CITIES KNOWN FOR THE BEST CUISINES IN THE WORLD

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Naples: The True Taste of Italy’s Pizza Paradise

There’s no denying it – when you think of food in Italy, pizza takes center stage. And in Naples, the birthplace of this iconic dish, it’s not just a meal; it’s an art form. Imagine biting into a piping hot “pizza margherita” fresh out of a wood-fired oven, the perfect marriage of simple yet flavorful ingredients – a crispy crust, tangy tomato sauce, and creamy mozzarella cheese. It’s a taste sensation that will have your taste buds dancing the tarantella!

You can’t talk about Neapolitan cuisine without mentioning the legendary “Pizza Street” (Via dei Tribunali), where old-school pizzerias have been feeding hungry locals for centuries. These no-frills joints are the backbone of the city’s food culture, offering up pizza a portafoglio – a folded slice that costs around €1 and is quite possibly the best value bite in all of Naples.

But Naples isn’t just about pizza; it’s a culinary wonderland where every dish tells a story. As writer and Naples local Gabriela Proietti puts it, “Neapolitan cuisine celebrates diversity, simplicity, and the marriage between land, sea, and history.” From the piping hot plates of pasta alla genovese and Neapolitan ragù to the morning sugar rush of ricotta-filled sfogliatella or rum-soaked babà, the city’s rich food culture is found everywhere, including the bustling 16th-century Mercato della Pignasecca.

The Energetic Quartieri Spagnoli: Naples’ Foodie Hotspot

If you’re looking for the hottest food scene in Naples, look no further than the Quartieri Spagnoli district. This vibrant neighborhood is erupting with trendy open-air trattorias, each offering its own unique take on Neapolitan classics.

For the city’s crowning dish, pizza margherita, head to Santa Maradona, where owner Andrea Viviani honors Naples’ most prized possessions: pizza, football, and Diego Armando Maradona (the legendary soccer player who led the city’s team to victory in the 1980s). And for Neapolitan culinary classics with a modern bistro twist, pay a visit to CU.QU. / cucinadiquartiere.

Johannesburg: A Melting Pot of Flavors

South Africa’s cosmopolitan city of Johannesburg is a true melting pot of flavors, reflecting the diverse cultures that call it home. From Ethiopian cafes in Little Addis to Nigerian and West African eats in the south, you can embark on a culinary adventure across the continent without ever leaving the city limits.

However, it’s the traditional South African delicacies that locals recommend, like the Sowetan kota sandwich, bunny chow, and mala mogodu. And if you’re on a budget, fear not – Jo’burg was named the second-most affordable city to eat out in our survey.

Braamfontein: The Pulse of Jo’burg’s Food Scene

According to Johannesburg food writer Thando Moleketi-Williams, “If Jo’burg is the soul of South Africa, Braamfontein is the pulse of the city.” This central neighborhood is home to some of the city’s most innovative culinary ventures, combining food and culture in unique ways.

Head to Mamakashaka and Friends for weekends of wine, hip-hop, cocktails, and exciting food collaborations. A few blocks away, Artivist is a restaurant and gallery space that recently launched a monthly fine dining Sunday brunch club residency by award-winning chef Katlego Mlambo. And don’t miss the speakeasy and live music venue Untitled Basement for a truly immersive experience.

Lima: The Culinary Capital of South America

When it comes to food, Lima is the undisputed culinary capital of South America. Home to the world-renowned restaurant Central (often topping the “World’s Best Restaurant” lists), you can sample the best of Peruvian flavors across the city – and at a fraction of the cost.

From tangy pisco sours and citrusy ceviche to the hearty lomo saltado (Peruvian beef stir-fry), Lima’s dining scene is a feast for the senses. And if you’re on a budget, locals recommend the simple yet satisfying arroz con pollo (chicken and rice) as the city’s most affordable dish.

Ho Chi Minh City: A Symphony of Vietnamese Flavors

In Ho Chi Minh City, flavor reigns supreme. From the bustling street food stalls hawking bánh mì and sizzling woks frying up fragrant phở to Michelin-starred restaurants serving up creative renditions of classic dishes, Vietnam’s largest city is a true paradise for foodies.

But according to locals, the dish you simply can’t miss is phở Sài Gòn – a warming noodle soup typically garnished with fresh herbs, chili, and hoisin sauce. It’s a Vietnamese staple that’s ubiquitous across the city, from humble street vendors to upscale eateries.

The Culinary Future of Ho Chi Minh City

As Ho Chi Minh writer Dan Q Dao explains, “Though Hanoi might be the birthplace of Vietnamese cuisine and culture, Ho Chi Minh has emerged as the country’s most exciting dining destination.” In District 1, you’ll find the city’s sole MichThe Best of Beijing’s Culinary Gemselin-starred restaurant, Ănăn Saigon, helmed by chef Peter Cuong Franklin.

Across the river in District 2, a burgeoning modern restaurant scene is taking shape, with standouts like Tre Dining (offering innovative tasting menus) and Little Bear (a gastro-focused wine bar interpreting Vietnamese flavors through Western techniques).

Beijing: A Carnivore’s Delight

For meat lovers, Beijing is a true paradise. When asked about the city’s must-try dish, locals overwhelmingly recommended hearty options like gongbao chicken, hot pot, and (of course) the iconic Peking duck.But fear not, vegetarians Beijing’s dining scene caters to all tastes. From stir-fried, steamed, or spiced veggies to dumplings filled with savory goodness, you’ll find plenty of plant-based options across the city’s many snack streets and night markets.

The Best of Beijing’s Culinary Gems

According to Wendy Xu, editor at Time Out Beijing, the city’s food scene is brimming with hidden gems. For an authentic taste of Peking duck, she recommends Siji Minfu, where you might have to wait in line, but the perfectly roasted ducks with crispy skin make it worth the wait.

If you’re craving something fancy, head to Qu Lang Yuan for French-Chinese fusion cuisine using fresh local ingredients. And for a true hole-in-the-wall experience, Yudefu’s lamb hotpot is a must-try.

Xu also highlights some of the city’s up-and-coming spots, like Puzzles (a European-inspired brunch spot) and Greek Freak (serving authentic gyros and hummus).

Bangkok: The Street Food Capital of the World

When it comes to street food, Bangkok reigns supreme. Sizzling woks line the sidewalks, serving up mouthwatering dishes like the sweet and slightly spicy som tum (papaya salad) – a local favorite and the city’s must-eat dish according to our survey.

But Bangkok’s culinary prowess extends far beyond its bustling streets. The Thai capital boasts a whopping 34 Michelin-starred restaurants and recently took home several accolades at the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, solidifying its status as a world-class dining destination.

The Beating Heart of Bangkok’s Food Scene

According to Top Koaysomboon, editor of Time Out Bangkok, “Street food is the heart of Bangkok’s food scene, and it’s only becoming more exciting.” Emerging foodie hubs like Ban Tad Thong are rivaling the classic street food hotspot of Yaowarat Road, offering a diverse array of street eats.

On the fine dining front, Bangkok’s female chefs are making waves, with trailblazers like Tam Debakham of Baan Tepa, Pam Soontornyanakij of Potong, and Garima Arora of the acclaimed Gaa earning well-deserved spotlights.

And for a true taste of Bangkok’s culinary diversity, Koaysomboon recommends a visit to the legendary Jay Fai’s, where the queue is long, but the experience is unforgettable.

Kuala Lumpur: A Melting Pot of Flavors

Kuala Lumpur is a true melting pot of flavors, reflecting centuries of migration and cultural exchange. The Malaysian capital’s food scene is a delicious blend of Malay, Chinese, and Indian influences, with dishes like nasi lemak (coconut milk rice with anchovies, cucumber, and boiled egg), Thai tom yam soup, and roti canai (crispy pan-fried flatbread) earning top marks from locals.

A Culinary Heavyweight Punching Above Its Weight

As Kuala Lumpur writer Ng Su Ann puts it, “Kuala Lumpur punches well above its weight with some of the most sought-after food in all of Asia.” From bustling night markets to trendy cafés and omakase restaurants, the city’s dining scene is more diverse than ever.

Don’t miss Pickle Dining, where fermentation and pickling take center stage, or Kai, a new nusantara eatery spotlighting flavors from across the Malay Archipelago. And for a true local experience, Ng recommends APW in Bangsar, a neighborhood hotspot offering top-notch coffee, tapas, pizza, and natural wines all under one roof.

Mumbai: A Flavor Explosion

If you’re looking for a city that packs a serious flavor punch, Mumbai should be at the top of your list. Locals rave about the fiery manchurian (crispy fried veggies or meat in a sticky sauce), the creamy butter chicken, and the beloved street food staple vada pav (a deep-fried potato dumpling stuffed into a bread roll and served with tangy chutneys).

A Diverse Culinary Landscape

According to Mumbai writer Kunal Bhatia, “Mumbai’s food scene is reflective of the city’s diversity, with ingredients and flavors from across India and the world.” Whether you’re in the mood for a quick bite from a street vendor or a rooftop dining experience with sweeping views, the city has something to satisfy every craving.

In the vibrant neighborhood of Versova, Bhatia recommends the Goan-inspired Sorozai and the beloved Tanjore Tiffin Room, where a sampling platter of 16 rice and curry dishes is an instant hit.

Dubai: A Feast for the Senses

With its towering skyscrapers and man-made islands, Dubai is a city that isn’t afraid to push boundaries – and its food scene is no exception. From award-winning fine dining establishments to traditional Middle Eastern fare, the emirate’s culinary landscape is a true feast for the senses.

While you can sample cuisine from around the world in Dubai, locals recommend sticking to the classics, like mandi rice, shawarma, and charcoal-grilled chicken. These hearty dishes are a testament to the city’s rich cultural heritage and provide a delicious introduction to Middle Eastern flavors.

A Culinary Renaissance in the Making

According to Yousra Zaki, food editor at Time Out Dubai, “The city’s culinary landscape is more diverse and creative than it’s ever been.” From chef-led dining experiences that break all the rules (like Moonrise, which has created its own version of “Dubai cuisine”) to innovative fusion concepts (such as Jun’s, which blends Chinese, Indian, and North American influences), the city is in the midst of a culinary renaissance.

Zaki also highlights the city’s vibrant food community, where chefs and restaurateurs support each other through healthy competition and exciting collaborations, promising even more culinary delights in the years to come.

Portland: A Laid-Back Culinary Powerhouse

While it may not be known for a single iconic dish, Portland’s laid-back vibe and innovative food scene have earned the Oregon city a reputation as one of America’s most exciting culinary destinations. From food carts and farmers markets to breweries and acclaimed restaurants like Gado Gado (serving up Indonesian-inspired fare), Portland’s dining options are as diverse as they are delicious.

And when it comes to value, locals recommend the Mexican pizza – a creative twist on the classic, topped with typical taco ingredients – as the city’s best budget-friendly bite.

The Best of Portland’s Hidden Gems

According to Portland writer Alice Wolfe, “Portland’s reputation has graduated from Portlandia and peanut-butter-bacon Voodoo Doughnuts.” She highlights the city’s commitment to affordability, with spots like Ki’ikibáa (serving up affordable Yucatecan cuisine) and Annam VL (offering a rotating selection of Vietnamese dishes for under $20 per person) earning high praise.

But Portland’s culinary prowess extends far beyond budget-friendly bites. Wolfe also points to the city’s high-profile restaurant openings, like the much-anticipated Île de France, helmed by renowned chefs Derek Dammann and Liam Hopkins.

Liverpool: The UK’s Best Place to Eat Out

According to our survey of UK locals, Liverpool can lay claim to the title of the country’s best place to eat out. With everything from cult street food vendors to contemporary small plates, it’s no wonder the city’s food scene is earning rave reviews.

And when it comes to must-try dishes, the beloved scouse (a meaty stew so iconic that it gave Liverpudlians their “Scouser” nickname) takes the top spot.

Liverpool’s Rising Culinary Stars

As Liverpool-based writer Alice Porter explains, “Liverpool is perhaps better known for its nightlife than its food, but a clutch of brand-new foodie ventures have earned the city a newfound rep for its dining scene.” She highlights local chefs like Paul Durand (who opened the Michelin-mentioned Manifest in 2022) and Sam Grainger (owner of the small-plates spot Belzan and Mexican taqueria Madre) as driving forces behind Liverpool’s culinary renaissance.

Medellín: A Taste of Colombian Simplicity

In Medellín, eating out is a lesson in simplicity and flavor. From the hot, cheesy arepas to the hearty broth of a sancocho (a stew made with corn, vegetables, and meat), the city’s cuisine celebrates local ingredients and Colombian staples.

But according to locals, the dish you simply can’t miss is the bandeja paisa – Colombia’s answer to the fry-up. This hearty meal combines rice, beans, avocado, pork rind, arepas, plantain, and chorizo into a flavourful feast that will leave you satisfied and craving more.

A Culinary Oasis for Every Budget

As Medellín writer Maggie Clark explains, “Medellín offers culinary delights for every budget.” Whether you’re backpacking and exploring the sumptuous fruits at Central Mayorista or splurging on a fine dining experience like the modernist delight of El Cielo, the city has something to satisfy every craving.

Clark also highlights some of Medellín’s hidden gems, like Sorozai (serving up delectable Goan cuisine with a view) and Alambique (offering a price-conscious twist on Colombian classics).

Porto: Portugal’s Rising Culinary Star

Move over, Lisbon – Portugal’s second city, Porto, has emerged as the country’s best place to eat right now. On the menu? Succulent shellfish, port wine from the Douro Valley, and the iconic francesinha – a towering sandwich stacked with Portuguese sausage, ham, roast beef, a fried egg, and smothered in beer and cheese sauce. According to locals, the best francesinha can be found at Brasão Cervejaria.

A City of Contrasts and Creativity

As Mariana Morais Pinheiro, editor of Time Out Porto, explains, “When it comes to food, Porto is a city of two halves.” On one side, you have the quaint taverns and traditional restaurants cooking up classic Portuguese fare. On the other, avant-garde cuisine with young chefs at the helm.

For a taste of old-world charm, Pinheiro recommends spots like Cervejaria Gazela (known for its hot dogs), Casa dos Presuntos ‘Xico’ (serving up tasty sandwiches), and Cozinha da Amélia (specializing in classic Portuguese dishes).

But for those seeking a more modern dining experience, she highlights fine dining destinations like Euskalduna, The Yeatman, and Casa de Chá da Boa Nova, as well as the brand-new Time Out Market Porto, where Michelin-starred chefs work side by side with local culinary talent.

Marrakech: North Africa’s Culinary Capital

Eating in Marrakech is a true feast for the senses. From the fragrant tagines simmering in palatial courtyards to the bustling Jemaa el-Fnaa square, where vendors compete to sell freshly squeezed orange juice and grilled meat skewers, the city’s food scene is a captivating blend of traditional and contemporary influences.

A New Generation of Moroccan Cuisine

While Marrakech has long been celebrated for its rich culinary heritage, a new generation of innovative Moroccan chefs and international restaurants are putting their own stamp on the city’s food scene.

Travel writer Sally Kirby highlights newcomers like Rivayat, an exquisite Indian culinary experience opened last year under Michelin-starred chef Rohit Ghai, and Le Trou au Mur, a beloved Medina favorite dedicated to preserving lesser-known Moroccan dishes like camel tangia and tride.

But that’s not all – international heavyweights like Nobu (with its iconic Japanese menu and rooftop views) and Plus 61 (bringing Sydney-style ambiance and creativity) have also made their mark on Marrakech’s dining landscape.

Lyon: The Stomach of France

Dubbed the “stomach of France,” Lyon’s reputation as a culinary powerhouse precedes it. From the succulent Bresse chicken to the iconic saucisson brioché (a pistachio-crusted sausage baked in a brioche), the city’s must-try dishes are a testament to its rich culinary heritage.

A New Wave of Culinary Innovation

But as Lyon writer Anna Richards explains, “Lyon’s reputation for great cuisine stands – but not for the reasons you’d expect.” She highlights a new wave of culinary innovation sweeping the city, with fusion and vegetarian cuisine taking center stage at pioneering restaurants like Ayla (serving up Franco-Lebanese fare) and Alebrije (specializing in Franco-Mexican fusion).

Even Lyon’s fine dining scene is evolving, with chefs like Jérémy Galvan offering multi-sensory dining experiences that push the boundaries of traditional French cuisine.

Sydney: A Multicultural Foodie Paradise

With its golden beaches, iconic Opera House, and vibrant multicultural communities, Sydney is a city that captures the heart and soul through its diverse array of culinary delights.

From the fragrant curries of Little India to the fresh seafood at harbourside institutions like Quay, Sydney’s food scene is a true reflection of its rich cultural tapestry.

Final thoughts

From the bustling streets of Bangkok to the trendy bistros of Paris, this gastronomic journey has taken us across continents and cultures, each city offering its own unique and mouthwatering cuisine. Whether you’re a foodie seeking out the latest culinary innovations or a traveler looking to immerse yourself in local traditions, one thing is certain: the world is a delicious place, and there’s never been a better time to explore it one bite at a time.

As you plan your next adventure, remember the wise words of writer Gabriela Proietti: “Neapolitan cuisine celebrates diversity, simplicity, and the marriage between land, sea, and history.” These are the ingredients that make each destination’s food scene truly special, and they’re what will keep you coming back for more.

So go forth, fellow food lovers, and savor every moment. Indulge in the tantalizing aromas wafting from street food stalls, sample the flavors that have been passed down through generations, and don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone – that’s where the real culinary magic happens.

Whether you’re biting into a piping hot pizza margherita in Naples or slurping up a fiery bowl of pho in Ho Chi Minh City, remember that food is more than just sustenance; it’s a window into a city’s soul, a celebration of culture, and a language that transcends borders.

So open your hearts, minds, and taste buds to the world’s endless culinary delights. The adventure awaits, and it’s sure to be a delicious one.

Frequently Asked Questions: Exploring the World’s Culinary Capitals

Are you a foodie seeking adventure? A traveler craving cultural immersion? Or simply someone who appreciates a good meal? Whatever your motivation, exploring the world’s culinary capitals is a journey like no other. Join us as we dive into the frequently asked questions surrounding this mouthwatering topic, and discover the flavors, stories, and experiences that await you in these gastronomic havens.

1. What makes a city a culinary capital?

A culinary capital is more than just a collection of restaurants; it’s a destination where food is woven into the fabric of daily life, celebrated, and elevated to an art form. These cities boast a rich culinary heritage, a diverse array of local specialties, and a thriving food culture that attracts culinary talent from around the world.

Naples, for example, is the undisputed pizza capital of the world. As the birthplace of this iconic dish, you’ll find generations-old pizzerias lining the narrow streets, each offering their own spin on the classic margherita. But Naples is also a culinary wonderland where every dish tells a story, from the piping hot plates of pasta alla genovese to the sugar-dusted sfogliatella.

2. How can I experience the local cuisine like a true insider?

The best way to truly immerse yourself in a city’s food culture is to step off the beaten path and explore like a local. Sure, you’ll want to hit the iconic spots, but don’t overlook the hidden gems that often hold the most authentic flavors.

In Johannesburg, for instance, food writer Thando Moleketi-Williams recommends venturing into the vibrant neighborhood of Braamfontein, where you’ll find innovative culinary ventures like Mamakashaka and Friends and Artivist, blending food with art, music, and cultural experiences.

And in Kuala Lumpur, writer Ng Su Ann suggests exploring the city’s bustling night markets and trendy cafés, like the beloved APW in Bangsar, where you can savor top-notch coffee, tapas, pizza, and natural wines all under one roof.

3. What are some must-try dishes in these culinary capitals?

Each city has its iconic dishes, the ones that locals swear by and visitors simply can’t miss. In Naples, it’s the humble yet heavenly pizza margherita, while in Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll want to slurp up a steaming bowl of phở Sài Gòn, the city’s take on the classic Vietnamese noodle soup.

But don’t be afraid to venture beyond the obvious. In Medellín, locals recommend the hearty bandeja paisa, Colombia’s answer to the fry-up, a flavor-packed meal that combines rice, beans, avocado, pork rind, arepas, plantain, and chorizo.

And in Seville, the unassuming serranito sandwich, stuffed with pork, Serrano ham, green pepper, and tomato, is a beloved and affordable bite that will leave you craving more.

4. Are these culinary destinations budget-friendly?

Absolutely! While some cities are known for their high-end dining scene, many of the world’s culinary capitals offer delicious and authentic eats at every price point.

Ho Chi Minh City, for example, was named one of the most affordable cities to eat out in our survey, thanks to its bustling street food scene and casual eateries serving up fragrant phở and bánh mì for just a few dollars.

And in Portland, locals recommend the Mexican pizza, a creative twist on the classic topped with typical taco ingredients, as the city’s best budget-friendly bite.

5. How can I experience the local food scene beyond just dining out?

Experiencing a city’s food culture goes far beyond just eating at restaurants. Many culinary capitals offer unique opportunities to immerse yourself in the local food scene, from cooking classes and food tours to vibrant markets and festivals.

In Bangkok, editor Top Koaysomboon suggests visiting the legendary Jay Fai’s, where the queue is long, but the experience of watching the skilled chef in action is unforgettable.

And in Copenhagen, writer Laura Hall highlights the city’s innovative approach to casual dining, with establishments like Paesano, Goldfinch, and the vegan hotspots Ark and Baka d’Busk pushing the boundaries of plant-based cuisine.

6. What are some tips for navigating the culinary scene as a tourist?

Exploring a new city’s food scene can be overwhelming, but with a little preparation and an open mind, you’ll be able to navigate it like a pro.

First and foremost, do your research. Read up on local specialties, must-try dishes, and the best neighborhoods for dining. Don’t be afraid to ask locals for recommendations – they’re often the best sources for hidden gems.

Secondly, be adventurous. Step out of your comfort zone and try new flavors and dishes you’ve never encountered before. That’s where the true culinary magic happens.

And finally, pace yourself. It’s tempting to want to try everything at once, but savor each meal and experience. Food is meant to be enjoyed, not rushed through.

7. How can I incorporate sustainable and ethical dining practices into my culinary adventures?

As conscious travelers, it’s important to consider the environmental and ethical impact of our dining choices. Fortunately, many culinary capitals are embracing sustainable and responsible practices.

In Copenhagen, for example, the city’s focus on seasonal, locally sourced produce and its commitment to the New Nordic cuisine philosophy make it a leader in sustainable fine dining.

And in Lyon, writer Anna Richards highlights the city’s embrace of vegetarian and fusion cuisine, with pioneering restaurants like Ayla and Alebrije offering innovative plant-based options.

When possible, seek out restaurants and markets that prioritize locally sourced, seasonal ingredients and promote ethical and sustainable practices.

8. How can I continue exploring a city’s culinary culture once I’m back home?

The beauty of food is that it’s a universal language, transcending borders and connecting us to cultures around the world. Just because your trip has ended doesn’t mean your culinary adventure has to stop.

Bring home local ingredients and spices, and recreate your favorite dishes in your own kitchen. Seek out restaurants and markets that specialize in the cuisines you enjoyed on your travels, or attend cooking classes to learn traditional techniques.

And don’t forget to share your experiences with others. Recommend your must-try dishes and hidden gems to fellow food lovers, and inspire them to embark on their own culinary adventures.

9. How can I make the most of my culinary travels?

To truly make the most of your culinary travels, it’s important to approach them with an open mind, a curious palate, and a willingness to immerse yourself in the local culture.

Don’t be afraid to step off the beaten path and explore like a local. Ask questions, engage with locals, and learn about the stories and traditions behind the dishes you’re enjoying.

Slow down and savor each bite, taking the time to appreciate the flavors, textures, and nuances that make each dish unique.

And above all, embrace the adventure. Food is more than just sustenance; it’s a window into a city’s soul, a celebration of culture, and a language that transcends borders. So open your heart, mind, and taste buds to the world’s endless culinary delights – the adventure awaits, and it’s sure to be a delicious one.

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