There's no nation in the world with more residents who were born in another country than the U.S. There are over 47 million immigrants living here. Add to that another 36 million second-generation, native-born citizens. And they have all brought their homeland's unique and diverse cuisine to the U.S. Thankfully, many of them opened restaurants to bring that cuisine to a wider audience. Over 37 percent of small restaurant owners are immigrants.
The most popular international cuisines have entrenched themselves in American culture. The top imported fares, including Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Thai and Indian, are staples. But where can you most easily find the best of lesser-known or less widely available specialties from around the world? Which are the best cities for diverse cuisine?
We scoured the nation's 100 biggest cities and documented every diverse cuisine restaurant in each. We then calculated the number per capita and the number per square mile and ranked them. Upon combining the two rankings, the final total determines each city's overall score. Below are the results and the top 10 best cities for unique cuisine.
The categories of diverse cuisines studied for this survey are among the most popular for less broadly accessible restaurant styles. These are Vietnamese, Latin American, Cajun and Creole, Middle Eastern, South American, Caribbean, African and an international catchall.
Los Angeles' Inglewood is the smallest city in the top 10 in both population and area. At just nine square miles, Inglewood is small in stature, but packs in a lot. It's home to the Kia Forum, previously the Great Western Forum that once hosted the Lakers, Sparks, and Kings. And more recently SoFi Stadium, home to Rams and Chargers.
Inglewood also has the sixth-highest number of diverse cuisine eateries of any city in the U.S. reflecting the city's ethnic diversity. Black and Hispanic residents together represent 92 percent of Inglewood's population. To that end, tiny Inglewood has the second-most number of African restaurants among the top 10.
A few of the best African spots in Inglewood include Banadir Somali Restaurant, Emma Habesha, Royal Cuisine Authentic African and Aduke Nigerian Cuisine.
One of three Florida cities in the top 10, West Palm Beach has a similar profile to the others. And it's the same factors that make it a desirable diverse cuisine city. Despite being 70 miles further north than Miami, it still offers the 17th-most Latin restaurants and ninth-most Caribbean spots of any U.S. city.
As a tourist city, it's known for its outdoor recreation, shopping districts, golf clubs and pristine beaches. But it's also filled with a bevy of restaurants for both visitors and locals, from neighborhood joints to five-star bistros. It has the sixth-highest density of unique cuisine restaurants of any city in the nation.
Some of the best restaurants in West Palm Beach are international and diverse eateries. Included are Pho Saigon for Vietnamese, Dr. Limon Ceviche Bar for Peruvian or the many spots inside Grandview Public Market.
Hartford is a hidden gem for food lovers. And it's one of the most diverse in New England with significant pockets of residents from Puerto Rico to the Dominican Republic to Guyana and more. Over one in five Hartfordites were born outside the U.S.
But the largest ethnic culture in Hartford is Hispanic, which represents 37 percent of the population. And that's why the Insurance Capital has the ninth most Hispanic restaurants of any city in the country. But Hartford's vast ethnic diversity has brought international cuisine from all corners of the globe. Among all cities in the country, it ranks the fifth-highest per square mile and seventh-highest per capita in unique restaurants.
Cajun culture is so ingrained in the ethos of Lafayette that the local university's sports teams are the Ragin' Cajuns, who play home games in the Cajundome and on Cajun Field. This is what you might expect from this bayou-adjacent city just 130 miles from New Orleans. Despite its population of just 126,000, it offers the fourth-most Cajun and creole restaurants with 35. That helps push this Acadiana city to fifth on the list of most diverse cuisine restaurants per square mile in the nation.
Lafayette was once ranked as the happiest city in America. And, as any connoisseur of the cuisine knows, good Cajun and creole fare never fail to make one happy. Some of the can't-miss spots include Prejean's, Pops Po'boys and Buck & Johnny's. And, if you're looking for the ultimate in Cajun fine dining, grab a reservation at Café Vermilionville.
As one of the most visited cities in the U.S., Orlando has to feed a lot of people — both locals and tourists alike. As a result, Orlando has the fifth-most diverse cuisine restaurants per capita of any U.S. city.
There's a slew of diversity in the Orlando restaurant scene, as well. And while it's 300 miles north of the southern tip, this is still Florida. That elevates the city to enjoy the third-most Caribbean restaurants, fifth-most Latin restaurants and second-most international cuisine restaurants.
And, the biggest concentration of unique restaurants in Orlando? Why, of course, that's at EPCOT at Disney World. There are over 60 places to eat at EPCOT alone, with international cuisines from around the world at 20 full-service restaurants and over 25 quick-service eateries and gastropubs throughout its 11 lands.
Just a couple of hours up I-10 from New Orleans, Baton Rouge offers much of the same spirit and party vibe as its Big Easy counterpart, just more laid back and less tourist-heavy. The state capital has its own Mardi Gras celebration with eight parades, stellar jazz, blues and Creole music scene and, of course, its own diverse restaurant cuisine culture. Baton Rouge might be New Orleans for Louisiana locals.
And yes, this is still Louisiana, so that means plenty of Louisiana food. In fact, Baton Rouge, with just 220,000 residents, has the second-most Cajun and creole restaurants of any city in the top 10 and third-most overall. That tallies nearly 60 Cajun and Creole eateries, in a scene that some say feels even more authentic than the Crescent City itself.
But it doesn't end with crawfish étouffée and Andouille meat pies. The city, home of Louisiana State University, offers the third-highest percentage of unique cuisine restaurants of any city overall.
With all of its quality seafood locales, organic farm-to-table options and California steakhouses, San Francisco is one of America's best food cities. But while it's most famous for its Chinese and Japanese food, it's a haven for diverse eaters of any inclination.
Among all U.S. cities, the Bay Area anchor has the third-most Vietnamese restaurants, the seventh-most Latin spots and the eighth-most international or fusion eateries. That gives visitors and locals alike a plethora of options. The most populous city in the top 10, San Francisco has the fourth-most total unique cuisine restaurants in all, and the second-most per square mile.
No matter what your international dinner desires, there's a spot with your name on it. If you're looking for great African cuisine, visit Oasis Cafe. Aux Delices is a favorite Vietnamese spot. Persian food is on the menu at Lavash. And explore International Smoke, serving grilled and smoked foods from around the world.
At the tip of South Florida, Miami is a hotspot for diverse dining. It lies at the intersection of Latino and Caribbean cultures, particularly Cuban. And as a beach tourism hub, attracts immigrants and visitors alike from around the world. And the numbers couldn't be clearer. Miami offers the second-most international restaurants of any city, second-most Latin eateries and second-most Caribbean spots.
And it's easy to find a great restaurant anywhere in Miami you are. You can discover a perfect cafecito or jerk chicken shop in nearly every neighborhood, but there are plenty of unique options around the city. In fact, Miami offers the third most restaurants per square mile of any city.
Some well-known spots for Latino cuisine in Miami-Dade include Colombian favorite El Pueblito Viejo, Peruvian restaurant Chalan On the Beach and Cuban croquetas joint Islas Canarias. For beloved Caribbean flare, check out Manjay for Haitian food, Bahamian eatery Chef Creole or Dukunoo Jamaican Kitchen.
New Orleans is a notorious food town. It's hard to walk down any block in the Big Easy without strolling by a couple of restaurants or cafés. Of course, New Orleans has, by far, the most Cajun and creole restaurants of any city, with 165. But, that's not all NOLA has to offer.
While the gumbo, jambalaya and po'boys are abundant, there's plenty more to the restaurant scene in New Orleans. The city, the largest by area in the top 10, offers the third most restaurants overall of any city, just behind massive New York and Houston. But even more impressive, Crescent City has the most restaurants per capita overall.
Among some of the best restaurants in New Orleans for international and diverse cuisine include Afrodisiac, Tava Indian Street Food, Cafe Abyssinia and Lengua Madre.
Orange County's Garden Grove is just the 162nd biggest city in the nation, only the 31st largest in California. So, why is this relatively small city at the top of the best cities for unique cuisine?
Mainly because nearly 28 percent of Garden Grove's population is of Vietnamese descent or first-generation Vietnamese immigrants. That's the second-largest concentration of Vietnamese Americans of any city in the nation (behind only neighbor neighboring Westminster, CA) and the second-most Vietnamese-American residents of any city overall (after much-larger San José). The community houses the largest Little Saigon neighborhood in the U.S.
As such, Garden Grove offers the ninth-most Vietnamese restaurants among all U.S. cities, with only much larger metropolises ahead of it. But don't get the impression that Garden Grove is a one-horse town. The city of 170,000 also offers the most diverse cuisine restaurants overall per square mile of any city in the country, and the second most per person. Despite its small stature, it has the 18th most diverse cuisine restaurants of all U.S. cities. This city is a unique cuisine lover's paradise.
We took cities with populations of more than 100,000 according to the U.S. Census Bureau and used 8 million commercially available business listings to add up the adventurous eating-related businesses in each city in the following categories – Vietnamese, Latin American, Cajun/Creole, International, Middle Eastern, South American, Caribbean and African. We then divided each city's population by this total to determine a ratio of the number of businesses for each resident to come up with our quantitative ranking.