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The UK's Most Popular Restaurant Cuisines

The UK's Most Popular Restaurant Cuisines

Written by
Abbie Dawson
Published

June 7, 2024

Category
Latest research

We're a nation of foodies, but what are the most popular cuisines across the UK?

If there's one thing about us Brits- we love our food. Britain's cuisine has been flavoured with various cultural influences worldwide for hundreds of years. As a result, multiple restaurants offering different culinary tastes have thrived since. 

From the opening of the first Indian restaurant in 1810 to the first Italian in 1803 (can you believe that?!), these cuisines have become memorable household flavours. And we're delighted to work with some of the biggest and best restaurants in the UK.

But what cuisine can't the UK get enough of? And is there an underlying reason behind the undoubted appetite for those flavours?

How did we find out?

We analysed the number of restaurant and monthly searches for 15 different cuisines in the 24 largest cities across the UK.

Interestingly, there was one who came out quite clearly on top! 

The winning cuisine

Indian food is the most popular cuisine in the UK. It features comforting bowls of curries, deep layers of spicing, and delicious side plates. In the 24 cities we researched, there are nearly 4,000 restaurants serving Indian food. In 10 cities, including Birmingham, Nottingham, Manchester, and Swansea, it is clear that Indian is the favourite. 

Although for most, it's all about the comforting warmth of a spiced Indian curry, scientists revealed that it is the non-overlapping flavours of ingredients that make Indian food irresistible for many.  

Interestingly, in the past year, Google search terms for Indian restaurants have been significantly higher than for Indian takeaways. 

Among the researched cities, Manchester has the most Indian restaurants per capita, at 61.1 per 50,000 people. The city with the second most restaurants is Birmingham, which has 29.5 per capita, closely followed by Leicester, at 19.7. 

Its overall popularity shows in the quality of the dishes produced in the UK too.

There are 36 restaurants with Indian influence in the UK featured in the Michelin Guide, proving that Indian cuisine is loved as both a cosy takeaway and a luxurious feast.

In most cases, Indian restaurants naturally display a sense of cultural heritage, and guests are greeted with a warm welcome. This creates a comforting atmosphere. Restaurants embrace sharing a meal, vibrant decor, and authentic music in the background, both upbeat and melodic. 

What about the runners up?

Italian cuisine is revealed as the second most popular cuisine in the country. In eight cities, it is the cuisine with the most restaurants and search interest.

While it was a top choice for multiple cities, including Leeds, Bristol, and Glasgow, most cities have ranked this cuisine, which boasts fresh flavours, as their third favourite. This includes Birmingham, Manchester, Stoke-on-Trent, and more. 

In Leeds there are 22.5 Italian restaurants per 50,000 people while Bristol follows closely with 21.3 restaurants per capita.

While the first pizza sold in London was in 1875, it is now recognised as the most popular food bought in restaurants across the UK. Typically cosy with dim lighting, these restaurants have the ideal setting that influences diners to stay longer, accompanied by a more relaxed ambience.  

Italian is a popular cuisine in the Michelin Guide too, with 46 restaurants cooking up delicious Italian cuisine in the UK. 

Chinese cuisine takes third place, with 6 out of the 24 cities favouring Chinese restaurants. 

Although Chinese tea has been available in the UK since around 1400, the first Chinese restaurant opened in London a few hundred years later, in 1908. While Liverpool, Sheffield, and Belfast have the most Chinese restaurants and search interest, most cities, including Birmingham, Glasgow, and Manchester, rated it a close second favourite. 

Manchester has the most Chinese restaurants per capita, with an impressive score of 42.9. Glasgow follows this with a score of 19.4.

Appreciating an array of textures, the dishes' irresistible fragrant taste and smell make Chinese cuisine so loved across the country.  Accompanied by a plentiful menu, authentic delicacies, and eight different cuisines from Chinese cooking, such as Cantonese and Sichuan, it is undoubtedly a staple choice in British households across the UK. 

And where is the food capital?

Out of all the cities in the UK, Manchester is undoubtedly the top foodie city.

It offers the highest number of restaurants per capita in 12 cuisines out of 15. Manchester is the ultimate destination for those looking to intrigue their palate and enjoy a diverse dining experience. 

The perfect restaurant experience

Ever entered a restaurant and been wowed by the atmosphere? Even if you didn’t notice the background music… well, that’s probably by design!

Whatever your requirements, we give you the tools needed to design and scale your perfect atmosphere with our restaurant background music.


Methodology:

Our researchers used various sources to gather the data for this study. Google's Keyword Planner was used to find average monthly search volume of different cuisines, while publicly available information on Tripadvisor.com was used to find each city's total restaurant numbers. The Michelin Guide was used to find each cuisine's total Michelin star restaurants.

All data collection was carried out on 5th June 2024.

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The UK's Most Popular Restaurant Cuisines

Abbie Dawson

With a degree in Marketing and a Marketing Week Mini MBA in Marketing, Abbie has always had a goal of working with a brand with music in its DNA. Enter: Startle. She is in charge of our marketing activity, making sure to spread the word of Startle to as many brands as possible. When Abbie’s not working, you'll find her vinyl shopping to add to her collection or in the gym picking up heavy things or making enemies with a punching bag.

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