Where Are the Best Cities For Small Restaurants?

We take a look at the five fastest growing markets for small restaurant merchants, according to American Express.

Skewers and rice at casual restaurant Grit and Grace in Pittsburgh, one of the cities reported to be one of the best for mom-and-pop restaurants.

In which cities are Americans dining most at small restaurants? Here's a hint: Los Angeles and New York are not on the list.

"It may be surprising that restaurant entrepreneurs are finding opportunities in unexpected cities like Detroit and Pittsburgh, but these locations provide promising environments to start a business,” said Ed Jay, Senior Vice President, US Small Merchants, American Express. “There is a focus from large and small businesses to revitalize these cities and dining is usually an early sign that consumers, especially Gen Y, are feeling more confident about the economy and eat out more often.”

Below is the list of the cities said to be best for small restaurants along with some highlights from The Daily Meal for standouts restaurants not to miss.

#5- Miami, Fla.- Try out Miami’s new “it” restaurant Bocce Bar on NE 1st Avenue, by chef Timon Balloo, a simple Italian joint that has become a midtown destination.

#4-Pittsburgh, Pa.-Grit and Grace is the new spot to be for Pittsburgh food-lovers. The menu offers a series of Asian fusion small plates and sandwiches like the homemade mortadella steam bun.

#3-Tampa, Fla.-Everyone is talking about the oddly-named Mr. Dunderbak's Biergarten and Marketplatz, the modern German restaurant with an extensive beer menu and a live accordion player.

#2-Detroit, Mich.-You won’t want to miss La Feria, the tiny tapas joint on Cass Avenue that features traditional Spanish tapas, from spinach with garbanzos to Moorish-style grilled chicken skewers.


#1-Minneapolis, Minn.-Borough and Parlor was a runaway hit when it opened in the restaurant-friendly city of Minneapolis. Try their version of fried chicken, filled with smoky chicken liver and rolled in crispy breadcrumbs.