San Antonio tops list of cities hungry for restaurant recovery, data shows

San Antonio tops list of cities hungry for restaurant recovery

Whataburger Couple
Among the top restaurant-related searches made by hungry San Antonians in March: Whataburger. Photo by Julia Alison

The coronavirus pandemic continues to dish out more complications to keep us from returning to the normal life we all crave. And if you’re pretty dang tired of dining at home, subsisting on whatever leftovers are lurking in the fridge, you’re not alone.

In fact, recent Google data shows that San Antonio ranks third among cities with the fastest rebounding restaurant scenes, based on specific Google searches in the month of March anyway. In that month alone, hungry San Antonians made more than a million restaurant-related searches on Google, representing a 108 percent jump year-over-year, and a 71 percent jump from January 2020, just prior to when the pandemic forced many restaurants to close, at least temporarily.

According to the data, searches in Alamo City mostly consisted of Mexican food restaurants, followed by Chinese and seafood restaurants, though among chain eateries, San Antonio searchers were on the hunt for McDonald’s, Wingstop, and — of course — Whataburger, the locally based burger fave.

Though many restaurants remain closed or are operating with takeout service only, Americans across the board are proving to be a demanding bunch, with Google Adwords claiming more than 133 million Google searches were made in the U.S. last month that included restaurant-related keywords. That’s an 82 percent increase from March 2020, and even significantly higher than January 2020, when the data shows there were 88.8 million such searches.

Industry site Chef’s Pencil analyzed search volumes for restaurant-related searches for the 50 largest U.S. cities to identify those where demand was highest and lowest, compared with pre-pandemic times.

Though San Antonio saw a major jump in restaurant-related searches, they come at a time when the demand, combined with the ongoing pandemic, has led to a shortage of restaurant workers, thereby adding to the challenges facing many restaurants.

The data shows San Antonio isn’t the only Texas city ready to get back to dining out. El Paso ranks fourth on the national list, with a 67 percent increase in restaurant-related Google searches in March versus January 2020, and an 87 percent increase year-over-year.

Arlington ranked seventh, with a 62 percent increase in restaurant-related searches in March compared with January 2020. And Houston ranked 14th, with a 55 percent increase in March restaurant searches versus January 2020.

The city with the most restaurant-related Google searches in March was Las Vegas.