Some people travel to hike in beautiful places, others travel to immerse themselves in an unfamiliar culture, and some do it for the sense of adventure. And then there’s those who travel for food – to taste fresh Pad Thai from the streets of Bangkok, or sample the ultimate spaghetti carbonara in a trattoria in Rome. For some reason, everything tastes better when you’re travelling. If that sounds like you, here are the world’s top cities for foodies; whether you’re into Asian or American, traditional or modern, Michelin stars or budget bites.
One of the best cities in the world, full stop! The Big Apple is a special kind of heaven for food-lovers though. Because there’s almost every type of person and culture in NYC, there’s also pretty much every type of food. Home to the famous delis of Brooklyn where pastrami and bagels are the order of the day, the iconic hot dog stands serving some of the best frankfurters you’ll ever taste, New York cheesecake in every flavour and fast-food to make you drool, New York City is the place to go…as long as you’re not scared of packing on those extra kilos! Of course, if you want to blow the budget and go for a top-ranked restaurant worldwide, you’re spoilt for choice here.
Dish to try: A bagel breakfast. Who knows what’s in the water in NYC, but their bagels are some of the best in the world. Pair it with cream cheese and some salmon or deli meat for a breakfast that tastes like it’s come straight from heaven.
Peru may seem an unlikely place to find foodie bliss, but let’s look at the numbers! There are only four cities in the world that have three restaurants on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list – and of the four (Lima, NYC, London and Mexico City), Lima has the best score of them all! If your budget doesn’t stretch to thousands of rands per course, you won’t be left out in the cold though. The locals say that food has to be cheap, pretty and tasty – and luckily, there’s plenty of that to go around. From fully encased, deep-fried potatoes stuffed with beef, to seafood options delightful enough for the most discerning of diners and quinoa at every turn, you’d struggle to find a meal you didn’t enjoy in this South American gem.
Dish to try: Ceviche is the go-to. Raw fish cured in some kind of citrus (often lime) and served with red onion, sweet potato and coriander. It can be found on street food carts through to posh restaurants complete with crisp white tablecloths and sea views.
Hong Kong is a great foodie destination for so many reasons – the most affordable Michelin-starred dining in the world can be found here, or you can go wild with traditional Cantonese-style street food. Think dim sum, char sui pork and noodle soup. The Sunday brunch tradition is something not to be missed, with free-flowing alcohol and sumptuous food choices to be found all over the city.
Dish to try: Dim Sum – especially Siu Mai, a steamed pork and shrimp dumpling.
Germany isn’t just bratwurst and pretzels (though if that’s your thing, go wild). Berlin is quickly gaining a reputation for being a city which has undergone a food revolution. Street food is now a delightful mix of Middle Eastern, European and Asian influences rather than standard kerbside German fare – and there’s no shortage of food for any budget. Plus, the beer is great!
Dish to try: The quintessential ‘Berliner’ – a traditional German doughnut that’s way better than any Krispy Kreme
This will come as a shock to nobody, but Paris has gained it’s place on every food list ever created for a good reason. French cooking is famed worldwide for its rich, flavourful and comforting style. Walk the streets of Paris and there’s everything from freshly baked croissants in the morning to old-style bistros serving classic French dishes like steak with béarnaise sauce, duck a l’orange, and onion soup. Gorge yourself on cheeses and fine wine, and don’t forget the decadent desserts – crème brulee and crepes spring to mind.
Dish to try: Foie gras on a freshly baked baguette. If you’re more of a dinner person, opt for a bistro-style beef bourguignon.
Takeaway curry from down the road really can’t compare to the sight, smells and tastes of Mumbai. Everything is fast-paced and colourful, and the food reflects that. It’s diverse, hot, loaded with spices and served quickly and without fuss. Mumbai is densely-packed city, so be ready to immerse yourself in the way the locals do it, by grabbing and eating on the go.
One dish to try: Bhel Puri is pretty much the most iconic Mumbai dish going. It’s cold puffed rice and crunchy noodles mixed with fried potatoes, masala, onion and chutney. Crunchy, cold, tangy and sweet all at the same time, it’s a real tastebud treat!
Thai food is far lighter and fresher than i’s Chinese counterpart, with flavours of lime, peanut, chilli and fish sauce making up a huge amount of the dishes. There’s also a huge focus on tropical fruits and everyone who has gone has said how incredible the mangoes are – which explains why sticky mango rice is so popular! Bangkok is world-renowned for it’s street food, but you wouldn’t be hard-pressed to find upscale Asian-inspired dining if you want a fine china and crystal kind of experience while you’re there.
Dish to try: Of course, it has to be Pad Thai. One of the country’s most famous dishes, the humble noodle and tamarind meal is the epitome of simple food made to perfection.