15 Best Cities in the World for Foodies

Expand Your Palate as well as Your Horizons

    Travel is all about broadening your horizons – seeing new sights, meeting new people and understanding new cultures. It’s also about treating your taste buds to the diverse flavours of the world. Every country has its own unique cuisine, often inspired by waves of immigration, the local environment and the ever-growing community of travellers.

    Whether you’re fond of fresh seafood, barbecued meats, spicy soups or vegetarian delights, there’s a city that provides the perfect cuisine to suit. Here’s our pick of the 15 best cities for an exploration of food, glorious food… with plenty to do between meals.

    1

    Osaka, Japan

    The nation’s kitchen

    Osaka is a highly esteemed foodie city in Japan, affectionately nicknamed “The Kitchen of Japan". The city’s residents are known for their casual, fun-loving vibe, which is reflected in the dining scene. Popular dishes include okonomiyaki (Japanese pizza) and takoyaki (octopus balls). Osaka also has some of Japan’s largest fish markets, with tuna auctions taking place daily.

    If you fancy some affordable nibbles, head to Dontonbori Street, where you’ll find street vendors selling treats ranging from kushikatsu (deep-fried skewered meat and vegetables) to yakitori (chicken grilled over a charcoal fire). Nearby, you’ll find Kuromon Ichiba Market, where you can buy fresh produce, shellfish, and souvenirs.

    Take me there

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    2

    Lyon, France

    Home to traditional bouchons and around 20 Michelin-starred restaurants

    Lyon is the gastronomic capital of France. Unique bouchon eateries serve homely Lyonnaise cuisine, which could be anything from veal casserole and duck liver pâté to roast pork and sausages, all with extraordinarily rich flavours. Between meals, wander the fresh markets that offer world-class wine and cheese at fantastic prices. Notable dishes that originate from Lyon include rosette Lyonnaise (cured pork sausage), salade Lyonnaise (bacon with lettuce, croutons and egg) and tablier de sapeur (a beef tripe dish).

    The city is home to around 20 Michelin-starred restaurants, including the Paul Bocuse Restaurant, which boasts an impeccable 3 stars. You’ll find a string of restaurants in the 1st arrondissement of Lyon, around the majestic City Hall. Café Comptoir Abel claims to be Lyon’s oldest bouchon. Here, you can eat authentically local dishes made with seasonal ingredients.

    Explore now

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    3

    Lima, Peru

    Sample Nikkei cuisine in Peru’s food capital

    The rising star among jet-setting foodies, Lima is home to 2 of the world's 10 best restaurants according to San Pellegrino's esteemed 50 Best Restaurants in the World guide. Combining Latin ingredients with Japanese flavours and cooking techniques brought by waves of immigration, the unique Nikkei cuisine found in Peru is the literal example of 2 continents colliding.

    Some of the city's tastiest dishes include cuy (deep-fried guinea pig), ceviche (raw fish cured in citrus juices) and lomo saltado (marinated strips of sirloin). Central Restaurante is a top-rated restaurant in Lima, which serves Peruvian classics and unique dishes such as piranha. 

    Take a bite

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    4

    Austin, TX, USA

    Treat yourself to the world’s best barbequed meats

    Austin is home to some of the world’s best barbeque joints. While you’re here, you should taste the city’s barbequed ribs, sausage and brisket, which are often referred to as the “holy trinity of Texas BBQ.” Local side dishes include potato salad, sauerkraut and beans, though you’ll often find fries on most menus.

    Franklin Barbecue is probably the most famous restaurant in the city, strictly open for lunch hours only. At this highly rated restaurant, you can feast on pulled pork, brisket and a variety of smoked meats. You might have to queue for hours, but your stomach will thank you for it. End your night by heading to 6th Street, bar-hopping from one joint to the next in typical Austin style.

    Let's go

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    5

    Bangkok, Thailand

    Head to the world’s street food capital

    Bangkok is hailed as the street food capital of the world. Its cuisine is famous for its explosion of taste, mixing the 5 flavours of spicy, sour, salty, sweet and bitter. Street food favourites, such as tom yam goong (a sour shrimp soup), pad Thai (a stir-fried noodle dish) and som tam (green papaya salad), can be found throughout the city and cost 100 baht or less in most places. 

    In Chinatown, Silom and Bangkok Old City, you’ll find hundreds of street vendors serving food from the early hours until late at night. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre, head to Soi Rambuttri, which is situated in the historic district near the infamous Khao San Road.

    Tuck in

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    6

    Melbourne, Australia

    Embrace the vibrant coffee shop and brunch culture

    Melbourne is a city with a vibrant youth vibe. The coffee-shop culture here is part of the city's DNA. Its cuisine has been influenced by waves of immigration over the past few decades, including Chinese, British, Spanish, Italian, Greek and Mexican. There are also dozens of cosy wine bars and restaurants with brunch menus that are pretty much unsurpassed.

    Chinatown is the best place to find dishes infused with Chinese ingredients and spices, while Carlton is one of the top-rated districts for Italian food. Looking for some bohemian dishes that have captured Melbourne’s youth? Head to St Kilda or Fitzroy. If you fancy a craft coffee and a brunch with a difference, head to Two Birds One Stone, where you can feast on avocado toast, ricotta pancakes, and Middle Eastern-inspired charred eggplant.

    Explore now

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    7

    San Sebastian, Spain

    Treat yourself to unique Basque tapas dishes

    With more Michelin-starred restaurants per capita than Paris, San Sebastian is a culinary playground. The Basque version of tapas, known as pintxos, has been perfected here, so expect snack-sized plates of cured meats and seafood to soak up the fantastic Rioja wines. Some of the city’s most famous dishes include baked spider crab, clams marinière and baby squid (with its ink).

    Mercado de San Martín is the city’s largest and most famous fish market, where you’ll also find a variety of tasty meats. Prefer to let somebody else do the cooking? Arzak is an award-winning seafront restaurant where you can taste unique Basque dishes while sipping a glass of local wine or a colourful cocktail.

    Tapas this way

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    8

    Istanbul, Turkey

    Enjoy meze dining in a traditional bazaar

    Turkish cuisine is as varied as the empires that once stood here. It’s often described as a fusion of Balkan, Central Asian, Eastern European and Middle Eastern cuisine. Meze dining is popular in Turkey’s largest city. Local favourites include Ezme (chilli tomato pasta), Patlıcan Salatasi (grilled eggplant salad) and Zeytinyağlı Enginar (a delicious artichoke-based dish).

    Wander the bazaars to snack on a kebab and drink fresh mint tea. The Grand Bazaar is one of the world’s largest and oldest covered markets. Its 4,000 shops attract up to 400,000 visitors per day. In addition to spices and Turkish dishes, you’ll find pottery, carpets and jewellery. Get there early to avoid the crowds.

    Let's eat

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    9

    New York, NY, USA

    The world’s melting pot of cuisine

    New York is a melting pot of cultures from all corners of the globe, and the diversity of its culture is reflected in its cuisine. The Big Apple has popularised dishes ranging from hot dogs to bagels and NY-style pizza. It’s also the birthplace of world-famous meals, such as Eggs Benedict, Lobster Newburg, and spaghetti and meatballs.

    If you’re looking for cheap but tasty bites, we recommend feasting on some of the city’s famous street food. You’ll find vendors selling culinary delights inspired by a range of cultures in Midtown and the Bronx. Servings are generally huge, too! If you want to splash out, head to an upscale restaurant in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Alternatively, stock up on supplies to rustle up your own dishes. NYC is home to over 12,000 delis, groceries and bodegas.

    Make a new food discovery

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    10

    Florence, Italy

    Try weird but wonderful meat-based dishes

    Florence is the culinary capital of Tuscany, famed for its fantastic produce served simply to let the flavours shine. Its cuisine stems from a tradition of peasant eating rather than upscale dining – almost no part of an animal goes to waste. Some of the city’s notable meat-based dishes include the Florentine steak and lampredotto (a sandwich filled with cow’s stomach).

    You’ll find street carts selling meals ranging from pasta to tripe throughout the city. You’ll find the most famous selection of Florentine street food in Da Nerbone, a historical spot situated in the San Lorenzo neighbourhood. You might have to wait in long queues, but the stalls of Da Nerbone offer an authentic Florentine culinary experience.

    Buon Appetito

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    11

    Copenhagen, Denmark

    New Nordic Cuisine at its finest

    Copenhagen has pushed the envelope in terms of molecular cuisine. The dining scene is worth the trip alone. A hub of Danish dining, the nation’s capital is famous for its smørrebrød (open sandwiches served for lunch), and substantial fish and meat dishes, such as kogt torsk (poached cod) and flæskesteg (roast pork with crackling). Copenhagen is also the birthplace of New Nordic Cuisine, which promotes the use of natural, local and seasonal produce as the basis for new meals.

    If you want to sample some of the best dishes inspired by New Nordic Cuisine, book a table at Noma Restaurant, which has been awarded 2 Michelin stars. Its menu includes fanciful creations like grilled leeks with ashes, rye bread with chicken skin and Danish smoked cheese, smoked quail eggs, and raw prawns with seaweed.

    Take me there

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    12

    Charleston, SC, USA

    The home of Lowcountry cuisine

    Charleston is one of the best places in the US to enjoy Lowcountry cuisine – traditional Southern cooking featuring plenty of seafood and African influences. Local favourites include Frogmore stew, okra soup, shrimp and grits, and salmon with Charleston red rice. Most meals are paired with sides such as Hoppin’ John (Carolina peas and rice), baked mac-n-cheese, or fried cabbage.

    In the French Quarter of Charleston, you’ll find the award-winning 82 Queen Restaurant, which specialises in Lowcountry cuisine and the use of local, seasonal produce. Meals can be a tad on the expensive side, but you can’t put a price on southern hospitality and culinary perfection.

    Yes, I'm in

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    13

    Buenos Aires, Argentina

    The world’s mecca for steak-lovers

    The cuisine of Argentina is heavily influenced by Italian and Spanish immigration. Throughout the world, Argentinian steak is held in high esteem, and you’ll find some of the best fried or grilled strips in the nation’s capital, Buenos Aires. Besides its barbequed delights, staple dishes of Buenos Aires include empanadas (pastry squares packed with meat, scallions, potatoes and eggs) and Milanesa (pounded chicken or veal baked in breadcrumbs).

    Throughout Buenos Aires, you’ll find casual bodegóns (taverns), parrilla (barbeque diners) and upscale restaurants. Cabaña Las Lilas is one of the top-rated steakhouses in Buenos Aires. Don’t forget to bring your credit card as dishes can be pricey, but they’re well worth the expense.

    Steaks, please

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    14

    Singapore, Singapore

    Where eating is a national pastime

    Thanks to the nation’s history, Singaporean cuisine is highly diverse, combining Malay, Chinese and Indian influences. Singaporeans view their food as part of their national identity – the nation’s literature declares eating a national obsession. Local favourites include bak kut teh (pork rib soup with Chinese spices and herbs), beef kway teow (noodle soup with braised or stewed beef) and drunken prawns, which are cooked with rice wine.

    Throughout Singapore, you’ll find plenty of fine-dining establishments. But to get a taste of the culture as well as the diverse cuisine, we recommend heading to a hawker centre, which is an open-air food complex. With over 260 stalls, Chinatown Complex Food Centre is the largest hawker centre in the city-state and has a fun, retro vibe.

    Try it all

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    15

    San Francisco, USA

    Feast on seafood delights in the Golden Gate City

    San Francisco is largely surrounded by water, making it no surprise that many of its most popular dishes are seafood-based. Cioppino is a simple but flavourful seafood stew that’s native to the Golden Gate City. Other favourite dishes include clam chowder bread bowls, Dungeness crab, and the Portuguese-inspired caldo verde (green soup). You’ll also find a variety of meat dishes plus international favourites like pizzas, sandwiches and hot dogs.

    If you want to taste the best of San Francisco’s seafood dishes, we recommend heading to the award-winning Fog Harbour Fish House, which offers magnificent views of the harbour and the Golden Gate.

    Ok, I'm hungry

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