Sunday, November 25, 2018

Restaurant Geography

Following Bethany's new link to The Pudding about repetitive songs, I clicked on a sidebar link about what types of restaurants are googled in every region. Fascinating stuff, fun to play with.  Most things are predictable - seafood restaurants along the coasts (though what is up with Wyoming?) - while some take a moment to figure out.  Coffee shops are bigger as you go west, especially on the coast, but there is also a North Coast prominence. And then there's Massachusetts and Rhode Island, denser in color than even the states around them. I'm betting Dunkins, though Mass also seems denser in Starbucks than NH when I'm there. I suppose once Dunkins has got you addicted you might go to any coffee place that shows in front of your eyes.

I looked at the map for Mexican and saw a surprising dark spot around St Johnsbury and chuckled to myself "Well, someone must have opened a Mexican restaurant since I was last there."  Checking my work, I found that no, there's none listed.  You have to go clear across the state to find a Mexican restaurant. Except... there is one just over the border in Littleton, NH, plus above and below in Lancaster and Lincoln. Martha, where's that Mexican restaurant over across the river again? I also think I know the popularity of BBQ in the southern part.  It's Curtis's in Putney.  He comes up from Mississippi every summer to do outdoor BBQ and people come a long way for it.  A little hard to find. With that little BBQ in the region and low population density, individual oddities can skew the data.

The popularity of pizza in Coos County NH?  There's almost nothing else.  And there is nothing else on the North Slope of Alaska. During the winter the delivery guy never shuts his car off, for fear it won't start well again. Also, seafood isn't listed for lots of Alaska because outside of Anchorage and maybe a few other places, people cook it themselves from what they or their friends have caught.

What is it with Virginia?  There's restauranting around DC, which is no surprise, and maybe a stripe from Williamsburg to Virginia Beach that likes Italian, but it seems the whole state doesn't go out to restaurants much at all.


Sam L. said...

My little town is white for pizza; we have four eat-ins, all of which deliver, and aa pick-up and cook it yourself place. White also for BBQ: We have one, which replaced the previous one that we really liked, and my wife and I don't care for this one. We have 3 Mexican places, 2 Japanese, 1 Thai. We have 10-15K residents.

Donna B. said...

The rural (if you go by USPS definition) Alabama area where I live has 7 fast food chains (including Taco Bell because I'm not listing that as Mexican), 1 BBQ, 1 Italian, 2 sandwich, 2 Mexican, 2 pizza, 2 Chinese, 1 taco truck (that's not "ordinary American" Mexican - tongue taco... yep), and an "American" café/bar/burger joint -- local except Subway as one of the sandwich shops.

But we ain't got no Whataburger, thus I live in a food desert.

Grim said...

This was a fun post. I live in genuinely rural country in the mountainous South. Ironically, the only restaurant within quite a few miles is a taco truck run by Mexican immigrants. There's a Hispanic preacher at a church down in the valley who gives a sermon in Spanish on Sundays, so the small but growing Mexican community has clustered around that church. There's a Mexican grocery, and the taco truck is attached to it. If you want to eat anything else from a restaurant, you've got a bit of a drive ahead of you. (Or a ride, for bikers; quite a ride in both senses of the phrase.)

Donna B. said...

I may have a Whole Foods within 20 miles, but I'd rather have a Mexican grocery. One of those is likely further away than the nearest Whataburger.

Grim said...

It is 369 miles to the nearest Whataburger from here, according to Google maps. I could get to a Whole Foods in only an hour and a half, each way, weather permitting the journey.

But the Mexican grocery is around ten minutes off, and it's all right. You can get fresh chorizo and somewhat wilted cilantro, dried peppers of all sorts, and a taco al pastor if you want one.

Donna B. said...

You're looking only at Georgia. You can cut 100 miles off that trip by going to the one in Trussville AL. Sadly for us both, a little too far for the midnight munchies.

lelia said...

Hmm. I hadn't thought about restaurant prevalence much, maybe because we're surrounded by such a richness here in the Pacific Northwest----Vancouver, WA specifically for me. No Whataburger, but we have Burgerville which features 90% locally sourced foods. They even have gluten-free buns. Eat your heart out. I've never thought to count how many Thai restaurants we have, but the number is significant, along with Chinese and Japanese restaurants. I can't think of any Filipino, or Korean though you can obtain such food from the five or six Asian groceries in town. (I know because I was looking for food to welcome a new Filipino in-law migrating in from the Philippines.) We have halel restaurants, tons of Mexican, Italian, American...For Indian and Peruvian we need to go to Portland. Outback is theoretically Australian. Oh, and Mongolian. (Can you tell I like to eat out?) We have every national chain of pizza, hamburger, or whatever you can think of except for Whataburger. I can't imagine one being open for more than a month here. Every time I'm in the South and must eat NOW and there's a Whataburger, I am once again shocked at how bad their food is, being all grease and....grease.
Coffee shops are where we excel. Starbucks inside most grocery stores and outside one spaced a few miles apart. Then there is Dutch Bros. Peets, and every other block or so an indie like Brewed Awakenings or Fresh Grounds.
Oh dear, I sound like a braggart New Yorker, as though I had anything to do with what restaurants are out there.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Oldest son is in and out of Vancouver WA a few times a year on business. I always thought he meant he was flying into BC until I learned differently this year.

We are tolerant of moderate amounts of regional bragging here, because we are fans of understanding human nature as it is, not as we pretend it is. We don't have some of the major national chains in New Hampshire. No Whataburger, only 9 Cracker Barrels in all New England, all of them right off interstates. In-and-Out is only in the West; a few Five Guys now; Buffalo Wild Wings came in recently; No Shakleys or Waffle House, certainly. A few Sonics in MA. I don't think we do chains up here quite as much as other parts of the country do. Or more often, we have our own regional chains that don't go national, or even out of New England.

Richard and Maurice McDonald were born here before they went west and started the biggest of the fast food chains. We didn't get one here until about 1967 or so, however. Before that we relied on A&W, which I loved.

Donna B. said...

Awww... lelia, so sorry you didn't like Whataburger. Perhaps it's an acquired taste. The closest I've found is Five Guys. I also order fries at Five Guys which I skip almost everywhere else. But they don't have a drive-thru and they aren't open 24 hrs day.

I usually drink black coffee and Starbucks is not very good at that. I do like to go in for an occasional caramel macchiato, but the staff often seems to be overworked to the point it makes me uncomfortable. That's been happening in just the last few years and it doesn't appear to be understaffing. Has the menu expanded too much?

Grim said...

“We are tolerant of moderate amounts of regional bragging here...”

Some of us probably try the limits of this moderation more than others.

james said...

Yes, as the map suggests there are lots of different sandwich places around here. But also a little bit of everything else, including the usual chains. (Five Guys's fries are too much carb. And I love bibimbap but rice doesn't love me.) It's easy to find pizza or Mexican, but neither dominates the landscape. The local technical college has a good culinary arts program, so there are plenty of people looking for culinary niches to fill.