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The Top 50 Wheelchair Accessible Restaurants in the U.S., According to Yelp and The Mighty


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As a leading publisher for the disability community, The Mighty is proud to present this exclusive list of the 50 best wheelchair accessible restaurants in the United States, produced in partnership with Yelp.

You can scroll down to skip straight ahead to the list — it boasts a collection of dining gems spanning from Kāneʻohe, HI to Brockton, MA that have placed a commendable priority on accessibility (and that happen to know a little something about delicious cuisine, too).

But first, we’d love to have just a moment of your time to provide a little more context than you may be used to finding atop the average online “best of” list. We feel the topics of accessibility and inclusivity, and the millions of Mighty members who seek improvements in both, deserve as much.


How does one make a restaurant more accessible to customers with disabilities? Glad you asked. You can find that right here.

 

Who is behind this list and why was it created?

 
The restaurant list was generated through collaboration between The Mighty and Yelp. If you’re new to The Mighty, we are the world’s largest online health community and we offer a safe, informative online home for people with health challenges to connect and share their personal experiences, across hundreds of conditions spanning disability, chronic illness, rare disease, and mental illness.

(If you’re new to Yelp… well, that’s actually pretty impressive! It’s hard to spend much time online without crossing their path — how have you selected establishments to dine at, services to employ, and businesses to frequent, we wonder?)

Much of this world simply wasn’t created with disabilities in mind.

There is an unfortunate reality our Mighty team sees, hears, and oftentimes experiences — the majority of our staff lives with chronic health conditions — every day: much of this world simply wasn’t created with disabilities in mind.

It’s not always a slight, and it’s often not malicious; it’s just a fact. The way people with disabilities navigate life is naturally different, and accessibility looks drastically distinct for each person.

But that reality only deepens and worsens with inaction. And inaction is often best solved with awareness: What does the world look like for those with limited mobility? Those who live with vision and hearing loss? Those individuals with invisible illnesses? What are the challenges disabled people face in a world built for others? How can people outside of this community help improve that world?

This list exists primarily to further open up those conversations.


The following articles give voice to our community’s experiences navigating restaurants:

 

How was this list determined?

 
Of course, as is the case for every list ever published on the internet, particularly one ranking restaurants, it will also open up a less productive kind of conversation, about the selections that “suck” and other spots that are “better” and so on.

Debate away, but please consider doing so with the methodology in mind, as it provides critical context.

To clarify, this is more a list of great restaurants that are set up to serve customers in a wheelchair, not a list of establishments that specifically excel at or specialize in serving the disability community.

We’re beyond honored that Yelp was willing to spare their time, expertise, and millions of business reviews to collaborate with us on this project. And this was the approach their stellar data scientists took as they combed the wealth of data that makes Yelp the standard in public opinion:

We identified businesses in the restaurant and food categories, then ranked those spots using a number of factors including the total volume and ratings of reviews mentioning those keywords. Businesses must have the wheelchair accessible attribute selected to be considered. To ensure geographic diversity, we limited the list to 3 businesses per metro area. When available, all businesses on this list have a passing health score as of July 8, 2022.

So, to clarify, this is more a list of great restaurants that are set up to serve customers in a wheelchair, not a list of establishments that specifically excel at or specialize in serving the disability community.


Want to learn more about accessibility? Our community has you covered:

 

Something important to consider while consuming this list

 
Please do us a favor and take it easy on the restaurants named on this list.

None of these restaurants asked for inclusion on our list. In fact, they’re likely only learning of their inclusion right here, right now. (Hello! Congratulations! We hope we can visit sometime!)

It is our hope that each restaurant on this list, same as all establishments that are not, will join all who care about disability rights in continually striving for better.

To our knowledge, none of these small businesses claim to be perfect locations for patrons using wheelchairs by any means. All they did was make every effort to meet the requirements for accessibility, informed Yelp that they were prepared for diners using a wheelchair, and proceeded to provide food, ambiance, and customer service that made Yelp users go wild for their offerings.

We do not imagine their employees or their physical footprints are fully prepared for an immediate influx of customers or able to serve a high volume of people seeking accommodations at one time.

It is our hope that each restaurant on this list, same as all establishments that are not, will join all who care about disability rights in continually striving for better.


Hey, restaurateur! Looking for lessons from a fellow business owner? We have you covered: 4 Things I’ve Learned About Accessibility as a Small Business Owner

 

What does it mean to be “wheelchair accessible” as a business in the U.S.?

 
The original publication date of this list coincides with the 32nd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Among its many branches, the ADA lays down a base layer of standards for businesses to follow. As is typical with federal regulations, there is a tedious document that outlines the rules, spanning everything from parking spaces to ramp requirements, restroom access to drinking fountain height. (Also typical with a federal baseline, further state and local regulations can add another component for business owners to be aware of.)

Over the decades, it has become the legal standard and provides a measuring stick for accessibility we can judge by, but today, the ADA conjures complicated feelings in the disability community. Mighty contributor Alyssa Brown beautifully summed up the duality of being thankful while also noting “times change and our standards of accessibility should change too.”

For example, in regards to accessibility in public spaces, the ADA has been called outdated — critically important automatic door openers, though more affordable and ubiquitous than ever, are still not required, as Mighty contributor Kevin Cook noted last year.

It is fully acknowledged by The Mighty’s editorial team that this list’s celebration of attaining a basic level of compliance… well, it doesn’t necessarily feel great. But as we dream of, and advocate for, changes for the next generation of disabled Americans, it’ll take a lot of collective heart to get there and education is a necessary piece of that equation.

And, as the old adage goes, the way to someone’s heart is often through their stomach.


Psst! Before you reach out to your representatives, consider starting here: The Next ADA: The Rights Americans With Disabilities Still Need to Thrive

 

OK, please just share the list already

 

Gladly! Without further ado, we are glad to highlight the finest restaurants across the nation who have made efforts to make their spaces accessible for wheelchair users…

Exterior of Tropicali in Big Bear Lake, CA, the top-ranked restaurant on the list

50 Best Wheelchair Accessible Restaurants in the United States

 

Is your favorite spot missing? Anything more you want to learn about accessibility? We’d love to hear from you. Log in or sign up for a Mighty account to add to the comments.

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