15. New York City
Does New York have amazing food? Of course! There's no other place in America that has the population density and demographic variety to match New York City. That dynamic combination creates the perfect atmosphere for a blend of unique flavor creations, in both upscale and more economically accessible establishments. Just don't get suckered into paying high dollar for the city's also numerous restaurant mediocrity.
Paris had to make the list of best foodie cities in the world since it is the birthplace of modern culinary arts. Guide Michelin, originator of the famed Michelin star rating system, also began in France. It's no surprise, then, that the city has the second most starred restaurants in the world. Lately, however, it seems Paris has been resting on its historical laurels.
Copenhagen has no shortage of culinary awards. The city's Noma restaurant has repeatedly been named the world's best since 2010 by Restaurant magazine. As a result, Copenhagen has helped to spread the New Nordic Cuisine style throughout the food industry by promoting the use of local ingredients, as well as the techniques of smoking, marinating, and salt preservation.
Marrakech's combinations of North African and European influences give its culinary offerings a particularly distinctive flair, but the real gem of the city is the street food. At night, the Jemaa el-Fnaa marketplace fills with numerous food stalls, and smells of saffron and lamb fill the air. It's amazing how such simple preparation can create such bold flavors.
11. Ho Chi Minh City
You can thank Ho Chi Minh City for the now ubiquitous bánh mì sandwich that's seemingly popping up everywhere, but it isn't just the French assimilations that elevate this city's cuisine among the best of the best. Intense flavors dominate the locale fare, from the tear-inducing heat of chili peppers to the lip-puckering depth of concentrated fish sauces. Grab some pho for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and you'll experience a different flavor profile each time.
10. Mexico City
The chain American restaurants purveying so-called "authentic" Mexican cuisine don't do Mexico City justice. The city has been making waves recently in the food scene for its variety and complexity. The best aspect, however, may be the offering of haute cuisine-level cooking at street vendor prices. It's the best of both worlds!
9. Buenos Aires
The land of the Malbec also has the cuisine to match. Wood-fired grills are popular in Buenos Aires, giving the food some added flavor. The most intriguing Porteño invention, though, is the puertas cerrada or "closed door" restaurant where a professional chef crafts expert meals for a few diners in his or her own home. Be warned: they are costly, cash only, and captivatingly good.
8. Tel Aviv
If Jerusalem is the "old city," Tel Aviv is the hip, trendy cousin. A key figure in Mediterranean cuisine, Tel Aviv is noted for its incredibly fresh ingredients, often found only a stone's throw from the restaurants themselves. The distinctive flavor palette found across the city is a result of the hawaij spice mixture, combining coriander, cardamom, cumin, and turmeric. It's even incorporated into the city's favorite beverage: coffee.
Sydney may have all the big names, but the more selective food scene of Melbourne means that only the best of the best have risen to the top. Not only have chefs taken inspiration from the trendsetters in Europe, but they have also incorporated techniques from closer regional neighbors in Asia, particularly South Korea. Turn down one of the side streets, and you'll find "laneways," Melbourne's version of al fresco dining.
6. Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region, China
Hong Kong's special administrative status allows it to have a more cosmopolitan flair than any of its mainland Chinese competitors. Mixing British influences, from former colonial days, with traditional "every man" recipes, Hong Kong can offer travelers everything from penny-pinching $1 meals to debt-inducing skyscraper dining experiences. Plus, there are enough steamed bun styles for every day of the week.
5. New Orleans
New Orleans shines brightly for bringing high-quality food to the people. Po'boy sandwiches (traditionally called a "poor boy") were created specifically for striking streetcar workers. The Spanish/French Old World cuisine intertwines inextricably with culinary techniques from lower down the economic ladder to create meals that feed your soul. We even narrowed down 15 of our favorite creole-cajun creations the city has to offer.
Tuscany had a heavy influence on France's haute cuisine, so it's no surprise that Florence shows up on the list. Characterized by its fresh, bright, and light flavors, Florence's food is simple in creation by containing only a few ingredients per dish. What those ingredients lack in number, they more than make up for in quality and flavor. Or just go to Gusta Pizza. We know that's why you're really here anyway.
London has moved beyond its famous pubs into more serious fare, particularly with the rise in the city's immigrant population. The Entrepreneurial spirit has taken hold with young chefs who are innovating in new fusion styles (Korean-Latin American, anyone?) and food preparation (using everything from "nose-to-tail"). There's nothing wrong with fish and chips, but London has moved on to bigger and better things.
2. San Sebastián
With a population of only 185,000, San Sebastián has carved out an impressive reputation for such a small city on Spain's North Atlantic coast. The city boasts more Michelin stars per capita than any other city in the world. World-renowned chefs create beautiful tapas spreads that take to focus off the food and encourage patron conversation. Using molecular gastronomic techniques, these small plates contain bold, robust flavors that need to be savored and not scarfed down.
Tokyo is the undisputed foodie paradise. The city has a whopping 226 restaurants with Michelin stars. The city with the second most, Paris, only has 94. What elevates the Tokyo above other food-centric cities is the willingness of the chefs to experiment with flavors and ingredients. Consistency is also strong across the city, which might be easy when you only have ten seats in your entire restaurant, a common feature of many of the top eateries.