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Best Chowhound Cities

Everyone knows that San Francisco, Chicago, New York, New Orleans ... are great food cities, but I am interested in the others. How do you rank the cities that you have lived in? It's easier to evaluate a city when compared to other familiar cities. Here is my ranking of the US cities that I have lived in:

1) San Francisco
2) Honolulu
3) San Diego
4) Madison, WI
5) Anchorage
6) Tampa/St. Petes

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  1. To that original list, I would add Los Angeles (so long as you include the outer suburbs, like Monterey Park). My ranking would go:

    New York (for the sheer variety and general high quality),
    Chicago (for our strengths in ethnic cuisines and award-winning chefs),
    New Orleans (for the wonderful regional Cajun and Creole cooking),
    Los Angeles (but I acknowledge that I don't know the area all that well)
    San Francisco (last only because it's been a long time since I've been there).

    1. For an old stomping ground, it's Singapore.

      But to be honest, the grass is always greener on the other side. It's always better to be chowhounding in a city one has never been before, because imho, chowhounding is not just about eating great food, it's also about learning, discovering and treasure hunting on one's own.

      1. For the places I have been, I would say:

        Toronto - what a great eating town!
        New York
        Paris (if you avoid the overblown and touristy)
        San Francisco
        Madison, Wisconsin (lots of variety and quality in a small place)

        It's a short list, because I haven't travelled nearly enough! For example, I've never been to LA or New Orleans or Singapore.

        Time to dust off the passport,

        5 Replies
        1. re: AnneInMpls

          Shame on you for leaving out our own Twin Cities (see post below). Minneapolis has some great chefs, Eat Street, a fab farmer's market. It's a great chowhound town.

          1. re: Loren3

            Sorry, I just don't think the Twin Cities are in the same league as the other cities on my list, with the possible exception of Madison (which I included mainly because it's so small yet has such nice places to eat).

            Maybe it's the "grass is greener" syndrome, or maybe it's because because I grew up here and still think of the place as a gastronomic wasteland (as it was in the 60's and 70's). Or maybe it's because we have only one Chinese bakery, one real Spanish tapas place (unlike Chicago, city of tapas happiness), very little choice for good Italian, and really mediocre Greek and Indian restaurants (with one or two exceptions).

            But the Twin Cities are getting better - in a few more years (and more than one Chinese bakery), I'll expand my list!


            1. re: AnneInMpls

              re: Grass is greener -- MHO is that the more I know about a city, the less of a chowhound city for me, just because there are less places to suss out. At least from my perspective, it's more about what's unknown and the opportunities to treasure hunt, discover stuff, rather than just simply how much great food is available. Many cities are great cities for food lovers, gourmands and connoisseurs, but IMHO good chowhound cities will depend on the chowhound and how little she or he knows about the chow in the city, rather than the city per se.

              1. re: limster

                In a city like Chicago there are so many diverse restaurants opening each year in neighborhoods and older close-in suburbs that it is impossible for anyone to know them all. Small ethnic restaurants and groceries of all persuasions keep cropping up (and often not lasting too long). I live in a particularly chow-friendly area in the western part of Lincoln Square but near Albany Park and could not keep up with the sheer volume of new entries within three miles of my house even if I didn't sample the goodies elsewhere or go back to old favorites.

          2. re: AnneInMpls

            Istanbul? That is my dream destination... What do they have there that is so good? I want to go and I want recipes for everything.

          3. Add Hong Kong to everyone's lists. One city I have not been (not recently) but will be next is Shanghai.

            1. My top-10 list would be the following (some are regions, and not necessarily "cities" per se):

              1. Los Angeles County

              2. New York City

              3. Hong Kong (and specifically the districts of Kowloon City and Tsim Sha Tsui)

              4. Ho Chi Minh City

              5. Taipei

              6. City of Vancouver

              7. San Francisco

              8. Paris

              9. Las Vegas

              10. Mexico City

              5 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit

                As a recent transplant from Chicago to LA, I am surprised to see LA at the top of your list...my top three would be NYC (hands down!), Chicago, and San Francisco. I'm not arguing, just curious...what makes LA your favorite? How does it top NYC?

                1. re: ceegee

                  With respect to LA > NYC, it's really more about familiarity than anything else.

                  Having lived in LA for a while, I know alot about the nooks and crannys for good chow. While I grew up in Queens and visit NYC quite often, there isn't that same level of familiarity. (I suppose Astoria doesn't really count as NYC, does it? Lottsa good eatin' there.)

                  In any event, if you compare the general LA area (including San Gabriel Valley), then I think at least with respect to Asian cuisine, LA far outpaces NYC -- both in terms of depth and quality. In fact, I dare say that Monterey Park/Alhambra (both in the San Gabriel Valley) offers the best and most eclectic Chinese cuisine this side of the Western Hemisphere.

                  1. re: ceegee

                    Astoria is in Queens, one of NYC's five boroughs.

                  2. re: ipsedixit

                    Well, if we're going to start including the rest of the world, I'd have to add Kyoto. After Paris, this is the city that I felt had the most sophisticated and surprising cuisine of all the places I've been (though admittedly I'm not very well-travelled).

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      1) Los Angeles - good Mexican, Asian, Jewish deli's, burgers.
                      2) New York City - good Italian, Jewish deli's, dogs.
                      3) Houston - good bbq and Tex-Mex.
                      4) San Francisco - good Asian and Italian, but Mexican and Jewish deli's nothing to write home about.

                    2. I'm a native San Diegan and I hate to say it but I'm not sure I'd put my home town that high up on any list of clinary hot spots. That said, however, the one thing that San Diego really does better than any city I've lived in is breakfast. We may not be a fine dining destination but finding a really good breakfast is pretty easy. Oh, and we're also home to Chino Farms and some prime sea urchin :-D

                      I'll add Mexico City to the list, particularly for the emerging contemporary Mexican food places.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: DiningDiva

                        I'll agree, but I'll also agree with your breakfast sentiment. Oh woe is me who lives in DC now and cant go to the Mission Coffee Cup or The Cottage in the mornings for breakfast.

                      2. Boston, Boston, Boston

                        And I live in NYC

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: krissywats

                          I agree. I was suprised that the food quality AND service of some of the most highly praised restaurants in New York do not even begin to compare to those of places I used to visit with my family in Boston. And I know we weren't spending $200 a person.
                          New York City (and I stress the City to include the 5 boroughs) has more to offer in terms of variety and quality of ethnic places than really top end restaurants -
                          I loved eating out while I lived in New York, but consider these caveats: to get really good ethnic food one has to travel out of Manhattan, the best quality Indian food I had was at a simple restaurant that served mainly dosas (Dosa Hut)- with the huge Indian population of New York(!), I never had good churrascaria there, and the only decent place for pasta takes a month to get a reservation for two at 10 pm. There are however, unequalled Jewish food places, a good selection of Chinese for the East coast, and the availability of delivery at almost any hour and of any cuisine. The home delivery options I think contribute greatly to New York's reputation as a food city compared to other places.
                          Ok, enough ranting, I love New York, but here are my top cities, based on my impressions and/or experience:
                          Shanghai and Hong Kong (never been, but all of my favorite dishes are from these cities)
                          Sichuan provence
                          Tuscany, especially the seaside which is where I spent the most time
                          Barcelona and San Sebastian
                          Boston seafood restaurants

                          1. re: fara

                            Why is it a caveat that you have to travel outside of Manhattan to get good ethnic food? NYC is all five boroughs. It doesn't seem strange to me that you'd get the best Thai food in a Thai neighborhood, best Vietnamese in a Vietnamese neighborhood, and so forth.

                            1. re: fara

                              If there's only one decent place for pasta in the City of New York, either you are the pickiest pasta eater in the said city, or you haven't got out much... and of course you have to go to other boroughs for ethnic food... who can afford to live in Manhattan??

                              Boston was a real surprise to me. I figured it'd be all stuck-up leftovers from the days when "eating dinner out" meant "fancy quasi-French food with more pretentious attitude than quality"... but it really wasn't, and for a city as ridiculously expensive as Boston is (says the guy who lives in LA), the food was very reasonable.

                              I love Barcelona and it has wonderful food, but it's not a good Chowhound city to me -- to me, a Chowhound city needs to have a wide variety of cuisines. Barcelona does its few cuisines very, very well -- Catalan, Basque and Spanish, but there isn't a lot of choice other than that; compare this to Paris, where you can get truly great North African food, wonderful Vietnamese, etc.

                              Barça is a good city for food, but it's not in my top 10.

                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                I totally disagree about Barcelona not being a good chowhound city because of lack of ethnic cuisines.

                                I lived there during the summer of 2000 and had excellent Chinese, Indian, Mexican, North African, Pakistani, Thai, Vietnamese and more there. In addition, I had the best calzones and cannelonis I've ever had there. Amazing fresh seafood everywhere, and you also have the Bouqueria market.

                                I can't wait to visit there next month with my wife on our honeymoon.

                                Apart from the diversity of my new hometown, Toronto, Barca is my favorite international chowhound city.

                                1. re: bogie

                                  Hmm, I did go to Barcelona. I don't know that I'd put it up there with my top cities, either (not that I really have a lot of top cities, but I don't remember the meals being standouts, particularly- good in some places).
                                  My paltry vote goes to:
                                  Quebec City
                                  New Orleans

                            2. re: krissywats

                              ooops, I forgot to mention the best Italian style pizza I've ever had was in New York -- Una Pizza Napoletana in the E. Village. better than any pizza I had while in Naples. So New York does have some things going for it...:)

                            3. I'm finding the lists quite fascinating. I live just outside Boston and wouldn't consider it anywhere near the top of my list. And Anchorage??? I've been there about 4 times and can't recall a single good meal.

                              My list echoes many others. In no particular order:

                              Hong Kong
                              San Francisco
                              New York
                              Montreal (surprised no-one else mentioned this one)

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: cheryl_h

                                I agree with Montreal. Gourmet magazine did a special issue on Montreal a few months ago. The city has a really great variety of good restaurants.

                                1. re: cheryl_h

                                  My thing with Boston (and it frustrates me that it's so underrated by most people) is that in the cities in which I've lived (San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and New York) Boston has a better good food to bad food ratio. Whereas in New York there seems to be more crap than good food. Don't get me wrong - there is fantastic food in NYC and Chicago and SF but in my experience there is more good food per capita in Boston.

                                  1. re: krissywats

                                    OK, I accept that. I didn't mean to sound argumentative, just curious about your reasons. Could be I take Boston for granted because it's home.

                                    1. re: cheryl_h

                                      Lol - nor did I...my frustration wasn't with you at all, and I didn't think you were doing more than asking, I think it's underrated by mags and foodies alike.

                                    2. re: krissywats

                                      Also being in the Boston area, I would say this is even more true of Portland, Maine, which to my mind is the restaurant capital of New England in terms of per capita density of fine offerings and with a considerable chef culture. For a city of its size (less than 70,000 within the city limits), it's amazing when you think about it.

                                      1. re: Karl S

                                        I've only spent one two days in Portland, ME but the salmon I had there (or rather, I think my husband had and I kept eating off his plate) still stands out to me. I've tried to recreate it several times. A wonderful meal. I should visit again soon.

                                    3. re: cheryl_h

                                      Montreal probably didn't get many mentions because people don't go there (the fools!) Not only great food, but great Jazz festival, film festival, comedy festival, not to mention the best-dressed women in North America.

                                      My pipe-dream for retirement is to live in Shanghai in the Spring, Montreal in the Summer, New York in Autumn and San Francisco in the Winter.

                                    4. Interesting post.
                                      Ah Taipei - actually more specifically Dan Shui - what a great eating place. Actually, Taiwan doesn't seem to have many bad eateries if you stick to traditional stuff.

                                      The places I love, in no particular order:

                                      New York (agree there's tons of crap here though)
                                      Taiwan (too difficult to pick a city, I love I-land though)
                                      Tuscany - esp little in little towns
                                      Salzburg, but only for desserts
                                      Quebec City
                                      Czech R, only for beer (does this count?)

                                      Haven't really been to West Coast save Seattle. I liked Shanghai but the places I went didn't strike me as significantly better than those in Taipei.

                                      Been to Boston, DC, and Philly a dozen times and have yet to find a place to my liking. Perhaps I should ask the local boards b4 I go there next time.
                                      Really want to go to Spain and Turkey to eat.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: zorgclyde

                                        If you're chowhounding for beer, you MUST go to New Zealand. All beer is fab! It's a great place for 'hounding in other ways too. Green shelled clams. Lamb. Baked goods. Just stay away from the pizza.

                                        1. re: Loren3

                                          If you want beer, you must go to Portland, OR. Much closer than NZ and more beer per capita than any other city.

                                      2. new york city (all boroughs) is very good
                                        hong kong/kowloon and the islands offer infinite possibilities to the adventurous
                                        san francisco/bay area rewards the patient chowhound
                                        singapore is unique and stands alone. i need more time there
                                        new orleans is a sentimental favorite. 'nuff said
                                        rome is, well, rome. hard to get a really bad meal there. avoid the dreaded touristas and you'll do ok. wine bars are your friend.

                                        1. New York (by at least a lap)
                                          Los Angeles
                                          Hong Kong
                                          Bay Area (SF/Oakland)

                                          You may be surprised to see Minneapolis on there... but what makes it really Chowhoundly is there is a variety of restaurants and they're ALL CHEAP compared to NYC.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                            Thank you for noting the Mpls/St.Paul area. I live in MN and have watched it go from a nobody to a BIG somebody in the top-notch restaurant scene. We have had someone in Food & Wine;s Top 10 Chefs for the last two years, and I know they are all following the coat tails of the big dogs on the coasts, but now they are a force to reckon with. Get eating!!

                                            1. re: cooknKate

                                              Also, the Twin Cities has a food critic (Dara Moskowitz) that has won a James Beard award for food writing, twice!

                                              I agree that the Twin Cities scene is coming into its own. I don't know if I'd list it as one of the greats, but I do think it deserves to be on the Chow map. In fact, the recently renovated and re-deployed former Sears Building, now the home of Midtown Global Market, reminds me an awful lot of San Francisco's Ferry Building.

                                              The Twin Cities has some active and thriving recent immigrant communities, chiefly Hmong and Somali, as well as a rich immigrant past, including Mexican, Italian, Eastern European, in addition to the Scandinavian and German influences most people think of when they think of Minnesota. Throw in the Native American influences and proximity to Canada, and you have quite the little melting pot to Chow around in.

                                              What makes it hard, in my opinion, for the Twin Cities to rise to the level of great is the propensity of many Minnesotans to do most of their chowing at home. The "restaurant" culture that exists in San Francisco and other of the "great" cities hasn't quite taken hold in the Twin Cities.


                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                That's true -- you have the people who live Uptown and are very cosmopolitan and tend to eat out quite a lot, and on the other hand you have Ma and Pa in their home in Brooklyn Park or Lakeville who just stay in and eat hotdish or fried walleye.

                                                There ARE people in the middle of that scale, and it's a growing number of them. I just remember being so shocked that eating out -- even at 'fancy' places -- was so cheap compared to home (at that time, home was Union Square, Manhattan), and that for a city "in the boonies" there was a surprising amount of good ethnic eats.

                                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                  Actually, your point about hotdish and fried fish raises another issue for me--not only do most Minnesotans chow primarily in their homes, which makes it difficult for a chowhound to get out and experience and discover new cuisines-- they also chow in their church basements and at potlucks and other gatherings.

                                                  Hotdish and anything prepared or served in a crockpot are very much a part of the culture in Minnesota, but seldom appear on menus. Fish fry is also integral to the culture, and certainly something you'd find on a menu, especially on Fridays and during Lent, but my favorite fish fry so far was in a basement at a church.


                                          2. I don't know either city, but out of curiosity, what puts Anchorage ahead of Tampa/St. Pete?

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Gary Soup

                                              I was ranking the cities that I have lived in, and Tampa/St Pete was the worst food city that I have lived in. I was hoping others would rank the cities that they lived in from best to worst, not just name the great food cities of the world, those are obvious.

                                            2. I leave out San Francisco because I live there.
                                              1. NYC
                                              2. Paris
                                              3. Singapore
                                              4. Hong Kong
                                              5. Barcelona
                                              6. Rome
                                              7. the rest: Madrid, Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo

                                              1. I have been fortunate enough to live in Toronto, Ottawa, Sydney, Gold Coast (Australia) & San Francisco.

                                                Toronto, Sydney and San Francisco are great chow cities with a grand variety of cuisines. You have to look a little harder in Ottawa but the good stuff is there. Plus it's just over two hours drive to Montreal. Finding the good stuff in the Gold Coast requires serious attention and time.

                                                1. It's Montreal and Buenos Aires for me! :)

                                                  1. add Houston. It has the most varied and inexpensive places to eat. Yes I'm a New Yorker, have lived all over the world, Europe, Central America and the Orient and Houston is great.

                                                    11 Replies
                                                    1. re: jetlag

                                                      No question about Houston and I am a former Northern NJ/NYC'er and current Bostonian (well Quincy"ian"). I have family in Houston and always look foward going down ~ to eat.

                                                      1. re: jetlag

                                                        There was a brief "Worst Chowhound Cities" thread which got nuked (maybe Chowhound has borrowed some of Kim Jong-Il's image polishers). One of the mentions was.... Houston.

                                                        1. re: Gary Soup

                                                          I was the one who said Houston. For that size of a city (4th largest in the US) it has surprisingly little variety. You'd think they'd have lots of Vietnamese places, but no. Tex Mex, BBQ, OK. Other than that, the picking is slim.

                                                          1. re: PeterL

                                                            "You'd think they'd have lots of Vietnamese places, but no. Tex Mex, BBQ, OK. Other than that, the picking is slim."

                                                            Are you serious? I must respectfully disagree. #1 there's a lot of Vietnamese places in Houston and #2 there's a huge variaty in ethnic choices varying from japanese, korean, middle-east, malaysian, indian, african, various south american, greek ~ it's all there and plenty of them. See link below for a Houston restaurant guide I use everytime I go and you will see the variaties and the numbers.


                                                            1. re: slade

                                                              Just one question. How many dim sum places are there in Houston? Can you name more than 2? Even my little hometown with 1 million residence has 4 or 5 dim sum places. And Houston is the 4th largest city in the US. That in itself says a lot about Houston dining. As for Vietnamese, no there are not a lot, considering again the size of the city and the size of the Vietnamese population there. Chinese? Aside from that stretch of Bellaire, not much. And what's there are Vietnamese Chinese places. It reminds me of Los Angeles about 30 years ago.

                                                            2. re: PeterL

                                                              In reply to your reply to me...(for some reason I don't have a reply link on your reply (?))
                                                              Houston may be the 4th largest city. The "city" part of Houston,to me, is within the inner loop or I610. The rest is a sprawl of suburban subdivsions which I don't really take into account for chowish dining.

                                                              I actually can name 4 dim sum places and I'll admit dim sum is not Houstons strong point. What city doesn't have a weekness in particuliar chow? I can tell you Boston's weakness is pizza and sushi.

                                                              1. re: slade

                                                                Okay... now you did... calling Boston out on it's Pizza... Pizzeria Regina anyone? ;)

                                                                1. re: slade

                                                                  Slade, come on out and explore the 'burbs. Some of the best dim sum in town is at the Kim Son on the Southwest Freeway in Stafford.

                                                                  Thanks for standing up for Houston (not that it needs defending). I am hard put to think of any type of food that is not available in Houston. In fact, there's not much that's not available out here in Fort Bend County...maybe Ethiopian...but I might be surprised, there could be some little mom and pop place over on Texas Parkway that I haven't found yet.

                                                                  1. re: slade

                                                                    In reply to Dommy (I don't know why I don't have reply links on your replies). OK, your right about Pizzeria Regina and I'll through in Santarpios in E.Boston but, the problem is that I have to go out of my way to get a good pizza. In Northern NJ and NYC where I grew up, just about any pizza shack around the corner is great pizza. I miss that.

                                                                    1. re: slade

                                                                      In reply to zorra. Well Heck, I'll just have to explore the "burbs". I've actually heard about Kim Son. Just can't cover all the bases when I'm in town. The only "burbs" I'm familiar with is outside of Houston in The Woodlands and Conroe (my folks live on the lake there) the rest of my Houston activity falls within 610 loop (other reletives live there).

                                                                      1. re: slade

                                                                        In reply to slade (since there is no reply link to this section of comments as well), I should note that NY area pizza has definitely declined in the past couple of decades. There is a lot more dough that is wholesaled, and that is true for some other ingredients. Whereas 30 years ago, I could count many excellent pizzerias in central Long Island, the number of such has dwindled and my family in the boroughs report the same phenomenon. Just like bagels.

                                                                        By contrast, whereas Boston was pitiful for pizza (with a few exceptions) a generation ago, I've noticed improvements and many fine newcomers (Greek pizza excepted -- everyone in Boston knows that "[Name of Town] House of Pizza" almost always denotes Greek-style pan pizza, and that's really not comparable to traditional Italian-American pizza in the usual style of the American Northeast.

                                                                2. 1) New York
                                                                  2) Washington DC
                                                                  3) San Francisco
                                                                  4) Las Vegas
                                                                  5) Philadelphia
                                                                  6) Los Angeles

                                                                  and I'm an LA resident! I consider LA is last by quite a bit because:

                                                                  1) it's not public-transportation friendly and not very walkable... in my other top 5 cities my friends and I can easily hop to one place for great apps, go to another for entree, and skip to the third for sweets and drinks.

                                                                  2) I think culinary-wise LA is still having a bit of a identity issue -- with ambitions to go in many different directions but not particularly excelling in one (well, unless you count celebrity-sponsored/partnered restaurants a niche).

                                                                  3) I do give, however, kudos to ethnic dishes in general - but judging from the LA Boards, you'd be hard-pressed to find one particular place that is authentic across the board for a particular ethnic cuisine.

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: AquaW

                                                                    Thank God someone finally mentioned my hometown - Philly! It's an incredibly good food city, extremely underrated.

                                                                    1. re: AquaW

                                                                      Philadelphia is a great eating city. Decent (but small) Chinatown with good quality dim sum; great variety of Vietnamese restaurants (Seven courses of Beef at Vietnam Palace!) Good Pho in South Philly. A few smattering of Cambodian restaurants. Near U.Penn you find very good Indian, two Ethiopian restaurants (as of a few years ago) and great lunch wagons around the University for really cheap eats/good variety. South Philly for amazing regional Italian (fresh Tomato Pie at a number of bakeries...sells out early) and I haven't even mentioned Geno's, Pat's or Jim's for Philly Steaks!

                                                                      1. re: TheLazyK

                                                                        I'll fourth the Philly nod. Moved to DE several years ago and was thrilled to find that Philly is a very underrated food town, especially for veg-friendly eats. The Italian Market is a jewel. I have a friend in Chicago who recently graduated from culinary school and he was just about ready to up and move out here after visiting twice...

                                                                        Also had great CH experiences while attending conferences in Anchorage, Seattle, and NOLA this year.

                                                                        1. re: spyturtle008

                                                                          I'll 5th Philly. I live in LA and I find the restaurants in Philly more interesting on the whole. LA for sushi and asian, for sure, but otherwise, Philly isnt afraid of flavor, nor is the scene or atmosphere more important than the food. The BYO trend also allows for affordable dining in small places where the focus is actually on the food...

                                                                          1. re: spyturtle008

                                                                            Another vote for Philly! For all the reasons above and for the ever-increasing number of great BYOs.

                                                                      2. 34 Replies and not yet one mention of Portland, OR - what is this? A best-kept secret? It's only a 12-hr. drive from San Francisco...sustainable agriculture, organic foods, farmers markets, fantastic Hood's strawberries in June. Sahagun for fine chocolates, Pambiche for Cuban feasting, Apizza Scholls for pizza — the list is astounding. I never have sufficient time in Portland to eat through my list.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Cynsa

                                                                          How could I have forgotten Portland??? You're right - this is an EXCELLENT chowhound city. My last trip there was completely planned around food (and bookstores, of course). I gotta get back there soon!


                                                                          1. re: AnneInMpls

                                                                            And don't forget Portland, Maine....

                                                                        2. Why isn't Seattle on the list?

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. Since its cities I've lived in...

                                                                            1) Los Angeles...Best Asian, Mexican and Burgers, Good Cali Cuisine, Italian and Deli
                                                                            2) New York...Good Italian, Best high end, best Pizza and Deli. Bad Asian and Mexican.
                                                                            3) Seattle...Good Asian and Northwest Cuisine (Tom Douglas, Canlis, etc..) Bad burgers, Deli and Mexican.
                                                                            4) Miami...Great Seafood, Cuban and other Latin, Bad Asian, burgers and Deli.
                                                                            5) Dallas...Great BBQ (but still not as good as KC) Everything else is terrible (TexMex, Burgers, Asian and anything ethnic)

                                                                            1. The replies on the thread would probably be more interesting to compare if everyone did as the OP did: limit ourselves to places we have lived in and rank them accordingly.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. That's odd. I haven't found any decent BBQ in Dallas since I moved here a year go. I think most chowhounds on the Texas board agree as well. For a Texas city, it's surprisingly lacking in good BBQ.

                                                                                However, I disagree about your other assessments of Dallas. Dallas has good burger joints (Snuffer's comes to mind, amazing cheese fries) and some of the best Asian food in Texas. The Korean population here is large, there are many Asian shopping centers scattered out throughout the Metroplex that has great authentic mom & pop Chinese and Vietnamese places.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: donnaaries

                                                                                  All very true, except I disagree about the BBQ comment. There are several good options; Sonny's is my favorite. And yes, if you know where to go, the depth and variety of Asian offerings is tremendous. Go to Garland for Chinese and Vietnamese, Northwest Dallas (around Royal Lane and Harry Hines) for Korean, and Richardson for Indian.

                                                                                  SCSCR, I soooo disagree with your comment that "everything else is terrible" in Dallas. I can't help but wonder whether your sphere of experience was limited to Mesquite or something.

                                                                                  1. re: laurie

                                                                                    Sonny Bryant's is no longer a good BBQ place, IMO. Dickey's (at least the orig. location on N.Central Xpressway) is probably the best currently. Baker's Ribs is great, esp. for ribs, Peggy Sue's in Snider Plaza is a long-time favorite, Rudy's in Denton is worth the drive.

                                                                                    But I agree w/Laurie that SCSCR could hardly be more wrong; Dallas is a great restaurant city--prob. best for Mex/Tex-Mex, since that's what Dallasites like to eat and there are too many good Mex. restaurants to begin to list. My own dear love--for happy atmosphere, consistently good food, price, size of servings, great margaritas--is Blue Goose on Greenville Ave.

                                                                                    Other excellent non-Mex. places are Lola's, Il Sole, Tramontana, Park Cities Prime, Abacus, The Grape. (The last of which has maintained its quality and reputation for an incredibly long time as restaurants go.)

                                                                                    Don't mess with Texas, SCSCR, or my darlin', darlin' Dallas.

                                                                                2. I wish I could speak with the authority of someone who has lived in one city or another for a span of years. I've done a fair amount of travelling, but I'm guessing my biggest sample of one metropolitan area outside of my hometown (Boston) is maybe 100-200 places (in NYC and San Fran), tiny by the standards of any 'houndish natives of those cities.

                                                                                  Cities that have impressed me despite a small sample size: Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Guanghzhou, Taipei, Seoul, KL, Singapore, Bangkok, Hanoi, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, Chicago, Miami, Seattle, Montreal, Toronto, Paris, Nice, Florence, Venice, Madrid, Seville, London, Sydney, Cape Town.

                                                                                  Places I have heard good things about but have yet to visit long enough to have a proper meal: Tokyo, Philadelphia, Portland (OR), Rome, Oporto, Tel Aviv, Istanbul, rural Greece, Barcelona, Prague.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                    Glad someone mentioned Cape Town!

                                                                                    I think there's a difference between towns where it's hard to eat badly, and towns where there's immensely good food, but it's hard to find (difficult to get around, too much confusing choice, outer burroughs, etc.). The former often make for better Chow holidays, and the latter for permanent homes.

                                                                                    Places I have lived, and eaten marvellous food (in no particular order):
                                                                                    San Francisco
                                                                                    Cape Town
                                                                                    Italy (I've had wonderful meals all over; hard to list one city)

                                                                                    Holidays I've adored for the food:
                                                                                    New York

                                                                                    Interestingly, wasn't wowed by Montreal, and have had big disappointments in New York (even from reccs off chowhound). It just goes to show how unreliable holiday chow missions can be.

                                                                                    1. re: Gooseberry

                                                                                      I lived in Cape Town for several years, though an eon ago. I visited about 3 years back and while there are more restaurants around which serve decent grub, I was unimpressed with the overall standard. It's a pity since the raw materials are so wonderful (fish, wine, produce etc.).

                                                                                  2. It is hard to live for a time in my favorite food cities....

                                                                                    New York
                                                                                    San Francisco
                                                                                    Barcelona (I confess, I haven't lived here)
                                                                                    Xian (we only visited, but oh my, was the food spectacular)

                                                                                    peace, jill

                                                                                    1. The running assumption here seems to be that the best chowhound cities are ones with a great variety and breadth of restaurants. The two places I've lived the longest, Los Angeles and New York, are arguably the two in the U.S. that fit this bill the best.

                                                                                      But to me, a Chowhoundish city can be one with a more limited palette. I love going to any places where the both the folks who work at restaurants (from head chefs to waiters) and, at least as important, the average person in those towns are obsessed with food.

                                                                                      That's why I think of New Orleans and Kansas City as the two most Chowhoundish cities. The passion in N.O. is obscured a little because of the high concentration of tourists in the city. I find New Orleans particularly fascinating because, like Venezia, a heavy tourist influence is ingrained in the restaurant culture, and doesn't seem to harm the great places on the low or high end.

                                                                                      The other city that jumps to my mind is Kansas City. You can get into debates about sandwiches in Philadelphia, or Mexican joints in Chicago, but I've never heard more people talk about food and restaurants anywhere than in Kansas City. KC might not have the range of some other cities, but I'm always happy eating there, because of how much enjoyment is shown by the purveyors and consumers of food there.

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Dave Feldman

                                                                                        This sort of reflects what I was thinking - or at least, goes hand in hand. Regardless of all the modern gains in cuisine - from great cooking schools to the wide distribution of all foodstuffs - there is still something to be said for being part of a culture, whether ethnic or geographical, that provides real meaning to the food, other than just the ingredients and even the recipe and process. It still is, and ought to be, that Philly cheese steaks are best in Philly, tex-mex is best in Texas, pho is best in a Vietnamese restaurant in a Vietnamese enclave, and sushi is best where there are the most demanding clientele - Japanese businessmen, probably NYC or LA. Perhaps that's what makes the people happy and proud - obsessed, even, to be a successful part of that culture.

                                                                                        It really doesn't matter whether the cook has learned the dishes or grew up with them, as much as it matters who he/she is cooking for. In the long run, the food will rise to the level demanded by the clients, and the most demanding clients are those that grew up with the food, or are associated with it to the point that they know it well.

                                                                                        So speaking of a city as having great variety doesn't necessarily mean great, chowhoundish food. Certain foods will almost always be better in certain areas - and it will take a good deal of time, an emigration - not of just one cook, but of an entire culture, to change that. Insofar as NYC and LA attract so many people from so many cultures, of course they will benefit - but there are going to be numerous places, like NO and KC, that have the best of what they're best at, and that's the adventure we get from travel. You can get Maine Lobster in LA, I'm sure, but what dock will you be sitting on that has the traps and boats tied up to it?

                                                                                        It's going to be a lousy future when you're going to actually be able to get the best of everything in every city or any one city. But then, I don't think that will ever happen.

                                                                                        1. re: applehome

                                                                                          I agree with Applehome and Dave Feldman--some great chowhound cities don't do everything, but they do what they do very well. In that spirit, I'll throw my hat in the ring and nominate Charleston, SC as a great chowhound city (and certainly the best one I've lived in). While it doesn't have the diversity of restaurants that many larger cities do (though growing Hispanic and Asian populations are slowly changing this), Charleston definitely eats much larger than it actually is. Its chowhoundish reputation currently rests on its unique Low Country cuisine with all its variations, both classic and modern, along with the area's natural abundance of local seafood and produce. If you give any credence to AAA restaurant ratings, it's interesting to note that Charleston has as many AAA recongized restaurants as LA and Seattle combined.

                                                                                        2. re: Dave Feldman

                                                                                          I think this idea has merit. I don't go to Italy for Chinese food, but the horrific Chinese food (arborio egg fried rice, the horror) doesn't take away from my desire to go to Italy to eat.

                                                                                        3. applehome said:

                                                                                          "It's going to be a lousy future when you're going to actually be able to get the best of everything in every city or any one city. But then, I don't think that will ever happen."

                                                                                          I don't think so either. I don't enough attention has been paid to the role of the restaurantGOERS, collectively, as an influence on the quality of food.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: Dave Feldman

                                                                                            It's an interesting point, that the presence of chowhounds makes a city more chowhoundish.


                                                                                          2. Believe it or not...in no particular order.
                                                                                            Sacramento, CA (some great eats ...no, really!)
                                                                                            Philadelphia, PA
                                                                                            New York, NY
                                                                                            Cody, WY (yep)
                                                                                            San Francisco, CA
                                                                                            South Jersey (Cherry Hill area)
                                                                                            Las Vegas, NV
                                                                                            Portland, OR
                                                                                            Seattle, WA

                                                                                            oh, and I agree about Kansas City!

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: melly


                                                                                              Wish there were a private-message function for this tangential and late question, but ... what are the great places I've missed in Cody? I know about the great breakfasts at the Irma (green chile, biscuits and gravy), but beyond that I've had not-so-great luck on my visits.

                                                                                              1. re: Bill on Capitol Hill

                                                                                                Had one of the best ribeyes I've ever eaten (and that's a lot of ribeyes!) at the Wyoming Rib and Chop House in Cody this summer; my wife's baby backs weren't quite as good as the extraordinary ones at the Virginian in Buffalo, WY, but they were fine. We weren't in town long enough to eat anywhere else, but it was one of the highlights of a roadtrip through SD, WY, and MT. Don't know that I'd call it a Chow town, but that was one fine steak.

                                                                                            2. Oaxaca, Mexico
                                                                                              Cambridge, MA
                                                                                              Paris, France
                                                                                              Avivgon, France
                                                                                              Madrid, Spain
                                                                                              Bangkok, Thailand
                                                                                              Florence, Italy

                                                                                              1. This game is no fun if you haven't lived anywhere very interesting!! Have most Chowhounds lived in such interesting places? (Maybe another topic in itself!)

                                                                                                1. Kansas City (by far, of course!)
                                                                                                2. Manhattan, KS (edging out Topeka by a couple of restaurants!)
                                                                                                3. Topeka, KS

                                                                                                See, that was b-o-r-i-n-g!!

                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Katie Nell

                                                                                                  Any list of food cities that includes Kansas City isn't boring. By the way, I think you listed those in the right order.

                                                                                                  1. re: Dave Feldman

                                                                                                    Thanks, I feel better!

                                                                                                    The grass is *always* greener on the other side!

                                                                                                    1. re: Dave Feldman

                                                                                                      You forgot Lawrence, KS. I haven't eaten in Manhattan in ages, but I'm pretty sure Lawrence (with the brewery, ice cream shop, tea/coffee houses, bakeries, etc) should be #2 behind KC. Topeka can stay at the bottom of the list, though!

                                                                                                      KC discussion on this board tends to leans towards steak and bbq. Which overlooks other culinary highlights of the city. It has some good Chinese food, too. The current family favorite is Pine and Bamboo Garden on 63rd.

                                                                                                      Portland OR, my current place of residence, would rank extremely high in the accessibility/affordability of high quality chow (and beverage) even if it doesn't have the culinary depth as NYC or SF. I don't feel like I'm on the sidelines of a food scene because I can't afford it.

                                                                                                      1. re: MyNextMeal

                                                                                                        I was just doing places I've lived, per the request of the original poster. Lawrence, never forgotten, would definitely be #2!

                                                                                                        And there is A LOT more to eat in KC than barbeque or steaks, but that's just what gets requested the most on the boards.

                                                                                                        1. re: MyNextMeal

                                                                                                          I am a native New Yorker who has lived in Portland, OR... and I was not impressed. Portland has some good Vietnamese and Thai and some elegant expensive restaurants, but New York has so much more of the cheap and delicious to offer. Portland fails on the most prosaic level. There is basically nothing to eat in Portland for less than $5. For instance, a gross battered fried fish sandwich in Portland costs about $8 dollars. In New York, a sandwich with four filets of fresh fried whiting is about $4 and much better. In Portland, it is impossible to find a simple satisfaction like a decent fried egg sandwich in a diner, let alone egg salad. Portland has no African or Indian food worth speaking of and no Korean food at all. The Chinatown in Portland is post-apocalyptic. The better dim sum in far southeast or Vancouver is probably okay, if you want to spend hours taking three different buses. You can get a good taco or burrito in Portland, but rarely the more interesting Mexican food.

                                                                                                          My top eight N. American food cities (or regions):

                                                                                                          New York (Queens is obviously the best food borough)
                                                                                                          San Francisco
                                                                                                          El Paso
                                                                                                          The West Bank of the Hudson (New Jersey includes Philadelphia in my mind)
                                                                                                          Los Angeles (also Santa Barbara)
                                                                                                          Washington and Baltimore (esp. the latter)
                                                                                                          Kansas City

                                                                                                          However, I am not very well traveled. I was in San Francisco 6 years ago, but haven't really explored its gastronomic pleasures. I imagine that there is wonderful food in Chicago, Houston, Toronto and Vancouver, but would not know myself. I am always dismissive of Boston.

                                                                                                          Outside of the US, I have never been to Hong Kong, Istanbul, Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Singapore or Tokyo... I would love to eat my way through those cities. I did go to Italy and ate very well there. Another wonderful food city that I have traveled to is Cape Town... which reminded of San Francisco, but is much more beautiful and if anything has better produce and seafood.

                                                                                                      2. re: Katie Nell

                                                                                                        Who says you have to live there? A vacation in a city will tell you alot. And..we loved Kansas City and the great BBQ! I used to live in Wichita, KS and I loved it. Loved Don's Diner.

                                                                                                      3. Oh I forgot one that should have been on my list...Yountville, CA. (I guess it's a town though). Let's just say Napa and Sonoma Counties in CA.

                                                                                                        1. I"m moving from Cambridge, MA to Pittsburgh, PA in a month. I've been worried about the chow there. Is Pgh on anyone's list?

                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: mhoffman

                                                                                                            Well, it's on mine. We don't do much fine dining since my husband likes my cooking better. So I guess that's my own fault. But when you get to Pittsburgh, go to the Strip District on a Saturday morning and you'll get the idea. Welcome to our area; hope you enjoy it.

                                                                                                            1. re: shortchef

                                                                                                              I agree about the Strip District, an experience unsurpassed in the US for me - going there every Saturday morning shopping was a wonderful ritual. I wish there was a Strip District equivalent in Boston.

                                                                                                              I have lived in Boston and Pittsburgh, aside from the Strip the restaurant scene in Pitt isn't as diverse as beantown but not bad either - a large number of good and very good restaurants to choose from. Have fun and good luck.

                                                                                                          2. San Francisco (and the Wine Country of Napa and Sonoma)
                                                                                                            Charleston, SC
                                                                                                            New York
                                                                                                            Washington DC

                                                                                                            1. I agree with Washington DC being on the list. I think they have a great variety restaurants from high end (thanks to lobby money, but not sure if it has changed with the new campaign-finance laws) to cheap ethnic eateries thanks to the presence of all the diplomatic missions from all over the world.

                                                                                                              1. I've very much enjoyed visiting San Francisco and Vancouver, I could easly see these as the top cities. LA and San Diego were less impressive to me. Among the places I've lived I'd say that NYC is clearly the best for restaurants and at-home cooking, Boston and DC are very similar and very good in my opinion, Philly and Pitt aren't as robust but have particular strengths which are also great. Outside the US my impression is that most every big city is better that the US for home-cooking, restaurant quality is more country specific but places like London, Paris, Munich, Berlin, Amsterdam, Florence, etc... are unquestionably world class. FWIW

                                                                                                                1. Tokyo keeps popping up here and there, but all the food I had while in Tokyo was TRULY awful. Osaka is really the undisputed culinary capital of Japan; there is a reason the Japanese call it the "kitchen of Japan."

                                                                                                                  That aside some of the best food I have had in my life has been in Los Angeles, Honolulu, and New York. Definately NOT in St. Louis, where I am now.

                                                                                                                  I regret that I was only in San Francisco long enough to try a few short things, so I can't really pass a final judgement on that. On the other hand, I had the best vietnamese of my life there, hands down, so I guess that says something.

                                                                                                                  1. NYC is far and away the best restaurant city in the world. The scope and variety on all price levels is astonishing.

                                                                                                                    I lived in London for 2 years, and Paris and the South of France for 14 years. Although I love Paris, and all of France, nothing compares to NY.

                                                                                                                    1. Los Angeles is a fabulous chowhounding city for the incredible variety of ethnic foods prepared by recent immigrants. Even Jonathan Gold admitted to missing LA Asian and Mexican food when he was living in New York, working as Gourmet Magazine's New York restaurant reviewer.

                                                                                                                      When we lived in New Orleans we came to believe that Houston is the most underrated chowhound city in the U.S. -- or perhaps I should say in the middle of the U.S. Not only is there a vast array of real, new immigrant Mexican food (not just Tex-Mex), but there is a large Asian population, providing the city with a huge selection of great Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants. In addition, you can find a good version of just about any other ethnic food you're craving -- other than Thai, which we've never found to be as good anywhere as in Los Angeles.

                                                                                                                      To be fair to New Orleans, it does have wonderful indiginous cuisine, but we found it scarce in restaurants, which quite often cater to midwestern tourists who think the addition of any seasoning other than salt makes food too highly spiced. The best traditional New Orleans food we found was prepared by home cooks. Since we moved to NO from Los Angeles we missed the variety of ethnic food we had come to love, which is why we journeyed to Houston periodically. New Orleans does have good Vietnamese restaurants, though it seemed that very few of the native New Orleanians we met had ventured into any of these "foreign" places -- many times I was asked by my coworkers, "Is Vietnamese food any different from Chinese?" or "Is Thai food any different from Chinese?" And by "Chinese," they generally meant the ubiquitous sweet-sauced crispy chicken that is a local favorite. (If chow fun is served in any New Orleans Chinese restaurant, I never found it.)

                                                                                                                      Now we live in Phoenix, which is not a top chowhound destination, but does have lots of real Mexican food and plenty of other decent restaurants, and we are only a 6-hour drive away from Los Angeles . . .

                                                                                                                      Sarah C

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: kittyfood


                                                                                                                      2. Montreal

                                                                                                                        any city in Spain (avoiding tourist places)

                                                                                                                        Porto (avoiding tourist places)

                                                                                                                        One way to tell that it's a tourist place: the menu is translated into diff. languages.
                                                                                                                        I look up names of food and names of dishes before travelling.

                                                                                                                        1. My list is: Paris, Florence, Rome, Lyon, London, Phoenix (had some great Mexican) Mexico City (if you can breath), London (it is astronomically priced, but there are great places.),Vancouver (plus it is beautiful, if it is not raining and you can see the mountains) and of course my home town, Toronto.

                                                                                                                          1. Here is my world top 10:

                                                                                                                            1. Shanghai
                                                                                                                            2. Mexico City
                                                                                                                            3. Toronto (yep, it's home)
                                                                                                                            4. Munich
                                                                                                                            5. Montreal
                                                                                                                            6. Seoul
                                                                                                                            7. Stockholm
                                                                                                                            8. Santiago, Chile
                                                                                                                            9. Hong Kong
                                                                                                                            10. San Francisco

                                                                                                                            1. Putting aside the obvious ones (NY, SF, LA, NO, CH), in the USA, I would add (in alphabetical order):

                                                                                                                              Atlanta, GA
                                                                                                                              Austin, TX
                                                                                                                              Boston, MA
                                                                                                                              Charleston, SC
                                                                                                                              Dallas, TX
                                                                                                                              Memphis, TN
                                                                                                                              Miami, FL
                                                                                                                              Richmond, VA
                                                                                                                              Washington, DC (including burbs)
                                                                                                                              Wilmington, NC


                                                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: TexasToast

                                                                                                                                WHY WOULD YOU SAY THAT NEW ORLEANS IS AN "OBVIOUS ONE"?

                                                                                                                                1. re: MIKELOCK34

                                                                                                                                  I've always enjoyed just the sheer amount of places in New Orleans and people invariably have listed it among there choices in this thread.


                                                                                                                                  1. re: TexasToast


                                                                                                                                    1. re: MIKELOCK34

                                                                                                                                      It depends on how you define "great chow cities." A city that serves seafood but not steak, can still have "great seafood."

                                                                                                                                      And if, like me, you enjoy the Cajun and Creole styles of cooking, then there is a higher concentration of that type of cuisine in New Orleans. As with anywhere in the world, some places will be better than others.

                                                                                                                                      Correspondingly, some people will like a city's food more than other people.


                                                                                                                                2. re: TexasToast

                                                                                                                                  Glad to see that someone finally recognized Richmond as a good chow-town :-)

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                                    My thing with Richmond is that because there are so many different types of restaurants open for lunch, it allows you to sample more things (for less money).


                                                                                                                                3. thee best chowhound city in america?

                                                                                                                                  lockhart, texas

                                                                                                                                  (variety is over-rated)

                                                                                                                                  1. Okay here are my picks in no particular order:

                                                                                                                                    Osaka (I was going to say Tokyo, but after thinking about it and reading another reviewer's I'd say they're right--more bang for your yen)

                                                                                                                                    Ubud, Bali
                                                                                                                                    Tuscany,Italy (technically not a city, but I never had a bad meal anywhere in the region!)
                                                                                                                                    Ho Chi Mihn
                                                                                                                                    and my hometown--Toronto!

                                                                                                                                    1. Per the original post, this is my ranking only of the places I have actually lived:

                                                                                                                                      San Francisco/Oakland/Bay Area; but if I had to seperate the two cities out since I've lived in both, they might be numbers one and three, with Mexico City in the middle...hard to say, depends on whether I include Berkeley, where technically I have not lived...
                                                                                                                                      Mexico City (a close second for me, I must admit. Have to get back there for a visit soon!)
                                                                                                                                      Los Angeles (It was a very brief time, but enough to get the idea that there is some great food if you have a car and time to cruise the freeways...)
                                                                                                                                      Phoenix, AZ (and, thanks to CH, it is better now than when I lived there!)
                                                                                                                                      Houston (not much variety, but I still clearly remember the wonderful bbq'd turkey and tex-mex, even after 40 years!)
                                                                                                                                      Delano, CA (yes, Delano. Again, not much variety, but the Mexican food more than made up for that!)
                                                                                                                                      Sacramento, CA (it has improved lately; it has been a while. but it really had a way to go back then.)
                                                                                                                                      Reno, NV (another place that is getting better, but sorry JanetofReno. Oh well, maybe it will make her feel better to know that her kitchen produces the best Indian food in town :-))
                                                                                                                                      Davis, CA (for good food,we'd go to Sacramento, Woodland or Dixon. Enough Said.)
                                                                                                                                      Durango, CO (how did I end up there?)

                                                                                                                                      Guess I've moved around a bit; so hopefully I remembered them all...and if not, must not have been memorable, food wise :-)

                                                                                                                                      and of course, my bias towards Mexican food (and more recently Asian food, of which SF and LA are by far the winners of the places listed) does influence my rankings. But then, ones own preferences always do...If I could be objective, I am sure this ranking would change..

                                                                                                                                      1. There's noplace with more great food per capita than Berkeley.

                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                          Correction. Even on a per capita basis, it's stil New York City, New York.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                            That is probably true, particularly at the higher end and in terms of availability of ingredients...however, I am not sure that at the lower end it quite measures up to Oakland or SF...though there is Vik's and the ramen place, (what else am I missing at the lower end of the scale?)...which is why if Berkeley is included as part of the overall Bay Area, yes, there is no question that the Bay Area is at the top of my list!

                                                                                                                                            Whenever I talk about giving up City life and moving to the hinterlands somewhere my sister (stuck in the food purgatory that is Reno) reminds me that would mean leaving behind the food as well as the traffic.....

                                                                                                                                          2. Wow - great thread. I have NOT lived in all these cities, but here's my list....

                                                                                                                                            1. Paris (La Grand Epicurie, the freaking *grocery stores* in Paris are head-and-shoulders above the rest of the world)
                                                                                                                                            2. New Orleans (never had a bad meal, top dollar OR a dive)
                                                                                                                                            3. New York
                                                                                                                                            4. San Francisco Bay Area
                                                                                                                                            5. Toronto
                                                                                                                                            6. Bangkok
                                                                                                                                            7. Milan
                                                                                                                                            8. Barcelona
                                                                                                                                            9. Mexico City
                                                                                                                                            10. Florence

                                                                                                                                            Not good IMO: London (ick, food poisoning twice, many many inedible meals including flabby asparagus from a can; I know everyone says London has vastly improved but I have yet to eat any proof of that), Lisbon, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, er, Croatia, Germany, Eastern Europe in general. Maybe I've just been unlucky, and for sure the 'bad' list is all small sample sizes so take it with a grain of salt.

                                                                                                                                            1. London has vastly improved . . . but it'll cost ya! That's the difference. It's either crap, or way out there.

                                                                                                                                              To the NY issue, I think the Dallas/ Fort Worth Metroplex has more restaurants per capita that NYC. But are they as good? Well, that's for you to decide.


                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: TexasToast

                                                                                                                                                TexasToast, people have told me that before, and I'm sure it's true. But isn't it the case that you can get great food in ANY big city if you're willing to pay? I've just never found decent chowhound-type food there - no good holes-in-the-wall or unexpectedly great midpriced places. BUT I've had plenty of bad London curries, couscous, salads, steaks, shepherd's pie, fish, sandwiches, pizza, vegetarian, Thai and Mexican.

                                                                                                                                                Had a tuna sandwich there once that weirded me out completely: it was the blandest thing I've ever eaten. No discernable flavour or texture at all.

                                                                                                                                                I generally advise my friends going there to stick to Pret A Manger, that sandwich shop that's on every corner. They have an all-day breakfast sandwich, and once you take out the slice of disgusting sausage, it's totally edible.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: spigot

                                                                                                                                                  There is NO good Mexican in London [insert crude joke here](or Tex-Mex either), but there is some pretty good Thai, excellent curries, and the best Fish and Chips.

                                                                                                                                                  Pret A Manger is okay, but the Grocer on Warwick has better sandwiches and togo meals.


                                                                                                                                                  1. re: TexasToast

                                                                                                                                                    NO GOOD TEX-MEX IN LONDON????? I'm a native Dallasite and I've never had better Tex-Mex meals & margaritas in a more pleasant & beautiful atmosphere than at the Texas Embassy Cantina on Cockspur Ln. in London.

                                                                                                                                              2. #1 New York- I live here now, and I eat like a king on a poor man's budget 'cause I know where to go to find the quality cheap eats and unusual cusine! I will venture to places where you wouldn't dare enter to sample the wares of the great melting pot......#2 Miami- Stay away from the beach and all those tourists, venture deep into the city, and you will find amazing and diverse Latin-American restaurants, coffee shops, markets, and bakeries!......#3 Chicago- Very underated as a city for great food! Like New York, has a food culture all it's own, but often people overlook the amazing ethnic eats to be had there, like Mexican, Polish, and German food which is way better than New York's offerings........#4 Boston- Sorry, but your street food is non- existant, uninspired, and lacking, your ethnic eats are yuppified, and your Seafood is overpriced, but I lived there so long that give me some of your broiled scallops, fried Ipswich clams, and Indian pudding and I'm a happy chowhound!

                                                                                                                                                1. Great idea for the poll. Here's mine:

                                                                                                                                                  Chicago (born there, but moved when I was three, but that counts as living there, right?)
                                                                                                                                                  Orange County/LA
                                                                                                                                                  Santa Barbara

                                                                                                                                                  And now that I live here, I'll give a wild card to Salt Lake City. Given the size and nature of the market area, the food offerings are surprisingly strong. And it's home to the totally amazing Adam Kreisel, currently working as a line chef at the Grand America Hotel. Do a search for his last name, along with Sundance and Globe Cafe to read about the stuff he pulls off.

                                                                                                                                                  1. Can't forget the Motor City...

                                                                                                                                                    Fabulous Middle Eastern, great Deli, a number of very good a
                                                                                                                                                    Asian restaurants, to name a few. Local specialties (may have to have been born there to appreciate) such as coney dogs, Sanders Hot Fudge, Vernors ginger ale, red pellican mustard...I could go on and on. I ate extremely well in Detroit. And the hotdogs at Leo's at Comerica Park/Tiger Stadium are the best.

                                                                                                                                                    1. San Francisco has the best food in the world.

                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: liquidmint

                                                                                                                                                        Agreed. I know of no other place in the world where within a 5 block walk (Geary Blvd between 16th and 21st) on one street you can find:

                                                                                                                                                        01) kosher deli
                                                                                                                                                        02) Russian deli
                                                                                                                                                        03) Chinese/Dim Sum
                                                                                                                                                        04) Thai
                                                                                                                                                        05) Mexican
                                                                                                                                                        06) Italian/Pizza
                                                                                                                                                        07) Vietnamese
                                                                                                                                                        08) Japanese (one being arguably the best Sushi in SF),
                                                                                                                                                        09) Irish Pub w/ fish and chips
                                                                                                                                                        10) Old school "make it there" ice cream place
                                                                                                                                                        11) Moroccan (top rated no less)

                                                                                                                                                        Any of these places would be considered good and even excellent anywhere in the U.S. You can't get this kind of mix even in NYC, and the Richmond is considered a "homey" neighborhood in SF. This is 5-6 blocks.

                                                                                                                                                        Venture 10 blocks (+/-) to the heart of Clement and you can add 5-7 different types of cuisine. Venture to the rest of the city and there's no question. Venture to rest of the region and I just don't see comparsion in types, variety, price range and quality.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                                                                          My neighborhood of Woodside in Queens, NYC beats that. If you just replace Moroccan with Columbian, Salvadorian, Ecuadorian, Brazilian, Philippino, Cuban, Korean, Greek and many more that I probably left out. Plus Chinese supermarket, Thai grocery store, Mexican grocery store, Irish Butcher shop/deli, Phillipino grocery store, Egyptian grocery store and butchershop, Bangladeshi grocery store/butchershop, Korean supermarket (I'm probably leaving out some). And that is all without mentioning the fact that I live a block away from the best Thai in metro NY (no contest) and five blocks away from arguably the best burger in NYC. And Woodside is by no means is a commercial neighborhood and I believe by latest census figures, it's the least populated one (not too many high-rise apartment buildings, most are single or multi-family homes). Now that I wrote that, we'd probably take the per capita crown too!
                                                                                                                                                          Add to that 5-10 blocks east and west there you have Sunnyside and Jackson Heights - I'm probably covered for at least half of the World within 5-10 min walk.
                                                                                                                                                          The only thing you beat me at is the old school ice cream place.

                                                                                                                                                      2. Canton
                                                                                                                                                        Hong Kong
                                                                                                                                                        Southern France
                                                                                                                                                        Memphis, TN for Ribs!

                                                                                                                                                        1. I love Paris, London, Tokyo, Vancouver, San Francisco -- all great places to eat. That said, there's only one place I know where you can suddenly get it into your head at six o'clock in the evening to eat "X" for dinner and actually be able to find a good version of "X", and that is NYC! A magical, unique Chow city. (I am NOT a New Yorker.)

                                                                                                                                                          1. Top 10 Chowhound Cities.....from two travellers that have hit 75 countries around the globe:

                                                                                                                                                            One of our main criteria is the ability to find numerous well-cooked global cuisines in one place--with a potential for fusion and innovation.

                                                                                                                                                            1. New York
                                                                                                                                                            2. Chicago
                                                                                                                                                            3. San Francisco
                                                                                                                                                            4. Montreal
                                                                                                                                                            5. Paris
                                                                                                                                                            6. Toronto
                                                                                                                                                            7. New Orleans
                                                                                                                                                            8. Miami
                                                                                                                                                            9. Vancouver
                                                                                                                                                            10. Hong Kong

                                                                                                                                                              1. 1. Vientiane
                                                                                                                                                                2. Beijing
                                                                                                                                                                3. Mexico
                                                                                                                                                                4. Rome
                                                                                                                                                                5. Lahore
                                                                                                                                                                6. Fresno
                                                                                                                                                                7. Saigon

                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: yurasia

                                                                                                                                                                    yurasia, the east side of the Central Valley of California attracted large populations of agricultural immigrants since the gold rush in 1849, and in large enough numbers that "real" restaraunts sprang up to serve those same populations. Chinese, Mexican, Armenian, Basque, Italian, German, Swedish, and Japanese were followed by filipinos, Thais, Lao, Vietnamese, Sikhs, ...Food literacy was high in all the ethnic farming communities--and groups, by being small farm neighbors, learned from each other. Chains and fast food have diluted the works a bit in recent decades, however.

                                                                                                                                                                1. My top favorite food areas I've lived in:

                                                                                                                                                                  1. San Francisco
                                                                                                                                                                  2. Japan (lived in Ishikawa pennisula, visited Kyoto, & Tokyo)
                                                                                                                                                                  3. Boston
                                                                                                                                                                  4. Salamanca, Spain
                                                                                                                                                                  4. Bali
                                                                                                                                                                  5. Ann Arbor, Michigan
                                                                                                                                                                  6. France (Loire-et-Cher) I'd probably like it better if I wasn't a seafood/vegetarian.

                                                                                                                                                                  Not worth ranking: other cities I've lived in Michigan, Minn., Oklahoma, and Florida.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. Louisville, KY.

                                                                                                                                                                    We have an unusually high number of great, locally owned reataurants per capita.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. Lived:
                                                                                                                                                                      1. Mexico City
                                                                                                                                                                      2. NYC Metro
                                                                                                                                                                      3. DC Metro
                                                                                                                                                                      4. Boston
                                                                                                                                                                      5. Pittsburgh
                                                                                                                                                                      6. Sofia, Bulgaria

                                                                                                                                                                      Travelled (more than 5 days at each):
                                                                                                                                                                      1. Bologna/Verona
                                                                                                                                                                      2. Sydney (but will add best single meal we had down under was in Auckland)
                                                                                                                                                                      3. SF
                                                                                                                                                                      4. Chicago
                                                                                                                                                                      5. Paris
                                                                                                                                                                      6. Las Vegas
                                                                                                                                                                      7. London
                                                                                                                                                                      8. Dusseldorf/Cologne
                                                                                                                                                                      9. LA
                                                                                                                                                                      10. Phoenix

                                                                                                                                                                      Have to add - we couldn't wait to get out of Hawai'i. Not sure where y'all were eating who are praising Honolulu, but even with some decent connections, we had more misses than hits. And if I never see a macadamia nut again...

                                                                                                                                                                      1. I can't abide the thought of ranking them, the mental and culinary conundrums could take decades to resolve, but I will name my top 10 food cities:

                                                                                                                                                                        New York
                                                                                                                                                                        San Francisco
                                                                                                                                                                        Hong Kong
                                                                                                                                                                        Napa Valley

                                                                                                                                                                        Although my exploration has been limited, I was generally not as impressed with Seattle, LA, Tokyo, Venice, and Boston.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. It's hard to compare smaller cities/towns to places like New York or Chicago (I've never been to LA).

                                                                                                                                                                          So of (slightly) smaller places that I've eaten at a lot I'd rate them thusly

                                                                                                                                                                          1 Austin (a lot of variety, pretty good bbq (I'm too picky), great authentic Mexican)
                                                                                                                                                                          2 Dearborn MI (where else in the country can you get raw kibbe at a restaurant?)
                                                                                                                                                                          3 Dallas (better variety than you might think)
                                                                                                                                                                          4 St. Louis (nothing exciting, better beer than food. Plus toasted ravioli sucks)

                                                                                                                                                                          1. Toronto.

                                                                                                                                                                            This is not to say that it is the best food in the world but rather the best chowhounding city in the world (in my limited experience).

                                                                                                                                                                            1 - extremely multicultural (apparently 162 spoken languages in the city http://www.toronto.ca/quality_of_life...
                                                                                                                                                                            )2 - one of the top cities in the world for migration inflow
                                                                                                                                                                            3 - an environment that does not promote assimilation
                                                                                                                                                                            4 - and most importantly (the real edge on other great cities): a town full of foodies, leaving much unexplored territory (a Hounders heaven)


                                                                                                                                                                            (baseline: toronto, montreal, ottawa, vancouver, new york, cleveland, chicago, seattle, austin, hong kong, paris, madrid, san francisco, orlando, st louis, tokyo)

                                                                                                                                                                            1. Another nod to Philly because, in addition to great food, BYO is an option at so many places.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. Best Chowhound Cities

                                                                                                                                                                                1. Queens, New York (yes, specifically Queens, in NYC)
                                                                                                                                                                                2. Chicago (great ethnic eats)
                                                                                                                                                                                3. San Francisco (asian-latin-fusion, amazing!)
                                                                                                                                                                                4. Montreal (an old-school favorite)
                                                                                                                                                                                5. Paris (bien sur!)
                                                                                                                                                                                6. Los Angeles (particularly thai and mexican)
                                                                                                                                                                                7. Miami (latin/caribbean stronghold)
                                                                                                                                                                                8. Brooklyn, NY (another latin/caribbean stronghold)
                                                                                                                                                                                9. Hong Kong (old-school favorite)
                                                                                                                                                                                10. Vancouver (new-school favorite)

                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: gmarinic

                                                                                                                                                                                  Guangzhou, China.

                                                                                                                                                                                  You can eat anything there.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. I've never been to Asia, but...

                                                                                                                                                                                  1) The entire nation of Italy
                                                                                                                                                                                  2) New York
                                                                                                                                                                                  3) San Francisco
                                                                                                                                                                                  4) New Orleans
                                                                                                                                                                                  5) Entire nation of Mexico
                                                                                                                                                                                  6) Las Vegas

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Among cities where I've lived for at least a month:

                                                                                                                                                                                    1) Bologna - All around excellent food everywhere I went. The mortadella is incredible.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2) Hong Kong - Great street food, dim sum, seafood, and bbq, Macao is close by.

                                                                                                                                                                                    3) Shenyang, China - Excellent Korean food, dumplings, noodles, and spring rolls. Unique street food (xunrou dabing)

                                                                                                                                                                                    4) Dalian, China - Excellent seafood. You can buy an entire bbq squid on the street for 60 U.S. cents.

                                                                                                                                                                                    5) St. Paul, Minnesota - Excellent Vietnamese food. Great fried fish.

                                                                                                                                                                                    6) San Francisco - I didn't have much money when I lived here, so I couldn't go to restaurants nearly as often as I would have liked. The produce here is really excellent.

                                                                                                                                                                                    7) Bloomington, Indiana - Incredible variety for a town its size (Burmese, Tibetan, Indian, Turkish, Chinese, Korean, etc.) Also has what is arguably the best restaurant in the state (Restaurant Tallent).

                                                                                                                                                                                    8) Indianapolis, Indiana - Considering how things were when I was growing up there, things have improved a lot recently. There are some great Mexican restaurants here. The big downside is that everything is so spread out.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I would just like to add, Kansas City for the outstanding BBQ!

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I would have to second New York as high ranking and I moved to Tampa from Portland, OR and would definitely say that Portland would be much higher in rank than Tampa based on variety, quality (more locally grown foods used in restaurants) and originality (more vegi/vegan).

                                                                                                                                                                                        I also second Panini Guy's Vancouver, BC mention.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. For the cities I've lived in, I'd have to rank them...

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. San Francisco- just all around has everything. Great high-end eats, great cheap-eats, every possible ethnic food, multiple neighborhoods and styles to choose from, overall very laid back, and you can get around easily. Can't wait to move there permanently next year.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Baltimore- Always the UNDERDOG- the choices are not limitless by any means (but that can actually be nice sometimes... keep it simple) but Baltimore has at least ONE REALLY GOOD restaurant of every style, greek, thai, sushi, gourmet, southern, afghan, persian, korean, and on and on... Bicycle is the most underrated restaurant in the world... and there isn't a more welcoming big city in the country... this town will make you feel like its yours as soon as you move here.

                                                                                                                                                                                          3. Los Angeles - (Baltimore ranked above LA??!?!? just hold on).. I spent 8 years in L.A. and I felt like I never really got to know it like I know the other 5 cities on this list (although I spent less time in the others). Here's the thing, L.A. suffers immensely from its sprawl and the restaurants are just too focused on trendiness. It's just so hard to hear about a place, drive an hour to get there, park, dine, and get back home... it takes the whole night. Aside from the driving and the time, L.A. would be right on SF's heels in my books... unparalleled diversity: every imaginable Asian and Latin cuisine, the best Korean, Vietnamese, and Mexican in the country- hands down- trendys, cheaps, even italian. And little areas like are always blowing up.. like South Pasadena, Eagle Rock currently.. but overall, the difficulty in checking new places out always bothered me.

                                                                                                                                                                                          4. Philadelphia - just moved here, but great first impressions.. at the end of this year, it may move up on my list, if I have time to check things out.

                                                                                                                                                                                          5. Washington - accessibility, choices, quality, it's all here, but compared to Baltimore, Philly, LA, and SF just feels so stuffy. Overall, an UNDERachiever for being the nation's capital.

                                                                                                                                                                                          6. Boston - it'd been a decade since I left, but I don't have fond foodie memories whatsoever.. of course I was a 22 year old kid on a budget, but I left greatly disappointed... (EXCEPT for the great North End of course).

                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: galanos

                                                                                                                                                                                            1)Los Angeles-By far. Of any city lived , the depth and range of ethnic cuisine surpasses any city I've been to (sorry NYC!). This makes up for it's lack of Keller-caliber french restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2)San Francisco-It lacks range in ethnic, but the high enders make up for that. Good at all price ranges.

                                                                                                                                                                                            3)New York-high end paradise, even better than London. But ethnic, despite it's range,I was not impressed. So dominating in mediocrity over a few true gems. The chinese food is lackluster despite reputation.

                                                                                                                                                                                            4)Irvine-some good persian and a couple good chinese, but mainly chain type restaurants.
                                                                                                                                                                                            4)Pismo Beach-Ive had one of the best pizzas there, lots of good mexican, but lacking in ethnic.
                                                                                                                                                                                            5)Jacksonville-ethnic is practically nonexistent.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. 1) Has to be NYC, you can find anything and everything here.
                                                                                                                                                                                            2) Chi town, chicago. Great food and variety. If you get a chance definitely visit Taste of Chicago which happens during the end of summer. amazing food, alot of the restaurants come out.
                                                                                                                                                                                            3) ATL, this might be a suprise, but atl is moving on up. Rathburn is a signature place for contemporary American food. and you probably have heard of Bones. You can find almost any cuisine with great taste. (Might be lacking on the middle eastern a little but is getting better with restaurants like Rumi. as you can see, i am living there right now). Plus you have a great Indian Restaurants in Palace.
                                                                                                                                                                                            4) San Fran - great food and great variety. love seafood, so that was a plus.
                                                                                                                                                                                            5) Dubai - Amazing middle eastern food, but the variety is limited.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sid384

                                                                                                                                                                                              1) new york
                                                                                                                                                                                              2) los angeles
                                                                                                                                                                                              3) dallas
                                                                                                                                                                                              4) columbia