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Ekiben restaurant asset

Source: @ekibenbaltimore

Yelp revealed its 11th Annual Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S. list featuring Yelper’s most buzzed over restaurants in the country headlined by Tumerico in Tucson, Arizona which took this year’s #1 spot.

The vegan/vegetarian restaurant from renowned Chef/Owner Wendy Garcia is known for its mouthwatering twists on classic Latin food like potato tacos with cashew cream and prickly pear cactus “nopalitos” tacos.

Representing for Black-owned businesses is Baltimore gem Ekiben which delights diners with unique Asian fusion dishes like its signature Neighborhood Bird (Taiwanese curry-fried chicken thighs topped with spicy mayo), Tofu Brah (crispy tofu nuggets drizzled with a spicy peanut sauce), and The Original (Thai chicken meatballs with coconut black peppercorn sauce, seasonal slaw, and fresh herbs).

Since the opening of the original space, the Black and Asian-owned franchise has earned rave reviews from Travel & LeisureVogue, and Eater, according to a profile in Baltimore Magazine.

“This all comes from the support of the city and the people who live here,” says Operations Manager Ephrem Abebe who co-owns the franchise with college friend/chef/CFO/marketing maven Steve Chu.

“Baltimore is a true blue-collar city and likes seeing the success of small-time businesses and people growing and grinding it out. We get tourists coming in, but it’s the people two doors down who are sustaining us. The community has allowed us to get to this point.”

This year, there’s overwhelming representation from Asian, Asian Fusion, and Southeast Asian restaurants, making up 25% of the list.

While Asian cuisines were the most represented, this year’s list features a diverse collection of cuisines from beloved Mexican eatery Cocina Madrigal (#52) in Phoenix to standing sushi bar EDOBOY (#44) in Orlando to famed cheesesteak and burger joint Gino’s Deli Stop N Buy (#9) in San Antonio.

“From New York City to Houston, and Florida to California, Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat list celebrates the must-visit local restaurants across the United States,” said Tara Lewis, Yelp’s Trend Expert. “This year’s list embraces the unique tastes of our users and spotlights the beloved hidden gems across local communities.”

Since its 2014 debut, the list has recognized more than 750 establishments across more than 380 cities. With 18 restaurants in the collection, California maintained its top spot ahead of Florida (13 restaurants) and Arizona and Texas (tied with eight restaurants).

To curate the list, Yelp uses a combination of community submissions and data that offers a unique perspective into what diners are craving across the country.

As Yelp celebrates its 20th anniversary later this year, the brand is “spotlighting the stories, trends and data that show how Yelp helps people more meaningfully connect with their local community,” per a press release.


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