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Best food city in North America.

I know I am potentially starting a colossal debate but I am certainly interested to hear opinions and what's behind them.

My vote is for Vancouver, BC. Great ethnic, especially Chinese. Lots of really good regional as well with chefs getting many many ingredients from nearby islands, ocean, Fraser Valley and Okanagan. Wine region close too. They have it all going for them and it shows in the diversity and quality of restaurants and markets there.

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  1. I would think it would be Mexico City, hands down.

    37 Replies
    1. re: Karl S

      That is mighty generous of you. Personally, I don't know that there is a single best city. I know Mexico City & Los Angeles the best... have been to Manhattan a dozen times and am well versed there. I live near SF, but haven't really explored it much... been to Vancouver a couple of times.

      I know this... NYC is not better than Mexico City.

      Each city has its + and -... and I think it balances out. Yes, Manhattan has lots of ethnicities represented but each ethnicity tends to be represented in very shallow terms. OTOH, Mexico City represents the 100 or so Mexican Culinary Regions fairly well plus its fair shair of Non-Mexican cuisine including very, very good French, Chinese, Italian, Spanish, Lebanese, Turkish, Californian & others.

      In fact, I have to say Mexico City has a huge advantage on Spanish, Argentinian, Brazilian restaurants... and small advantage on French restaurants etc.,

      You can say Manhattan has more high end, high profile restaurants... but Mexico City has year round access to superior produce etc.,

      For all the quality places that S.F. & Vancouver have... I am not sure they have the depth or breadth that Manhattan & Mexico City have.

        1. re: Eat_Nopal

          I seriously doubt anybody who says "NYC" here means "Manhattan." Manhattan has the "scene," and that's about it. For those who don't care about the "scene," all the good eating (and affordable eating, and interesting eating, and ethnic eating...) is in the boros. Manhattan on its own would probably come in at like #7 on a list of best food cities.

          1. re: Luther

            Yeah that is very fair.... and I can't speak much about the other burroughs, my experience limited to Greenpoint & a few meals in The Bronx (the Nuyorican portion of it).

            I know that NYC has people from virtually every part of the world... but I also know that New Yorkers tolerate & support a lot of mediocre food.

            As an example, in Greenpoint alone I had decent Polish, Jamaican, Greek, Mexican & Italian food. However, co-workers of Polish, Jamaican & Italian decent pointed out to me all their complaints on why they weren't authentic.

            The Jamaican women said something about White people can't handle spice so the Jerk is very bland, the achee is low quality etc., The Polish girl complained that all they have are Pierogies, Dumplings & Stews that are prepared days ahead and just reheated. The Greek woman said she was bored that none of the places really go beyond Gyros, Salad & Baklava. The Italian loves the food, but admits it doesn't stand up to what he has in Italy. And of course, I thought the Mexican food was decent, but couldn't see them making a living in Mexico City.

            That is true of my experiences in Manhattan with Indian (even in Indian Hill), Turkish, Mexican & Chinese.

            I am not saying that there aren't great examples of those cuisines somewhere in NYC... but overall, the food that NYCers' eat on a regular basis is not executed as well good as what Chilangos (Mexico City residents) eat on a regular basis, IMHO.

            So all the variety in the world doesn't do you much, if that food isn't that good.

            1. re: Eat_Nopal

              That they complained to you about the authenticity of it has less to do with whether the food was any good and more to do with the fact that you were in New York, where you make friends by commiserating together.

              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                But you have my own analysis... the food was decent but not good. The average food in NYC is not as good as average food in Mexico City... including Italian, Chinese, Middle Eastern etc.,

              2. re: Eat_Nopal

                First of all, NYers like to complain - it's a fact. Secondly, NYC is vast. We have a variety plus quantity, and thus quality. There are of course mediocre places (I would not go to Greenpoint for Greek or Jamaican for example), if you took all the good, say, Greek restaurants from all over NYC and we probably have more per capita than any other city in NA. You have to remember that time is a commodity here in NYC, and many people choose convenience over quality sometimes (like your example of a Greek woman or a Jamaican in Greenpoint). Where I live (in Queens), I'm a stone-throw-away from the best Thai in NYC, probably the only Burmese in Queens, good Indian, good Italian (not red sauce), awesome Salvadorian (which Salvadorians like), great Mexican, very good Turkish (forget what you had in Manhattan!), great Argentinian, yummy Brazilian - the list can just go on and on... So if I want to stay in my neighborhood I stick with these places, but if I say crave Greek, I get on a subway and go to Astoria or save my craving for the next time I'm in a vicinity of a good Greek place. I'd say on a regular basis, I eat very well, and since I also try to cook at home, I can't even cover half of my neighborhood great places not to mention other boros, so I pick the best.

                As for variety of ethnic cuisines, DC and vicinity could probably beat NYC, but there, like you said, are not too many choices and the quality may suffer, but I could be wrong (I haven't eaten my way through DC yet - I know they have better ethiopean than in NY).

                1. re: welle

                  "You have to remember that time is a commodity here in NYC, and many people choose convenience over quality sometimes (like your example of a Greek woman or a Jamaican in Greenpoint)."

                  I am not willing to go out on a limb, and say Mexico City is hands down better than NYC... but I have found convenience & mediocracy to be very plentiful in NYC and that says alot about the foodiness of the city.

                  In Mexico City, there is a restaurant named Restaurante Arroyo which specializes in Central Mexican style Barbeque... particularly Lamb. The restaurant seats something like 2,000 and regularly Q's over 1,000 whole lambs in a weekend. The place - with its own bull ring & rodeo - is a real destination for locals & tourists alike.

                  A couple of American serious Bar-B-Q aficionados who've been there assure me it goes toe to toe with any of the great Q places this side of the border. In Mexico City, its not considered to even be Top 5.

                  Now, not only does Mexico City have at least 5 Barbacoa restaurants that can are very comparable to any great Q restaurant anywhere in the States, but every weekend 10s of thousands of Mexican families make the 2 hour trek to the nearby town of Texcoco to have what is considered a slightly superior Barbacoa, to that in the city.

                  That just gives you an idea of the Chowishness of the Chilangos. Examples like that abound.

                  Now its true, I don't know the boros very well. But then again I don't Mexico City's sub-urbs that well either. I know Lomas de Tlanepantla, and I know Ciudad Satelite pretty well... and have been impressed by what I have seen.

                  In Lomas de Tlane... I've had the best donut to date... simple sugar covered donut straight out of the oil at the local farmers market. At night, there are several street vendors that sell the best burger I've had... a bang up version with ground beef, chorizo & diced bacon in the patty... pan seared with a blend of worcestire sauce, soy sauce & red wine... on freshly baked buns.

                  In Satellite... I had thin crust pizza with crumbly goat cheese that would give NY a run for its money, as well as a Torta Gringa that surpasses the Cheesteaks I've had in Philly.

                  Now I know those are just little street food examples, I've given... all I am trying to say is there is a lot to D.F. beyond the famous districts as well.

                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                    "Now its true, I don't know the boros very well. But then again I don't Mexico City's sub-urbs that well either."
                    Outer boroughs are not suburbs - they are New York City.

                    1. re: welle

                      Mexico City is a Federal District... much like Washington D.C. The city doesn't stop at its legal boundary it just flows over into what were once independent cities in Mexico State. That is what I refer to as the sub-urbs... there isn't anything really sub about this highly urbanized neighborhoods. When people refer to Mexico City as the biggest on the planet... they aren't strictly referring to the Federal District (aka D.F.)... they include all the flanking urban communities.

                      I liken them to the Burroughs because... D.F. houses the business districts & touristy districts... as well as some of the urban chic, artist communities etc., The other neiborhoods of Naucalpan, Tlaneplantla, Ciudad Nezahuacoyotl etc., are were the working class folks live... similar to the relationship between Manhattan & the Borroughs... no?

                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                        New York city does have distinct boundaries and it's Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Staten Island. It does not overflow into neighboring communities of NJ, CT, Upstate NY and Long Island.

                        Artists have left Manhattan long time ago. There are business districts in Downtown Brooklyn and Long Island City of Queens. Except, maybe, for the Times Square, there is not definite 'tourist' district in NYC. There are different neighborhoods with distinct characters and visitors just come and see how we live. There are tons of tourist attractions in Outer Boroughs. Yankee Stadium and Coney Island - the two most recognizable landmarks around the World are not in Manhattan. As for urban chic, if your idea of urban chic is GAP and Banana Republic, then stay in Manhattan. Re: class thing, it's true that's increasingly harder and harder to find affordable places to live in Manhattan, but there are still middle class and poor people living there. There are also posh neighborhoods in every other boro. You need to pick up some celebrity gossip magazines to get you up to date, who lately bought a brownstone in Brooklyn.

                        1. re: welle

                          "Yankee Stadium and Coney Island - the two most recognizable landmarks around the World are not in Manhattan."

                          I like NYC... but that one had me laughing out loud. I really don't mean to be an ass... but that is pretty delusional. More recognizable then say the Statue of Liberty or the Eiffel Tower?

                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                            Statue of LIberty's not in Manhattan, either :)

                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                              I made a mistake (my head is heavily clouded from cold I'm having) - I should've written 'two of the most' and maybe yes, the most recognizable - when Japanese tourists come to NY, they request a visit to the Yankees stadium before the Statue of Liberty. I suspect thanks to Chen Ming Wa, Taiwanese do so too.

                              1. re: welle

                                that's because Hideki Matsui is the equivalent of Babe Ruth in Japan, second only to Oh as being revered. Honestly, the Yankee games are broadcast in Japan live so they can watch "Godzilla."

                                1. re: Leonardo

                                  It's in NY state, but the land is Federal. Check out the NPS site: http://www.nps.gov/stli/planyourvisit... and scroll down to "Did You Know?" blurb at the bottom of the page.

                                  1. re: welle

                                    I'm gonna go with NYC over Mexico city.

                                    First, I've rarely had food poisoning in NYC. For all my avoidance of tap water there, Mexico City got me badly when I had fresh fruit and veggies.

                                    Secondly, there is not as much food variety as one would hope. Here, in all of our boroughs, you name it, you got it: everything from French, regional italian, Greek, Chinese, Thai, to Japanese and Mexican (of course, LA beats us on these last two/three).
                                    True there are more sophisticated globally inspired fare in some of the more ritzier neighborhoods like condesa, in general, the food is of the heavier meat and starch variety. As much as I love tinga de pollo, tacos, chilaquilles, batidas, chorizo and nopales as much as any other person, I can't have these everyday. After two weeks, my stomach was craving lighter food, different flavors, and less grease.

                                    I think I'll skip the NYC landmarks comment, but vote NYC!

                                    1. re: kayonyc

                                      I think your point about variety of food is good here, kayonyc. I was thinking the same thing. What is the variety of food in Mexico City like?

                                      That's why my vote is for Los Angeles. :)

                                      1. re: katkoupai

                                        As a former Angeleno, LA is very much a part of me, but I pick NYC because aside from Thai, Japanese, Mexican and maybe Chinese, which LA does excellently, it does not do other cuisines quite so well - French, Italian, Spanish, Afghan, Turkish, Indian, Greek, Argentine, Dominican, and eastern european (I'm sure I could add more). Also, it's been my experience that there's a bigger ratio of really bad restaurants in LA. I've rarely walked into a random NYC restaurant and been so dissatisfied that I was unable to eat the food.

                                        Also, I hate driving, and proximity is an important thing for me. Most of the good eating neighborhoods are within a half hour from the middle of Manhattan. You can't beat that!

                                        1. re: katkoupai

                                          Regarding Mexico City.... variety is outstanding & astounding... of course it depends on what you mean by variety...

                                          Mexican Cuisine.... no city in the U.S. has any variety of Mexican cuisine to even begin to compare with what is available in Mexico City. For example, there are a max of 40 different Mexican concepts in L.A.... by these I mean types of eateries that vary based on what they offer (Taqueria vs Home Style vs Haute Mexican), Regional (Oaxacan vs Yucatecan etc.) & Specialty (Barbacoa Pit vs Rotisserie vs Stews) whereas in Mexico City there are 400.

                                          So when thinking about whether Mexico City has ethnic variety... you have to remember that people in Mexico aren't Mexicans they are Oaxacan Mestizos, Oaxacan Mixtecos, Oaxacan Zapotecs etc., there are hundreds of ethnicities with their own languages & cooking philosophies. Granted... Pueblan cuisine is not going to be as distinct from Oaxacan cuisine is it is relative to Mandarin cuisine.... but there are still many distinct cuisines.

                                          Mexico City is also a very cosmpolitan place with many foreign restaurants most notably Spanish, Italian, French, Argentinian, Brazilian, American, Japanese, Chinese etc.,

                                          How much depth is there amongst foreign cuisines? Maybe not as much as NYC.... but while Mexico City has 50 to 100 Chinese restaurants... I bet it has almost as many high end, top notch, innovative Chinese places as NYC or even San Gabriel Valley. Further, when it comes to Spanish, Argentine & Brazilian cuisine there isn't a single city in the U.S. that compares to Mexico City... not in numbers or quality.

                                          Finally when you stick to restaurants that only locals eat at.... you almost rarely get a mediocre meal.... that is definitely not true in L.A. or NYC.

                                          In the end.... while Mexico City may not be represented with every Asian or African cusine... it has more variety (based on the sheer quanitity of restaurants, eateries, ingredient availability etc., than any other city in North America).

                                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                            This is very interesting info about Mexico City, Eat Nopal. It makes me want to go back and check it out, again. I'm especially interested in the diversity of cuisine there.

                                        2. re: kayonyc

                                          On the food poisoning: when I worked in Mexico City for 17 months, the only time I ever got food poisoning was visiting NYC for a weekend! (I ate a hot dog from a cart at 2am -- bad idea)

                                          Food in Mexico City is phenomenal. Especially all of the varieties of food from all over Mexico. I wish we could get a quarter of that variety of "Mexican" here in the Bay Area.

                                          But if you stray from the various Latin American nationalities mentioned, it can really suck. Most memorable example was the most vile Polish restaurant in the world, which is found in DF. Other cuisines -- e.g., Japanese, Chinese -- can be good, but don't compare to the best of SF, LA or NY.

                                          BTW, I think the comparison of Estato de Mexico to Outer Borroughs is a good one.

                            2. re: Eat_Nopal

                              I'd also choose Mexico City over NYC, because in general, it is much more affordable.

                          2. re: Eat_Nopal

                            Greenport does have some great places. Skippers, Claudios The inside bar off season, O'Malleys, Fishermans Rest or a little further out Orient By the Sea

                          3. re: Luther

                            I'm glad someone beat me to the punch with this one; Manhattan is but one piece of the NYC picture.

                            To view Manhattan as being completely a "scene", however, is to discount some of the excellent African restaurants in Harlem, and some of the excellent Dominican joints in East Harlem and Washington Heights. And, although a great many hounds argue that Flushing, Elmhurst and Sunset Park have the more authentic Chinatowns, Manhattan's is certainly a growing, expanding hood with its' share of excellent choices.

                            How NYC stacks up against other cities is not something I can attest to with authority. But I sometimes suspect that it is held up to an almost impossible standard of expectations.

                          4. re: Eat_Nopal

                            In fact, I have to say Mexico City has a huge advantage on Spanish, Argentinian, Brazilian restaurants... and small advantage on French restaurants etc.,

                            Your opinion only buddy.

                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                              Eat, as others have noted, you have to distinguish between Manhattan and NYC. Certainly the best ethnic food is in the outer boroughs...

                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                If you are limiting New York to Manhattan, you are missing much of the best food available there. In addition to Manhattan, one could and can eat like a king in any of the other five boroughs. If you want to eat Brazilian, Argentinian, or any other Latin-American cuisine in New York, then you are normally best off finding your way to Queens. I won't claim to be able to compare the two cities. I've not been to Mexico City. But if all you are comparing New York based solely on what is available in Manhattan, you are really selling New York short. I have referred to Queens itself as ethnic food heaven. IMO, it is the cloest I've seen.

                              2. re: Karl S

                                When did they move Mexico City to North America?

                                1. re: PeterL

                                  Mexico is a part of North America. Farther south are Central and South America.

                                  1. re: PeterL

                                    North America is comprised of Canada, the US, and Mexico. Central America starts where Mexico ends.

                                    1. re: amyvc

                                      Actually, North American ends with Panama and South America starts with Colombia, in geographical mapping terms. Central or Meso-America is a vaguer term.

                                      There are folks who might view Canada, the USA, the Bahamas and Greenland (yes, Greenland is part of North America) as politically distinct from the Iberian-settled parts of North American, but unmodified, North America definitely includes Mexico.

                                      1. re: PeterL

                                        It's been happening over a period of time...I believe they call it "Florida" now...

                                      2. re: Karl S

                                        moto, charlie trotters, tru, alinea, trio, etc. chicago!

                                      3. If you care about the variety of ethnic food, nowhere comes close to NYC.

                                        1. San Francisco and NYC. NYC has the most famous, most expensive places, but S.F. has many very interesting places, proximity to wine country, more Pacific Rim influence, and arguably better ingredients close at hand.

                                          15 Replies
                                          1. re: sbp

                                            I think I agree with sbp, NYC has the money (arguably...) but SF has the goods.

                                            I'd also push for Vancouver BC.

                                            I'd say that LA, Seattle, Toronto, and Boston, are also strong.

                                            I'd be very happy in DC, Montreal, and Chicago also.

                                            1. re: steinpilz

                                              Thanks for including Chicago. We have Mexican and Thai markedly superior to that found in NYC - and that was reiterated to me by the MAnhattan board Chowhounds. Great Polish here, too. Good Swedish, good Vietnamese, all the really avant-garde joints, etc. Good place to live. Plus the produce in summer (from here, Wisconsin, and Michigan, primarily) is just outstanding.

                                              We want for nothing here, other than Sonoran Mexican and a decent lobster roll. :o)

                                              1. re: sundevilpeg

                                                I have visited Chicago twice... you know, I never considered that produce is great in the midwest! I feel so clueless. Are they developing the speciality produce farmers like in the SF area? I have heard that Chicago has great restaurants, like Trotter's, and plenty of money (and that it is either the largest or second largest Polish city on earth).

                                                1. re: steinpilz

                                                  Have you ever heard the term "breadbasket of America"? Midwest produce is far superior to that of California. Bets berries? Michigan. Best Tomatoes? Tennesee and Indiana. Best sweet corn? Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa.. Michigan is second only to Washington for apples. Indiana is second only to China for Ginseng. And on and on......

                                                  1. re: likeithot

                                                    I think you should reconsider your posture.... California is the leading farming state in the country. In addition, if you analyze California's harvest it includes a wide variety of fine produce, not just commodities like in certain Midwest states.


                                                    Another thing to consider is that every non-Midwesterner that goes to the Midwest tends to comment on how bad fruits & vegetables are there... so do you just export everything? If you do... where do you export to? Because it seems that in California... the Tomatoes & Berries are almost always from Mexico when they aren't local.

                                                    Finally... I don't know about Tennesee... but if the tomatos I've had in nice Chicago restaurants are anything to go by.... I don't really think Indian has much to brag about. (Now, if you can't get your tomatoes into Chicago's finest... then that is another indication).

                                                    1. re: likeithot

                                                      Boy, I sure disagree with this -- now, California doesn't have the best of everything, but they have the best of a lot of things.

                                                      Best sweet corn and tomatoes? New Jersey. No, stop, there's nothing you can say, because it's definitely, definitely New Jersey. (If you've never had sweet corn or tomatoes in New Jersey in August, it is well worth your while.) Tennessee and Indiana aren't even close.

                                                      And I like New York apples quite a lot.

                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                        Have to say that my grandma's tomatoes grown in Virginia clay were earthier and denser than NJ summers (which are the only thing that come close). But I do like NJ corn more than VA silverqueen.

                                                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                          What a coincidence.... the very first thing I ever ate in NYC was a Caprese Salad featuring NJ tomatoes.... and it happened to be in August.... my company's preffered time for me to visit the subsidiary (dirt cheap hotels).

                                                          That begin a string of successive, disappointing NJ tomato eats.

                                                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                            Well, of COURSE we send the worse tomatoes to New York... who wants to reward a place that has decided we're the red-headed stepchild?

                                                            I've actually never bought a Jersey tomato. We always -- ALWAYS -- grew them, as did all of our neighbours. As a Northerner in a Southern Italian neighbourhood, we had much fewer tomato plants than most people -- but oh, God, the taste.

                                                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                              That is not fair.... in many places people grow their own tomatoes and of course they are wonderful... but we have to keep our analysis to real, tangible, products available commercially.

                                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                I'll agree that Jersey tomatoes and corn are really great. Maybe it's just because I grew up in NJ and still visit there in the summer, but oh they're good. I've also had great corn in MA and great strawberries in Ohio, these could also be partly sentimental opinions.

                                                            2. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                              The corn and tomatoes in Pennsylvania around that time of year are pretty darn good too. Last time I was there in August the tomatoes were *much* better than anything I've ever gotten in California.

                                                              Hubby grew up in PA, and while his mother was pretty much a disaster as a cook, he still fondly remembers summer meals that consisted of just fresh-picked corn, from a little plot next to his father's workplace, and butter...

                                                            3. re: likeithot

                                                              Not too long ago, the radio (NPR, I think) had an interesting program about how states like Iowa are now importing 80% of their food. The reason is that it is much more profitable to farm corn (for all the demand now for ethanol and high-fructose corn syrup) It appears the Midwest is no longer the breadbasket of America.

                                                              1. re: HungWeiLo

                                                                While the corn/ethanol issue is... well, an issue here in Iowa, I have to tell you I just had zucchini fritters that were made ENTIRELY from not only indigenous foods but foods whose location I could pinpoint on a map. The zucch: my backyard. The eggs and cheese: farmers' market. Herbs: friends' yards. Yogurt: the Maharishi's dairy an hour away. In the summer, there are restaurants here that know where every single piece of food comes from, and most of it is super-local, if not at least from surrounding states. And Iowans have been doing this way longer than Stone Barns and all the other fancy shmancy NY restos (although not quite as long as Alice Waters). In the winter, perhaps we must go elsewhere for our food, but in the summer, man, there's nowhere I'd rather eat a BLT than on my deck in Iowa City.

                                                          2. re: sundevilpeg

                                                            We don't have good fish tacos either. At elast none that I have found.

                                                      2. New York. The greatest variety of anywhere in NA (or the world that I've been) and if you look hard enough it's authentic. Disagree about it being the most expensive, lots of fine culinary experiences if you look beyond the name brands.

                                                        1. Tough to identify the "best." I've been to many north american cities, and like sbp, I'd identify both sf and nyc as "the best," both in terms of variety and in terms of respect for food and foodways. I've lived in nyc for over 20 years, and I haven't covered the extent of the city's offerings by any means...too vast, changes so often. We're so fortunate to be a place where so many come to live and share the wealth of their knowledge and skill at food preparation.

                                                          This is a wonderful provocation, though.....

                                                          1. I am speaking only for the US, as I have not been to Mexico City or to Canada ever.
                                                            1. New York
                                                            2. Chicago
                                                            3. New Orleans (haven't been post-Katrina, but am confident that they will rebuild).

                                                            What a fun topic!

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: amyvc

                                                              Thanks for mentioning New Orleans. As I made my way down this thread, I started to worry that it would get scant or no mention at all.

                                                              New Orleans, amongst the cities mentioned, has to be one of the few that stands on its' own indigenous, completely original cuisine. As much as I love NYC, I have to admit that it is a vast collection of food from all over, whereas New Orleans stands like a funky jewel on its' own culinary island.

                                                              1. re: Polecat

                                                                NOLA, baby, NOLA all the way. Why? South Louisiana has its own indigenous, creolized cuisine (yeah, I know, Mexico City is home to another gorgeous creolized cuisine), but we also have unparalleled access to year-round, local, fresh ingredients used in traditional ways. Everything from local citrus & strawberries to year-round softshell crabs and oysters, to crawfish, backyard figs, mirliton, and an indigenous charcuterie tradition (boudin, andouille, tasso, chaurice, etc). We don't have the amazing, new-immigrant ethnic diversity of soCal or NYC, but we have a distinct cuisine all its own.

                                                                1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                                                  Did you know that the vast majority of produce consumed in Mexico City was picked within 48 hours (most within 24 hours).... similarly with meats & seafood.

                                                                  The basic life cycle is... farmer picks in the afternoon, picked up by truck in the evening... driven to Mexico City's Central de Abastos between midnight & 2 AM. Trading begins at 4 AM. By 8 AM.... all of the City's permanent mercados are stocked with fresh produce.... by 2 PM leftover produce is sold off at a fraction of the early morning price.... and room is made for next day's crop.

                                                                  Aerial Photo of Central de Abastos (where it all comes in)... about half way down on the right:


                                                              2. re: amyvc

                                                                I've eaten in a lot of places and I don't know that any have been better than New Orleans. They could make mud taste good!

                                                                1. re: likeithot

                                                                  I travel quite a bit with my job, and one of the perks of this is my abiltiy to sample the cuisine in cities all over North America. And I have to admit there are few place that I get excited to eat in as much as New Orleans. The food is unlike anything you find anywhere else. No restaurant outside of NOLA can produce cajun or creole that comes even close in quality.

                                                                  The thing about New Orleans is that it lacks the culinary diversity that you might find in Chicago, New York, etc. The nature of ethnic centric neighborhoods in those cites has produced some amazing food of just about any type. I love these places for this very reason. I often order or bring home smoked fish from New York, because I have not found a good substitue anywhere else.

                                                                  The Pacific Northwest has a cuisine all its own. There is often a heavy Asian influce combined with the amazing produce that is found in this region. Midwest berries are nice, but the berries of the Pacific Northwest are mind blowing.

                                                                  San Francisco is my favorite culinary spot on California. I have found that chefs there seem to experiment more, and there is often interesting twists placed on simple foods that make them memorable and exciting. The use of the local produce and readily available seafood makes it a "must" on any culinary tour.

                                                                  I could go on and on, but the point I'm making is that it is hard for me to lable just one city as a "best" because each area has food that is so independent of any other region. A "best" label is purely subjective and not any one city can be universally deemed what all people must do. The precise reason we enjoy and frequent these cities is for their culinary offerings that attracts us and our individual tastes.

                                                                1. Fresno, California. Before you laugh, let me say why. Fresno is in the agricultural heartland of the universe. As a result every immigrant group has come in numbers, each setting up restaurants that had to cater to thir own people, in turn creating genuine and quality outputs. When I was a kid, food awareness was better in Fresno than in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                    I see where you're coming from! I'm an Angeleno, and I've got to say, it's impossible to find some of the stuff you can readily get in Fresno, such as good Laotian food.

                                                                  2. Loved Vancouver, like the Bay Area very much. However, NYC - and by that, I mean the whole city, not just Manhattan - would still be my choice. The vast range of good food options at every price level is endlessly rewarding.

                                                                    1. My top 5

                                                                      1) New York
                                                                      2) San Francisco
                                                                      3) Chicago
                                                                      4) New Orleans
                                                                      5) Miami

                                                                      1. Before I post my list, let me just explain my bias -- I don't care about fancy Michelin food. I don't eat it very often because it's bad for the pocketbook and I'm always uncomfortable.

                                                                        Thus, my preference is for a city with the best down-and-dirty cheap holes in the wall, thus:

                                                                        1. Los Angeles
                                                                        2. New York
                                                                        3. Toronto
                                                                        4. Chicago
                                                                        5. Miami

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                          If you are going on street food, holes in the wall etc., I think there is no city that even begins to compare with Mexico City. I believe the estimate lies at something like 100,000+ vendors offering a huge variety of fabulous tasting food, for rock bottom prices.

                                                                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                            I haven't been to Mexico City, except the airport on the way to Tuxtla Gutierrez, so I can't compare -- but I will say that Mexico City's the largest conurbation in the world so it wouldn't shock me.

                                                                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                              Even the airport has some great chow. In the domestic flights concourse at the end where the little bus station is at, there is a health food restaurant that makes a salad called "Estrombotica" with baby spinach, marinaded musrooms & a jocoque dressing that would make Mario Batagli squeal. The same place has great Cactus juices & entrees, and decent raw foods desserts.

                                                                          2. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                            one of Das 'Geek's homegirls representing for LA! whassUUUUUP!!!1!eleven :)

                                                                            seriously. I've been to all of the faves on the list except for Mexico City, and my not-so-little burg is the BEST.

                                                                          3. Okay, I'm gonna represent Boston. Fresh local seafood, a wide range of ethnic 'neighborhoods' ranging from szechuan to Irish to Italian to Boricua to Portugeuse to French Canadian to Russian and...it's mostly walkable.

                                                                            12 Replies
                                                                            1. re: thegolferbitch

                                                                              Well, I live in the Boston area and wouldn't want to live many other places, but what I will say is that Boston has a wonderful array of three-star experiences (much better than many more prominent chow cities in that regard), a limited (albeit quite nice) array of four-star places that merit the stars and the $$, and good but unevenly distributed chow. I don't think it ranks with places like Mexico City, LA, NYC, Montreal, Vancouver, et cet. Rather, it's a delightful provincial capital, as it were, and that's what most of us love about it.

                                                                              1. re: thegolferbitch

                                                                                There isn't a single notable Szechuan restaurant within walking distance of the downtown area (let's say, around North or South Stations).

                                                                                There is nowhere to get good, cheap (like, takeout), freshly made fish and chips. There used to be.

                                                                                There are less than 5 great pizza places, and less than 15 good ones.

                                                                                Having lived there most of my life, the idea that Boston is the best food city, even within the Eastern US, is laughable.

                                                                                1. re: Luther

                                                                                  Well said, Luther. I was born & raised here in Boston and love much about it including the food, but it doesn't make my top 3, and I've never been to S.F., L.A. or Mexico City.


                                                                                  1. re: Luther

                                                                                    I think if you're going to rate each city by whether you can walk to a Szechuan restaurant from downtown you can take most cities off the list. Most good eats in NYC are in the burroughs, LA without a car isn't very chow worthy.

                                                                                    I don't travel out west enough to comment, but Boston has a very diverse and accessable restaurant scene. I think there is a serious lack of mid-range options though.

                                                                                    btw I think Courthouse seafood has a very passable fish and chips special for 5 or 6 dollars

                                                                                  2. re: thegolferbitch

                                                                                    I love Boston... just not a great food city. Yes, a great place for lobsters. The restaurant scene in Boston needs a lot of help.

                                                                                    1. re: WineTravel

                                                                                      There is no restaurant scene in Boston. A a few good places, scant excellent places and a plethora of medicore to abysmal places. Service is horrible in Boston restaurants, at least in most restaurants until you get to the Oak Room, L'espalier, Locke Ober level. Why the heck would I listen to a pimply face 20 year try to recommend a bottle of wine to go with a $40 entree!?!?! Until Boston learns service, the restaurant scene will never get off the ground.

                                                                                      1. re: jjbourgeois

                                                                                        Exactly... those that think Boston is a rockin restaurant town... don't travel.

                                                                                        1. re: WineTravel

                                                                                          I'm impressed by the enthusiasm of the Boston board and (for me) the large number of restaurants/cuisines in Boston (compared to >95% of locales in the US).

                                                                                          RE:jjbourgeios, I'm trying to decide if service has ever really mattered to me: a friendly and attractive woman who isn't rude and can answer questions seems suficient for moi. What is it about service that is important to you? (um, who cares what a 20yo thinks anyway, I've got my own opinions - sort of like cooking at home vs bothering with a restaurant in the first place)

                                                                                    2. re: thegolferbitch

                                                                                      I am also from Boston, but have lived in Montreal and elsewhere and hands down Montreal beat Boston. There is no comparison. I would also put Philly there, there are some great spots for the size.

                                                                                      1. re: MaggieMuffin

                                                                                        philly is three times the size of boston and smaller than montreal. for the record.

                                                                                        1. re: mazza3

                                                                                          Not so, the metro areas of each, which is really the only valid comparison, since we are talking about a market areas or economic areas rather than artificial city boundries, are Boston, around 5.8 mill, nearly the same for Phila, and Montreal about 3.7 mill. This from person who has lived in all three and is a city planner, extremely familiar with census data and usage. NY CMSA clocks in around 21 mill. See tab 8 at http://www.census.gov/population/www/...

                                                                                      2. Totally cool to see Mexico City get it's due -- it's got great food.

                                                                                        For depth of quality and range of ethnicities, I'd gotta go for SF.

                                                                                        But for the one place I dream of going back to all the time just to eat -- Kansas City (best BBQ in the world).

                                                                                        Those of you voting for Vancouver, I just don't get it -- bland city, imho.

                                                                                        1. It's geographically considered part of North America, yes; the only difference between it and Baffin Island is that it's an autonomous part of Denmark, while Baffin Island is part of Canada yet still has Elizabeth II as its Queen. Iceland, which rides the plate shift of the mid-Atlantic, is the frontier of Europe. Greenland is clearly in the North American Plate.

                                                                                          As for food, other than Inuit and Danish food, I would imagine the best food would be US navy ships visiting....

                                                                                          1. Looks like Portland, Oregon is creeping closer to a top spot, if not perhaps there already. San Francisco is of course great, but LA is the best overall eating spot - or, rather, collection of eating spots - I've ever inhabited. Vancouver might have more high-end Chinese restaurants, but we've got everyone beat for great Chinese food in all categories, and most other Asian cuisines as well. NYC has us beat for Greek and Italian, and I've given up on trying to find decent cornbread here, but for Asian and Mexican (and points south), and for American diner grub, this is the place to be.

                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                              Yeah, I'd put in my vote for Portland. You can get just about any kind of food there, and it's good, plus if you're inclined to try your hand at cooking just about any of it, you can get the ingredients easily.

                                                                                              The only thing I'd say maybe falls short is pizza, but I think my tastes are warped in that area since I grew up in Pizza Hut country.

                                                                                              1. re: revsharkie

                                                                                                Are you saying that Apizza Scholls, Ken's Artisan Pizza, and Nostrana don't measure up to PIZZA HUT?

                                                                                                1. re: Nettie

                                                                                                  No, indeed! I'm saying that, having had nothing BUT Pizza Hut for most of my formative years, I'm not really in a position to give a credible opinion on what actually constitutes good pizza!

                                                                                              2. re: Will Owen

                                                                                                Portland has the worst Chinese food on the west coast. Chinese people in Portland make 14-hour round trip drives to Vancouver to eat lunch - it's that bad.

                                                                                                1. re: HungWeiLo

                                                                                                  Or maybe Vancouver is that good.

                                                                                                2. re: Will Owen

                                                                                                  You need to re-look at Vancouver (and Richmond) if you think Portland has Vancouver beat for great Chinese food in all categories... also: Japanese (Sushi, Izakaya, etc), Vietnamese, Cambodian, Thai, Malaysian, and Korean... Vancouver > Portland.

                                                                                                3. I'm not a world traveler at any rate, but I would like to put Buffalo out there for your consideration. Now...before you start laughing, and wonder what else there is to eat in Buffalo besides chicken wings...I can assure you that we have not only our share of ethnic restaurants...from Italian to Korean to Puerto Rican...even Somalian food!
                                                                                                  We can boast one of the top 10 steak houses in the country, EB Greens, as noted by Tom Horan in his list of "America's Top Ten Steakhouses".
                                                                                                  The advantage of the beautiful view of Lake Erie from many of our lakeside restaurants also makes dining in this area a wonderful experience. Although we aren't on the ocean, our closeness to the East Coast allows us fresh seafood quite easily.
                                                                                                  I hope to be able to travel to many of the places you all have mentioned on the list...especially Mexico City, and Kansas City. If you're looking for a suprising experience...consider coming to Buffalo! :-)

                                                                                                  1. Basically there's "dining", "eating", produce and industry (coffee, chocolate, etc.). Any city will do these four differently. Then there's the hardcore foodie vs. the lightweight foodie perspctive. It's an endless debate (but fun and provincial) so I'd ask, what's the criteria???

                                                                                                    In the least strict criteria, the "popular" question is what city/metro area do people WANT to visit mostly for the food? Or what city would you travel to as a pure food trip?

                                                                                                    My bias response would be: New Orleans and San Francisco

                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                      If selecting by your criteria, I'd probably choose KSMO (never been), as a pure food trip city. Just because I have no idea what they have there besides some mean BBQ (sorry KC, but I may learn in between my que tastings what your find city has to offer). My 'mostly for the good' trip city would probably be Philly - great food intercepted by occasional art and historic excursions...

                                                                                                      1. re: welle

                                                                                                        good call on Philly -- there are some great restaurants there (and rodin).

                                                                                                        I've found terrific music (blues, jazz) in KC to go with the 'que. Basically, sleep all day, eat and dance all night

                                                                                                        1. re: orangewasabi

                                                                                                          I'll second Philly- though i don't live there anymore, I love coming home to visit. Always new restaurants, and you CANNOT beat Le Bec Fin. Best mix of high style culinary excursions and low budget classics (hello Cheesesteaks).
                                                                                                          My top five would have to be:
                                                                                                          1. Los Angeles
                                                                                                          2. NYC (Shout out to Jackson Heights)
                                                                                                          3. Vancouver
                                                                                                          4. Philly
                                                                                                          5. Chicago

                                                                                                    2. I think it depends to a large degree on what kind of food you prefer. Here's my rough breakdown:

                                                                                                      For upscale: NYC

                                                                                                      For moderately priced: San Francisco and Chicago

                                                                                                      For ethnic: Los Angeles

                                                                                                      1. To quote that great philosopher i-do-not-know-aclese, "it depends".

                                                                                                        Does NY have some great steak places, yup, but name a good fried clam place. Does greater boston have some great fried clams yup, but name a good hot dog. DOes chicago have a good hot dog, yup, but name a good rib joint. Does dallas have a good rib joint, yup, but name a good fancy pizza place. Does SF have a good fancy pizza place, but does it have a good whatever.

                                                                                                        Yes, each will have an Italian, Chinese, French, etc. range of restos, and each will have its own pluses and minuses with respect to certain foods (for example cheese steak and Philly).

                                                                                                        So the key is to find the great food each city has to offer and go for it.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                                                                          Well spoken, jfood! While great dining (and even "eating") in most large cities is a given, some smaller cities have some great restos as well. The poster mentioning Buffalo comes to mind.

                                                                                                          Got me thinking...Here in the Syracuse area we have our share of chains, but we also have really good Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Polish, Mexican, Italian, and other ethnic joints. It's not hard to find a good steak, hot dog, wings, or ribs. In the mood for good diner food, we have that, too. And I just discovered a deli that makes a passable clam roll.

                                                                                                          One of my friend's kids (who actually has some pretty good taste) went to college in Albany. While he prefers the "action" in Albany to here, he said we had a lot better restaurants .

                                                                                                        2. Terribly unfair question.

                                                                                                          I've lived in New York (upstate & Manhattan), Washington D.C, Los Angeles and San Francisco. I see greatness and mediocrity in any city. Variety of cuisines and people's attitude toward food are important, and all of these cities satisfy these requirements.

                                                                                                          If I had to generalize, Washington D.C. wasn't as sophisticated as the rest on average. This was late 90's and the scene might have changed a little. In any case, I could always count on good Afghan food, among others.

                                                                                                          I also like Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Las Vegas, Boston, Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia, Baltimore... but I can't pick just one, although I have to say Vancouver is really up there. I've never been to New Orleans or Mexico City, so I wouldn't know.

                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: grocerytrekker

                                                                                                            I considered Seattle and Portland before moving on to Montreal, Chicago and the rest... but after adding all the other cities I forgot about them. They belong on the list, too, of course.

                                                                                                            I was surprised to like Portland more than Seattle.

                                                                                                            I still have fond memories of Jake's crawfish. Hanging out at Powell's Books. New creative restaurants. Livable, optimistic. Ethnic food? I tried the Old Chinatown. Bad choice - the eerily deserted streets still give me nightmares. Didn't even try the "real" Chinese food elsewhere after that experience.

                                                                                                            I liked the Seattle downtown. My problem was that it closed down way too early. Pike Place - so alive during the day, then things went dead at night. A major requirement for a food city would have to be "walkability". For example, Vancouver downtown is most delightfully walkable at night - a contrast to Seattle.

                                                                                                            I was sick with envy while visiting their Granville Island market (by water taxi!). This was before the SF Ferry Plaza farmers' market opened (phew), so we'll see how I feel the next time I visit Vancouver.

                                                                                                            1. re: grocerytrekker

                                                                                                              I've visited both Granville and Ferry Plaza Market a bunch of times and I love both but Granville is bigger, much less snooty and has lots more interesting little vendors. Plus Granvile has the best pie shop ever.

                                                                                                              Portland really is amazing in this quiet sort of way. slightly outside of portland there was a decent dim sum joint that opened last time i went. it was packed w/ chinese. it wasn't vancouver but it was alright. i think portland is definitely a rising star with all the money that is flowing in from tech companies nearby.

                                                                                                              -- but i've also had amazing gnocchi in portland, lovely little lunches with local greens and meats that would make a Frisco resident green with envy, and yes Powell's books. sigh.

                                                                                                          2. I'll limit it to the U.S.

                                                                                                            1) New York City
                                                                                                            2) Chicago
                                                                                                            3) Las Vegas
                                                                                                            4) San Francisco

                                                                                                            1. Limited to the US, in no particular order:
                                                                                                              New Orleans

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: Leonardo

                                                                                                                Portland? I love Portland, but it lacks good Greek, French, Italian, and BBQ!

                                                                                                              2. okay, I gotta know re Vancouver . . . are you seriously finding the food better than SF who also has the ocean, and the vineyards and the Asians and the agriculture?

                                                                                                                12 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: orangewasabi

                                                                                                                  Can't speak from personal experience with the food, but Vancouver has the ocean and a large Asian population. Their Chinese food, for example, is legendary...

                                                                                                                  1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                    that's what I don't get. The chinese food in Van is no better than Toronto or San Fran or LA, imho. Yet these places have the oceans and large asian populations PLUS a buncha other types of good food.

                                                                                                                    1. re: orangewasabi

                                                                                                                      Toronto has an ocean?

                                                                                                                      Vancouver has it too -- and while their local produce doesn't have SF's growing season, the restaurants in Van have, I've found, made better use of it without running to weird non-local things.

                                                                                                                      Also I find that the restaurants in Vancouver are more accessible to the population at large -- with certain exceptions there's not the massive problem of not being able to get into the good restaurants.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                        sorry - not clear.
                                                                                                                        what I was trying to say is Van's chinese food is equal to many other cities.

                                                                                                                        and among some of those cities are some cities that have additional great foodie features.

                                                                                                                        it's an interesting point that you make though, that Van's restaurants are more acessible.

                                                                                                                        1. re: orangewasabi

                                                                                                                          I bet if you ask the Chinese they would say Vancouver, With more Chinese in that city than probably any other North American city. Richmond (a district in the GVA) has streets, entire streets and neighborhoods with no English writing anywhere, and it's not even Chinatown.
                                                                                                                          The point made about the local product is a good one, too, with a regional food and wine scene built deeply into the culture. Why is French food better in France? French meats, vegetables and dairy products used in the preparation. It makes a difference. I challenge anyone to show me a city better situated for regional cuisine on this continent, what with temperate farmland, oceans, vineyards, rainforests, and fresh water streams and lakes within 200 km. of the city center.

                                                                                                                                1. re: formerlyfingers

                                                                                                                                  " show me a city better situated for regional cuisine on this continent, what with temperate farmland, oceans, vineyards, rainforests, and fresh water streams and lakes"

                                                                                                                                  portland! we have great regional and seasonal food and drink!!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: formerlyfingers

                                                                                                                                    Yeah, the richmond district is amazing. just amazing. ten times better than most of the chinese food i've ever had in the states and I live in L.A. which is the closest runner up. frisco has a couple of decent places but nothing of the caliber that could compete with Vancouver's best.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: formerlyfingers

                                                                                                                                      I would guess that the San Gabriel Valley in the Los Angeles Area has a larger Chinese than all of Vancouver. If you count the entire Los Angeles metropolitan area, I'm sure there are definitely more than Vancouver. Nevertheless, my some of my Chinese friends believe that dim sum in better in Vancouver, as it has more Hong Kong immigrants, while the SGV is better for Chinese cuisines in general. I haven't had dim sum in Vancouver, but I've had it in Hong Kong before. It was comparable to those in the SGV. On the other hand, it was much easier to find parking in the SGV. :-)

                                                                                                                            1. re: orangewasabi

                                                                                                                              There are more Asian people in Vancouver than SF. Also, I have friends who live in SF that take their "food vacations" to Vancouver.

                                                                                                                              Here is my list:

                                                                                                                              San Francisco
                                                                                                                              New York

                                                                                                                            2. D.C. is a town where you can find anything, and, if you know folks, you can find anything done exceptionally well. I'd put it well ahead of Portland and New Orleans in terms of breadth. The latter two may have some better examples of a particular cuisine, but can't touch D.C. for variety, IMO.

                                                                                                                              I'd go:
                                                                                                                              1. Metro NYC
                                                                                                                              2. Chicago
                                                                                                                              3. DC
                                                                                                                              4. Los Angeles
                                                                                                                              5. If on budget: New Orleans. If no budget: Las Vegas

                                                                                                                              Lived in the D.F. for a year back in the 90's. Never had really good Chinese or French (not saying it wasn't there, we just never found it), but had astounding sushi in Polanco - all sorts of bits of huachinango, plus the fresh water eel was better than anything I've tasted in the US (admittedly, haven't been to Masa). And nothing beats D.F. street food, at least not in No. America.

                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                                                                                Yep..Las Vegas has some mighty fine eats!

                                                                                                                                1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                                                                                  What does "Metro NYC" mean? You mean you want to include the NJ, Westchester, Long Island suburbs? IMO, New York City can stand on its own.

                                                                                                                                2. From my travels here is my list......

                                                                                                                                  New orleans

                                                                                                                                  Ive never been to Mex City so i cannot rate it.

                                                                                                                                  1. I don't think I have ever heard of anyone who has EVER traveled to Washington, DC, for the food.
                                                                                                                                    There are some good restaurants, but they are not destinations. Not Top 10 lists.
                                                                                                                                    No one is mail ordering food from purveyors in DC.
                                                                                                                                    When the local newspaper ran a contest to name the "local food specialty," the winner was the Half Smoke.

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                      Personally, I enjoy going there for the food. Gee, do I want to eat something from the Ivory Coast or something from Patagonia? I can find either.

                                                                                                                                      Certainly more breadth than most other cities simply because of the cultural mix. Maybe not concentrated in Latin or Asian, but it offers every option out there - only matched by NYC. Furthermore, it is by far the best city for on the fly cabbie recommendations - there are probably 100 different nationalities of cabbies and every one of them knows the best joints representing their homeland's cuisine.

                                                                                                                                      Heck, we even just bump into places without trying. On our last trip to visit pals at murky coffee in Capitol Hill, we stopped in at Montmarche, a bistro next door, for a leisurely Sunday brunch. It was wonderful. As good as any small bistro I've been to recently in NY, Boston or Chicago. And we weren't looking for it. No reservations.

                                                                                                                                      But that's just me. I don't recall seeing "top 10 restaurants" in the criteria of the original post. But I'll toss out Citronelle for one. And I'd guess you could include P. O'Connell's little B&B. Heck, if you went by Gourmet Magazine's top 50, there are as many top places in DC as in Portland (OR or ME), New Orleans, Boston, Philly - or even Chicago.

                                                                                                                                    2. Chicago? Personally I've never been so can't offer an opinion on that one, but I thought that most food critic-types usually award NYC, SF and New Orleans as the top three. I'm surprised to see so many people listing Chicago in their top three. Can anyone explain why they think it's such a great food city. And I'm by no means doubting you all, because I've never been. Just really curious and would love to hear your thoughts!

                                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Newkie

                                                                                                                                        Chicago (this is just a flavor; I can't possibly be all inclusive):

                                                                                                                                        High-end innovative: Alinea (recently voted best restaurant in the country by, I think, Gourmet), Moto (techno-food), Avenues (great chef)

                                                                                                                                        Highend American: Trotter's, Tru
                                                                                                                                        Highend French: Everest, Les Nomades, Le Francais (along with a plethora of midlevel French bistros)
                                                                                                                                        Innovative American and fusion cooking: Many small restaurants of high quality in the West Loop and Near North areas, such as Blackbird, Schwa, Sweets & Savories, Green Zebra, etc. etc.

                                                                                                                                        Strong ethnic presences:

                                                                                                                                        Italian (from perhaps the the best Italian restaurant in the Midwest, Spiaggia, to a host of midlevel regional Italian restaurants--Follia, Merlo, Vivere--to innumerable neighborhood spots).

                                                                                                                                        Mexican: Perhaps the best in the USA, starting with Bayless's signature restaurants to several upscale establishments to many represented regions in the neighborhoods, to perhaps the best Mexican street food in the country every Sunday on Maxwell Street. MIA, tho: Tex-Mex.

                                                                                                                                        Thai: From the highend Arun's to a huge number neighborhood establishments, often with their own Thai menus.

                                                                                                                                        Greek: Greektown, with probably the largest concentration of midlevel Greek restaurants in the country.

                                                                                                                                        Represented ethnicities:

                                                                                                                                        Eastern European: Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Lithuanian, scattered throughout the city and nearby burbs, with an occasional Romanian and Bosnian joint thrown in

                                                                                                                                        Vietnamese: Argyle street is ofen called "Little Saigon"

                                                                                                                                        Chinese: Not comaparable to SF, but a presence with Szechwan and Mandarin cuisines well-represented.

                                                                                                                                        Indian: Devon Avenue and surroundings devoted to the cuisines of the subcontinent.

                                                                                                                                        Well, I could throw out more (Ethiopia, Columbia, Peru, Lebanon, etc., etc.), But note, I haven't even gotten to the steakhouses, Chicago pizza, hot dogs, or Italian beef.

                                                                                                                                        Suffice to say, there are weaknesses (no high end Chinese like Vancouver, and I'd be careful where I'd order my crabs and oysters) but enough of a presence at almost every level to be a top contender on any listing.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: jbw

                                                                                                                                          I haven't been to Chicago in years, but thank you, I am going to bookmark your reply for my next visit!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                            Do to immigration patterns Bosnian, Bulgarian and Polish have been gaining in Chicago while Hungarian and German have been shrinking. The last Hungarian restaurant in Chicago proper closed a few months ago (replacement is Mexican) although there are some in suburbs.

                                                                                                                                            Good ethnic food, mostly pretty inexpensive, absolutely requires getting out of the downtown, touristy and yuppie neighborhoods. Some is pretty well located for access via el, but most really requires a car. Look in lthforum.com for the scattered obscure stuff. You will be amazed at how much is out there.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Eldon Kreider

                                                                                                                                              Paprikash moved to Arlington Heights. My husband (100% Hungarian) just went back to Chicago for business and ate at the new location. He said the food is just as good, the ambiance better than the Diversey location.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: cheetobrain

                                                                                                                                                Technically, the new owners of Paprikash opened a second restaurant in Arlington Heights and then closed the Chicago location about a year later. Ownership changed in late 2004. There were downhill alerts on both Chowhound and LTHForum. The former owners now have Epicurean Hungarian Restaurant in another suburb, Hillside. For more information, see http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?... An old link to the Chowhound alerts doesn't work while the search function doesn't produce anything after the ownership change except for noting that the new owners are Bulgarian.

                                                                                                                                      2. This Portlander visited my gf in DC four times in 2006. I fail to see what the relative hubub is about re its merits.

                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: Leonardo

                                                                                                                                          What were you looking for and why didn't you find it appealing?

                                                                                                                                          I can only answer for me. I admit I don't give LA a chance. When I'm there, I'm looking for Mex or Cal-Mex mostly because I don't get to eat decent Mex where I live. When I'm in SF, I'm looking for Chinese or high end (I'll call SF and LA even with NY for Japanese but would choose NY for Indian). When I'm in Seattle... well, next time I'll keep going north to Vancouver. And Portland? Never been, but with all I've read, seems to me there are a growing number of chefs trying things because they can, not because they should. Not sure where the "center" is in Portland.

                                                                                                                                          Again, in NY or DC, I can get anything I want. Anything. Usually cooked pretty well.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                                                                                            I dunno... having lived in the East Bay (which is merely Pig Latin for "beast") and in LA, I might have to hand the Chinese food crown to LA for the insane wonder that is the San Gabriel Valley.

                                                                                                                                            New York is right up there too -- the #7 train makes me salivate just thinking about all the food at the end.

                                                                                                                                        2. This sort of debate is potentially endless because we haven't defined what "best food city" means. There really isn't a Best Food City, I don't think - obviously, for Eat-Nopal, it'd be Mexico City (something we might have guessed from his/her name!). For me, my favourite food cities to eat are NYC (where I live, so I know where to go), Chicago (which is just incredibly dynamic, a really exciting food city), Las Vegas (money pouring in, demand fueling good stuff, although away from the glittery bits, the food culture is lacking) and finally San Francisco (which has the produce and the audience, but I think has much of its fine dining enmired in the legacy of Alice Waters).

                                                                                                                                          If I were allowed to eat only at food carts, for example, or Thai restaurants, the cities and their order would be different.

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: Jaze

                                                                                                                                            As the original poster, I intentionally didn't clarify criteria for what makes a city the best. My hope was to bring out the best arguments for different places from individual perceptions, after all ,isn't that what makes eating so enjoyable? If nothing else it makes me want to keep travelling and eating. My personal feelings are that a city or region is defined by it's use of regional products, thereby developing a true local cuisine. We see this represented in the tradition of Montreal and New Orleans, but recently, in the last 15 years or so, Vancouver has really exploded with local purveyors and their products winding up on local plates. That excites me. How well a city executes it's ethnic is also a big consideration for me. Ethnic should be authentic. Period. Not touristy or well intended for the crowds, but real and genuine, and hopefully packed with whatever ethnicity is represented. Vancouver is a MAJOR Asian port outlet, it's harbour a veritable Chinese market, thereby bringing Chinese goods and foods from the source, to be handled by the experts.

                                                                                                                                          2. Its truly funny how so many dismiss Mexico City without ever having been. Its very hard to explain, but you have to see it for yourself and explore it, before we can even begin to discuss.

                                                                                                                                            Its one thing for people to give their reasons why NYC, S.F., LA, or even Vancouver s/b ahead of Mexico City etc., But once you start listing places like Portland, Miami (which I know well) or New Orleans... its a joke.

                                                                                                                                            Mexico City has so much going on... you can almost fit all of S.F. in just one of the sub-urbs, there is a lot of positive fallout from being the largest city in the world, one with a lot of history, a lot of immigrants, and a lot of money.

                                                                                                                                            For those that dismiss it, because its a poor country... you have to remember that Mexico is the 10th largest economy in the world... and Mexico City by itself is the 30th largest economy.... bigger than many Asian & European countries.

                                                                                                                                            Mexico is a very wealthy country, that happens to have a lot of very poor people co-exisiting with the vast wealth. Mexico City is not just a population & economic behemoth... its also a cultural behemoth... in dimensions that even New Yorkers cannot fathom. Consider that it has well over 100 museums, and they all survive without any government funding. Over 200 Art Galleries. It has a dozen, world class "classical" music venues (Philharmonics, Chamber, Symphonic, Opera etc.,)... and as oppossed to their counterparts in Manhattan, Milan & Berlin... they survive without public funding. Most countries in Europe can't boast even 5 world class classical music venues.

                                                                                                                                            These dimensions extend to food as well. You can't really comprehend it until you have been to the Central de Abastos, or Mercado de la Merced... then when you feast eyes on the greatest variety of produce & beasts you've ever seen in one place.... with dozens of varieties you've never even heard of.... then you can begin to acknowledge its rightful place.

                                                                                                                                            Again... I am not going to say its hands down the best in North America because its so subjective.... and I don't know enough about other cities to make a fair comparison.

                                                                                                                                            But I do know a couple of things... I lived in L.A. 20+ years... and L.A. doesn't even begin to compare with Mexico City. I've been to NYC about 10 times... and from what I have experience I really doubt NYC is better than Mexico City.

                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                              Nicely written. Passionate and factual. I love eating in Mexico City as well, and could agree with its being #1. My only concern is that it takes so long to get anywhere in the city.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                                What is amazing to me about Mexico City is not just how incredible good Mexican food is -- from street fruit salads to high end specialty fish. But also how many other ethnicities are well represented. One of the top 10 best Italian meals of my life was had in Mexico City, really great Chinese etc. It seems to really nurture great food both at the high end and at the low end

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                                  Well, you'll just have to lead us all on a food tour of Mexico City, then! I'd do the same for nyc.....

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                                    Yes. I'll be there in 3-4 weeks. You on 280 ninth and owas?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                                      I love San Francisco, and I'm a native of NYC, but I'd be delighted to roam México City with you, Eat_Nopal, in search of the best street food and regional cuisine.

                                                                                                                                                    2. I understand those who say NYC has great high-end dining, but best ethnic food in North America? That I don't get. The best Chinese restaurants in NYC would be utterly ordinary in any of the major West Coast cities. Every once in a while you hear about some secret Manhattan taco joint (go down to the basement, hang a left, through the kitchen, secret handshake, etc.) and I have to chuckle. The list goes on. NYC is great by many measures, but it comes up short in the breadth, depth, and quality of ethnic cuisines compared to many other cities.

                                                                                                                                                      I mean no offense, but really!

                                                                                                                                                      1. Seems to me a criteria is needed. Here's what I have (you can make your own of course):

                                                                                                                                                        High end dining - $$$$, fine dining (winner: NYC)
                                                                                                                                                        Mid range dining - $$-$$$, quality but casual (winner: SF)
                                                                                                                                                        Low end - $, it's the food (winner: SF)
                                                                                                                                                        Diverse cuisines - Ethnic or otherwise (tie: NYC, LA, SF)
                                                                                                                                                        Baked goods - breads, cakes, desserts (toss-up, v. provenical)
                                                                                                                                                        Produce (winner: SF noses out LA given Alice Waters grow local)
                                                                                                                                                        Other food industries (winner: SF, wine, coffee/Peets, artisan goods)

                                                                                                                                                        SF wins in my book. 4 out of 7 wins, 1 tie, 1 toss-up. I could see only 3 out of 7...but no other city comes gets three.

                                                                                                                                                        19 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                                                                          I'll give you that SF has a hell of a lot of artisans... well, let's call a spade a spade and say "artisan freaks" because you have to be somewhat of a freak to have singleminded passion for one item like that. It's a good freak thing.

                                                                                                                                                          I would say, though, that the Pacific NW has the artisans in perhaps more number than the Bay Area -- but not all the ethnic food that makes SF good. (LA is still better for ethnic food but doesn't have all the artisanal products.)

                                                                                                                                                          It makes me happy to be able to have this discussion about whether SF or LA or Seattle best represents the West Coast, because it means they're all good... something that was in serious doubt in, say, 1953.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                                            Haha, artisan freak is a fair term having met some of them. Definately glad they're doing their thing but they often have that weird OCD glint in their eye.

                                                                                                                                                            I do agree that LA has fresher ethnic due to size, immigrant population size advantage and the geography/landscape makes the start-up easier (which brings volume and variation)...but the upscale ethnic/cross over artisan factor is better in SF. That's why I called it a tie.

                                                                                                                                                            I grew up in L.A. so I have no problems with it and see the good (and not so good) but now I'm a Bay Area type (non-freak) so I have a bias but it's all good.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                                              There are some things I love about Frisco (including calling it "Frisco") but when the people there start talking about how diverse and wonderful their ethnic food offerings are, I can't answer because I'm too busy laughing my @&& off.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: choctastic

                                                                                                                                                                Why? The population of the Bay Area is hugely diverse and I think the food reflects that. I am truely confused as to why you would laugh. What am I missing?

                                                                                                                                                                Edit: I do not, however, have an opinion about which city is "the best" when it comes to food because different parts of the country eat differently and prefer different styles of food.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: adrienne156

                                                                                                                                                                  You're probably being too nice to a guy that can only generalize and laugh his @&& off.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: adrienne156

                                                                                                                                                                    because there are a number of cities that do "ethnic" way better. For instance, Friscans deride LA all the time but if there's one thing LA does great, it's ethnic in every price point. But NYC and Vancouver and probably other cities are even better. Frisco is way down on the list.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: choctastic

                                                                                                                                                                      Well, though I like eating in LA better than in SF, I have to say I don't know if I agree with your assessment about "every price point" -- while we have a couple of ethnic (and ethnic-ish) restaurants in the upper price range, they tend not to be good, with the exception of Japanese.

                                                                                                                                                                      Or I could just be blocking the names of them, but pretty much all the ethnic food I can think of (besides Italian and suchlike) is pretty cheap to mid-range.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                                                        really? like what? Unless you're talking about french and faux french (I think those are the restos you're thinking of), I feel like Frisco is an also ran in a lot of ways. When i say every price point, i mean comparing restaurants that cost the same for similar meals. LA's korean food at every single price point far outstrips most of the stuff I've had in San Fran to the point where I don't even want to try new places in Frisco anymore. Sushi in LA at every price point is far, far better. NYC's sushi is awesome but more expensive. Vietnamese in OC is way better than most everything I've tried either in Frisco or the East Bay. Chinese of every kind I've had is better in LA and even better in Vancouver. Mexican in LA is like a different cuisine. I suppose I could go on but those are the cuisines I have tried the most. I just thought it was funny that all these Friscans keep going on about how wonderful all their ethnic options were. apparently none of them travel.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: choctastic

                                                                                                                                                                          Fresno is better on all counts. Amatures!

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                            Hmm, I must go back and try this Fresno. Last time I was there, it was Land of the Applebees and really, really americanized chinese food.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: choctastic

                                                                                                                                                                            I think my point is that there's not a lot of upscale Thai, hardly any upscale Vietnamese, very little (by percentage of restaurants) upscale Mexican.

                                                                                                                                                                            I'm not saying SF has better ethnic food -- they don't -- but I'd guess that upwards of 90% of LA's ethnic wonderfulness is available for under $20-$30 a person... not exactly high-end.

                                                                                                                                                                            Is that a bad thing? Not really.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                                                              We're talking about different things. Yes, I understand that a lot of LA's ethnic wonderfulness is avail for under $20-$30 a person. I was talking more about trying to compare meals in both cities according to price paid. For instance, was my $20 meal in L.A. better than the one in Frisco? In terms of the cuisines I talked about so far my answer is yes.

                                                                                                                                                                              actually LA has some high end Korean food that you may not be aware of, same with Japanese and Chinese. Less true in San Fran. Yes, it's true that you can't really compare the two cities since San Fran has such a smaller lot to choose from because there simply isn't the population to sustain a really strong offering in for instance Korean cuisine. Even the Oakland joints are a small fraction of what one can find in L.A.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: choctastic

                                                                                                                                                                              Hmmm. I would have to disagree with you and I don't mean to pick a fight, but your sweeping generalizations don't help your argument. Although I did grow up in the Bay area and reside there now, I've lived in Toronto - commuting frequently down to Manhattan or over to Montreal for shopping/food/night life - and I have family in La Jolla. The food in NYC is incredible, but very expensive. The food in LA is also very, very good and on the high-end, better than SF IMHO. San Francisco, however, is not even close to the bottom of the list. Where have you been eating?

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: adrienne156

                                                                                                                                                                                I never said Frisco was at the bottom of the list as a food city, I'm just saying that the reports of it being an ethnic (particularly Asian) eating mecca are overblown.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: choctastic

                                                                                                                                                                                Why you gotta keep calling it Frisco? And Friscans, really? Who says that? Aah!

                                                                                                                                                                              3. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                                                                Italian and suchlike? Boy oh boy.

                                                                                                                                                                                Gotta say, the lack of a decent, affordable bolognese in LA is why it would never, ever be on my short list.

                                                                                                                                                                                But that's MY short list. I really don't think this can be argued, as we will all get into a Jets v. Sharks debate, with no one really learning anything or changing their opinion. (Here I go, quoting Alton Brown again:) On the American road trip show, "Feasting on Asphault," Brown said of the German influenced brain sandwich found in Indiana that, even though it did not please his palate, that it surely did please the local palate. And perhaps because it was theirs and did not belong to anyone else that that was something in and of itself.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: julietg

                                                                                                                                                                                  No, I was not talking Italian. I don't eat as much of the European ethnicities but my friends tell me that Italian, French etc are better elsewhere.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: ML8000

                                                                                                                                                                        If you think the low end food is better in SF than in LA, I say you need to spend more time in LA! (even though I have the usual anti-LA bias of someone born and raised in they bay area/SF; I have had to overcome that bias when it comes to food. I will keep the bias forever when it comes to baseball.). To me, the difference is that anything you can find in SF at the low end, you can also find in LA, but OTOH there are some cuisines (let's just start with Mexican, not to mention Thai) where SF, and even the bay area as a whole, just can't even begin to compete!

                                                                                                                                                                        I do agree that SF is a favorite in what I call mid-range, meaning dinner around $100 a couple, but obviously some folks might not consider that mid-range.

                                                                                                                                                                        I don't necessarily like to rank the cities, because I do agree with your underlying premise that it depends on what you are looking for, but of the cities in North America that I have spent a lot of time in, Mexico City, SF, and LA are at the top food wise. Cities that I haven't spent as much time in but that I have found to be wonderful for food on brief visits are NY, Vegas, Vancouver, Philly and New Orleans. Guess I need to spend some more time in those later ones...:-)

                                                                                                                                                                        Major cities that have proved disappointing overall, which is not to say that I haven't had some great meals there, just that they haven't proved to be as great overall in all price ranges, have included DC (not as diverse as I would want or hope, hard for a visitor to get to some of the places that might be the best), Toronto (I had some great upscale dinners there, but I didn't find the good low end places, and the 'mid-range' places were not good value), Boston (where nothing really sticks out for me, including even the lobster) and Guadalajara (I want to Like it, but just pales compared to DF.) Of course, that could very well just mean that I really haven't found the right places there (so if anyone knows of a place in DC that might prove me wrong, please post on that Board, as I am heading there soon for work! I do love the Thai I've had there, and have had good sushi, but beyond that....waiting to find it still :-))

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                                                                                                          Maybe it's how you cut up the pie, so to speak. Low end and ethnic have many cross over points.

                                                                                                                                                                          As I mentioned, I find the ethnic in LA fresher, more vibrant...and I definately agree about Mexican and Thai cuisine in LA being better (I grew up in LA) but the cross-over next-gen ethnic places like Azizza or Slanted Door are done better in SF...both of which move to mid-range casual.

                                                                                                                                                                          Also not all the ethnic in LA is inexpensive...dropped $150+ for 4 at a very good Armenian restro in LA over the holidays...great food (can't get in SF) but it was in a strip mall and the decor was the Armenian equal of $8 buck a plate Chinese place in SF.

                                                                                                                                                                          I also find that there's lots of inexpensive eats in LA...but not all of it's good. Seems like major scouting is needed because of distance/travel/traffic, which is why CH is great. The difference I find is that in SF that even a low end/ethnic place can't survive if it's at least not good...or has something going for itself. Don't get the same sense in LA.
                                                                                                                                                                          Any way, my LA bias might be when I go back, there's a check list of memory food that I ate as a kid so I go back. (BTW, went to Clifton's Cafateria in Aug...worse meal in the past 2 years...and it made me sad.)

                                                                                                                                                                      3. Montreal. Montreal. and Montreal. Why? Because it was last year's Gourmet feature city, it's one of the cities with the most restaurants per capita, it offers amazing and authentic ethnic fare as well as top-class classic French fare. We don't just love food, we respect it.

                                                                                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: swissfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                          Montreal is a wonderful place for foodies...love going there for restaurants, variety is good, sophisticated...is it the best? Who knows....

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: swissfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                            ABSOLUTELY NOT MONTREAL. The locals all smoke and their taste buds are addled by the smoke and all the fat and salt and artificial garbage ("classic " poutine made from MSG-flavourd powder? I rest my case!) that populate their cuisine. Completely lacking in ethnic diversity, monocultural, worst sushi on the planet, horrible coffee culture, and all this capped by horrible service.

                                                                                                                                                                            Toronto is the best in North America, the most diverse (unlike Montreal, which has been eclipsed in ethnic diversity even by Calgary, Ottawa and Edmonton) and you can get ANYTHING there. An amazing food city.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: John Manzo

                                                                                                                                                                              Just so you know, smoking is no longer allowed in restaurants and bars in Montreal. Also, it's very sad that you had a bad food experience in Montreal, but many, many other people consider it as a food city. I've had my share of bad service in every city I've been in (including Montreal), but especially in Toronto, where lots of servers don't seem to consider patrons to be worthy enough to even grace them with a smile.
                                                                                                                                                                              Your image of our city is very, very sad, and untrue.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: John Manzo

                                                                                                                                                                                How can you consider "poutine" when we are discussing here 'fine-cuisine'? "Poutine" is considered here as fast food and has nothing to do with the fabulous cuisine one can find in Montreal restaurants. Ideed, Montreal has an incredibly high number of French restaurants that are not only affordable but that can easily compete with good French restaurant in Paris. What makes them special is their affordability. In Toronto you would have to pay at least twice the price (that is if you can find such restaurants). This is not counting all the other types of restaurants (Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Italian, Labanese, Turkish, etc). There are over 5000 restaurants here. Montreal has been chosen many times as one of the top gourmet cities of the world. Toronto has a good "expensive' restaurant scene, but at the affordable level it does not even come close to Montreal.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: John Manzo

                                                                                                                                                                                  You cannot get *anything* in Toronto. For example, Toronto does not have authentic Thai food anywhere, and it's generally agreed upon that the state of good Mexican cuisine in Toronto is nonexistent.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I think Toronto has some strong showings in some areas, but having lived here for a few years now, I fail to see what people like about its food scene. I can think of many restaurants in DC, Ottawa, and Montreal that I'd happily frequent over any low-to-mid range restaurant in Toronto.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: John Manzo

                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm not sure how you could possibly say Montreal is a terrible food destination. It def doesn't have the diverstiy that lots of cities, but you can just point your finger on Le Plateau and you'll find a great spot. (it's sushi is terrible though).
                                                                                                                                                                                    Toronto is great, especially for higher end meals, but doesn't compete on a full scale with Vancouver, NYC, SF, and LA.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: John Manzo

                                                                                                                                                                                      After moving from Vancouver to Montreal, had to make do with sub-par sushi. But as bad as sushi is here, thought it was worse in Toronto. There may be a few good spots but WHY are there so many terrible ones still open? I saw at least two every block.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Montreal and Philadelphia.

                                                                                                                                                                                    NO NO NO to Toronto!!

                                                                                                                                                                                    28 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: C70

                                                                                                                                                                                      Totally agree about Toronto - anyone who says they eat well there officially states they have no taste. I agree that some good mealas can be had - if you want to spend $200 per person. But in general it's horrible.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: swissfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                        "Totally agree about Toronto - anyone who says they eat well there officially states they have no taste."

                                                                                                                                                                                        What an obnoxious statement. I have been to Toronto a couple of times and have had some really good food there.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MVNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                          For those of us who go to Toronto on a regular basis, it's easy to feel at ease making strong statements about the lack of good food. It's not obnoxious, it's the sad truth...

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: swissfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                            Well for those of us who live in Toronto and who know good food, it's a ridiculous statement. There is good to be found in almost any city and most definitely in Toronto.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: swissfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                              Funny, I've been twice to Toronto and have sniffed out great holes-in-the-wall on both occasions.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                                                                                Please share them at least - might help us change our minds...

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: swissfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I haven't the least clue what they were called -- my most recent trip to TO that wasn't just a transfer through YYZ was eight years ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: swissfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                                Its easy for others to see such statements made by you on multiple occassions and think that you try to upset people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MVNYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                  The beauty of public forums is that people can express their own opinions and everyone else reserves the right to disagree. I would love more than anything for someone to prove me wrong, but as of yet, no one has responded to my request for suggestions that would change my mind...

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: swissfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Have you been to Rodney's Oyster House on King Street? I was in Toronto one beautiful June weekend and had a fabulous time walking all over town, stopping periodically for great local beers, and wound up at Rodneys for a dinner. Fabulous oysters and live seafood (including prawns, that's unusual IMHE), great smoked fish, great wines. I loved the market area and the waterfront and Chinatown and the university area and the downtown and the hip western side of Toronto. I'd go back to Rodney's and Toronto in an instant. I won't dispute that as a tourist there's still plenty I have to learn.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: steinpilz

                                                                                                                                                                                                      They might have been langostinos, they were really good in any case.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: steinpilz

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Don't get me wrong, there are some great restuarants in Toronto... but Rodney's Oyster Hut? The chain? That's the same as saying, "The Keg".. ya, it's fine.. but when you're measuring great meals, it probably wouldn't come up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Cancuk

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sorry, Cancuk, but you've got it wrong. Rodney's is not a chain. One location only. They do catering and wholesale, though, so perhaps that's the source of your confusion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: swissfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Venture up to the northern 'burbs of Markham and Richmond Hill, and you'll find all kinds of Asian - Chinese, Japanese, Viet, Thai, Malaysian that are all terrific. My wife is 100% Chinese, and when her brothers come to visit, they all agree it's as good as they've ever had - including the brother who lives on Long Island, who told me there are NO chinese restaurants in NYC to rival what he gets in Toronto.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        You appear to be terribly misinformed about the Toronto food scene. Take the Danforth for just one more example - lots of cheap and cheerful souvlaki joints, but also high end Greek like Mezes or Ouzeri, and an increasing number of other ethnic (Thai, Japanese, Indian, etc.) spots, as well as the venerable Joe Allen's, which many feel makes the best burger in the city. And that's just three or four blocks on one street. King Street West, St. Clair West, Little Italy on College, Koreatown on Bloor - there are just lots of places to get great food in Toronto. You should get out of your hotel more often.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: swissfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pray tell, where have you eaten in Toronto? Give us some concrete examples.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: John Manzo

                                                                                                                                                                                                        The lame meals I have had have been at Eggplant, Brant House, Blowfish, at the Ninth Gate (where they served me ramen noodles and called it homemade...), Jason George, Drake Hotel, Bar Italia, Coco Lezzone (where the seafood risotto was Uncle Ben's mixed with Prego tomato sauce and frozen shrimp) to name few. I did have a lovely meal at Hiro Sushi, but it also cost me $150. I am looking for reasonably priced, tasty food. The only place I have ever had that, and consistently, was at Toba on King East.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: swissfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Well no wonder! With the exception of Hiro and Toba those places are all crap! In that immediate neighbourhood, Jamie Kennedy's, George (not Jason George, which is a pub... just "George"), Petit Dejeuner, Kultura, Romagna Mia, etc etc etc all offer reasonably priced dining experiences.(ok, not THAT reasonable, but still - you're downtown where the rent is high, as opposed to Scarberia where it's easy to charge less)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: spades

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thank you so much for the recommendations - i will definately take note and get back to you when i go to Toronto next.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: swissfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                                            oy! yeah, if that was your list, then TO deserves to be panned. Ninth Gate was a runner up on my worst meal of the year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: orangewasabi

                                                                                                                                                                                                              The worst part is that I always make an effort to ask the locals what their favourite restos are or for their recommendations, and that's where they send me! This explains why my opinion is that people in Toronto may not have much taste...

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: swissfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Most of the places you mentioned are not Chowhoundworthy (I have enjoyed my meals at Blowfish, however, I know some have not). In addition to the ones that spades listed above, you should add Beerbistro, Pulp Kitchen, Barrio, Pomegranate (Queen East), Kensington Market, in general (for a unique experience), to name a few, are places you should try when you are here next time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: swissfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Swissfoodie, you are dissing TO because you can't find any good restaurants, but why don't you use the the CH board? If you haven't found good food, you are asking the wrong locals or asking the wrong questions.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  When I travel, I always browse the local CH board and ask for suggestions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The UN now recognizes Toronto as the most multicultural city in the world. So what kind of food would you like to try when you are here next?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If you are looking to do a foodie tour, you might follow in the recent foodsteps of a true foodie traveller and use this post as a guide:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Here are just a few other suggestions:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Batifole - great French, reasonable prices, enjoy having the chef bring it to your table.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Little Tibet - family run, always excellent quality, they cooked for the Dali Lama when last in town
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Indian, head out to Little India there are several options.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chinese - well we have 3 Chinatowns now (East, West and North), but the destination place for high end is Lai Wah Hen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Portuguese - Chiado, often touted as the best Portuguese this side of the Atlantic,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Japanese - my favourtie is Japango, small, quaint, signature maki rolls that are as beautiful to look as they are tasty.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Starfish (better than Rodney's IMHO) - good seafood for someplace so far from the ocean.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Tabule - Lebonese, casual, friendly
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Zucca - for Italian
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Bar Mercurio for wonderful thin crust pizza.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Or maybe you'd like Ethiopian, Carribbean, Sri Lankan or Cuban food?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Just ask next time you are coming to town. I am sure you will find a different TO.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: swissfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                                        dude, in defense of my hometown, you can get great eats in TO for cheap or mucho.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Now, personally, I think there are better cities for food. But you most definately CAN eat well in TO.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: orangewasabi

                                                                                                                                                                                                              You said elsewhere that you are Chinese and above that your home town is Toronto. Just pulling your chain, buddy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: swissfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bless you and the parent poster. I'm so frustrated by the Toronto food scene. I can't afford $200 per person and am relegated to low- and mid-range restaurants. I listen to the hounds on here and follow their recommendations, and I'm almost always disappointed. In Ottawa, DC, and Montreal, I could just stop in a restaurant without doing any research and generally get a meal that was at least passable and often much better. Not the case here: even with research, I'm usually wishing I'd just stayed home and cooked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. Those of you who keep listing NYC (and I mean all NYC, well actually I guess I mean Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens) as only winning in the upscale category - you aren't trying hard enough. Perhaps you go upscale when you come here for a visit because you want to try the top chefs on your vacation. But those who live here know it wins in the ethnic and inexpensive arenas as well - you just have to GET ON THE SUBWAY and go out of central Manhattan. You will find a plethora of places that represents every corner of the globe - with amazing quality, and often at reasonable prices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: nyclibkat

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I guess I should say, yes, NYC probably wins in the upscale category because there certainly are the top chefs and uber-expensive spots. I just want to say that those dining experiences shouldn't cloud the fact that NYC has MORE than just the expensive restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Flawed premise. lots of good food to be had all over north america. i could no more pick a favorite food city than i could pick a favorite finger. diversity is good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: JGrey

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I dunno... might be the index finger (how else to hail a cab in NYC to get to the next great eatery? you don't just yell "TAXI" like the movies, nobody'll hear you)... or the one next to the index finger (how else to express one's disdain for poor service?)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. It is obvious that swissfoodie doesn't know Toronto very well at all from that very ignorant statement above.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I agree with you steve h, flawed study, way too many variables and also, so many cities have different things to offer in terms of great food.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have my favourites in different cities all over NA and I love travelling to these and other places where I can get what I cannot get where I live. I am very lucky to live in rural Quebec, where I am close to Montreal and fairly close to Toronto. They both have great things to offer foodwise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: tartetatin

                                                                                                                                                                                                              my buddy dave from the Sun and i have eaten very well in toronto: exciting/diverse food, terrific wines and port. all-in-all, a great food city. Deb and i drove up the hudson valley to montreal then quebec last fall. we found stunning, family-run restaurants throughout our trip.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Lots of the cities mentioned are great and many have specialty cuisines that may be considered "best anywhere" but for sheer overall quality, diversity, ethnic variations, traditions, attitude, lack of attitude, deliciousness, upscale, downscale, street food, fine dining, hole in the wall, grand, innovative, experimental, trendy and traditional - need I say more? New York. Hands down. No contest.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. NYC wins hands down... every kind of food at every price point. The only city that can support "world class" restaurants in the US (along with Trotter's in Chicago and The Laundry in CA). Name a restaurant in any other US city that you'd consider "world class".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                As others have already stated, SF and Chicago rank up there as great food cities... cities where the people love food... have many interesting places that are very good... but more in the middle tier, plus good ethnic places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: WineTravel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm not a haute foodie, frankly, but isn't Chez Panisse world class? The Inn at Little Washington isn't world class (ok, it's outside DC)? I'm not familiar with LA but there must be some good ones there (I'd like to say Boston or Philly has one - can't quite do that). I agree about NYC for world class restaurants, but I'd say SF is a better "food city."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: WineTravel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Never been to NYC, but living in Toronto, the food carts in NYwith ethnic offerings sound intriguing..the only street food we're allowed by law is pre-cooked sausages and hot dogs re-warmed on a grill...(sigh)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: WineTravel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Cities with "World Class" restaurants outside of NYC:


                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Born in NYC, Live in NYC and I always say that California beats New York, hands down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I say San Fran, particularly if you include within "SanFran" Berkeley and the surrounding wine counties of Napa, Sonoma, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Its not so much in the preparation, or the (excellent) restaurants, but in the products. Everytime I go to Napa, etc I am amazed at the quality of the produce and ingredients, which shine even when prepared simply, as at Chez Panise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And one has to include _Wine_ when discussing food, no? And where else in North America is there better wine produced than in Napa/Sonoma? Cali is very close to Europe in the excellence of its products and its wine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We just dont have produce like that in NY (and I live 2 blocks from the Union Square market, which does rock). So, from a diehard New Yorker, who loves the food here, we lose, Cali wins. I concede.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bengoshi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Bengoshi, I agree that California produce is superior and it's something I enjoy very much when I'm out there. However, while shipping produce means it's less fresh when it gets to its destination and thus even our best produce - Union Square Market - and others - don't quite stack up. But the wine? It ships pretty well from California. We have a very good selection of wines available to us in NY both on and off-premise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And, in general, our variety of restaurants and cuisines is still superior in my opinion. NYC still wins for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: laylag

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Some good points, and trust me I LOVE Union Square market. But selling wine and making wine are different things. I think Cali gets some serious bonus points for _making_ some of the best wine in the workd. We cant claims that here in NY (and please dont point to some lovely North Fork Merlots, not the same). But I like the debate

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bengoshi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Some really excellent Eiswein I've had out on the North Fork notwithstanding, I'd never compare California wine making to Long Island's - there is no comparison there. California wineries and wines are wonderful. No other region of North America can equal it I agree (off camera raises a glass of Insignia) Here's to you Joseph Phelps.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            However, I viewed the original post as not the best in terms of food production, California wins that easily, but an inquiry in terms of the best place for food consumption. So, from that perspecitve I'll stand by my original position being that if I had to eat in only one city for the rest of my life, I'd pick NY and yes, that does include boroughs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: laylag

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "if I had to eat in only one city for the rest of my life, I'd pick NY"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Agree...I think this is the best way to view this question.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Well, when Conde Nast surveyed the readers of its Traveler magazine, the overwhelming response was thus: The single most popular destination in the United States is San Francisco. The second most popular destination on the planet is San Francisco. One of the principal reasons mentioned again and again by the readers (most of whom are upscale and impressively experienced in culinary diversity) was the quality of the food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        San Francisco is supreme on the planet when it comes to fine, elegant fusion cuisine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: dunn.sanfrancisco

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'll give you that -- but not everyone likes fusion cuisine, and some of us have issues with fine, elegant cuisine too. It's a bit like saying "the best city in North America for Basque food is Reno" -- at this point you're talking about a sub-subset of food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I am somewhat shocked that not one poster has given the nod to Quebec City....possibly the original food region in Canada or the U.S. As the original poster, I must say I have heard the most convincing arguments for both Mexico City and Chicago so far.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: formerlyfingers

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I've been to Quebec once and had a great time, many of my best memories are of the food - particularly the variety of smoked fish at Anciens Canadians and the great mussel selections.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I've also been to Montreal and Toronto (and Vancouver) several times and also really liked the food there. It is hard to get a good idea of any city as a tourist though (it's even hard to do when you live in a big city), I've really only seen a small part of any of these places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: dunn.sanfrancisco

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I wouldn't necessarily count on a travel poll to define best food city...unless the poll asked it specfically. I still think SF would top the list in a poll...but that would be debateable as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Any way, from reading this thread it's pretty obvious CHs are provincial (as is natural)...so of course they're going to vote for their city. It's like pulling for the home team. In this case, SF is the NY Yankees of food...counting the riches only provokes people...so maybe debate is useless. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. To state the obvious, I can only speak from personal experience, from where I have travelled and eaten. Thus, there are several cities which, while they may be great, I cannot speak to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            So my highly personal list is:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. San Francisco Bay Area. (But I live here and know it best.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. New York (including borroughs).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. New Orleans, even now -- post-Katrina.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Vancouver is certanly an up-and-coming place, and I've had some stunning meals there, but not enough to crack into the Top Three.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I agree that Montreal is a charming place to eat - I think it offers high and low options, good ethnic, good marketing (I mean that there are wonderful food markets to be explored)... and the city has charm, style and atmosphere, which always make food taste better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm fascinated by the discussion of Mexico City. I never would have though of Mexico City as a foodie haven.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I find that places like NYC and San Fran are hit and miss. Just by virtue of population density and restaurant mass they are both bound to produce winners, but you have to do much research to find gold. More interesting to me are cities like Philly where I expected nothing and found a goldmine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. 1. sf
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. ny
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. chi
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                4. push: no/sea/la/mia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. i am sure that my answer will get lost among the massive number of repsonses. however, i will venture to say that different cities are excellent for very different reasons.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  my top cities:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  san francisco
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  los angeles
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  las vegas
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  the whole of napa valley

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: lotta_cox

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't want to be too nit-picky here, but Manhattan is not a city; it's part of New York City, and lots of the best eating in NYC is not in Manhattan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lotta_cox

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm sorry, I don't mean to be cruel...really, but this myopic list is ridiculous IMNSO.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. my three favorites:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        NEW YORK CITY
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        NEW ORLEANS
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ANYWHERE IN MEXICO

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. To OP Formerly Fingers, Did you imagine how colossal, or how testy, this thread was going to be? Wow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. No, I was expecting a few random replies. Maybe a little debate, nothing like this. And it's only been like 4 or 5 days......keep it comin!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I've traveled to pretty much every major city in NA (except Mexico city) and my faves would be:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Southern Cal (LA and area)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Northern Cal (SF and Napa)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. NYC (incredible variety)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              4. Chicago (best service city in NA??)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              5. Toronto (I know it so well)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Dark horse pick: Providence, Rhode Island

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I was about to make out a top five list when I realized 8 of the 10 best resteraunts I've ever ever been to weren't even in places most people have ever heard of! The two best resteraunts I've ever eaten at were, get this, in Rhinelander, Wisconson and Estes Park, Colorado! The two that were in a city that you've heard of? Both in New Orleans.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: likeithot

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  What place is in Estes Park? I used to go climbing there (around 30 years ago) and remember that it's beautiful but sort of small.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Having lived all over North America (I include both Canada and Mexico) in this, I can't believe anyone is arguing with Mexico City. You can't have been there and be arguing with it. I can't believe people are even suggesting Boston (good lobster, I do agree). New York, I understand, but I just feel like everything you get there is less fresh and less flavorful than it was in Mexico--all a toned down version. I live in Seattle now, and would love to nominate it, but its neighbor to the north, Vancouver would have to take my second place vote...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    On the other end of the spectrum, I'm going to have to say that Salt Lake City was the worst food city I was ever in (followed by Milwaukee, though that was years ago and I have heard it has improved!)...My real wish here though is to express that the worst food city in the world goes hands down, no questions asked, to Montevideo, Uruguay. Never, ever, ever eat there if it can be prevented.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: dagoose

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Milwaukee is a weird food city -- there are these little nuggets of greatness amid, well . . . blandness.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I actually dream about a seafood Thai dish I have there on my annual visit (yeah, there should be all kinds of things wrong with seafood & thai in Milwaukee). Mader's has one of the best dark german beers I've ever had. And there are some terrific local cheeses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: dagoose

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I love the love Vancouver is getting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Montevideo, Uruguay is DEFINITLEY not the worst food city in the world. The BBQ there is outstanding... delicoius.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Have you ever been to Santa Cruz, Bolivia? Now THAT is a bad foodie city. On the other hand: Lima, Peru was outstanding and I want to go back for a month and just eat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Wow, is Philly under-represented here. I am a little biased as I am a native, but I eaten all over North America and I've had some meals here that could compare with any of the best I've had anywhere else.......from haute to street. We have a great resource in the farms of Lancaster, Chester Counties and the freshness shows. The Amish influence is strong in our markets, with fresh meats and produce readily available.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        New Orleans, San Fran and NYC are my other favorites.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Oh wow, before I opened this board, I thought "of course, New York," but after reading a few posts, I kept thinking "oh yeah, the food in Vancouver is unbelievable" or "I've had some great meals in Chicago" or "San Francisco, yum," so I guess I think it's pretty pointless to try to choose a "best." One thing for sure is that having a large immigrant population helps, and you need to leave the city center to get the good stuff. I was very impressed by suburban stripmall ethnic eating in Atlanta.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          On the other other hand, there are certainly tiers. Philly? Are you kidding? I spent 9 years in that city (and love it and go back frequently), and though it has some fantastic things (you can't get a real cheesesteak anywhere else) it has nowhere near the restaurant depth and breadth of first tier cities like New York, Toronto, Seattle, etc. All the Steven Starr restaurants taste the same after a couple of months.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Never been to Mexico City, but now I can't wait to!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: NYprof

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Steven Starr restaurants get uniformly panned by most. And no I'm not kidding. I suspect it has been a while since you lived in Philly. Do I think it's the "best" in North America. Maybe not. Do I think it's under-represented on this list. Yes especially when Boston, Atlanta and Las Vegas are so represented. Is Philly second tier to Boston or Atlanta.......Puhleese. We've consistantly flown under the radar, and now with the food and restaurant culture coming into its own, I suppose us Philadelphians will have to enjoy it mostly to ourselves.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And scroll up, you'll see right here on this very thread the Philly food scene was described as "where I expected nothing and found a goldmine." I'd say that pretty much sums it up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Permalink | Report | Reply

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: G Goo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Just because low expectations were far exceeded doesn't mean that the result was top-notch. I didn't mean to imply that Atlanta was on par with NY, SF, etc. It isn't. I also didn't mean to imply that Philly only had cheesesteaks. I had a world class meal at Brasserie Perrier last month. I also love Philadelphia and it hasn't been very long since I lived there. My only point is that living in Philly, it doesn't take very long to get through the entire food scene. If you rule out S. Starr restaurants, you only have a handful of restaurants in the fine dining category, and though some are very, very good, there isn't enough depth to compete with the likes of Vancouver or New Orleans. I'm pretty anti-Steven Starr restaurants, but I've had more meals in them than probably any other restauranteur's restaurants, because for that category of dining, there are so few other choices. Here in New York, I'd have no trouble avoiding a given restauranteur's restaurants. A top tier food city should have depth in multiple dining categories.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Besides, you may agree that S. Starr restaurants are mediocre and overpriced, but to say they're "universally panned" is questionable. They're doing very well and he keeps opening more. He dominates the high-end Philly restaurant scene. He's just opened Buddakan and Morimoto outposts here in NY, which have gotten rave reviews, to my surprise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: NYprof

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You'd be surprized at the number of quality restaurants that have opened just in the last year or two. And I guess I look at more than just the "fine dining" category. We have a burgeoning BYOB scene (like it or not.....I like it), excellent Puerto Rican/Latin American influenced dining on 5th St in N. Philly, many Brazilian churrascaria places in NE Philly, great Mexican Taquerias in South Philly, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean in Chinatown, Amish stands and roast pork Italian sandwiches (along with anything else) in the Reading Terminal Market, the best sandwiches in the world (hoagies, cheesesteaks, roast pork, roast beef), great tapas joints, an excellent craft brewed beer scene, amazing "gastropubs" (The Standard Tap to many has redefined bar food), soul food in North Philly, even a great barbecue joint (Sweet Lucy's Smokehouse in NE Philly)........... all this along with top notch fine dining. To me, you have to to look at an entire city's food culture is to see what is available to many rather than what is available to just a few (fine dining). And I'm lucky because I have the opportunity to sample everything from Le Bec Fin (I wanted to hate it.....I loved it) and Brasserie Perrier to Johns Roast Pork and The Dutch Eating Place.......and I do. And when taking all this into consideration, Philadelphia is right up there with the already anointed "great" food cities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                There is so, so much more than just Starr Restaurants and Center City!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: NYprof

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The question was... Best Food City in North America.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Healthy debate is good, and I certainly enjoyed reading about those restaurants people love in Philly, but if you stay on topic.... and I mean no disrespect to those that put Philly on the list....(have I been diplomatic enough yet?)... putting Philadelphia anywhere on the list of BEST FOOD CITIES IN NORTH AMERICA is just rediculous.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: WineTravel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yeah I get it.........I saw the topic and I understood what it meant. And I think you are wrong. I live in Philly. I travel a lot. I make a point to eat out everywhere I go. There are many cities in North America. Is Philly the best? That's pretty subjective, but probably not. Does it deserve mention with Boston, or Miami or Las Vegas..........abso freakin' lutely! And don't tell me my opinion about something as subjective as food is ridiculous! Thanks for being so diplomatic....what would you have said if you weren't diplomatic?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    People gave lists.....Top 5, top 10.....and I rarely saw Phila. on those lists. That's what I was responding to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: G Goo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I just went back to Philly for the first time in... jeez, over a decade. I was shocked to find the dining scene as vibrant as it was. As Jerseyites we used to pan Philly as "where you went to watch baseball and eat cheesesteaks". If you wanted REAL food you had to go to New York.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It's definitely changes -- even South Philly, under the shadow of Pat's and Geno's, has good and fancy places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'd rank it with Boston, Atlanta and Houston... and above Las Vegas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And I'd like to add access to Jersey produce, along with Lancaster County produce to bolster my arguement. I saw the shout out to Jersey tomatoes and sweet corn in this thread, and I couldn't agree more. People equate Jersey with the industrialized north and overlook the agrarian south. The sandy soil makes for the best tomatoes in the country!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        You came to Philly for the baseball? Are you crazy? (I'm a Phillies season ticket holder)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: G Goo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Well, nobody goes for the FOOTBALL... just kidding!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes, I agree that Philly belongs along side Atlanta, Houston, Miami, LA, perhaps even Boston and Chicago ... cause those cities don't belong on the Best Food City list either... and Las Vegas should be in it's own category (its a whole nother discussion). While each of these cities have their own strengths...on the whole they're pretty weak.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If you could poll on this site: I predict you'd find the answer, and by a wide margin, to be New York City. No other city can compete with NY for food (on every level, not just the top end). Other cities would be fighting it out for #2... San Francisco or Chicago would figure to be the leading contenders for 2 and 3.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Just my opinion...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: WineTravel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It looks like the consensus is Mexico City, New York, SF, LA and Chicago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: WineTravel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              NYC almost goes without saying. Center of the world right? Just ask any New Yorker.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Atlanta and Houston? Both kind of bother me on this list mainly because both are so sprawling.....your dinner will alway come with an hour round trip in a car in horrendous traffic. There's just something about having to drive here and there becuase there is not much of a downtown that takes a city down a notch for me. I have to travel to Atlanta about once a month, and when I go out to eat I'm invariably making some frustratingly long auto commute.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I'll agree with Mexico City as #1.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Now -- is there any consensus with Guadalajara as #2 ?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Well I think Gudalajara has great Birria, street food & freshwater "seafood" but I don't really think it is anywhere on the radar yet. Further, its going to be a while... the city seems to be stuck in the type of Shallow Gentrification that many U.S. & Canadian cities (some mentioned above) are in. I think its going to be a while before the Chowish + Creativity combine there beyond being overly excited by places with ambiance & an air of modernity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Not for me. yes, the Birria is good, but even the street food was just nowhere that in DF. I may be going there fairly regularly for work starting this summer, so I would love for someone to prove me wrong, but for the most part, it just doesn't feel vibrant, particularly given that it is the number 2 city in size in Mexico. I had better food experiences in Morelia....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Well, as a typical New Yorker, my vote for # 1goes to New York - City that is, all 5 boroughs - we are the world! However, with the singular exceptions of the food stalls at the Red Hook ball fields in the Spring and Summer and the new Oaxacan place that just opened in my neighborhood, NYC sucks when it comes to Mexican cuisine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So---#2 Mexico City
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      # 3 Guadalajara
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      #4 San Francisco
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      #5 Seattle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      #6 Philadelphia
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      #7 Vancouver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      #8 Chicago
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      #9 Montreal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      #10 Los Angeles

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: livetotravel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Putting Philly and Seattle above Vancouver and Chicago...and LA is attroctious. That is all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I've followed this topic with interest and noticed that most posters seem to be using the same criteria for judging cities, namely how many kinds of cuisine can you find there and how good is each kind. I find that criteria reasonable, but I'll go ahead and play devil's advocate and propose that there's a different yardstick that can be applied, and probably already has been in the case of those nominating New Orleans, and that yardstick is true regional cuisine. There's something to be said for cities that have incredibly deep foodways. Many foodies (not me as it happens) will name Paris as the top food city in the world, and that determination is usually based on the City of Light's French food and little else. Maybe it's a sign of the United States' reputation as a melting pot that we value breadth of food options so highly. I do as well, but I don't think it's the end all, be all. While towns like N.O. and Charleston, S.C. lack the range of ethnic food options that places like NYC and Chicago have, they boast the kind of true regional cuisine that is seldom found in the U.S. outside the South and possibly the Southwest. (Not to step on anybody's toes, but using local ingredients, while important to regional cuisine, is not synonymous with it. A true regional cuisine, IMO, is represented by a cohesive body of cooking traditions that have stood the test of time, i.e. been handed down from generation to generation.) In Charleston, for example, you can find examples of BBQ (4 different kinds), seafood dishes (like shrimp and grits and frogmore stew), rice dishes (like red rice), desserts, curries, even chutneys that trace their roots back hundreds of years to colonial settlers, West African slaves, Native Americans, and the port's sea trade history. You might ask, why does it matter how far back you can trace the foodways of a place? Well, it's an intangible, I suppose, but the results are very tangilbe. In Charleston, the long traditions of local food are taken very seriously and soulfully, and you can find great examples of classic recipes in low-dollar joints and great examples of cutting-edge interpretations of classics in the high-dollar restaurants. It's not for nothing that Charleston, a city of barely over a 100,000 in a metropolitan area of around 500,000, has 8 or 9 restaurants that rate 4 diamonds or more in the annual AAA survey, year in, year out (actually 13 in the area as of the latest listings). Pound for pound, Charleston rates being listed among the best food cities in North America.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Low Country Jon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          To Low Country Jon.......as the original poster, i find this post interesting and well thought out. My criteria included both ethnic and regional, but upon further consideration, my feelings lean toward regional cuisine as the main yardstick for measuring excellence. While regional ingredients are completely necessary, you quite rightly add that tradition and history are crucial as well. Good point. It makes me realize once again the reason the very best food places on the planet are really anywhere that has local peoples cooking local foodstuffs in a manner which has stood the test of time and trends. French, Italian, Vietnamese, Argentinian, Ethiopian, Chinese, the list goes on ad infinitum, because the "best" is summed up by how well ingredients available are utilized, no matter where you are. So if this is the truest indicator of goodness, then your example of local tradition in Charleston is completely valid, and closely aligned with my earlier mention of Quebec City and the townships region of the St. Lawrence River. 400 plus years of tradition, with technique and recipes still in use from that era. I am with you in your assessment of "the best".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: formerlyfingers

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A perfect rationale for including the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn in NYC for instance. The very best food in those boroughs are decades-old traditional recipes served in family owned and operated establishments. They are truly unique and their offerings are not available anywhere else in this city or other cities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Low Country Jon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And many cities in Mexico would be at the top.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Low Country Jon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              L.C.J, your posts are always cogent and sound. There can be no debate: per capita, Charleston must rank amongst the finest food cities in the world, period. It's shocking how much amazing grub one can find in a town with that small a population. Those folks take their food very seriously. I've had 6 or so of the finest meals of my life there, and in an astonishing diversity of styles and approaches. Never mind the wonderful traditions that still inform the more traditional cooking there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I would bet most of the participants in this thread have never been there, which is understandable. But lordy there's some good eatin' in that town....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. All I can say is that LA is rocking my socks already on the ethnic front. In only a week, and without even venturing east (i.e., where the really good stuff is) I've already had better chinese, mexican, and vietnamese than most of the places I tried in over a decade of living up and down the East Coast (CT, DC, MA, NY).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: a_and_w

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Here is my guide for eating your way through my old neighborhood. When I get a chance I will do one for East L.A. as well:


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Eat, you are officially my hero -- thanks so much for the amazing list!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. I couldn't pick just one at all. NYC, or NEW ORLEANS would be my two top picks. I've had some very enjoyable meals in San Francisco as well. Hmmmm, I think given my preference for seafood and spices, I'll go with New Orleans.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Foodietraveler

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Personally, would never say New Orleans was the BEST food city in the USA... even before Katrina. Having been back there a number of times since the tragedy, sadly its not what it was prior to the storm. I couldn't argue with NYC though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. If forced to pick...I think it might be NYC, the sheer richness of products from all over the world makes me tingle with happiness. I'd be happy eating and cooking in that place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. My favorites in order of preference would be New York City, San Francisco, Vancouver for the best Chinese I have ever had, and Charleston for knock your socks off Southern Cuisine,,,,

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jinet12

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thank goodness I finally saw Charleston in here! I was afraid no one was going to credit any other Southern place except New Orleans and Miami.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      All I know is, I haven't done nearly enough traveling. There are so many wonderful places to eat in this country!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. How to define "best"? For number and variety of restaurants, I'd have to go for New York City, and I'm a West Coaster. After all, where but in NYC can you find horxse hearts in tomato sauce over (... something or other)?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      But with air transport of fresh or flash-frozen stuff from around the globe, I don't think a title can be awarded.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mpalmer6c

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The main reason that NYC is the winner IMO is the fact that there is SUPPORT for all of the dining options that exist there... and Fine Dining can't exist i(n a big way) anywhere else in the USA... as the markets are too small to support it. The other "good" cities are lucky to have one or 2 fine dining places that are considered great... few if any "world class" places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I can hear the comments coming now.... but it's true. Name some restaurants in a city other than NY that can compete with the world's best. You can count them on one hand (and by the way, there are only a few in NY). Certainly a place doesn't have to be "world class" to be great, which is where NYC shines as well. They have a ton of other great places. NYC is the hands down winner... this one is easy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. 1. LA
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. OC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Honorable mention:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Mexico (various cities)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Brooklyn, NY
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Las Vegas

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: katkoupai

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Is that a joke? The topic is... BEST FOOD CITY IN NORTH AMERICA. None qualify IMO... Can't decide which is the furthest off base... Brooklyn, Las Vegas, or OC?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: WineTravel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            No. I'm not joking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            LA and OC are at the top.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            LA has the most diverse, cheapest, freshest food. OC, to me, is a close second.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I listed the following as "honorable mention" because they are also good:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Las Vegas is well-known as a place that attracts chefs from all over the world. People go there to eat and gamble.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Brooklyn-- cheap, good, diverse food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mexico-- I love Mexico, and nearly everthing I've eaten in any city there has been fresh and good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I've never been to Chicago, but I've heard the food is great there. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: katkoupai

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks for explaining. I understand what you're saying and I respect that. The good thing is that you obviously live in CA and therefore know where to go, and are happy with the dining options there. The best food is the food that you like, so for you, LA/OC is tops. That's fair... and that's all that matters.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              You do however present a mixed group of cities Brooklyn (technically part of NYC... again a plus for a NYC vote) is cheap/diverse... and then cheap again in LA / OC. But then Las Vegas?... anything but cheap. LV is big, brash, glitzy, overpriced and overrated. True there are a lot of name chefs (actually restaurants with big name chefs that don't come but once in a while) that have opened places there... but the food is not that great. The quality level of the food in LV has improved immensly...years ago it was terrible. For that Im thankful. Now you can get many good meals, rarely great. Sort of a big name chef group of chain restaurants... and all of them are pretty huge, little personality. A guy like Michael Jordan (the chef, not basketball player) at Rosemary's is the exception. A chef that lives in LV and is off the strip... not part of a hotel mega restaurant. Vegas is a gambling town that has restaurants that cater to that crowd... nothing more. I'd sooner go to Mexico... where as you say, the food can be "fresh and good".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              For me, the best answer to the question, as stated before: NYC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: WineTravel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I respect your answer, as well. I lived in Brooklyn, NY and worked/studied in Manhattan for two years. I found myself missing LA food very much. I could never find a good Mexican or Persian restaurant in NYC, and I tried. That's why I could never vote for NYC as my number one choice. NYC has other options that cannot be replicated in LA, but those are ones that I can live without. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Vegas is a beast of its own. That's why it's in my "honorable mention". I have friends who go there just to eat. One of them is the person who introduced me to Chowhound years ago. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: WineTravel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "Vegas is a gambling town that has restaurants that cater to that crowd... nothing more."


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Friend of Bill

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If your idea of a great food town is a bunch of hotels with mostly huge restaurants that are offshoots of big name chefs (that are almost never there), designed by Rockwell or Tihany, with staffs that are trained to get you back to the tables, then maybe Im wrong. Vegas is way overrated. It has the allure of all the big names, but those places have no soul. They are more factory-like... chain-like. Robuchon may be the exception... haven't been there yet. Don't get me wrong. I like going to Vegas.. its fun.. and certainly its miles above the old days. You can eat well. But lets not get carried away.. it's what it is... and IMO certainly doesn't belong in a discussion of the Best Food City in America

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    big fuss about Vegas bei

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Montreal...hands down.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The best food takes place very quietly...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ssshhh...no noise, no fuss, you have to go about the streets and discover it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            There are a few temples that people gather at, but the best comes in a much more subtle fashion. Montreal is the melting pot of all melting pots. Bubbles existing within bubbles strengthen the food tradition. The derigeur francophonie actually builds opposing cultures rather then diluting them. You will find this conviction in so much of the food, in so many of Montreal humble restos. Add to that a willingness by locals to try anything and everything brings the restaurateur to his/her game. Lavish treats for the tongue abound in the mid range. Come, spend some time, go from the beaten track into all of Montreal’s colorful neighborhoods, both east and west (very, very safe city) and you will discover that not everything melts in the pot. Cheers!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. It seems that you started a regionalistic fight with New Yorkers winning through sheer volume and vociferousness! (Whats new, huh?)...My 2 cents is that if you pay a lot of money (and I mean a LOT), you could probably have good food. I suspect that your question has to do more with a general availability of affordable places to eat at. Not sure I could add to the debate, but my personal favorites for affordable well made eats certainly include DC, Portland (both of them), Philly and Vancouver B.C. nuff said!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. New Orleans!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                With only about 1/2 of the population back, there are more restaurants open than there were before Katrina...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ...and they are outstanding.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And I've eaten in most major US cities!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Toss up between San Fran., and New York. However, when considering 'Value for money' as well, definitely TORONTO, hands down!!! Also, don't forget Niagara wine country is less than 1.5 hours away!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Vegas, easily. No other place has so much great food in so small an area surrounded/immersed in such wonderful eye candy. No other city comes close! Where else can you walk out of your restaurant and see the canals of Venice, then across the street see the Fountains of Bellagio?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Just for food alone, I'd pick Vegas, but the ambience and high energy surroundings, coupled with so many choices within walking distance makes it the best food city in the country, if not the world.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: elrushbo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think Vegas gives the illusion of good food, as it gives the illusion of most everything else. It is a reflection of the current food scene from all over, not a representation of anything truly local or truly unique. While it does have some good food being produced from some well known chefs, it lacks the depth of other cities with their own rich culinary traditions and local heritage. The food scene there today was born in the last decade and will be completely morphed in 10 more years - hardly qualifying it as a great food city , at least not compared with the other examples listed in great detail here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. New York City is the best food city in North America. This is a no brainer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. In North America? New Orleans.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In the world? Singapore.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Normal Garciaparra

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ok, after commenting all over, here's my top 3:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Mexico City

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Too much, but: Paris, Mumbai, and Lima are three of my favourites (non North American).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Cancuk

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Canuck: Vancouver is OK but not in the same league as NY/SF/LA/Chicago...even Seattle....maybe able to crak the top 10 in North Amerca in the 10th spot...maybe...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Pollo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I understand the arguments for: NY, SF, LA, and Chicago. Maybe i'm making to much hype about Vancouver... but i've lived in both Chicago and SF, and have spent significant periods of time in NY... and I still think Vancouver stacks up comparibly to all of them, and is better than Chicago for sure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As for Seattle: Pu-Lease!!!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              New top 10:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Mexico City
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. NYC
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. SF
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              4. LA
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              5. Vancouver
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              6. Chicago
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              7. New Orleans
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              8. Montreal
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              9. Toronto
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              10. Portland

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Flame away!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Cancuk

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                NY/SF/LA/Chicago are cities in a true sense of scale and culinary variety...Vancouver is still an under-developed provincial town...like someone once said on CKNW...."overgrown fishing village".....let me put it that way....comparing (food wise) Vancouver to say LA is like comparing Kelowna to Vancouver....get it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Pollo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have to strongly disagree with you, especially with the comparison of Vancouver/Kelowna = Vancouer/Chicago. Are you kidding?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Also, if Vancouver is a overgrown fishing village, what does that make Seattle... which you called better than Vancouver?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Cancuk

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Vancouver / Chicago in terms of food on the same level???...pleeease....you need to travel a bit more. Vancouver is an overgrown fishing village stuck in the 50's and Seattle is a CITY.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Pollo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for the patronizing message, I really appreciated it. Excellent point when you capitalize the word, nicely done.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      While I don't like a lot about Vancouver, to say that it's quality of cuisine and its restaurant scene is stuck in the '50's is compleatly ridiculous and really doesn't make SENSE.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Maybe you don't agree that Vancouver's restaurants are on the same level as Chicago's... I agree that there isn't as many as in Chicago, so the lack of depth in some areas wouldn't match, but I disagree that they're not on the same level... and much better in some areas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      But, you're right, Seattle is a CITY... and Vancouver (I guess) is not, which somehow translates into the quality of food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Cancuk

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sorry for coming accros as patronizing. I like Vancouver....I lived in Vancouver for 20+ years but it bothers me when everyone in Vancouver thinks of themselves as SO much above the rest....it must be those "polls" that choose YVR as "the best place to live on the planet"....pure propaganda. There are a number of good and v. good restaurants in Vancouver but the numbers and the diversity do not match most large US cities..... By the way I did not mean stuck in the 50's food wise....more like in terms of transportation, roads, infrastructure, etc.....Take it easy, eh?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Pollo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I spent some time in Chicago this year. And I found the cuisine at the best of the best ie.Trotters, Tru, Alinea to be only slightly better than the best of Vancouver ie. Lumiere, West, Fuel. The food scene was, I would say better developed in Vancouver with the ocean and the farmland so close. There is a grassroots food movement in Chicago as well, with an emphasis on local etc. but they have long winters and a relatively short growing season. There are good steakhouses in Chicago...there are good Japanese places in Vancouver. There are great Mexican places in Chicago. There are good Chinese places in Vancouver. I think they stack up comparitively to one another with the slight edge going to Vancouver.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: formerlyfingers

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Please have a look at the post above by "jbw" (~middle of the thread) to understand/see my point as to why Chicago has Vancouver beat by a v. long mile....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Pollo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        While I wholeheartedly agree that Chicago is a great restaurant city, I believe Vancouver wins out based on the criteria listed in the original posting. With the bounty of foodstuffs occuring in it's backyard and surrounding region, Vancouver is full of the raw materials necessary to make for a spectacular food city. With a population about a third of Chicago, Vancouver certainly holds it's own.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: formerlyfingers

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Just as an aside here, in yesterday's Globe and Mail, Jamie Oliver was interviewed, and asked "Toronto or Vancouver?". He chose Vancouver, mentioning Tojo and Vij. I think that as good as the scene is in Toronto (and it is), Vancouver probably has more that is new and interesting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: formerlyfingers

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Like I said before: Vancouver has maybe a dozen of good/v.good restaurtants and great Chinese/Japanese but not any better than NY/SF/LA. What bounty of foodstuffs are you talking about?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Pollo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Vij, by the way, is sort of noouvelle Indian, not Chinese/Japanese.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Pollo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Where shall I begin?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Pacific ocean: dungeness crab, salmon, scallops, prawns, lingcod, sablefish, halibut, mussels, oysters, clams, albacore........

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Fraser Valley / Delta Region: Green vegetables, root vegetables, fruits of all kinds, herbs, tomatoes, berries......not to mention poultry, beef and game

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Okanagan: Wine, icewine, tree fruits

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Cowichan Valley: Honey, fruits, vegetables, berries, artisan cheeses

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Saltspring Island: Lamb, cheeses

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Pemberton region: vegetables, sugar pumpkin, squash

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Near and Far: wild mushrooms esp. pine(matsutake), chanterelle etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                this off the top of my head inthe last 90 seconds!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: formerlyfingers

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Come on let's not blow our own trumpet too hard! All the produce you list can be had (and almost always better/fresher/cheaper) in any major US city.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Pollo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is an absolutely ridiculous statement. Please explain to me how, in Chicago, you can get better/fresher scallops than in Vancouver?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Cancuk

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      United Airlines....besides any scallops you get in Vancouver will have to travel either by car or air and that will take 2-3 days (post harvest) before you see them....that's reality....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Pollo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You are missing the point, Pollo, with all due respect.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The point of this topic and thread was to debate the best food city in North America from the standpoint of well rounded, authentic and potential for local representaion. The idea that any city can truck/fly/ship food in and therefore is equal to those that grow it in their backyard is ludicrous, from the perspective of the conditions cited here. There are few cities in North America with the type of raw food potential that Vancouver has. Some are listed accurately on this board. There are reasons to consider Chicago, for example on this list, but they are certainly not because of it's ability to get product delivered into it!! That would place it in the same category as any other city with a harbour or an airport. Chicago is great because of the quality and diversity of it's restaurants, not because of it's local supply chain. The concept of local and regional food is what makes all great food cities in the world great! Lyon is home to Lyonnaise specialties - a great food city. Paris, Rome, San Sebastian, Mexico City, Beijing, Bangkok, New Orleans.....these all utilize the foodsuffs in their area to make an identifiable cuisine and therefore a great food city.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Like these, Vancouver is so situated that it can draw upon it's own abundance of natural products and thereby create it's own regional flavour and hence a designation as a great food city.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And for the record, there are numerous chefs in Vancouver who have cultivated relationships with local fishers and can get scallops and so much more directly from the water hours after it is caught. The days of phoning the fish monger and having fish flown in are no longer for many chefs. I ate Qualicum scallops from a Vancouver restaurant the same day they were harvested!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The variety of food products available to Vancouverites reminds me of another great food city in N. America - The Napa/Sonoma Regions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And just for the record....I am not even from Vancouver!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: formerlyfingers

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        You talk about regional/local representation....OK....I admit that mixing in Chicago might not be fair. But what is Vancouver know for to the rest of the world in terms of food/regional food?....What "regional" specialities are the Vancouver chefs known for? What is done "better" in Vancouver than any where else in the world or NA? I'm not trying to be funny but after 20+ years of living in Vancouver I have a hard time understanding your logic? One item that was v. good localy was "indian candy" but that was a long time ago...other than that? Cheese making is in its infancy....charcuterie places make poor imitations of European products...Okanagan makes some decent wines....seafood preparations are rather heavy handed and predictable compared to say Sydney. I agree that Lyon, Paris, Rome etc. are great food destination with incredible local variety of food and preparartions but frankly Vancouver is not at the same level....don't get me wrong it's moving in the right direction and is a HUGE improvement from when I arrived there in 1980's but it's been a slow process....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Pollo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Here is a brief rundown of the places in Vancouver that have made a big impact on the city's food culture in the last 8 or so years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          West: Considered by many to be in the top 50 restaurants in the world.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Lumiere: Recent turmoil aside, a very outstanding restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          C: A cutting edge place for years and a worldwide leader in sustainable fishing / animal husbandry practices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Tojo: World famous Japanese.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Vij's: Highly lauded and recognized modern Indian.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bishops: Regional specialties galore for a decade or so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Raincity Grill: BC cuisine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          NU: Modern and excellent seafood and more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Salt: Reverent and respectful charcuterie restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Oyama Sausage Co.: Charcuterie that rivals the best anywhere.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Guu and Hapa Izakaya: Lively and eccentric fresh and innovative Japanese places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I could go on. There are so many more great restaurants in the city and region and many of them are using vast amounts of local product on their menus. This is evidence of a vibrant and integrated food culture. A great food city will use the things they have in their own backyard to create a cuisine that is unique and personal to them.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Read the Vancouver posts of chowhounders from all over. They quite routinely report that the food scene is as good or better than what they are accustomed to in their own cities. Maybe it is time to pay Vancity another visit?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: formerlyfingers

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I lived in YVR for 20+ years and visit it v. often. The above list is nice but you can generate such list for any city. I had just about all the products that Oyama makes....they still have ways to go. Salt has local charcurterie but I tried all the placed that they get the produce from...again good but not great. Like I said before: what "regional" specialities are the Vancouver chefs known for? What is done "better" in Vancouver than any where else in the world or NA?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Pollo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hey...I am not gonna beat a dead horse. I have made my argument for Vancouver based on the original criteria. An argument can be made for other cities based on other criteria. This is about which city is or could be the best food city in North America from the standpoint of their ability to integrate local and regional products into their food scene, and with what level of integrity/culinary soundness the chefs use said ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have yet to see in your arguments how Vancouver is not this city. Very good arguments have been made here regarding cities which I hadn't considered, and have thus drawn my attention to them. These are specifically Mexico City and New Orleans. I am resting my case.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: formerlyfingers

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                OK...Bay Area gets my vote for top spot....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Pollo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think you're missing the point. Vancouver doesn't "do" a dish or a cuisine, what it "does", which makes it better than *most*, not all, is the quality cuisine it makes from it's own backyard. There are a number of restaurants that only use ingredients within 100 miles of the restaurant, and a lot of restaurants that only use products from the province. The fact that they do this, with outstanding products, PLUS making outstanding, world renowned and applauded meals, is why Vancouver is one of the leading food cities in NA.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Vancouver is also a world leader in regards to using sustainable products, especially Seafood.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And, if you really need a "cuisine". Bin 941 was the, supposed, first restaurant, or is credited as the first, of the "small plates" (like Tapas, but not Tapas) phenomenon that is/was hugely popular throughout NA.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Also, it's certainly not reality that you will always be eating scallops that are 3 days old in Vancouver. Try the following restaurants for fresh seafood:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Raincity Grill
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Go Fish

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                etc, etc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Cancuk

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Exactly my point...Vancouver does not do a dish or cusine....having said that all the "hoopla" is v. subjective especially if you realy want to belive in it (not trying to be condecending). Bin 941 does a poor imitation of tapas...may be impressive by provincial standard or if you have never been to Barcelona. I have eaten in most of the places you list and the only restasurant that impreses me over and over is Vij....but I still like Vancouver....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Pollo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    When you go to Charlie Trotters do you have deep dish pizza? Isn't that what Chicago's *dish* is? When you go to Le Bon Fec in Philly, do you have a cheese steak? Is this what you think Vancouver is missing? A signature dish like this? I would rather have, as you said earlier, "indian candy". If you really wanted to make something "Vancouver", you could add smoked salmon (as Native Americans were doing it long before we were here).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Vancouver cuisine, not a dish, is using the bounty of amazing, fresh produce and fish/meat in our own backyard and turning out outstanding food. A city like Chicago can't compete in this area, simply because it doesn't have the fresh produce. Can you go to a sushi restaurant in Chi and get that morning fresh caught fish like you can at Tojo's? No. I feel like this makes up the breadth of restaurants we don't have, simply due to size. We obviously don't have the same range of Steak Houses. This isn't true for quality Chinese and Japanese restaurants though, IMO.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I don't think Bin is very good either, and certainly not even a minor bleep on a world stage, but they are credited with starting the "small plates" phenomenon in NA and that's why I mentioned it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Cancuk

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Cancuk: if you read over the last few posts you will see that we are basically making the same points in our discussion with Pollo. I agree with your assessment of things. Objectivity and context are being lost on some.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Cancuk

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Chicago doesn't have freshly caught local fish, but it does have an abundance of high quality seasonal fruits and vegetables from nearby sources.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Right around the southern end of Lake Michigan is one of the premier fruit growing districts in North America. The really high quality stuff goes directly to restaurants and farmers markets in Chicago because cultivars grown for quality and picked ripe without regard for shipping quality cannot be found in local supermarkets, let alone distant ones.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        There is a lot of great farm land near Chicago, some producing excellent vegetables for the local market. Take a look at the list of producers at the Green City Market for organic and sustainable products: http://www.chicagogreencitymarket.org...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The City of Chicago also sponsors multiple farmers markets.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        For meats you will have a hard time beating the pastured or free range poultry from many growers including quite a bit from the Amish communities around Arthur, IL, and Elkhart and Lagrange counties in Indiana. Chiapetti slaughters and processes very good lamb and veal in Chicago. Our Thanksgiving turkey was range grown at HoKa Turkey Farm near Waterman, IL, west of Chicago. These turkeys have more subcutaneous fat but less body fat than turkeys grown in sheds or in warmer climates and so are self-basting and don't need brining for a juicy bird. http://www.hokaturkeys.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We also have a wide range of artisanal cheese produced in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana within 200 miles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The examples I have cited are a small sample of what is available here and doesn't touch the wide range of imported products used by our substantial ethnic populations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Cancuk

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I agree with your description of what you can get in Chicago....and that's on top of all the variety of restaurants...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Cancuk

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Canuck and formerlyfingers: All I can say is that you guys have to travel a bit more and see what's out there....The arguments you make are along the same lines people make for Vancouver beeing "the best city in the world to live in".....And yes, you can get sushi in Chicago much better than at Tojo's...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Pollo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              "Much" better than Tojo? Is that possible? Has the heat of the argument led to some hyperbole? I mean than sincerely, not a slag.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: hungry_pangolin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes it's possible...Tojo get's it's supplies from the same places the rest of NA sushi places get it....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Pollo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Grandville Island Market? I didn't know that Chicago Sushi restaurants go down and get their fresh caught tuna from the fisherman? Weird.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Actually, I have travelled a lot and even used to live in Chicago for 2 1/2 years!!! WOAH... somebody has a different opinion than you!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Actually, and I know this is going to come off as duchy and un-modest, the only continents that I haven't travelled through extensively are Africa and Eastern Europe.... but hey, i'm sure I need to go out and "see more" so I can understand where you're coming from. I mean, you told me so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Eating shitty deep dish pizza,


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Cancuk

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sushi quality fish from Granville Island market?....wow, you sure know your stuff! But then again you live in the "best city" in the world so who am I to argue?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Pollo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      PS: I ate at Tojo's on monday. Omkase at the bar. The sablefish was out of this world!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: formerlyfingers

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I frequently visit Vancouver and love the city and the food. That said, Tojo's is simply not what it used to be. Several years ago, if you ordered omakase, everything was amazing. Now, maybe a few things will be and everything else will be mediocre. Tojo's is still my favorite Japanese restaurant in the Pacific Northwest, but I am confident that if you're willing to pay the price, there are places in NYC and LA that will be better. I have enjoyed Guu , but is it stupendous??? No.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. I'm obviously biased, but New Orleans, for the following reasons:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. We're one of only a few cities (in the U.S., at least) with an easily identifiable regional cuisine (not just dishes, but an entire style of cuisine).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. We're one of the few "food destination" cities - many people come here just for the food.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. We have a number of the most recognizable (not necessarily the best, but among the most well-known) chefs in the world - Emeril, Paul Prudhomme, John Besh, Leah Chase, etc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              4. The local bounty - outstanding fresh seafood, strawberries, citrus, etc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              5. I'll go out on a limb, and suggest that per capita, we have more great restaurants than most other cities on the continent.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              6. The locals are more food obsessed than almost anywhere else. Seriously, people go out to eat, and spend the entire meal talking about other meals. Practically everyone cooks, and can prattle on for hours about the right way to make a seafood gumbo, or boiled crawfish, or whatever. Never a day goes by where I don't have a lengthy food conversation with somebody (and not just fellow hounds).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              7. You want high end, we've got great high end. You want dives, we've got great, cheap dives.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              8. We don't have as much food diversity as, say, New York, but for a city our size, we do have a pretty good selection of ethnic foods - including a pretty substantial Vietnamese community.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              So sure, you can find places with more diversity, or with a few better restaurants, but overall, as a "food city," especially considering its size, I think NOLA is hard to beat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Burgoober

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh yeah, reason #9: the relative lack of bad chains - in the city proper, we only have one Applebee's, one Bennigan's, zero Chilis, zero Cheescake Factories, zero PF Changs, and zero TGI Fridays. And the Applebee's and Bennigan's are both across the river from the bulk of the city, in the small part of town known as Algiers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Burgoober

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Great point! Very few crappy corporate chain restaurants to avert one's eyes from as one walks from one amazing local eatery to another.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. When ever someone else is willing to put an essay where their mouth is... please take me up on this: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/395199 (we can create one for North America only)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. born and raised in Southern California and lived on the east coast for going on 5 years...now in NYC. Hands down California. Better food all the way, less pretention and better price point. Loved Vancouver- was there a month ago and was more impressed w. the food there than i have been in the city.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. After reading every one of the 300+ replies on this thread, I'm more convinced than ever that New Orleans is the top food city in North America, with Mexico City being a distant second.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    No need to go anywhere else...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Clarkafella

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I agree, it's clearly New Orleans. I don't know why everyone here continues arguing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Clarkafella

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        if i had an airplane ticket to anywhere - and the money to eat .....
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. If i had to eat at ONE restaurant and return home, it would be Joel Rubichon's
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        on the other hand ....
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. if i could spend all that money wandering from restaurant to restaurant IN THE SAME CITY before returning home .... I would be hard pressed to choose between New Orleans and Philadelphia.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cornFusion

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks for your reverence of Philly eats! I brought Philly up on this thread a while ago and was promptly smacked down......I'm from Philly so I guess I am both biased and lucky (to be from such an unheralded food city....more for me).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: G Goo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I am still looking for people passionate enough to write an essay on their pick for best food city in North America using the following criteria:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Native Cuisine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Does the city of have a truly Unique Culinary Identity? Describe it. What makes it unique? How deep rooted is this identity? Provide examples of dishes, concepts, restaurants etc.,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            How do Local Ingredients support the city’s unique culinary identity?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Describe the city’s Culinary Culture & Attitudes. What is the typical resident’s relative Chowishness? Is quality eating widespread, restricted to a small enlightened group, or the rich?


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Describe the city’s Culinary Know How. How good are the mainstream cooks? How about the top regarded Chefs? Does the city produce high numbers of quality Chefs?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What is the typical quality of ingredients widely available?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Describe the city’s offering of artisan & specialty products?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Describe the city’s wine culture. Describe the typical wine offering. How well is food paired to wines?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Overall Variety

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What is the city’s general restaurant infrastructure?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Describe the city’s breadth of choices… how many distinct categories, what are some examples? How is the city’s offering of ethnic and foreign cuisine? (Note, I define ethnic cuisine as that which belongs to the city’s minorities & immigrants. Foreign cuisine is the cuisine of another country, but without the immigrants. For example, many cosmopolitan cities around the world have lots of French restaurants… without having very many French immigrants.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Describe the depth of each of the city’s culinary categories. In other words; does it have 100s of Ethiopian restaurants or just one?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Describe the general quality level of the city’s culinary categories. Are those 100s of Ethiopian restaurants fabulous because of competition, or do they instead compete on price and only deliver mediocrity?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Establishments by Price Point

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Describe the city’s low end dining situation? Numbers, Variety, Quality etc.,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What is a typical, everyday meal like? How affordable & physically accessible are restaurants in the city?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What is the typical splurge / special occasion meal? (Note, by typical I mean to exclude the $400 tasting menu at the restaurant that only seats 20 per night, and has no other comparison in the city)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What is the city’s fine dining offering like? Numbers, Variety, Quality etc.,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Does the city have any “World Class” restaurants? (Think of World Class as the restaurants that offer the cutting edge dining & ambiance… think foams, herbs grown in a gold toilet, big name chefs… ya-da, ya-da, ya-da).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I am sure it will take several days to prepare something this comprehensive... I intend to nominate Mexico City but will be busy with work for the next week so I think I should be able to post my nomination in about a week & a half. I really hope some of you are up to the challenge... because this could potentially be a CH goldmine for all of us who hope to travel to the world's top culinary destinations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: G Goo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It has been a while since i was last in Philly - wish I could go there now for a meal! Whats your favorite place? I was at the Publick House in Boston yesterday and truly miss Monk's Cafe!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. This debate seems to be more about best restaurant city than best food city overall.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          With that in mind, my vote is for New York.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Others may excel in certain areas, like Asian food, or affordable street food. or classical French cuisine. But nothing can beat New York's five burroughs for the variety offered from the best four star restaurants to the hidden holes in the wall in every cuisine imaginable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: taos

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Dotto, Taos. NYC is the best food city.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We have everything here. The finest French restaurants, from palaces to tiny Bistros. From grand Italian like Del Poste, to neighborhood trattoria. New American, traditional American; the Zagat Guide is 1/2 an inch thick, and that is only a small portion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Add to that Ethnic cuisine of every variety on God's Green Earth, multiply it by hundreds and hundreds of restaurants, and you have NY.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            From the $6 meal to the $200 meal, there are so many to choose from. Something for every taste, and every pocketbook.