Whether you are traveling to a new locale for business or pleasure, there is one thing that many of us look forward to, and that is the food. Apart from the exciting attractions and activities to experience, there is also the occasionally unusual, yet unique and remarkable cuisine of different countries to sample. Food is something that will bring joy to our hearts and happiness through our stomach. It’s certainly a trip well spent when adventure coincides with unique gastronomic experiences. We have compiled a list to ease your burden of searching for the world’s best cities for food. These are the cities who stood out among the rest in terms of culinary contributions and bizarre creations.
Here it is—the 20 Best Cities for Food in the World in no particular order. Prepare to have some mouth-watering reading!
1. Louisville, Kentucky, USA
First on the long list is the City of Louisville, Kentucky, USA which quickly expanded in terms of culinary experience. Louisville is a city best known for its distinctive signature drink offerings such as bourbon distilleries, wine country, and the famous Kentucky Derby mint julep. But wait, there’s more! The city is also home to eclectic restaurants and has been the newest central point for food lovers in the United States. The innovative dishes offered in this city are perfectly made with unique ingredients that are fresh and produced locally. The food here wonderfully showcases authentic, traditional Southern recipes. While some of the foods might not be the usual fare, they are surely affordable and worth trying!
2. Bologna, Italy
You should know by now what this city specializes in food—it is evident in its name. Bologna in Italy is well-known for its music, architecture, and most especially-FOOD. Though a much less-traveled city, Bologna still rules as the culinary capital of Italy. It is here, where Ragu Alla Bolognese (a long-favored meat sauce) was created. But, there’s more to experience here than eating a pasta and pizza in Bologna. The city boasts a number of must-try delicacies such as Mortadella (an oversized Italian sausage) and Parma ham—a ham that has been salted for several weeks and fermented for 12-18 months made with Parma meat. Cap off the day with a scoop of some creamy gelato!
3. Florence, Italy
Another city in Italy that made it on the list of best cities for food is Florence. The city is likewise popular worldwide for its art, history, architecture, and fashion as well as its unique cuisine. The city’s cooking style has remained quite constant for years, but still maintains its rich and flavorful dishes up to today. I tried my best to squeeze in the authentic foods you should attempt to taste when you visit the city. Your visit won’t be complete if you miss the chance to try genuine Florentine dishes such as Crostini Neri for your starter, Crespelle Alla Fiorentina for a classic pasta as your first course meal. Of course, you should also try out the Bistecca Alla Fiorentina! It is a notable dish of Florence that is perfect for meat lovers out there. The country of Italy sure makes me want to book a flight back ASAP!
4. Lyon, France
Aside from the Eiffel Tower in the City of Paris, France, there is also something to look forward to in the City of Lyon and that is none other than food. The city is composed of family-run bistros which have become an integral part of the city’s food scene. Lyon is known for its homemade cuisines, relaxing atmosphere and delicious serving Bouchons—a variety of restaurants found specifically in the City of Lyon that serves traditional Lyonnaise cuisines such as sausages, duck pâté or roast pork. Don’t miss the chance to sample these dishes in the world’s capital when it comes to gastronomic experiences!
5. Marrakesh, Morocco
When people hear about the City of Marrakesh, Morocco, the first thing that will come to their mind is Moroccan street food. Moroccan cuisine uniquely developed through the interactions with other nations and cultures over the centuries. A visit to the city will not be complete if you fail to experience the festival-like food stalls during the night. While being entertained by street performances at Jemaa el-Fna (a city square by day), your belly will be very much delighted when you go through the number of quirky and affordable food stalls here. You may start off with a variety of sandwiches such as the Sardine Sandwich or head on to authentic Kebab food stalls for a heartier treat. One popular dishe that defines Moroccan cuisine is the Tagine—a clay cooking pot where a variety of meats and vegetables are slow-cooked to perfection. The result? A rich and flavourful dish!
6. Copenhagen, Denmark
In the City of Copenhagen, Denmark lies one of the best-ranked restaurants in the world called Noma. Their menu is divided into three seasons each involves some thematic element from the ocean. Noma offers delicious Scandinavian seafood feasts best served during winter months. If you are allergic to seafood, you may try visiting during the Vegetable season. This is ideal for vegans and vegetarians. Visit during the Game and Forest season if you’re a meat lover. Though most of the restaurants in Copenhagen requires months of reservation prior to dining there, budget-mindful eaters may opt instead to try the city’s famous Smorrebrod: an open-faced sandwich filled with meat, fish and vegetables. Culinary adventurers can also try some delicious Danish-style hotdogs. Without a doubt, this city is known for its bizarre experimentation with food using unconventional ingredients to delight its locals and visitors.
7. Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan is the haven for Sushi lovers. Not only that, this city has been frequented by tourists from all over the world because of its quirky yet delicious food offerings. Tokyo consists of more than 220 Michelin Star restaurants, outnumbering the Michelin star restaurants in Paris and New York combined. Good food can be found in every corner here without breaking the bank. You can find quality Sushi, authentic ramen or Tempura at an affordable cost. Tokyo is considered to be the world’s biggest city, with over 160,000 restaurants. This vast selection is more than enough to keep your stomach full while visiting Tokyo. The one thing missing is YOU.
8. New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
The distinct and unique food in New Orleans, Louisiana is nurtured by the city’s colourful and mixed of heritage. This is largely thanks to the Creoles. They are the descendants of the early settlers of Louisiana, particularly in New Orleans, during the French and Spanish rule of this locale. Seafood plays a vital role in the city’s cuisine and it is why travelers love to visit the place. One of the many distinct dishes of New Orleans is the Po’ Boy—a sandwich filled with fried seafood such as shrimp, oysters, catfish, soft-shell crab or roast beef with brown gravy completed with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and remoulade served on French bread. Prepare for a seafood feast when you visit this city!
9. San Sebastián, Spain
If you are in search for the best food in the Basque Country of Spain, San Sebastian is worth stopping by for its authentic Basque cuisine. The city has bars and restaurants that will keep you busy from day till night. If you are in the Basque Country, you should try its tapas (AKA “pintxos”). Do take note that pintxos are best enjoyed with a glass of wine or a small beer. Why? As per Spanish tradition, you should only have one pintxos and wine or beer in one bar then move on to the next. Pintxos are a good substitute for a meal, plus it is affordable. The city is also known for its Michelin Star restaurants, which offer Chinese, German, Galician, Italian and of course, Basque cuisine. You may also head on to the harbor to spot the freshest seafood for your next meal. Just keep in mind that San Sebastian is not the place for vegetarians and vegans unless you want to wake up early in the morning and head on to the market and cook for yourself!
10. Georgetown, Malaysia
Georgetown is a famous food capital of Malaysia. It is believed to be the best food city in Southeast Asia. It is best known for its array of street food, or hawker food as the locals call it. Locals and visitors love the area for its rich and flavourful dishes that are cheap and affordable, yet don’t compromise the food’s quality. The most notable dish here is the Char Kway Teow—a popular noodle dish not only in Malaysia but also in its bordering countries such as Singapore, Brunei, and Indonesia. It’s made of stir-fried rice cake strips made from flat rice noodles. The dish is served with plump prawns, briny cockles, chewy Chinese sausage, crispy bean sprouts, fluffy egg, strips of fish cake and a hint of chili paste.
11. Ho Chi Min, Vietnam
The City of Ho Chi Min is known for its distinct street food as well as its fine dining establishments. No matter what time of the day you explore, there’s food in every corner of the city for you to enjoy. Found here is a local dish called Pho which was invented in the city of Hanoi. Despite this, it is in the streets of Ho Chi Min where you can find the best variety of great Vietnamese cuisine. While the two more widely known dishes found here are Bahn Mi and Pho, you’ll be surprised by the other wide array of dishes that can be found in the city.
12. Buenos Aires, Argentina
Argentine cuisine is a cultural blend of Mediterranean influences because of the abundance of agricultural products existing in the country. Buenos Aires in Argentina is a meat-eaters paradise and is often dubbed the steak capital of the world. Though the city is best known for its inexpensive steaks, pizza, and pasta, Buenos Aires was able to also ensure that traditional Argentine cuisine was kept alive and well too. Visitors who are looking for alternatives or who want to have a break from eating meat, may opt to try some Empanadas for a quick and cheap meal. It can be found in most of the food-stalls in Buenos Aires. Empanadas are commonly stuffed with meat, but sometimes also filled with vegetables or queso & Cebolla (cheese & onion) that are perfect for vegetarians.
13. San Diego, California, USA
If you think that L.A. and San Francisco are the top food destination in California, think again. Surpassing the two famous cities for food is the City of San Diego, California. It is now gaining popularity when it comes to well-made Mexican and seafood dishes. Truly, the city offers an extensive variety of cuisine due to its rich ethnic and cultural mix. Because of the city’s warm and dry climate, it is a perfect place for growing fruits and vegetables. And because of the city’s high accessibility to the ocean, San Diego enjoys the advantage of having a plentiful seafood supply. No wonder, the city is jam-packed with steakhouses and seafood restaurants.
14. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
If the seafood feast in San Diego isn’t enough, you might want to check out Vancouver too. This city is a coastal seaport located in Canada. In particular, Vancouver is found in the Lower Mainland region of British Columbia. Unsurprisingly, this makes it a perfect spot for seafood lovers and non-allergic individuals who want to try some local seafood. Aside from great seafood, the city has a thriving food truck scene. These trucks are found nearly everywhere in Vancouver! Some well-known food served at these trucks are tacos, Indian cuisine, and even egg-centric dishes.
15. Santiago, Chile
Traditionally, Chilean cuisine features simple, yet flavorful dishes made with seasonal local ingredients. Street food and food trucks have become popular in Santiago, Chile as well. This is despite how they only recently popped up in Santiago’s food scene. One food truck that visitors simply need to visit is called La Combi. It offers healthy snacks on the go! Visitors can also visit the LoungeTruck for gourmet sandwiches that is more of a meal instead of a snack.
16. London, UK
Some may say that visiting the City of London will cost you a lot of money. Well, I think that’s right when we talk about food. This city doesn’t claim a particularly famous cuisine, but the changing palate of locals is what pushes the local food industry here to create unique and quality dishes. When you happen to be in London, make sure to try the famous Sunday Roast. This culinary experience consists of roast meat (beef, chicken, lamb or pork), roast potatoes, mash, Yorkshire pudding, vegetables and gravy (meat or vegetable sauce).
17. Bangkok, Thailand
While Bangkok is known for being a shopping haven, it has also been widely recognized when it comes to genuine Thai food. Surrounded by a number of restaurants, the City of Bangkok consists of a mix of street food and high-end restaurants which feature even international flavors. One famous Bangkok cuisine is Tom Yum Gung—a soup composed of shrimp, mushrooms, tomatoes, lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. Gang Keow Wan is another popular dish. Also known as Thai green curry, it is made up of ingredients like green curry paste, coconut milk, bamboo shoots, chicken, Thai basil, Thai eggplant and other herbs characteristic of Thai cuisine.
18. Taipei, Taiwan
Taiwan recently became a popular tourist destination for international travellers. This is not only because of its array of grand temples and cultural attractions, it is also because of its delicious and exotic food scene. No visit to Taiwan is complete without a visit to one of Taiwan’s food street. The biggest is found at the Shilin Night Market in Taiwan! Wander around and engage in a plethora of activities. Here, you can even catch live prawns and have the stall vendor barbecue them for you! You can try savour dishes such as their oyster omelette, or their diced beef. For the latter, sizzling, melt-in-your-mouth cubes of beef are cooked right in front of you and cooked via a blowtorch at a grill! Make sure to try some Taiwanese buffets in the city as well if you are looking for high-quality meat and seafood dishes.
19. Seoul, South Korea
South Korea’s capital of Seoul is not only known for its cheap cosmetics but also its long path of excellent street food. This city is heavily influenced by its rich history. That’s why most of the food in Seoul is influenced and related to its culture and heritage in some way. But let’s not set aside the fact that Seoul is also home to cutesy cafes and the famous Korean BBQ that serves high-quality meat. It’s a must try!
20. Chengdu, China
In 2010, the City of Chengdu in China was named a UNESCO City of Gastronomy. Why? The answer is because of the numbers of food stalls and epic restaurants flowing through this city. Chengdu is known for its adorable Pandas. A little-known is secret is that the city is also the epicenter of good food and delightful Sichuan cuisine. Some must-try dishes of the city are Kung Pao Chicken, Boiled Fish (served in a spicy chili-oil sauce) and Pockmarked Grandma’s Tofu.
Where would you go?
If you live to eat, here are some delectables destinations to choose from. Whether you drop by the farmer’s market at these cities for some local fare, or splurge by eating at a classy restaurant, these cities are guaranteed to leave you satisfied and asking for seconds!
We want to know your thoughts! Share what your favorite dish is below and mention the city you tried it in!
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