First, Cowen argues that ethnic restaurants are moving into the suburbs as rents increase in the city, ethnic populations move into the suburbs, and American tastes welcome the new flavors:
This new mobility is weakening the whole notion of the ethnic neighborhood. Forget the old Chinatown paradigm: Diffusion is the new model. As a result, ethnic restaurants are more like scattered outposts, drawing from a wide radius. As Serrano points out, "Our competition is not right next door. We compete with . . . restaurants five or 10 miles away."Cowen also discusses, however, the types of restaurants that are still clustered in ethnic neighborhoods. They tend to be ethnic foods, like Korean and Filipino, that do not appeal as much to American tastes.
Filipinos, for example, are the second most numerous Asian group in the United States (some 2 million, compared with 2.7 million Chinese). But outside of Little Manila in Los Angeles and parts of San Francisco, Filipino restaurants are unusual. The Washington area -- where there are some 34,000 people of Filipino heritage -- has Little Quiapo in Arlington and Manila Cafe in Springfield. But few non-Filipino Americans have a love for fish sauce, vinegar marinade and oxtail. And, as my Filipino friend John Nye has told me, many Filipinos prefer a home-cooked meal.