The Top 5 Cities For Serious Foodies—Where You Can’t Ever Have A Bad Meal
February’s here, and while it’s only been a little more than a month into the new year, ‘tis the season to start thinking about summer getaways. Whether you plan on taking a short break in late March, or pushing it until July, it’s always great to get a head start on organizing—especially when you’ve literally got the whole world to choose from. But we’re here to try and make things a little easier, specifically for those who love to wine, dine, and hate to whine about their limited food choices.
If you’re hoping to expand your tasting repertoire, there’s nothing like visiting one of these five cities for the kind of culinary depth and diversity that sets them apart from most. While we’ve left off the more “obvious” food cities like Paris, Hong Kong, and New York City, there’s still so much to explore among the following five—from street food and specialty cuisines, to temples of fine dining—make your choice and start booking your flights, hotels, and most importantly, restaurant reservations.
1. Tokyo, Japan
If you’re not one of the many Filipinos who vacationed in Japan this past year, then you better get on it! Tokyo is one of the ultimate foodie cities there is, offering a truly remarkable range of experiences, from humble noodle shops to high-priced sushi bars. Ugly Delicious host and chef-restaurateur of Momofoku fame, David Chang told CNBC, “Tokyo I think is still barely been discovered.” For sushi, instead of the world famous Jiro, you can try Sushi Saito, although possibly even more difficult to snag a reservation. Beyond sushi and ramen, there are different regional varieties of udon to slurp down, and delicacies like “champuru (a mixture of various ingredients fried together) and awamori, a drink distilled from rice with high alcohol content.” Plus, there is a plethora of Michelin-starred restaurants in the city, from the innovative Den to the impeccable French Quintessence, plus a cocktail and bar scene that may be the best in the world.
2. Mexico City, Mexico
David Chang says that Mexico is the millennial foodie destination right now. “Mexico City is super hot right now,” Chang told CNBC. “More and more people that I know are going there. Many foodies are beginning to discover that there's so much diversity.” What do you eat when you get there? Try the famous tacos al pastor, and make sure not to sleep on mezcal, “an alcohol made from agave, which grows in Mexico.” Yes, go for the traditional fare, but make sure to see how the city’s most talented chefs are taking its traditions to more contemporary and sophisticated heights, with restaurants like the legendary Pujol and the refined Quintonil.
Pujol, Mexico | Photo from Pujol's official website
3. Rome, Italy
If Eat, Pray, Love hasn’t convinced you that Italy is the ultimate destination to eat, then maybe TripAdvisor reviews will. According to the interactive online travel forum platform, people have deemed Rome the “Best Food City in the World” in 2018. Aside from Italian classics like pasta, porchetta, gelato, Rome also offers its own specialties, whether Roman-style pizza by the slice from Forno Campo de’ Fiori or Pizzarium, street food fare like suppli (Roman rice balls) and crocchette di patate at Supplizio, or Roman Jewish classics like deep fried artichokes from Nonna Betta located in the Jewish quarter.
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4. Houston, Texas, USA
If you’re looking to eat good food in the United States, and want to go elsewhere than the usual tourist traps Los Angeles and New York, then consider Houston. Surprising, right? Food&Wine places it at one of the top spots of its “32 Places To Go (And Eat) 2019” list, second only to LA. Thanks to the city’s vibrant immigrant population, the food scene is culturally diverse, with Indian, Vietnamese, Japanese, Ethiopian, and yes, Filipino food co-existing with standard Tex-Mex and Texan barbecue, not to mention its much-celebrated culinary mash-up, Viet-Cajun cuisine, best exemplified by Crawfish & Noodles. Houston’s restaurant scene is constantly growing with new food halls (Hole In The Wall, who u?), evolving restaurant empires, classic American cafeteria Cleburne, and cool after-dinner drink hangouts like Better Luck Tomorrow. And, of course, it’s also home to Frenchy’s Chicken, Beyonce’s favorite restaurant in the city.
Crawfish and Noodles in Houston, Texas | photo from Crawfish & Noodles official website
Crazy Rich Asians confirmed everything most Asians already know about Singapore—it has a deliciously diverse food scene. The city is home to hawker fare from savory satay to the famous chicken rice, and keeps you well fed from breakfast with kaya toast, until dessert with a sweet and colorful variety of kuih (Southeast Asian cakes, dumplings, cookies, puddings, and biscuits). Plus, this city-state boasts a restaurant and bar scene that is as cosmopolitan as what you’ll find in London or New York. Pick your cuisine—fine French food at Odette or Corner House, Aussie-style barbecue at Burnt Ends, or modern Peranakan at Candlenut. And you’ll also find Manhattan, number one on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2018 list (and number three in the world).
Lead images from Unsplash
Additional research from Nana Ozaeta