed city

Hungry for more? If any of these cities with great local dining options sound like a fit for you, check out Rent.com to see rental options around town. Then, once you’ve moved in, bon appetit!

Methodology

To determine the best cities for local restaurants, we looked at all cities in the country with more than 100,000 people according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 estimates and then used a database of 8 million commercially licensed business listings to find the total number of restaurants in each area.

We ranked each city by its percentage of non-chain restaurants (local establishments). These listings may not reflect recent business closures.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments. Data was pulled in August 2020 and goes back for one year. We use a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.

The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

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