The researchers at Resonance Consultancy, a company that studies data and conducts extensive surveys, annually announces its 10 best large and small cities in America based on their findings. Last year, they let us in on how restaurants and nightlife affect their findings. Yesterday, Resonance dropped its 2018 list, and New York City tops it again.
Below are the complete lists, along with a sneak peek at the report and more commentary.
America’s Top 10 Large Cities (metropolitan areas with more than 1 million population):
- New York
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
- Las Vegas
- San Diego
America’s Top 10 Small Cities (metropolitan areas with more than 200,000 but less than 1 million population):
- El Paso
- Myrtle Beach
So what should we make of Resonance’s lists? It’s anything but random how these cities are selected, and if you’re on the wonky side, feel free to read up on the company’s methodology or even download the full report. One of the more intriguing outcomes given the focus of Food Republic is how much impact food and nightlife continue to have.
New York, Chicago and LA are obvious choices for the top three, and you probably don’t need to spend months parsing data to come to that conclusion. But the rest of the top 10 features only two cities, San Diego and Boston, that probably place due more to livability, employment and other measures, rather than the strength of their arts and culinary scenes. Certainly, Miami and Vegas, vacation destinations though they may be, sneak into the top 10 at least in part because of the vibrant nightlife and punching-above-their-weight restaurant offerings.
The small cities list is more telling, and warrants watching in the years ahead. Charleston is in the top 10 of all American cities when it comes to food, but at number four here is the only city with a notable culinary scene in the top four. Few people are flying to Honolulu, Omaha or Albuquerque to check out a hot new restaurant or delve into that city’s deep foodways (despite Honolulu’s role in the great poke trend of 2017). And of the last six entries on the small cities list, only two—Madison and Asheville—boast nationally recognized food and drink scenes; I say drink given that Asheville is better known for its craft beers than its country cooking.
Will smaller cities place higher in future lists based significantly on their culinary offerings? I would think so, but then the way these lists are divided makes it hard for regional powerhouses like Nashville or Austin to crack the big city top 10, and up-and-comers like Detroit and Columbus are too big to make the small cities list. But the existence of Madison and Asheville here, for all their other charms and factors, should serve as inspiration for smaller cities looking to make a name for themselves, and maybe make a run at Resonance’s next ranking in 2019.