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34 Best Foodie Cities in the World

Traveling for food is both our business and our passion. Discover 22 ‘foodie cities’ that have wowed us with their vibrant food cultures plus 12 additional cities at the top of our list for future food trips.

Noodle Dish at Cui Shan Noodle Restaurant in Shanghai

Food and travel are intertwined for food travelers like us. At last count, we’ve traveled through more than 80 different cities in the last 5 years and all our travels have centered around food.

Not only do we enjoy eating new-to-us dishes in food destinations around the world, but food experiences provide us with a gateway to a city’s culture and its people.

We can still remember entering a sushi joint at 8am in Osaka and observing a fish market employee, cigarette in hand, enjoying his first meal of the day or the joy of being warmly greeted by the Septuagenarian owners of our favorite little tasca in Lisbon while they worked hard at the grill.

Tasty Sushi at Osaka Japan
Eating sushi for breakfast in Osaka makes waking up early worth it.

We don’t find these dishes and experiences by accident. Instead, we do tons of advance travel planning as well as on-the-ground research to get the pulse of a city’s local food scene. Sure, it’s extra work, but the rewards more than exceed the efforts – especially when those rewards involve pizza, noodles or dessert.

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Our Picks for the Best Food Cities

Selfie at Khlong Lad Mayom Floating Market in Bangkok
This photo sums up how we feel when we travel for food.

Choosing our favorite food cities is like picking a favorite child. But some cities excel so much with their food cultures that they stand out above the rest. These are our top foodie cities listed in random order:

1.Bangkok

Bangkok Street Food Vendor
Street food vendors work hard in Bangkok.

The massive city of Bangkok teems with vendors selling food on the street, in hawker centers and at floating markets. The city’s bustling Chinatown is especially impressive with its colorful sites, tantalizing tastes and exotic aromas.

We thought we knew all about Thai food after living in Chiang Mai for a month in 2014. And then Bangkok smacked us in the face, culinarily overloading us with a food culture that doesn’t stop from dawn until dawn.

Returning to Bangkok in 2018, we visited a floating market and ate our weight in street food during a Bangkok food tour. However, our favorite Bangkok memories involve strolling down alleys and randomly eating amazing food like salt crusted tilapia (Pla Pao), stir fried noodles (Pad se Ew) and shrimp with glass noodles (Goong Ob Woonsen) at all hours of the day and night.

Discover 26 Thai food favorites.

Shrimp and Noodles at Khlong Lad Mayom Floating Market
We ate these gorgeous shrimps with glass noodles at the Khlong Lad Mayom floating market. in Bangkok. The Thai call this dish Goong Ob Woonsen. We just call it yummy.

To be clear, street food is only part of Bangkok’s food story. The Thai capital has restaurants at all price points including Michelin starred restaurants like Gaggan. There’s even a Michelin starred street food restaurant, Raan Jay Fai, that serves omelettes loaded with fresh crabmeat.

The megacity also has a diverse range of international restaurants that serve classic food more typical in nearby countries like Japan and Taiwan.

Bangkok is a must visit stop in Thailand. It’s that special.

Top Things to Eat in Bangkok
Goong Ob Woonsen (Ginger Shrimp and Glass Noodles), Pad Thai, Pla Pao (Grilled Salt-Crusted Fish) and Tom Yum Goong (Lemongrass Shrimp Soup)

2. Naples

Naples Pizzeria
Locals and tourists queue at the best Naples pizzerias regardless of the weather. We joined this queue at popular Pizzeria da Michele on a chilly January afternoon..

If Naples just had pizza, it would be enough to qualify the southern Italian city to rank as one of the world’s great foodie cities. But, as it turns out, Neapolitan pizza is just one part of the Naples food story.

Like many before and after us, pizza was our primary reason for visiting Naples for the first time in 2014. Not only did the pizza exceed our expectations, but it also motivated us to return for a month in 2017 and a week in 2020.

Read our Naples Pizza Guide.

Star Shaped Pizza at Pizzeria Da Attilio in Naples
Pizza is the star of the Naples food scene.

But we didn’t just eat pizza during these trips to Naples. We jumped into the city’s unique coffee culture and discovered a local food culture that embraces local farm products like tomatoes literally grown on volcanic soil at nearby Mount Vesuvius and fresh fish caught in the Bay of Naples.

Food favorites in Naples include Pasta alla Genovese and Pesce Crudo, not to mention Fiocco di Neve, our new favorite sweet and a solid contender to replace the Sfogliatella as the best pastry in Naples. However, pizza will be number one on our agenda when we return to Naples yet again.

Top Things to Eat & Drink in Naples
Neapolitan Pizza, Coffee, Fiocco di Neve, Mozzarella di Buffala, Pasta Genovese, Pizza Frite (Fried Pizza) and Sfogliatella

3. Paris

Le Train Bleu in Paris
Located in the Gare de Lyon railway station, Le Train Bleu offers a classic Paris dining experience.

Paris is always a good idea whether you’re a lover of art, architecture, history or especially food. The city is nothing short of a veritable smorgasbord with temptations hiding in plain site on every street and in every arrondissement.

We first visited Paris together in 2012 and have since revisited a half dozen times including three trips in 2019 and one in 2020. If you’re suspecting that Paris is one of our very favorite food cities in Europe, you are correct.

Even still, we have one issue every time we visit – an overabundance of Parisian food favorites. Deciding between Steak Frites and Steak Tartare is a real challenge and don’t get us started about choosing among never ending rows of macarons, cakes and pastries at our 40 favorite Paris patisseries.

Read our Paris Food Guide.

Steak Frites in Paris
Our lunch for two at La Bourse et La Vie was a Paris feast with both Steak Frites and Steak Tartare.

The restaurants in Paris are our raison d’être. From gastronomic Michelin starred temples like Pierre Gagnaire to intimate, energetic, internationally influenced dining rooms like Le Rigmarole to classic bistros like Paul Bert, the powerhouse dining doesn’t stop.

Paris has bargains for people like us who are willing to do some research and make advance reservations. But this this is also a city that justifies a splurge or two because it’s Paris after all.

Also, check out the city’s vast range of internationally influenced dining – Japanese, Chinese, Italian and Israeli. It’s all there.

Top Things to Eat & Drink in Paris
Baguettes, Croissants, Pastries, Steak Frites, Steak Tartare and Wine

4. Charleston

Sashimi at FIG in Charleston
Eating Carolina Gold Rice in Charleston is a must. Eating sashimi is a luxury. We ate both with this colorful pate at FIG.

Charleston has high standards when it comes to food. These standards don’t just apply to fancy food, as the charming city has more than its fair share of both highfalutin restaurants and down-and-dirty diners.

We stopped in Charleston during our 2016 US road trip and dove right into the city’s dining scene by eating at FIG and Husk. The two nationally-recognized restaurants wowed us with their modern interpretations of Southern foods like Carolina Gold Rice and locally raised pork.

Gumbo at Jestines in Charleston
We soused this okra gumbo with hot sauce at Jestine’s Kitchen. Sadly, this restaurant permanently closed in 2020.

There’s nothing more comforting than chowing down on buttery shrimp and grits in Charleston, especially the luxurious version at Husk. And then there’s classic southern barbecue like whole hog, cooked low and slow and served on a sandwich, at Rodney Scott’s BBQ.

Top Things to Eat in Charleston
Barbecue, Shrimp & Grits, Fine Dining, Low Country Classics and Modern Southern Cuisine

5. Bologna

Mercato Delle Erbe in Bologna
Finding food in Bologna is the opposite of a challenge. We found this bounty at Mercato delle Erbe.

With a nickname like La Grassa (the fat one), Bologna may very well be Italy’s most gastronomic city. This status is no accident. Bologna is literally situated in the heart of Emilia Romagna, otherwise known as Italy’s Food Valley.

We first visited Bologna as tourists in 2010 and have since returned a half dozen times. The Italian city known for its porticoes has become a bit of a touchstone for us. Each time we return, we revisit favorite trattorias but also find new spots for eating pasta and other local food favorites.

Read our Bologna Food Guide.

Lasagna Verdie al Forno in Bologna
Lasagna Verdi al Forno is one of Bologna’s pasta standards.

Over the years, we’ve taken cooking classes to learn how to make tortellini the old fashioned way. Usually, though, we prefer to let local chefs cook Bologna classics like Tagliatelle al Ragu, Gramigna with Sausage, Lasagna Verdi al Forno and Tortellini in Brodo

Beyond fresh pasta, Bologna is justifiably famous for products like mortadella, the inspiration for baloney in America, and gelato. Home to gelato machine factory Carpigiani, many of the world’s best gelato makers learned their craft here.

Top Things to Eat & Drink in Bologna
Gelato, Gramigna with Sausage, Lambrusco, Lasagna Verdi al Forno, Mortadella, Tagliatelle al Ragu and Tortellini in Brodo

6. Osaka

Cook in Osaka
The food scene in Osaka is literally on fire.

With a reputation for eating until they drop, the people in Osaka don’t mess around when it comes to Japanese food. Their city, nicknamed Tenka no Daidokoro (the nation’s kitchen), is nothing short of an Asian food city paradise filled with vendors selling Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki throughout the city.

We weren’t Japan first-timers when we spent two weeks in Osaka in 2016, though it was our first time eating our way through the country’s snack food capital. We’re pleased to report that we found all the Japanese food of our dreams in this city equally defined by kooky kitsch and culinary creativity.

Read our Osaka Food Guide.

Takoyaki in Osaka
Octopus balls called Okonomiyaki have been a snack food staple in Osaka since 1935. They’re both everywhere and addictively tasty.

Like many food travelers who visit Osaka, we spent a good bit of time eating snack food on neon-lit Dotonbori Street and sushi in the Kuromon Ichiba Market. Without doubt, both are worthy activities. But Osaka is also city where it’s possible to experience a multi-course Kappao meal and cook your own Kobe beef at Korean-inspired Yakiniku barbecue restaurants in the city’s intimate Tenma neighborhood.

Osaka has one of the most impressive spas we’ve ever visited. We recommend a visit to Spa World between snacks. If you get hungry, you can eat there too. Better yet save room for a bowl of ramen.

Top Things to Eat & Drink in Osaka
Kappo, Okonomiyaki, Ramen, Sake, Sushi, Takoyaki and Yakiniku

7. Lyon

Fine Dining at Prairial in Lyo
Fine dining in Lyon is both affordable and exciting. We experienced both elements during our gastronomic lunch at Michelin-starred PRaiRiaL.

While Paris is France’s capital and most famous city, Lyon is arguably the country’s food capital. This is not a new development. Lyon has beckoned food travelers for decades if not longer.

The French food city hit our radar when gastronomic relatives waxed poetically about eating Volaille de Bresse en Vessie, Paul Bocuse’s infamous dish featuring a chicken cooked in a pig’s bladder, at the late chef’s Lyon restaurant. Two of America’s greatest French chefs, George Perrier and Daniel Boulud also hail from Lyon.

We made our first pilgrimage to Lyon in 2012 and later returned for a month in 2016 and a third visit in 2019.

→ Read our Lyon Food Guide.

Pate en Croute Daniel et Denise in Lyon
Lyon bouchons serve elevated comfort food like the slice of Pâté en Croûte we ate at Denis et Denis.

We weren’t the first to fall for Lyon’s culinary charms and we won’t be the last. The city lives and breathes French cuisine at all levels from its market named after the late Chef Bucose to its finest restaurants. For us, though, the best way to eat in Lyon is in the middle.

The city has a slew of casual restaurants called bouchons that serve homemade comfort food like Quenelle de Brochet, Pâté en Croûte and Salade Lyonniase, the city’s namesake salad with frisée, lardons and a poached egg. These bouchons are the heart of the city’s food scene and where we made valuable contacts that opened the city’s culinary doors for us.

Salad Lyonnaise at Cafe Comptoir Abel in Lyon
The Salad Lyonnais is one of the most iconic dishes in Lyon. We at this salad at Cafe Comptoir Abel, a Lyon bouchon.

The city also has a growing community of young chefs pushing the culinary envelope without big staffs or big price tags. Dining at modern Lyon restaurants like La Bijouterie and Les Apothicaires provides a sneak peak into the bright future of French cuisine.

Top Things to Eat & Drink in Lyon
Pâté en Croûe, Quenelle de Brochet, Pink Praline, Rosette de Lyon, Salade Lyonniase, St. Marcellin Cheese and Wine

8. Taipei

Soup Dumplings at Din Tai Fung in Taipei
Din Tai Fung has locations around the world but the original soup dumpling shop is in Taipei. The inevitable wait is worth it for the chance to suck soup out of a basket of perfectly formed dumplings.

Taipei comes alive at night. This is when night markets open and the city’s streets become culinary playgrounds filled with stalls and people.

We visited Taipei in 2018 as a port of call during our epic Asia cruise. This short visit was long enough to validate Taipei’s position as one of the best cities for foodies in the world.

Discover 5 tasty Taipei food experiences.

Yong-Kang Beef Noodles in Taipei
Soup dumplings are far from the only thing to eat in Taipei. Case in point in this gorgeous bowl of Beef Noodle Soup filled with braised beef, hand-drawn wheat noodles and savory broth.

Taipei famously comes alive at night but Taiwan’s capital still hums during the day. We found plenty to eat and drink during our relatively short visit.

Armed with a plan and two healthy appetites, we conquered the city by eating beef noodle soup at a noodle shop, scallion pancakes at a local street vendor, shaved mango ice at a dessert spot and soup dumplings at the original Din Tai Fung. We also drank bubble tea (a/k/a pearl milk tea) filled with tapioca balls because that’s what you drink in Taiwan.

Top Things to Eat & Drink in Taipei
Bubble Tea, Gua Bao (Taiwanese Hamburgers), Rou Mian (Beef Noodle Soup), Scallion Pancakes, Shaved Ice, Three Cup Chicken and Xiaolongbao (Soup Dumplings)

9. New Orleans

Sausage at Cochon Butcher in New Orleans
Even simple foods taste better in New Orleans.

Living by the motto – laissez les bons temps rouler / let the good times roll, along with its port location and a history filled with international influences, makes New Orleans one of America’s great food cities.

Our first joint trip to New Orleans in 2009 was far from our last; in fact, we’ve returned five times since then so far. We dig the city’s vibe, music, cocktails and food, all of which have been influenced by a blending of cultures from the likes of France, Italy, Vietnam and the Caribbean.

Read our Cheap Eats New Orleans Guide.

Po Boy in New Orleans
We consider the oyster Po Boy at Parkway Tavern to be the best sandwich in town.

The blending of these disparate cultures is nowhere more apparent than in Cajun and Creole dishes like Crawfish Étouffée, Gumbo and Jambalaya. Flavored with exotic spices and bursting with flavor, these dishes pack a punch into every bite.

Food travelers can live large at iconic New Orleans restaurants at night and indulge in cheaper eats during the day. We’ve done both but prefer the latter. When it comes to eating Po Boys and fried chicken, we rarely say no in New Orleans.

Top Things to Eat & Drink in New Orleans
Beignets, Cocktails, Fried Chicken, Gumbo, Jambalaya, Muffalettas and Po Boys

10. Montreal

Pouotine at Le Coq de L Est in Montreal
Poutine is a Quebecois food favorite made with fried potatoes, cheese curds and gravy. We ate this loaded version at Le Coq de L’Est in Montreal.

Montreal isn’t just one of the best food cities in Canada – it’s also one of the best food cities in the world. Located near the Saint Lawrence River north of New York, the Quebecois city is a food lover’s paradise with poutine available on a 24/7 basis.

While poutine may have been our gateway food when we first visited Montreal in 2008, it wasn’t the food that motivated us to return three more times including a bitterly cold month-long visit in 2017. In fact, we can’t pick just one food. We love all of the food in Montreal.

Read our Montreal Restaurant Guide.

Jean-Talon Market in Montreal
Montreal’s Jean Talon Market is both a meeting place and an eating place. Open in Little Italy since 1933, this market is one of our favorite food spots in the French Canadian City.

Food permeates Montreal’s culture at markets like Jean Talon and at cafes and restaurants throughout the city. Not afraid of icy streets and air that freezes their tears, locals trek out in sub-zero weather, packing iconic Montreal restaurants like Au Pied de Cochon and L’Express with no trepidation.

We’d be remiss not to mention Montreal bagels. Smaller than the New York version and made with honey, these crunchy bagels fuel a lively debate with bagel lovers from New York.

Top Things to Eat in Montreal
Bagels, Maple Syrup, Olive Fougasse, Pouding Chômeur, Poutine and Smoked Meat

11. Hanoi

Workers at Bun Cha Hang Quat in Hanoi
There’s no need to eat at fancy restaurants in Hanoi. This is a city where the best food is found on the street. We found and ate this food at Bun Cha Hang Quat.

Food is an integral part of life for the eight million people who call Vietnam’s capital home. Phở may be the signature dish in Hanoi where the iconic noodle soup was invented, but dishes like Bún Chả and Chả Cá are equally popular in this foodie city.

Hanoi initially captivated Mindi back in 2002 and then did the same to both of us when we spent a month eating our way through the Northern Vietnam city 14 years later. We returned in 2018 to do eat even more.

Read our Hanoi Food Guide.

Cha Ca at Cha Ca Phan in Hanoi
Eating Cha Ca in Hanoi is fun. Our favorite Cha Ca meal involved a myriad of bowls filled with fish, vegetables, herbs, rice noodles, shrimp paste, fish sauce and red chili peppers.

Of all the best food cities in Vietnam, Hanoi is our favorite.

We adore the purity of Hanoi Pho, a dish that doesn’t rely on sauces and herbs for its deep flavor. We also appreciate Bún Chả – grilled pork patties with rice vermicelli, Phở Cuốn – rice rolls stuffed with grilled meat, Chả Cá – tumeric spiced fish with an assortment of local ingredients and Egg Coffee – a decadent, sweet yolky beverage that doubles as dessert.

Top Things to Eat & Drink in Hanoi
Banh Cuon, Bún Chả, Chả Cá, Egg Coffee, Phở, Phở Cuốn and Snails

12. New York City

Pepperoni Slice in New York City
Although pizza wasn’t invented in New York City, the Italian specialty has become a local food favorite.

With eight million people living in five boroughs, New York City is the American city with the country’s widest assortment of food options. To riff on the city’s theme song – if you can eat it anywhere, you can eat it there.

We’ve spent a lot of time in New York City, both separately and together. Mindi worked and lived in Manhattan for eight years, and Daryl commuted to the city for that same time period. Though our paths didn’t cross until we both lived in Philadelphia, we’ve since been to NYC together more times than we have fingers and toes.

Read our New York Pizza Guide.

Salmon Board at Russ and Daughters in New York City
We shared this salmon board with friends at Russ & Daughters in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Our favorite New York foods skew on the casual side and we never tire of eating Bagels and Lox, Pizza, Hamburgers and Pastrami Sandwiches. But we also enjoy dining at upscale restaurants like Gramercy Tavern and Le Coucou.

However, since New York is the nation’s ultimate melting pot, some of its best restaurants don’t serve any of the city’s iconic foods. They instead serve food more typically eaten in countries like China, Japan, India, Israel, Italy and South Korea.

Top Things to Eat in New York City
Bagels with Lox, Cheesecake, Chopped Cheese, Global Cuisine, Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Pastrami Sandwiches, Pizza and Steak

13. Mexico City

Tacos al Pastor in Mexico City
Watching this grill master shave pork off the spit made our mouths water for Tacos al Pastor.

Mexico City isn’t just one of the best street food cities in North America. It’s one of the continent’s best food cities. Period.

We has this revelation back in 2008 while eating our way through the enormous city for a week. Street food struck us first – a city-wide maze of food stands selling tacos, esquites and fried corndogs – and then we went to Mercado Merced, a gigantic market with enough avocados, nopales, peppers and moles to satisfy a lifetime of Mexican food dreams.

Escamoles in Mexico City
Would you be brave enough to eat Escamoles, a dish that gets its protein from ant larvae and pupae? Since Mexican have been eating this dish for centuries in Mexico City, we gave it a try.

But Mexico City is also a city with top restaurants like Pujol, currently named the 12th best restaurant in the entire world. Without doubt, dining at Pujol in its original space was a highlight of our visit but so was eating escamoles, ceviche and grilled fish in more casual restaurants.

However, the Taco al Pastor is the Mexico City food favorite we can’t get out of our minds. We could happily eat corn tortillas stuffed with grilled pork, sliced onions, sweet pineapple and fresh cilantro for both lunch and dinner. When we return to Mexico City, perhaps that’s what we’ll do.

Top Things to Eat in Mexico City
Ceviche, Escamoles, Esquites, Tamales and Tacos al Pastor

14. Chengdu

Hot Pot in Chengdu
This Hot Pot in Chengdu arrived as advertised – hot and in a pot.

Traveling to Chengdu is a commitment. The Sichuan city is 1,200 miles, give or take, from both Beijing and Shanghai.

But for fans of hot food and passionate panda lovers, Chengdu’s charms far exceed its logistical challenges. This is a city where Sichuan flower peppers combine with hot local chiles to form the spicy yet numbing ma-la profile that sends diners into a red hot sweat.

Sleeping Panda in Chengdu
Pandas eat an inordinate amount of bamboo before sleeping the rest of the day. In other words, they’re our kindred spirits.

But let’s start with the pandas. Chengdu is one of the best places in the world to observe the seemingly cuddly critters along with their red haired, fox-like cousins. Within moments of seeing them, it’s obvious that pandas like to eat… a lot. But you’ll need to see the pandas early. After the cute bears munch on inordinate amounts of bamboo, they sleep all day.

Mapo Tofu in Chengdu
The Mapo Tofu we ate in Chengdu inspired us to make the dish in our Lisbon home kitchen.

Now for the food. No, we didn’t eat pandas – that would be both wrong and illegal. Instead, we indulged in Hot Pot (twice) as well as Mapo Tofu, Dan Dan Noodles and Kung Pao Chicken.

One of us also indulged in an ACM (Ancient Chinese Medicine) ritual of cupping and scraping, but that’s a different story for a different day.

Top Things to Eat in Chengdu
Dan Dan Noodles, Hot Pot, Kung Pao Chicken, Mapo Tofu and Smoked Duck

15. Rome

Pasta at Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina in Rome
We ate two plates of pasta at Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina Rome. Pictured here is the Alla Gricia. Not pictured is the Carbonara.

Pasta is available all over Italy but Rome is the best city to eat pasta’s holy quadrinity – Alla Gricia, Amatriciana, Carbonara and Cacio e Pepe. Each of these pastas is deceptively simple and they’re all equally divine.

We first visited Rome during a whirlwind Italy trip in 2009 and didn’t return for 11 years. Eating Cacio e Pepe was revelatory during that trip. Why it took us so long to return is beyond us.

Discover 25 Rome food favorites.

Pizza in Rome
Pizza in Rome is entirely different from Pizza in Naples. Though we prefer the Neapolitan version, we still appreciate the pizza in Rome.

Upon our belated return, we rediscovered the joy of eating pasta in Rome. But we didn’t stop there. We also ate Carciofi alla Giudia and Jewish Pizza, both remnants of the city’s previously thriving Jewish population, as well as Pizza al Taglio, Porhetta and numerous cones of what may be the best gelato in the world.

Discover 8 of the best gelato shops in Rome.

We also discovered new dishes like sweet Maritozzi pastries and savory Trapizzino, a pizza/sandwich hybrid that’s now a Rome street food staple. However, our most surprising discovery was Rome’s small but thriving specialty coffee scene that’s shaking up the city’s traditional cafe culture one cup at a time.

Top Things to Eat & Drink in Rome
Carciofi alla Giudia, Craft Beer, Gelato, Pasta (Alla Gricia, Amatriciana, Carbonara and Cacio e Pepe), Jewish Pizza, Pizza al Taglio, Porchetta, Trapizzino, Tripa alla Romagna and Wine

16. Shanghai

Shanghai Food Vendor
Street food is some of the best food in Shanghai. Vendors make food with care and then sell it via the WeChat app.

Food options in Shanghai are extensive enough to fuel residents of the world’s third most populous city. Travelers are welcome to join the frenzy in one of China’s best foodie cities.

We first visited Shanghai in 2009 when the city was covered in a cloud of dust as the it prepped for the 2010 World Expo. That didn’t stop us from slurping soup dumplings around the city and returning in 2018 to do it again.

Noodles at Cui Shan Noodle Restaurant in Shangahi
We couldn’t help but notice the similarity between these hand-pulled Lamian Noodles and Japan’s Ramen Noodles. We also couldn’t stop eating these noodles until they were just a happy memory.

Eight years can make a difference in any city but Shanghai’s evolution was extraordinary. In less than a decade, the number of high-rise buildings had increased exponentially as had the number of designer shops and shopping malls.

But even with its growth, Shanghai has thus far retained the soul of its food culture. Vendors still sell Scallion Pancakes and a dizzying array of street food while noodle houses continue to serve a non-stop parade of Lamian Noodles and Soup Dumplings, both fried (Sheng Jian Bao) and boiled (Xiaolongbao.)

Top Things to Eat in Shanghai
Cong You Bing (Scallion Pancakes) Lamian Noodles, Sheng Jian Bao (Fried Soup dumplings), Xiaolongbao (Soup Dumplings) and Zongzi (Rice Wrapped in Bamboo Leaves)

17. London

Middle Eastern Food at Berber and Q in London
Berber and Q‘s pomegranate-topped dish is indicative of the city’s eclectic food scene.

Numerous global cities claim to be culinary melting pots. London is one that lives up to this claim and does so with a vengeance. We’ve eaten our way through the city so many times that we’ve lost count of the many global dishes we’ve devoured.

Whether we crave Hong Kong style dumplings or loaded Lebanese kababs, London has it in droves. The same goes for Neapolitan pizza and Vietnamese pho. The city even has Philly cheesesteaks. Those need some work though.

Discover 10 London food favorites.

Maltby Street Market in London
Shopping at London’s best markets is fun.

Sure, the city’s pubs and restaurants still serve traditional London food favorites like Sunday Roast, Full English Breakfasts and the omnipresent Fish & Chips. But a stroll down Brick Lane into Shoreditch reveals bagels topped with salt beef and smoked salmon as well as restaurants serving a mix of Indian and Bangladeshi dishes.

Upon journeying a bit further, London markets in neighborhoods like Brixton and Hackney sell a diversity of foods associated with Asia, Africa and the Middle East. As a bonus, these markets are more affordable than most London restaurants. Let’s face it, London is a lot of things but cheap isn’t one of them.

Top Things to Eat & Drink in London
Beer, Dim Sum, Fish & Chips, Full English Breakfast, Indian Food, Middle Eastern Food, Scotch Eggs and Sunday Roast

18. Porto

Acorda at Taberna Dos Mercadores in Porto
Eating this Açorda at Taberna dos Maercadores was a culinary highlight of our summer trip to Porto.

Although Portuguese food is one of the factors that motivated our move to Lisbon, Porto is the Portuguese city that excites us most and is the one that gets a spot on this list. Porto’s food impressed us when we first visited as honeymooners in 2007 and it continues to impress us as Portuguese residents.

Blessed by its location on the Douro River and with a long history of producing fortified wine for an international clientele, Porto’s status as a culinary powerhouse is almost inevitable. Port Wine is just one piece of the Porto food puzzle.

Discover 25 Porto food favorites.

Franceshina at Cervejaria Brasao Coliseu in Porto
Porto’s Francesinha is both a sandwich and a meal thanks to ingredients like ham, sausage, steak, cheese and spicy sauce.

Porto offers food travelers a complete dining experience ranging from traditional food at simple tascas to elevated dining at sophisticated restaurants. We’ve done both and have also ventured to nearby Matosinhos where we ate wonderful seafood and enjoyed an epic Michelin starred meal on two separate occasions.

Read our Porto restaurant guide.

However, snack food is where Porto’s culinary star shines brightest. The city excels at three different sandwiches – Francesinha, Sandes de Pernil and Bifana – each a potential signature sandwich. And that’s not counting Hot Dogs and Rissóis. Just writing about Porto’s snack food makes us hungry.

Top Things to Eat & Drink in Porto
Eclairs, Francesinha, Hot Dogs, Sandes de Pernil, Port, Seafood and Wine

19. Tokyo

Kappabashi Street Chef Statue in Tokyo
Chefs rule the roost on Tokyo’s Kappabashi Street, a shopping street dedicated to all things needed in the kitchen.

Tokyo is a megacity that believes in the concept that more is more especially when it comes to food.

The city has an extensive network of restaurants from neighborhood izakayas to an inordinate number of Michelin starred restaurants. In the 2021 guide, 212 Tokyo restaurants garnered a total of 278 stars.

Discover 35+ Japanese food favorites to eat in Tokyo and beyond.

Soba in Tokyo
Food travelers flock to eat Sushi and Ramen in Tokyo; however, the Soba at Matsugen is equally worthy of admiration.

Tokyo is a city where fast food is prepared to a higher standard than anywhere else in the world. The level of culinary excellence at the starred restaurants, whether they serve Sushi or Italian cuisine, is off the charts.

We ate at two of those upscale restaurants (two-starred Florilege and one-starred Bird Land) during our 2013 romp around Tokyo. Both meals were memorable experiences. But we had equally memorable meals eating Ramen, Sushi and Soba at less notable restaurants. In some ways, those were our favorite meals in Tokyo.

Top Things to Eat in Tokyo
Ramen, Sashimi, Soba, Sushi, Udon, Tempura and Yakitori

20. Hong Kong

Roast Meat at Lin Heung Tea House in Hong Kong
The roast meat at Hong Kong’s Lin Heung Tea House provided us with a sneak preview of the restaurant’s extensive Dim Sum selection.

Hong Kong is another city that we first visited in 2009. Arriving in this modern city after traveling for a month in China was both exhilarating and comforting. Returning nine years later was like coming home to food that we adore.

Hong Kong excels at Cantonese food. Dim Sum sets the pace with a variety of dumplings and fried treats.

Discover 5 tasty Hong Kong food experiences.

Dim Sum at Lin Heung Tea House in Hong Kong (1)
Dim Sum normally makes us happy. The Dim Sum selection at Lin Heung Tea House made us ecstatic.

As the city evolves, not always in a positive way, Dim Sum houses like the legendary Lin Heung are becoming scarcer in the center of town. To us, this just makes the remaining dumpling houses all the more precious.

Beyond Dim Sum, char siu pork, soy sauce chicken and roast goose make the city a roast meat nirvana. Bamboo pole noodles called Jook-Sing Mein, also a growing rarity, also contribute to the city’s amazing food culture.

Top Things to Eat & Drink in Hong Kong
Afternoon Tea, Bamboo Pole Noodles, Char Siu, Claypot Rice, Dim Sum and Roast Duck

21. Delhi

Food Vendors in Old Delhia
Exploring Old Delhi’s food scene is a fascinating and tasty venture.

If we had to pick one word to describe Delhi, it would be chaotic. Nearly 30 million people live in India’s capital city. They also eat curries and sip chai tea in numbers that are difficult for most food travelers to comprehend.

One of us, Mindi, experienced Delhi’s chaos and food first-hand during a 2018 adventure that thrust her into the heart of the action within hours of landing in India. Returning to the mega-city a week later, she dug into the local food scene by taking a food tour in and around Old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk street market.

Jalebi at Jalebi Wala in Delhi
Jalebi Wala has been frying Jalebis in desi ghee since 1884 in Old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk.

Foods like Daulat Ki Chaat and Paratha made their marks during that tour but none were more surprising than the seemingly simple pastry sold at Jalebi Wala. A local favorite since the latter part of the 19th century, jalebi is a food icon that represents India well.

Delhi’s food scene also features a myriad of fine dining options that range from good to great. But for those with a streak of culinary curiosity and a sense of adventure, there’s nowhere better to eat in Delhi than with the people on the street.

Top Things to Eat & Drink in Delhi
Biryani, Butter Chicken, Chai, Daulat Ki Chaat, Jalebi and Paratha

22. Barcelona

Tapas in Barcelona
Don’t underestimate Potatas Bravas in Barcelona. When done right, the end result is greater than the dish’s two ingredients (fried potatoes and spicy sauce).

Far from a hidden gem, Barcelona is a dream destination for travelers attracted to Gaudi’s fanciful architecture and the city’s location next to the Mediterranean Sea. But food travelers have as many reasons to visit Catalonia’s most populous city, if not more.

Discover 7 tasty Barcelona food experiences.

We first visited Barcelona during our honeymoon in 2007 and have since returned multiple times. During these visits, we’ve eaten at both simple tapas bars and Michelin-starred restaurants. Ironically, some of our favorite Barcelona food experiences have been at the city’s markets.

→ Make our awesome tapas recipe at home.

Fish Vendor at Barcelona Market
Barcelona markets sell an embarrassment of seafood riches.

In addition to La Boqueria Mercat, one of the world’s most famous food markets, the city has a network of neighborhood markets like Mercat de Ninot, each packed with locally sourced produce as well as some of the freshest seafood we’ve ever encountered. Food travelers can graze at these markets as well as buy food to enjoy later.

Barcelona’s chefs fully embrace the concept that food can be both well executed and beautiful. Since dining in Barcelona is a culinary rite of passage that rarely disappoints, the city is one of the best places for food in the world.

Top Things to Eat & Drink in Barcelona
Bocadillos, Churros, Crema Catalan, Iberico Jamon, Potatas Bravas, Vermouth and Wine

Foodie Cities on our Travel Wish List

Food Guides 2foodtrippers
We eat. We travel. We eat and travel. We also eat Phở.

As the expression goes, we haven’t been everywhere yet but it’s on our list.

We had some big travel plans for 2020 that have been deferred to a future year. These are the food cities that we want to visit sooner than later:

23. Seoul

Japchae Noodle Dish
We cooked this Korean Japchae noodle dish in our Lisbon kitchen… and then we ate it.

We’ve sort of been to Seoul but not really. Our travels have taken us through the city’s Incheon International Airport numerous times including a day-long layover in 2018. Though we haven’t yet left the airport, we’ve eaten excellent Korean while killing time. We can only imagine how great the food must be at Seoul restaurants and street food stands!

Now that we have an Asian pantry in our Lisbon apartment, we’re added Seoul food favorites like Japchae to our repertoire and added Kimchi to our Latkes. It’s not the same as being in Seoul but it’s a start.

What We Want to Eat in Seoul
Bibimbap (Mixed Rice), Chimaek (Fried Chicken) Gogigui (Korean BBQ), Japchae (Sweet Potato Noodles) and Kimchi (Fermented Vegetables)

24. San Sebastián

Pintxox at Txalaka in Girona
We ate Pintxos in Girona. That’s as close as we’ve made it to eating Pintxos in San Sebastián so far.

Recognized as one of the world’s best food destinations, San Sebastián is located on the Bay of Biscay in Spain’s Basque Country. We plan to gorge on seafood, take a Pintxos crawl and drink lots of Rioja wine when we finally make it there.

If we play our cards right, we may even score a reservation at Arzak. That’s the plan at least.

What We Want to Eat & Drink in San Sebastián
Anchoas (Anchovies), Idiazabal (Cheese), Pastel Vasco (Basque Pastry), Txuleta (Steak), Pintxos (Snacks) and Wine

25. Copenhagen

Cinnamon Bun at Copenhagen in Lisbon
We bought this Kanelsnegle at Copenhagen Coffee Lab in Lisbon and ate it in our apartment. We wonder if eating the cinnamon treat in Copenhagen will be the same or different.

Copenhagen is city that we’ve been close to but have not yet visited. While traveling in Malmö, we were just over the bridge from Copenhagen but didn’t have time to make the short journey over the Øresund.

We have high expectations for our future visit to Copenhagen. Not only do we expect the food to be special, but we also expect it to be expensive. While we may or may not get a reservation at Noma, we’ll come prepared with credit cards either way.

What We Want to Eat in Copenhagen
Fiskefrikadeller (Fish Cakes), Frikadeller (Meatballs), Kanelsnegles (Cinnamon Buns) Rød Pølse (Hot Dogs) and Smørrebrød (Open-Face Sandwiches)

26. Lima

Ceviche at To Psaraki in Athens
We ate this Ceviche at a restaurant in Santorini. One day we’ll eat Ceviche in Lima.

Lima is a destination tops our list for when we tour the best food cities in South America. Not only is the Peruvian capital home to two of the world’s best restaurants (Central and Maido), but it’s equally famous for its Ceviche, Chifas (Chinese/Peruvian restaurants) and Pisco Sours. Those reasons alone have us salivating with anticipation.

What We Want to to Eat & Drink in Lima
Ceviche (Marinated Fish), Chaufa (Fried Rice), Lomo Saltado (Stir Fried Meat and Fried Potatoes), Nikkei (Japanese-Puruvian Fusion), Pisco Sours and Pollo a la Brasa (Rotisserie Chicken)

27. Singapore

Hainanese Chicken Rice Platter at Flock and Fowl in Las Vegas
We ate this Haianese Chicken Rice platter at Fock & Fowl in Las Vegas. We look forward to recreating the experience in Singapore.

It’s only half-true to say that we’ve never been to been Singapore. The full truth is that Mindi visited Singapore as a solo traveler in 2006, less than four months before we met. Talk about timing!

Her strongest memories involve eating at hawker stands, overeating at the hotel buffet breakfast and drinking a Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel. We’ll do all this and so much more when we visit Singapore as a couple.

What We Want to Eat & Drink in Singapore
Char Kway Teow, Chili Crab, Hainanese Chicken Rice, Hokkien Mee, Laksa, Murtabak and Singapore Slings

28. São Paulo

Brazilian Sandwich at Acaraje da Carol in Lisbon
We ate this Acarajé at Acarajé da Caro in Lisbon. Eating the unique ‘sandwich’ at the source is one of the reasons that we want to visit São Paulo.

Living in Lisbon has given us an appreciation for Brazil and a desire to visit its biggest city. Although São Paulo is 5,000 miles away, we often eat Brazilian food in Portugal. Plus, we love Caipirinha cocktails.

Based on online research and chats with Brazilian friends who live in Lisbon, we’ve picked São Paulo over Rio for this list since it’s the more gastronomic city of the two. That’s where we’ll start our food vacation and see where the roads take us.

What We Want to Eat & Drink in São Paulo
Açaí, Acarajé, Beirute and Bauru Sandwiches, Brigadeiros, Caipirinhas, Coxinhas, Feijoada, Pão de Queijo and Pudim Brûlée 

29. Tel Aviv

Hummus in Philadelphia
We ate this outstanding Hummus at Dizengoff in Philadelphia.

Tel Aviv is another city that Mindi visited before she met Daryl. In fact, she visited Israel three separate times as part of group trips. She enjoyed the food – especially the Falafel and Hummus – during these trips but it wasn’t her primary focus.

Needless to say, food will be our primary focus when we visit Tel Aviv together. Though we’ll eat Falafel and Hummus, we’ll also explore the city’s exciting restaurant scene that transcends traditional Israeli food and has catapulted Tel Aviv to become a major culinary destination.

What We Want to Eat in Tel Aviv
Falafel, Hummus, Israeli Breakfast, Sabich, Schwarma and Shakshuka

30. Melbourne

Avocado Toast at The Park Cafe in Charleston
We ate this Avocado Toast at The Park Cafe in Charleston, half way around the world from Melbourne.

True confession: We’re somewhat afraid to visit Melbourne. It’s not that we don’t think we’ll like the progressive Australian city. Instead, we’re afraid we’ll love it so much that we won’t want to leave.

We already know that we’ll love Mebourne’s coffee culture and that we’ll drink multiple Flat Whites and Magics each day. We also know that we’ll love eating at restaurants that span the globe with their food offering. And we also know that we’ll love dining at top restaurants like Attica, Lûmé and Sunda.

What We Want to Eat & Drink in Melbourne
Avocado Toast, Banh Mi Sandwiches, Cruffins, Flat Whites, Hot Jam Donuts, Magics, Meat Pies, Parma and Souvlaki

31. Madrid

Tortilla Espagnol at Tapabento in Porto
We ate this Tortilla Española at Tapabento in Porto. We look forward to eat the same dish in Madrid.

Although we’ve visited Spain multiple times, we haven’t yet visited Madrid. Our plan was (and still is) to take the overnight train from Lisbon to Madrid and spend a week eating our weight in Churros con Chocolate and Tapas. Though that plan was derailed due to the pandemic, there’s always next year.

What We Want to Eat & Drink in Madrid
Bocadillos de Calamares, Callos a la Madrileña, Caracoles a la Madrilena, Churos, Cocido Madrileño, Gambas al Ajillo, Huevos Rotos, Jamón Ibérico, Patatas Bravas, Tortilla Española and Wine

32. Istanbul

İskender Kebap in Heidelberg
We ate this Iskender Kebab at a random Kebab shop in Heidelberg. We can’t wait to repeat the experience at an Istanbul Kebab shop.

Straddling the East and West and located at the crossroads at Europe and Asia, Istanbul has a fascinating history that we can’t wait to explore almost as much as we want to eat Turkish food at the source.

The cuisine won’t be new to us. We’ve eaten Kebabs in cities like Amsterdam, Basel, Berlin, Hamburg and Strasbourg as well in our home city of Lisbon. Eating them in Istanbul won’t just be the fulfillment of a dream, it will also be the start of our culinary exploration in Turkey.

What We Want to Eat in Istanbul
Baklava, Dondurma, Iskender Kebap, Köfte, Künefe, Lahmacun, Lokum, Manti and Menemen

33. Marrakech

Moroccan Tagine at Flor da Laranja in Lisbon
We ate this Tagine at Flor da Laranja in Lisbon. It stoked our desire to eat Tagine in Marrakech.

Morocco’s Red City has evaded us so so far but it’s calling our names. We want to stroll through the medina, sip mint tea and sleep in a riad. Most of all, we want to eat all the food in Marrakech.

We plan to start with Tagine and Couscous before spreading our culinary wings. Many of the dishes will be new to us and to that we say hurray.

What We Want to Eat & Drink in Marrakech
Bissara, Chebakia, Couscous, Harira, Msemen, Mint Tea, Sfenj, Tagine and Zaalouk

34. Vienna

Schnitzel at Vienna in Hamburg
We ate this Weiner Schnitzel at a restaurant named Vienna in Hamburg.

We’ve both traveled to Vienna but not together. We’ve eaten Austrian food together but not in Vienna. One day, we’ll eat Austrian food together in Vienna. It’s inevitable.

When that day happens, we’ll spend much of our time at cafes eating Sachertortes and sipping coffee. We’ll also eat schnitzel and listen to classical music.

What We Want to Eat & Drink in Vienna
Apfelstrudel, Erdäpfelsalat, Sachertorte, Viennese Coffee, Wiener Schnitzel and Wiener Wurstel

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About the Authors

About the Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.

Disclosure

We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

Stf

Saturday 28th of August 2021

You totally missed Oaxaca, Mexico!

Roger S

Saturday 28th of August 2021

Obviously, you'll have never been to Penang, Malaysia. Singapore is pale in comparison. And Charleston? Seriously?

Michael

Sunday 11th of July 2021

Clearly you haven’t been in Madrid, otherwise it would have ranked in the top 3. The combination of local and international food you can find there, combined with the affordable prices, in one of the most vibrant and elegant cities of the world, make it probably the number one foodie city. Probably New York tops it, but you will have to pay 4 times more for the same.

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Sunday 11th of July 2021

You are correct. We had planned to take the overnight train to Madrid in 2020; however, world events kept that from happening. We're hopeful to get there later this year and will update this guide when and if that happens.

Tim

Saturday 10th of July 2021

Chicago does not even make the list???

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Sunday 11th of July 2021

We included Chicago on our list of best food cities in the US.

Paul

Sunday 6th of June 2021

Just one minor correction - The pic in Osaka labelled Okonomiyaki, should actually be labelled Takoyaki. Okonomiyaki is a large 'pancake' style dish with cabbage and other ingredients. And it is still an Osaka specialty along with the Takoyaki balls sold everywhere, particularly in the Dotonbori area of Osaka.