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New Study Found America's Top Rated Independent Restaurants

Restaurants + Bars Food + Drink
by Jori Ayers Feb 16, 2024

Whether you’re in the mood for a hearty breakfast for dinner, Chinese cuisine, or a deliciously juicy burger, there’s a good chance that, whatever city you reside in, you can quickly get into your car and dine at one of these types of establishments. There’s no hiding that America loves to splurge on dining out. According to US Foods, the average person in the United States dines out at least twice a month, and at least half of those meals are at independently owned establishments.

Although the US is obsessed with its fast food chains, independent restaurants are the heart and soul of the industry. More than half of the restaurants in the US are independent, meaning non-franchise or chain businesses that are locally owned and operated or family owned and operated. They’re the type of places you can’t find anywhere else, and are often immune to (or at least less dependent on) the whims of social media trends.

But all independent restaurants aren’t made equally. There are some that rise above as fan favorites. The small business loan finance company On Deck dug into restaurant ratings to find the top loved independent restaurants out there.

On Deck used Yelp reviews and ratings that were available to the public for 149,099 independent restaurants within the most populated cities in the US. While doing so, they broke ea h into different food categories, such as pizza, burgers, vegan, breakfast, and international cuisine. On Deck used ratings to rank them and broke ties between restaurants by opting for the restaurant with the highest reviews.

Yelp is admittedly not an end all, be all for a guaranteed top-notch dining experience. More populous cities and places where the app is more popular will obviously have more engagement. The service is also notoriously plagued by juiced reviews that were given in exchange for a discount or deal, not to mention people who leave bad ratings for food that wasn’t necessarily subpar but just wasn’t what they were expecting. Still, the ratings offer a look into what places people are most loving.

The top 10 highest-rated independent restaurants in the US

  1. Hey Sunshine Kitchen in Los Angeles (5 stars)
  2. Beewali’s Vegan AF in Los Angeles (5 stars)
  3. Destination Taiwan in Cheyenne, Wyoming (5 stars)
  4. Waffle and Berry in Honolulu (4.9 stars)
  5. Franky’s Deli Warehouse in Miami (4.9 stars)
  6. Scotty’s Cafe in Colombus, Ohio (4.9 stars)
  7. Its Izakaya in Las Vegas (4.9 stars)
  8. Garlic Yuzu in Las Vegas (4.9 stars)
  9. Dad’s Favorites in Lexington, Kentucky (4.9 stars)
  10. Casa De Falafel in Phoenix, Arizona (4.9 stars)

The top 10 highest-rated independent restaurants in the US for vegan cuisine

  1. Hey Sunshine Kitchen in Los Angeles (5 stars)
  2. Beewali’s Vegan AF in Los Angeles (5 stars)
  3. Thanh Tinh Chay in San Diego (4.9 stars)
  4. Casa De Falafel in Phoenix, Arizona (4.9 stars)
  5. The Mediterranean Chickpea in Tampa, Florida (4.9 stars)
  6. Urban Fresh in Tucson, Arizona (4.9 stars)
  7. Boon Cafe in Chicago (4.9 stars)
  8. Pure Kitchen Organic Vegan in Tampa, Florida (4.9 stars)
  9. Bowl Mami in Dallas, Texas (4.9 stars)
  10. Pure Soul in Durham, North Carolina (4.9 stars)

The top 10 highest-rated independent pizza places in the US

  1. Z&Z in Germantown, Maryland (4.9 stars)
  2. Hillcrust Pizza in San Diego (4.9 stars)
  3. Los Angeles Pizzeria Company in Los Angeles (4.9 stars)
  4. Acqua E Farina By Ciro Esposito in Miami (4.9 stars)
  5. Brewability and Pizzability in Denver (4.9 stars)
  6. Siamo Napoli in San Diego (4.8 stars)
  7. Ciao! Pizza and Pasta in Boston (4.8 stars)
  8. Smiling with Hope Pizza in Reno, Nevada (4.8 stars)
  9. Zeneli Pizzeria and Cucina Napoletana in New Haven, Connecticut (4.8 stars)
  10. A Dopo Sourdough Pizza in Knoxville, Tennessee (4.8 stars)

The top 10 highest-rated independent restaurants for burger places in the US

  1. Wild Carvery in Los Angeles (4.9 stars)
  2. Classic Burger in San Diego (4.9 stars)
  3. Leatherneck Club in Las Vegas (4.9 stars)
  4. Blue Bird Burgers in Los Angeles (4.9 stars)
  5. Ooh Lala Burgers in Tacaoma, Washington (4.8 stars)
  6. Streetwise Urabn Food in Orlando, Florida (4.8 stars)
  7. Joy Burgers in Las Vegas (4.8 stars)
  8. Banyan’s Island Grill in Honolulu (4.8 stars)
  9. Culinary Gangster in Pheonix, Arizona (4.8 stars)
  10. Burger-chan in Houston, Texas (4.8 stars)

The top 10 highest-rated independent restaurants in the US for breakfast

  1. Scotty’s Cafe in Columbus, Ohio (4.9 stars)
  2. Curbgrill in Los Angeles (4.9 stars)
  3. Cafe Porche and Snowbar in New Orleans (4.9 stars)
  4. Christie’s Deli in Philadelphia (4.9 stars)
  5. Sandwhich Shoppe in Rutland (4.9 stars)
  6. Happy Cafe in Virginia Beach, Virginia (4.9 stars)
  7. Raptor Canyon Cafe in Tucson, Arizona (4.9 stars)
  8. Family Cafe in Portland, Oregon (4.9 stars)
  9. RJ Skillets in Portland, Oregon (4.9 stars)
  10. Carlillos Cocina in Sparks, Nevada (4.8 stars)

As for the highest-rated independent restaurant in the US for international cuisine, some of the top-ranked cuisines were ts Izakaya in Las Vegas; Shoufi Mahfi Mediterranean Grill in Orlando, Florida; and Santarepa Cafe in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Regardless of what you’re craving, there is always something there, but there is always something exclusive about independent restaurants.

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