Wednesday, March 7


"It is rumored Ptld has more restaurants per capita than any other city other than San Francisco- 1,100."
-City of Portland

"In a city that claims to be second only to San Francisco in restaurants per capita...."

“486 restaurants within city limits feed the oft repeated rumor that only San Francisco can claim more per capita.”

"For its citizens who wish it to be San Francisco, the city succeeds; the arts scene, cuisine, history, and waterfront are exhilarating."
-National Geographic

"... Portland has more restaurants per capita than any other U.S. city except San Francisco, and many serve a lot more than just lobster rolls and a good bowl of 'chowdah.'"

"In the past few years, the city's dining scene has been compared to that of San Francisco, and both the city's chefs and its restaurants are regularly featured in magazines like Gourmet, Saveur and Food & Wine."
-Washington Post

“Some believe that where there are hippies, there is (eventually) good food. It's certainly true of Portland, Me.... It’s a city with a high resident-to-restaurant ratio, in a state where the most-visited restaurant is the Olive Garden.”
-New York Times

The chef and owner of Fore Street, Sam Hayward, had much to do with Portland's, and Maine's, current status as the happening New England place to open a restaurant or start an artisan food business—a veritable Bay Area of the East.
-The Atlantic

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Blogger Michelle said...

It's very hard not to giggle when some innocent tourist (is there such a thing?) asks blithely of a passerby, "Excuse me, are there any restaurants nearby?"

Blogger Nancy said...

The earliest explanation of this Maine urban legend that I've seen is in the introduction to the Portland chapter of Cynthia Hacinli's Down Eats, a restaurant guide book the former Maine Times restaurant reviewer published in 1991, with Tilbury House (she now reviews restaurants for the Washingtonian).
"These days the city fathers are fond of noting that Portland has more restaurants than any other town in the country barring San Francisco."
It started in city hall.

Blogger Psst! said...

Thanks, Nancy.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Down East Magazine disproved this myth in its January 2005 issue:

Bogus Superlatives
A little arithmetic deflates an urban legend.

Portland, the legend goes, has the most restaurants per capita of any city in the United States. Either that, or it has the second most restaurants after San Francisco. Or at least it’s in the top three.

You’d think the slipperiness of this culinary claim to fame would give Portlanders pause. If the ranking is such a feather in the city’s cap, why hasn’t anyone nailed it down once and for all. Figuring out how many restaurants a city has shouldn’t be so difficult. So let’s crunch some numbers.
Portland has a population of 64,249 people according to the latest census. A recent edition of the Verizon Yellow Pages lists 161 restaurants within the city limits (and that’s generously including fast-food shops). If you do the math, you arrive at a total of one eatery for every 399 Portlanders. That number sounds impressive until you compare it to the stats for San Francisco. According to the most conservative estimates, Frisco has more than 3,000 restaurants crowded on its own peninsula. Factoring in the city’s population, you arrive at a per capita ratio of one dining establishment for every 258 people. By that standard, Portland doesn’t even come close. And without doing the calculations for every other city in the nation (we’re not masochists), it seems fairly safe to conclude that Portland doesn’t come in at number two, either.

Then again, what does it really matter? It’s undeniable that Portland has a lot of places to eat. And doesn’t the quality of a city’s restaurants mean more than the quantity of its burger joints and pizza parlors. No one can dispute that Portland — home to Fore Street, Hugo’s, and Five Fifty-Five — is a gourmet’s dream.

Still, it’s never fun puncturing a myth. Yes, it would be nice if Portland ranked number one in restaurants. But it does have other claims to fame. For example, have you heard the rumor that Portland has the second-most lawyers per capita in the U.S., right behind Washington, D.C.? Anyway, it’s definitely in the top three . . . .

Anonymous Anonymous said...

who still uses a phone book? take a look at any phone book in nyc! not one restaurant i worked at was in the yellow pages. "if its out there, its in here" no longer applies. so get a life "RAIN ON A PARADE" -down east magazine-counting all the restaurants in the dumb yellow pages....don't you have some lint to add to your collection...another yard of yarn to add to your gigantic ball...of yarn...YAWN!!!!!!!


p.p.s. thank google it's friday

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Years ago some restaurant trade magazine, Restaurants & Institutions I believe, annually published about twenty lists of mundane restaurant lists. This COULD NOT have been seriously researched. Portland was number #2 on the restaurants per capita list. For years lazy journalists (ie:jumbo shrimp) have been passing this bs along.


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