Cities with most fast-food restaurants per capita clustered in Midwest, oh yeah!

Illustration for article titled Cities with most fast-food restaurants per capita clustered in Midwest, oh yeah!
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Good news if you like your drive-thru lanes clear and your fast-food options plentiful: The Midwest is best when it comes to high numbers of fast-food restaurants per capita. We’re number one! We’re number... [clutches left arm]


The South also makes a strong showing, especially Florida. The list from Apartment Guide uses a straight-forward methodology: Take cities with more than 250,000 residents, and rank them by number of locations of the top 10 largest fast-food restaurants.

While you might associate cities like New York or L.A. with lots of Golden Arches, those cities—because of their large populations—actually rank low in terms of restaurants per capita. The high-ranking cities are more likely to be decently sized places that also have a lot of visitors, which explains Orlando’s number-one ranking. Here are the Midwest cities on their list, and their ranking:

  • Number 3: Cincinnati, Ohio, with 1 fast-food restaurant per 1,522 residents
  • Number 4: St. Louis, Missouri, with 1 per 1,794
  • Number 6: Cleveland, Ohio, with 1 per 1,899
  • Number 7: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with 1 per 1,926
    *I alone will not be able to settle the “Is Pittsburgh in the Midwest?” debate, so I present it here with an asterisk.
  • Number 10: Fort Wayne, Indiana, with 1 per 2,417

See the full list here, and please presents your arguments for and against Pittsburgh’s Midwest designation in the comments.

Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.


The big question I have is how many freeway exits per capita do those cities have?

I grew up in Wakefield, Massachusetts, a Boston suburb that has five exits off the I-95/MA-128 inner beltway...and a total (as of 1995, when I graduated high school, times have probably changed but the point remains) of eight Dunkin Donuts locations, for a town of 25,000 people.

Never underestimate the power of both “gas food lodging” and the Bay State’s love of Dunks.

For a later example, I went to college in Reno (go Wolf Pack! NCAA Tournament, baby!), and that’s another city pissabed with freeway exits and similarly overloaded with fast-food joints, though apparently not in great enough quantity to crack the top 50 nationwide. But the off-campus apartment I lived in was within a short walk of not just a mall food court but a Del Taco, a Carl’s Jr., a KFC, a Wendy’s (although the Wendy’s was later replaced by a Raising Cane’s), a Jack in the Box, a McDonald’s...