Dining With Denise Neil

Wichita lands at the bottom of national restaurant ranking

Wichita did not fare well in a dining diversity list compiled by real estate website Trulia.
Wichita did not fare well in a dining diversity list compiled by real estate website Trulia.

Wichita’s restaurant scene has made a list, but not the kind of list we like.

Real estate website Trulia last week released a list ranking which U.S. cities had the most diverse dining landscapes. Newspapers and blogs in cities like and Dallas (No. 4) and Ft. Lauderdale (No. 8) and Houston (No. 20), who made the top 20, ran celebratory stories. And many of them contained a version of the following sentiment:

“At least we’re not Wichita.”

Actually, several of the publications reporting the news seemed to misread Trulia’s press release, which said that Wichita was the 91st worst market for dining diversity. Fresno, Calif., was actually the very worst. But in story after story, Wichita was mistakenly awarded the distinction of ranking last. (Also landing below Wichita: Knoxville, Tenn.; Albany-Schenectady-Troy, N.Y.; Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, in Pennsylvania/New Jersey; Tucson, Ariz;, Syracuse, N.Y., Worcester, Mass.; Rochester, N.Y.; and Bakersfield, Calif.

Still, 91 out of 100 is nothing to brag about.

Here’s how the researchers described their methodology:

"To find our foodie meccas, we looked beyond the sheer number of restaurants and types when creating our foodie index. We downgraded cities where cuisine was represented disproportionately – say a city with mostly burger joints – in favor of places with a more balanced selection of restaurants. Additionally, it's not enough to have a wide variety of food. A culinary hotspot needs to have people wanting to eat out. So, we considered how often people eat out as compared to eating in by comparing dollars spent at restaurants versus groceries. Finally, we took into account geography. We sought out restaurant diversity at the zip code level, to measure whether eating global meant a walk or short drive versus a day trip across town."

According to Trulia’s numbers, Wichita has 51 different types of cuisine and 0.2 restaurants per square mile. Residents spend 81 cents dining out for every $1 dining in.

Wichita certainly can’t be surprised to be accused of a lack of culinary diversity, especially as it watches “casual dining” steak chains open year after year on corner after corner. Every month, I have to break the bad news to readers asking me where to find Wichita’s Ethiopian, Cuban, Greek and German restaurants. We really don’t have anything like that.

While you let the depressing news sink in, here are a few interesting tidbits the study uncovered:

▪ San Francisco has the most dining diversity

▪ Providence, R.I., has the most breakfast and brunch restaurants per household.

▪ Honolulu is the top spot for barbecue and also has the most vegan restaurants per household

▪ Chicago has the most hot dog joints per household

▪ Minneapolis has the most African restaurants

▪ Madison, Wis., has the most fish ‘n’ chip restaurants per household.

▪ Las Vegas has the most steakhouses and buffets.