If you haven't noticed, food isn't just for eating anymore. Yes, humanity has always derived pleasure from chewing and swallowing, but it seems that the last few decades have ushered in this deep appreciation of food. Now people study it, they pursue it, and they talk about it like it's art.
The term "foodie"—a person keenly interested in food, especially in eating or cooking, according to Dictionary.com—was only coined in the 1980s, and today being a foodie is a perfectly respectable hobby. For those who follow their taste buds around the globe, U.S. News Travel has put together a list of the top 10 cities for foodies.
This list takes into account expert opinions, online user comments, each city's history with food, and the city's somewhat intangible contribution to the global culinary culture.
In Buenos Aires, Chick-fil-A's ad campaign featuring cows pleading with consumers to "Eat More Chikin" just wouldn't work. Argentinians have the second-highest consumption rate of beef in the world, which averages 121 pounds per person per year. Vacationers in South America's second-most populous city will likely find themselves in a parrilla (steak house) night after night. The succulent cuts of Argentine beef do not disappoint, which is why Buenos Aires ranks No. 10 on this list. By the way, if you want some protein on the go, you can pick up some choripan (chorizo) from a street-side vendor.
The city of lights has always beckoned foodies with its fine wines, decadent hors d'oeuvres including foie gras, saucy entrees like coq au vin, succulent meat dishes like boeuf bourgignon, and elegant desserts like crème brulée. But it's that particular je ne sais quoi that really pushes French cuisine over the edge. Famed chef Julia Child fell in love with food in Paris, first learning and then teaching the art of French cooking to Americans on TV and in her cookbook. French gastronomy has even won a UNESCO award for its contribution to the world's "intangible cultural heritage." And, of course, there's the city's long list of celebrated chefs: Joël Robuchon, Alain Ducasse, Pierre Gagnaire, and more. It's no wonder that Paris places on our list of the world's best cities for foodies.
Don't Miss: Any one of the restaurants helmed by Alain Ducasse for authentic French fare. Le Jules Verne, his restaurant in the south pillar of the Eiffel Tower, treats diners to spectacular city views, while Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée explores natural flavors "without any superfluous ingredients."
With its perch on the Tasman Sea, Sydney has no shortage of seafood. And experts like Food & Wine magazine call Australia's fruit and vegetables "edenic." With this winning combination of fresh fish and flavorful produce, Sydney is already a food lover's paradise. But any culinary hot spot also needs inspired chefs. Luckily, Sydney has them: Tetsuya Wakuda for fusion, David Thompson for Thai, and Neil Thompson for Australian, among others. Yep, that's right, Sydney's cuisine takes its inspiration from around the world; so while there's still some traditional Aussie restaurants, there are also a number of exquisite Asian establishments.
In 2011, Travel + Leisure magazine named New Orleans the best U.S. city for foodies, beating out old favorites like New York City and San Francisco. We're not sure if we agree with that ranking, but we appreciate The Big Easy's panache for ethnic fare: Creole, French-Vietnamese, Lowcountry Southern … you name it, and Nah'leans has it. Plus, you just can't beat the beignets (a deep-fried doughnut glittered in powdered sugar) or jambalaya.
These days, you'll find much more in London than just fish and chips. Gastronomically speaking, the city has two major things going for it: multiculturalism and celebrity. By that, we mean its melting-pot population has blessed foggy Londontown with vibrant ethnic establishments. Plus, a number of Michelin-rated celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Gary Rhodes have opened numerous dining rooms throughout England's capital, elevating the entire city's culinary acumen. For its variety of cuisine and its mastery of the art of food, London places at a solid No. 6.
Don't Miss: Restaurant Gordon Ramsay for a sublime palate experience. And for 600 GBP (about $950 USD), you can learn a thing or two in his cooking master class.
If any city were to embody the philosophy "eat, drink, and be merry," surely it would be Barcelona. Barcelonans enjoy late long lunches, taking afternoon naps, munching on light tapas for dinner, and partying into the early morning hours. But let's go back to the subject of tapas: Spain invented the small-plates concept, and what a grand idea it was. Spanish (potato) omelets, garlic shrimp, stuffed mussels, fried squid rings, ham croquettes, chorizo … can you imagine only picking one? Thank you, Barcelona.
Don't Miss: El Quim for no-nonsense tapas, and since you'll be in the same neighborhood as the La Boqueria market, stop there for some fresh produce and wine. Passadis del Pep is another relaxed tapas restaurant.
Japan gifted the world with sushi; for that alone, it deserves to be recognized on this list. For some foodies, sushi is its own food group (or at least a weekly meal). The more prominent reason Japan's capital places so high in this ranking is because it shines with Michelin stars. In fact, Japan has more three-star restaurants than any other country in the world, and Tokyo is where the majority of those stars cluster. Spring for a meal at Sukiyabashi Jiro or Sushi Mizutani for a culinary experience you'll never forget
Don't Miss: Sushi Yoshitake for its delicious raw fish, and Ryugin for its exclusive dining room (only 24 seats) and excellent fare. Keep in mind that Ryugin's "Winter Gastronomy Menu" will run you 23,100 JPY (or about $280 USD).
When you think of San Francisco dining, you probably envision lithe, dewy-skinned, bright-eyed patrons throwing back wheatgrass shots and vegetarian sushi. Yes, the Bay City does exceed its reputation for healthful living, but it doesn't sacrifice taste to do so. San Franciscans eat cheeseburgers and throw back beer like the rest of us. Still, the Gateway City earns the No. 3 spot for its adamant insistence on fresh ingredients, preferably organic and locally sourced. Food wagons (or trucks) are another huge rage, and you can follow your favorites on a website called Off the Grid SF. Also, check out the city's ethnic eateries, local coffee shops, and farmers' markets.
Don't Miss: Chez Panisse in Berkley—just a 15-mile drive from San Francisco—practically started the local and organic movement in the early 1970s. If you're looking to stay in the city proper, try BOULEVARD for French-American fusion or the contemporary Californian cuisine served at Gary Danko.
The Big Apple is a foodie frontrunner because there are so many options. You have upscale dining establishments helmed by celebrity chefs, local pizzerias that have been around for decades, a brigade of food trucks, and just about every gastronomic trend represented, from cupcakes to raw food. Plus, New York shelters a staggering amount of ethnic eats. You only have to travel to Chinatown or Koreatown (or one of the city's many other multicultural neighborhoods) to see.
Don't Miss: Momofuku, a foodie favorite for Chef David Chang's modern Korean fare. Right now, Eleven Madison Park is the top restaurant among TripAdvisor users, with its eclectic (and delicious) menu and its resplendent dining room. ABC Kitchen is also popular, since it earned a James Beard award for Best New Restaurant in 2011.
Singapore is located at the crossroads of many other Asian countries, so it's no wonder that its cuisine is heavily influenced by the surrounding cultures. The city is perhaps known best for its hawker stalls—vendors that dish up mouthwatering plates of Chinese and Indonesian, Malay, Indian, and more. But in recent years, elegant dining establishments have taken up residence in hotels and other hot spots around the city. Celebrity chefs like Australia's Tetsuya Wakuda and France's Daniel Boulud have opened establishments at the Marina Bay Sands hotel and casino. If you have cash to spare, there are several restaurants that you shouldn't leave the city without trying.
Don't Miss: Jaan Restaurant at the Swissotel for its beautiful design, gorgeous views, and artisanal French cuisine that regularly places it in the ranks of the world's best restaurants. Gunther's is another French-cuisine favorite. Iggy's is a must-visit its delicious "modern European" fare and artful food plating.
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