Foodie heatmap: Seattle

By: Patrick W. Zimmerman

Header image credit: Victor Grigas

Seattle, its salmon fields swaying in the wind, markets overflowing with bounteous fish candy, served drizzled with actual drizzle. A place where lumberjacks, techies, and fishermen smile in rapturous bliss at the gray skies and volcanoes above. Sadness in Seattle was eradicated by 2007 with the advent of the intravenous single-origin aeropress.

Ok, that might be mildly hyperbolic. But Seattlites really, really like fish. And coffee. And (we’re pretty sure) coffee-rubbed salmon. We’re not entirely unsure fish-flavored coffee doesn’t exist, either.

Rain+Coffee+Salmon+Weed. It’s kind of a thing.

So, like our last dive into the review pool, Burritolandia, we ask one simple question: Where the fishies be at?



The question

What neighborhoods in Seattle have the highest average restaurant rating?


The map

We collected the 1000 recommended Yelp pages (the results of filtering for restaurants in any given Yelp city page), and decided to make a zip-code based heatmap. The average ratings were averages calculated from the detailed ratings left for each of the restaurants in the list (rather than Yelp’s star number, rounded to the nearest 0.5), and then averaged for each zip code. To eliminate small sample sizes (and the potential effect of fake review shenanigans), we did not include any restaurant with fewer than 50 reviews.


The quick takeaways

1 – The hottest area of Seattle is north of Downtown. Ballard, Fremont/Phinney Ridge, and Capitol Hill are the only zipcodes with both a) a fair number of qualifying restaurants and b) a higher average rating than the downtown area between the Space Needle, Pioneer Square, and Lake Washington. That’s not to say that Downtown Seattle doesn’t have a good food scene (average yelp rating of 4.036, 330 qualifying restaurants that made the Yelp list). It’s just not quite as hopping as the area just to the north (4.112 average rating, 174 qualifying restaurants).

2 – A couple zip codes have some serious small-sample-size issues. To the point where you can probably just throw out the entire southernmost 3 zips plus Fauntleroy.

3 – The I District. Woof. Colder than the weather in June. Not a good sign for Seattle’s Chinatown food scene.


The caveat

Yelp limits these samples to 1000 restaurants, which may not be representative of the just under 7300 total rated restaurants in Seattle. If there is a non-representative geographic distribution of Yelp’s sample, that would affect the map significantly.


What’s next?

ALL THE CITIES! Next in line: Philly, Chicago, LA, & New York

About The Author

Architeuthis Rex, a man of (little) wealth and (questionable) taste. Historian and anthropologist interested in identity, regionalism / nationalism, mass culture, and the social and political contexts in which they exist. Earned Ph.D. in social and cultural History with a concentration in anthropology from Carnegie Mellon University and then (mostly) fled academia to write things that more than 10 other people will actually read. Driven to pursue a doctorate to try and answer the question, "Why do they all hate each other?" — still working on it. Plays beer-league hockey, softball, and soccer. Professional toddler wrangler. Likes dogs, good booze, food, and horribly awesome kung-fu movies.

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