Friday, July 26, 2013

'Albany' 3rd on national 'best small cities for food' list

A new study puts Albany at No. 3 on a national list of "Best Small Cities for Food."

The study, announced today by Credit Donkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website, listed Scranton, PA, first and Portland, ME, second. Albany was the only city in New York State included.

Four criteria were considered in coming up with the rankings:
  • Sales per capita
  • Establishments per person
  • Fast food vs. full service restaurants
  • Growth in number of full service restaurants (2007 to 2009)
Cities were ranked on both the quantity of food choices available and the quality of those choices.

"We looked at how many establishments residents in an area can access. The fewer people per establishment means more restaurant options are available" says the rankings panel.

"Quality was measured by both sales per person and the full service/fast food differential. In this economic climate, people choosing to eat out instead of at home is a significant sign: when this happens in large numbers, it usually indicates exceptional restaurant food. For this reason, cities with higher restaurant spending per person were favored. A positive full service/fast food differential means most of the restaurant choices in the area are traditional sit-down restaurants instead of fast food places –- another indicator of the availability of quality food.

"Finally, we determined growth in terms of the increase or decrease in restaurants from 2007 to 2009. This is an especially significant time frame because it spans the economic crisis. Cities that saw positive growth in the number of restaurants during this period are more likely to have healthy and thriving restaurant industries –- the type of environment most likely to produce outstanding entrees," they conclude.

Of course, one of the many flaws in creating such rankings is that of local geographic vocabulary.

Around here, we often use "Albany" as a catch-all term, when in reality we also mean it to include Colonie, Latham, Delmar, etc. Perhaps even Troy, which is just a few strong strokes of a canoe paddle away.

The other communities on the list are similar. Scranton, for example, is widely regarded by most recognized marketing yardsticks to include Wilkes-Barre, Dunmore, Pittston, etc. Then there is Ft. Myers/Cape Coral, FL -- actually two communities on opposite sides of the picturesque Caloosahatchee River, but counted as one place by the Credt Donkey people, something they don't do for Albany/Troy. Consistency, please!

You can see the statistics cited for the top 10 online. And, after doing so, you can take this ranking with a grain of salt or wave the public relations banner and scream "We're No. 3 !!!" 

Either way, it does show we've come a long way from the culinary backwater we were 25 years ago.

Go here for the region’s best local food & drinks events calendar.


  1. Sarah Fish (via Facebook):

    Troy will be 3rd next!

  2. C. Miles (via Facebook):

    Years ago I found only a handful of truly good restaurants I could take out-of-town guests to without being embarrassed. Now, I have trouble whittling down the choices. That's progress!