New York City
Restaurant and culinary destinies must offer innovation, avant-garde, diversity and public acceptance to compete Pexels

Gastronomical options are one of the pillars that make a city livable and worth visiting and it can be a source of revenue with gastro-tourism as a sensory experience for the delight of visitors. Culinary experiences could also serve satisfy travelers who seek to broaden their cultural exposure by identifying connections between food and local lifestyles.

According to the World Food Travel Association (WFTA), 80% of travelers research food and drink options before or while traveling to a new destination. This is a factor that fuels the global food tourism market, which reached almost $700 billion in 2021. With an annual growth rate at 17.4%, it is projected to reach a market value of US$ 1,796.5 billion in 2027, refers a Research & Markets report.

While many of these experiences stopped for a long time due to the pandemic, the restaurant industry is flourishing again all over the U.S. and is an economic force impacting local economies.

Statista refers that "Restaurants in the United States are not only a big contributor to the domestic economy, they are also an international export, with many U.S. restaurant chains being famous across the globe. In 2022, the U.S. quick service restaurant (QSR) industry's output was forecast to see an increase of roughly 111 billion U.S. dollars over a fifteen-year period, reaching 275.7 billion U.S. dollars. Meanwhile, the output of the U.S. full service restaurant industry experienced similar growth in recent years and reached an estimated total of over 76.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2022. For many in the U.S., restaurants have become an essential part of everyday personal and professional life. Millions depend on the hospitality sector for employment and in 2022, the number of employees in the U.S. restaurant industry reached 12.5 million."

While many people are returning to the habit of eating out, either locally or in places they visit, restaurant and culinary destinies must offer innovation, avant-garde, diversity and public acceptance to compete and turn urban centers into prominent stars for gastronomy lovers and foodies, according to a recent Datassential Report on the most "food-forward" cities.

"About 65% of all new food experiences come from a restaurant, making the complexity and dynamism of an area's restaurant scene critical in measuring how food-forward consumers are in that part of the country."

For Datassential, diverse cuisines must seek incorporation of innovative and cutting-edge foods, flavors and gastronomic experiences to be part of the culinary elite. The firm applies a method to develop a classification that, by balancing three main fundamental factors, provides the most comprehensive classification of U.S. cities food proposals.

The first factor is "The Race to 90" which is a competition about how advanced certain urban centers are in terms of food innovation. For this, Datassential reviews restaurants in a particular urban area and analyzes the figures to understand how many food proposals would be needed to reach 90% of the total gastronomic proposals in that area. The more restaurants reach a 90% mark category, the higher the position of that area in the ranking.

For the second factor, Datassentialmcompares the number of ethnic restaurants in a city versus non-ethnic ones. Cities with the highest scores are ranked best.

The third factor is the response of consumers to gastronomic proposals. With a metric developed by Datassential, the firm looks at four stages of what they call, "the menu adoption cycle." This cycle begins from the moment of inception, with the trends of the initial stage, which are generally generated in elegant, independent ethnic restaurants, offering very original and innovative flavors, preparations and presentations. The cycle continues in the adoption stage, between more casual customers looking for these premium or authentic ingredients and those who are increasing their base thanks to simple preparation methods and moderate prices. Finally, the proliferation stage is when these proposals are already in informal restaurants and fast food service industry, with flavors and proposals adapted to the general palate that accompany other popular gastronomic offers. Finally, trends in their latest stage are available across the entire range of proposals in the food industry.

Restaurants in US

At this point, Datassential selected the cities according to the frequency with which innovative proposals and new food trends had been born or originated in that urban space.

According to all these variables, Datassential's ranking of the top 10 food-forward cities in the United States determined that San Francisco, in California, is the most food-forward city in the United States. The second position also corresponds to a city in the State of California, Los Angeles. Thirdly, the city of Miami appears as the most progressive urban center in terms of gastronomic proposals and then gives way to Washington DC, in fourth place.

Contrary to what was imagined, New York City occupies the middle position of sixth place, after the city of San Diego, occupying fifth place in terms of gastronomic innovation and advancement. The last positions go to Houston, a city that gives one more spot in the ranking to the state of Texas, which also appears in the last position, tenth in the ranking thanks to the city of Austin. The remaining eighth and ninth positions go to Monterrey - a city that gives the state of California four ranking positions in total - and Las Vegas in Nevada, this ninth position being the only one for this state.

Surprisingly, cities like Dallas, San Antonio and Chicago were left out of the top 10 of this tasty ranking.

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