I love the Priceonomics blog, and I especially love its recent article about the best and worst cities for both vegetarians and vegans. (There’s plenty of overlap, but there are some differences.)
For both, it’s clear that college towns in the American West are friendliest to herbivores:
Only four of the largest 25 metro areas – San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle – make it into our ranking of all metro areas. Instead, this list is dominated by small western cities and college towns. All but eight cities are located west of the Mississippi, and eleven of the 25—including seven (Eugene, Corvallis, Flagstaff, Ann Arbor, Boulder, Champaign, and Ithaca) of the top ten—are listed among the best college towns in America. Santa Fe, which takes the top spot, offers an impressive total of nearly 30 vegetarian restaurants per 100,000 residents.
Also, Priceonomics looked at the types of food on the menus at those restaurants. Based on my own experience of vegan diners, I’d have thought that the most common style would be some hippy-dippy variation on Indian, but blessedly, no:
The top spot in our ranking goes to “American” cuisine, which includes places that primarily offer soups, salads, and sandwiches—in other words, fare that is easily made vegetarian-friendly. Similarly, managers of Italian and Asian restaurants, which are 2nd place respectively, have learned that pasta-heavy menus can easily be marketed as “vegetarian.”
The tl;dr version is: Portland and Santa Fe, good; Riverside and Detroit, bad. Make a note of it.