Welcome to the Wacky Maps column. At Untapped, we investigate the urban environment but we also don’t take ourselves too seriously. So with Wacky Maps, we use the same professional mapping tools the city government uses–but we’re mapping zany things like fast food deserts (not desserts) and mixing up Paris and New York. Disclaimer: don’t take our accompanying text too seriously either. It’s often satirical, which is something we know New Yorkers get (we hope).

New York’s Fast Food Desert Heat Map: Tough times for…Williamsburg (and Staten Island):

Data Source: Google, using national corporate fast food chains located in NYC such as Taco Bell, KFC, McDonalds, Wendys, Popeyes and Burger King

Moving to New York hasn’t been easy. Let’s face it, this city is tough. There’s a lot of strife and struggle that everyone has to deal with so I try not to complain. The problem for me though isn’t having to deal with a 45-minute commute to work each day on a crowded, unpredictable L-train or even avoiding the a-hole whose nose is in his Blackberry. It’s the fact that after a long day at work, or a long night at the bars, I can’t find a god damn cheeseburger! I’m not talking about the ones made by the bodega delis that seemingly make every consumable product but the good stuff — the greasy stuff.

Now before I go on I have to say that this is probably largely my fault for moving to Williamsburg of all places in New York. It’s a land full of gourmet shops that offer anything from cheese to chocolates, but fast food it has not. I know this. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stumbled throughout the ‘Burg in search of a Frosty only to find myself in a seat at Kellogg’s Diner. It just couldn’t be. How could all the great fast food chains be absent from my neighborhood? Impossible, right? Wrong, it was even worse than I thought. As it turned out, I was smack dab in the middle of a fast food desert.

Being from California I had no idea these existed. I used to be in a paradise complete with all the KFC Double Downs and Taco Bell Crunch Wrap Supremes that I could ever ask for but now there was nothing. I had to settle for the Dunkin Donuts/Taco Bell combination next to my office in Manhattan (yes it does exist on 28th and Madison if you don’t believe me) where both parts of the business somehow had infiltrated the taste of the other.

How was I supposed to know? How was anyone supposed to know that about New York? Well I have made certain that this will never happen again. I present to you the first New York City fast food heat map. Now you can all base your next moving decision not merely on the commute to work or the social scene but with a little more foresight as to how to successfully walk home drunk and get your Frosty fix in your very own neighborhood.


Get in touch with the author @untappedmich.


  1. manhattan :) says:

    brooklyn sucks!

  2. […] But there were some things I didn’t expect to see. To wit: household products. Here we have a selection of soaps and other items of cleanliness; a nearby vendor was selling Prego, Ragu, and other brand-name sauces, in addition to a variety of other packaged foods. This makes sense, because Spring Creek is in a “food desert“. […]

  3. Ben Hoff says:

    You should move back to Washington Heights 🙂

  4. Jen says:

    Part of Williamsburg’s charm is its lack of gross chains. Who needs icky Taco Bell when we have awesome local spots and tons of food trucks? You might be living in the wrong ‘hood.

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