Top Ten Cities In The World For Foodies
One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. Virginia Woolf
The art of dining well is no slight art, the pleasure not a slight pleasure. Michel de Montaigne
According to Cambridge International Dictionary of English, a foodie is “a person who loves food and is very interested in different types of food”. Yes, it is all about food! Food is my passion, right after traveling. And if I travel to places with terrific food, then I am really in heaven! To pick top ten among world’s best cities for foodies is a very hard task. Only in France I can count at least ten cities with wonderful food. Not to mention Italy, Spain or the USA. There are a lot of cities in the world with delicious local specialties, fantastic food markets and exquisite restaurants. However, if I have to pick top ten cities in the world for foodies that would be the cities below.
Lyon undeniably should be on every foodie must-visit list. The city is blessed with culinary history as rich as its extraordinary produce. After all Lyon not only does have an abundance of Michelin starred restaurants and the highest ratio of restaurants to people in whole country, but also spectacular fresh food markets with Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse most famous one. This real temple of French gastronomy, the kingdom of the most beautiful products is home to French most legendary cheese- and chocolate makers, butchers, fishmongers and etc. It is here Paul Bocuse, before becoming the finest chef of the 20th century, always did his market shopping and one can still find in the alleyways his favorite suppliers. You can have a delicious meal right at the sellers in the market (the stall of oyster sellers is my favorite one), or in the bouchons (typical restaurants of Lyon) around. And of course, all food has to be wash down with wine. The Beaujolais region here encompasses 50,000 acres of vineyards. A carafe or bottle of Beaujolais sits on virtually every table in Lyon’s restaurants.
Paris, being one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, attracts all kind of travelers: tourists, art lovers, business travelers and those of us who travel to Paris to eat. And indeed, the city is a paradise for foodies. Famous for its elegant fine dining (thanks to well-known chefs Alain Ducasse, Joël Robuchon, Alain Passard, Pierre Gagnaire and etc.), Paris also offers a variety of delicious down-to-earth fare: from contemporary bistros and brasseries to traditional Parisian open-air food markets. For truly memorable dining experience don’t miss Le Grande Véfour, literally the mother and father of all restaurants; La Tour D'Argent, famous for its numbered duck; Pierre Gagnaire, notorious for its modern French cuisine. The Rue Mouffetard food market near Pantheon and the Rue Montorgueil food market near Centre Pompidou are perfect for delicious affordable French dishes. And if you want to try something off the beaten path, visit the world’s largest fresh food market, the Rungis Market. This modern facility supplies with food and flowers many of Paris’ restaurants and 18 million European consumers.
Brussels, maybe, is one of top ten underrated European cities among tourists, but it is definitely highly rated among foodies. One would think that’s all about Belgium beer, chocolate and waffles. But the foodie knows that Brussels offers much more than that. Just think of rabbit stewed in flavored beer or stoemp or moules frites – oh, the quantity of local specialties is endless. Brussels boasts more Michelin star restaurants per person than Paris and food is taken very seriously here. Walk along Rue des Bouchers – the street is lined with a fascinating array of venues. Here you can choose pretty much any place, but the 80-year-old Aux Armes de Bruxelles for best mussels in town is a must! Real Bruxellois eat the first mussel with their fingers, and use the empty shell as a utensil for scooping up the rest. For a great fish try L'Ecailler du Palais Royal or restaurants at the Marché-aux-Poissons (Fish Market). And of course it’s all about chocolate (preferably from Pierre Marcolini) and a Trappist beer (Le Roy d'Espagne is a good place to start tasting).
Everything about Australia is unique including food. And, of course, Sydney, being a main city, has it all. The diverse mix of cultures and ethnic origins plus the freshest produce make Sydney dining an exceptional experience. Indonesian, Thai and Japanese food and fusions are popular and always a good choice in Sydney. Australian Bush Tucker is now getting popular among local chefs, and there are restaurants that specialize in traditional aboriginal food and fusions. But, above all of that, Sydney is famous for its seafood and Sydney Rock Oysters are well-known around the world. At the Sydney Fish Market, vendors offer a spectacular variety of exotic seafood (over 100 species) at daily auctions, and basically you can enjoy the freshest delicious seafood at any venue in Sydney. Try to combine your seafood feast with breathtaking views of Sydney harbor or a beach – some restaurants in Sydney have it all!
For foodies, Bangkok is ‘street food’ paradise. You don't have to walk very far to find something to eat in Bangkok - food carts can be found on almost every street corner at all hours of the day or night. In fact, the smell of food is inseparable from the city and distinctive Thai flavor is the major attraction for visitors who loves to eat. Street food in Bangkok is not just a culinary feast, but unparalleled adventure – you will always surprise yourself here with something new and different. Just be open-mined and treat yourself with shark’s fin or scorpion or white ant eggs. Essentially Bangkok street food is all about noodles: from simple chicken and duck noodles to something like 'yen ta four' (noodles in red soybean paste with fish ball, squid and morning glory). The food in Bangkok is a visual feast and even simple dish looks like a piece of art. Just watch how a street vendor making your dish and you will witness an artist at work.
For a foodie who wants to take a tasting trip around the world, New York City is probably the best choice. We have them all – from legendary French chefs Alan Ducasse and Jean George to creative Japanese Masa, Nobu and Morimoto to innovative American Thomas Keller (Per Se) and Anthony Bourdain (Les Halles). Talented chefs from around the world came to New York and have opened restaurants here, so we, Manhattan foodies, have welcome their creative dishes and asked for seconds. Manhattan has plenty of great places for fine dining, quality casual dining, and even for upscale dining in New York after midnight (after all, New York City never sleeps and actually never stops eating). If you crave for simple but ethnic dining, explore Brooklyn (for Russian and Ukrainian) and Queens (for Greek and Korean). By the way, New York City is not only about ‘foreign food’, we love our American burgers and steaks, Texas BBQ and fresh bagels.
San Francisco is not only one of the top romantic getaways in the USA but it is also the top getaway in the USA for foodies. The city is surrounded by world-class wineries, artisan cheese makers and small farms. As a result, San Francisco is well-known for its farm fresh, ingredient-obsessed food. The most innovative American chefs Traci Des Jardins (Jardinière), Michael Mina, Richard Reddington (Redd) and Thomas Keller (French Laundry), inspired by best of San Francisco and Wine Country can offer, opened their upscale venues here. Asian fusion, California cuisine and freshest seafood are all great here. Plus, the city is ethnically well-diverse, so nearly every ethnic cuisine is represented. And, of course, for more great food and exquisite wine just take a ride to Napa Valley.
Barcelona, the most populated city in Catalonia, has a reputation for producing some of Spain's finest cuisine. All region of Catalonia is famous for its culinary delights – traditional and nueva cocina española, a provocative gastronomical wave leaded by famous Catalan chef Ferrán Adrià. Adrià, who comes from a city southwest of Barcelona, and whose restaurant El Bulli is in nearby Roses, is famous not only in Spain but in the world. Unfortunately for a foodie, it is practically impossible to get to El Bulli, but if you got there, this culinary experience really worth the trouble and the money. But fortunately for a foodie, all Catalan cuisine is recognized for its creativity, so in Barcelona restaurants you can easily find creative dishes where rabbit is combined with snails, poultry mixed with fruit, or i muntanya (‘sea and mountain’, meat combined with seafood). On the other hand, classic Barcelona food is all about freshest local essential ingredients: olive oil, garlic and tomato. And all of them, as well as, delicatessens like bull’s testicles, cod tripe, goose barnacles, can be found at La Boqueria, the food market in Barcelona and one of the best food markets in the world.
According to the experts’ opinions, the best restaurants in Italy are mostly outside of popular tourist destinations and big Italian cities. But still, if I have to pick a city in Italy where even a demanding foodie could be very satisfied, I would pick Venice. Something is very special about Venetian cuisine. Created from local produce, much of which could be found in any gondolier’s kitchen, dishes in Venice look deceptively simple, but in reality cannot be replicated anywhere in the world. Freshly-caught fish, fresh vegetables and top quality meats are essentials for Venetian cuisine. A foodie will not be disappointed by the fantastic range of fish available in Venice, and fish is always served with white polenta, a unique Venetian specialty. Very ancient Venetian dishes such as calf’s liver, ravioli con granciola scampi and cicchetti are very popular in Venice. And nobody can prepare traditional Venetian dishes better than Cipriani. Dining in Hotel Cipriani in Venice is a must. Two other things not to miss in Venice are a Bellini in Harry's Bar and coffee at Caffé Florian.
One can think that food in Tokyo is all about sushi and sashimi, but an epicure would know that Japan’s capital may be the food-wildest city on earth. In fact, food is one of the biggest attractions of Tokyo. The city is steadily building a reputation as the ‘dining capital of the world'. Actually the Michelin guide Tokyo 2009 claims Tokyo as ‘a world leader in gourmet dining’ with more stars (227) than any other city. The city has more restaurants than almost any other city in the world. To compare - Paris has around 20,000, New York about 23,000, and Tokyo at least 160,000. Since Tokyo is a port city, the food understandably includes a lot of seafood. Tsukiji Fish Market, the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world with 5 million pounds of fish changes hands every day, is a good place for a foodie to start a day in Tokyo. A sushi breakfast here is one of the best in the city. The best fish from Tsukiji Fish Market makes its way to Tokyo’s top restaurants such as Ginza Harutaka (not to miss sashimi there), Waketokuyama, Tsujitome (the most exclusive kaiseki dining). In spite of a majority and a variety of traditional regional Japanese cuisines in Tokyo, the city has emerged as the single finest French restaurant destination outside of France. The French cuisine remains very influential in modern Tokyo with Joël Robuchon and L’osier, Quintessence and Pierre Gagnaire among the best.
If you like great food, please share with us your food adventures and your favorite places and restaurants in the world.