Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >
Aug 9, 2007 06:43 PM

Top 10 cities for foodies - Comments Chowhound?!

Looks like tourists fed up with the beach and not interested in golf or tennis are finding a new reason to travel - FOOD. They are going great distances to sample local cheeses, pastries and exotic delicacies. has just released its list of the top 10 cities for foodies: Essential Eats in ( ).
1. New York City ( Per Se, Bubby's, Bistro Bathazar )
2. Las Vegas ( Guy Savoy at Caesar's Palace, Commander's Palace, Firefly for Tapas )
3. Los Angeles ( Melisse in Santa Monica, Hamasaku for Japanese )
4. Paris ( Taillevent, Ze Kitchen Galerie )
5. Bologna, Italy ( Al Pappagallo, Da Bertino )
6. Singapore ( One Rochester for French, Lei Gardens for Chinese )
7. Palermo, Sicily ( Il Mulinazzo, Osteria Altri )
8. Barcelona ( Casa Leopoldo, Can Manel la Puda )
9. London ( The Fat Cat, Tamarind )
10. Sydney ( Longrain, Billy Kwong )
Question: How come LA was chosen over San Francisco and Singapore over Hong Kong? Tokyo and Toronto should get honourary mention! No?!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. San Francisco's restaurants aren't expensive enough to make the cut.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Interesting comment Robert! I also think SF should be included due to the proximity of French Laundry.

      1. re: Charles Yu

        why would that make San Francisco the target city, why not Yountville? honestly, why not the wine country region. they have both the talented chefs and the local flair to make the cut.

    2. Vegas might have a few nice restaurants. But it's hardly a "city for foodies," is it? And more so than Paris?!?!?!

      9 Replies
      1. re: cackalackie

        OK, the moderators will probably have a kiniption. There are good food cities and there are good restaurant cities. They are not mutually exclusive but they are slightly different. I tend to go for the hole in the wall, ethnic heavy places, so I like those towns. That is what I like althought I am not opposed to splurging for the high end places once in a while.

        To me a great food city is one where you can eat well for not a lot of money and you feel like you are sharing in a secret spot that the tourist won't go to.

        I would say New York, San Francisco, LA, Chicago, Hong Kong, Taipei, Atlanta, Singapore, Paris, Brussels all qualify. the great restaurant cities I wouldn't know.

          1. re: southernitalian

            With the Asian, latin American, middle eastern, african influx into Atlanta, along with the BBQ joints and southern foods, Atlanta is great if you like ethnic foods done simply and cheaply. There are white linen, haute cuisine places too but not like some of the other cities. I enjoy cruising up and down Buford Highway and driving through Decatur and finding the out of the way ethnic places to enjoy the foods.

            Buford highway is like the United Nation personified, I have been the Malaysian, Chinese, Vienamese, Korean, salvadoran, Colombian, Ethiopian, foods all up and down there. The groceries along that stretch is also impressive.

            1. re: Phaedrus

              Finally an advocate for Atlanta food! All of my foodie tendancies got started in Atlanta and I remember all of the gorgeous exotic produce and seafood in the Deklb Farmers Market. I had my first tast of Korean food on Buford Highway, first curry, Thai and Indian, looked at every part of the pig but the oink in the Sweet Auburn Market, tried "tofutti", singed my sinuses with Chinese mustard, ate (and shelled) every kind of field pea under the sun! Atlanta has it's own flavor and if visitors can find there way in from the suburbs, they might be suprised at what they find!

              1. re: Phaedrus

                Hmmmm. I have to say that I have never found Atlanta to be truly impressive as a food city. Lots of variety, which is great, but I've had better versions of all the international foods elsewhere, especially the various Asian quisines.

                I can't comment on the higher-end stuff. And I'm not a resident, but I just never find myself as impressed with Atlanta food as the residents always seem to be. That true for Atlanta in general, actually....

                1. re: uptown jimmy

                  I liked the variety and homey goodness of the Chinese food rthere, I know my Colombian friend loves the Colombian bakery in Atlanta. None of the places in Atlanta are very fancy and they are definitely not for the gringo, they are there to serve the immigrant populace, which is what I look for.

            2. re: Phaedrus

              Where in Burssels would you suggest to go? We will be there in 2 weeks for our first time?

            3. re: cackalackie

              I totally agree with your assessment cackalackie. My wife and I visited Vegas for 4 days a couple of months ago and while we found a couple of decent restaurants, I wouldn't say its a good "foodie" city, nor necessarily even a good chowhound city. I'm certain there are culinary delights to be had, but they weren't easy to find and didn't seem plentiful.

              1. re: ccbweb

                We were in LV for a convention in Sept 2005 and were delighted to go to some of the name-chef restaurants there. The food was good, but not nearly as good as the names on the restaurant doors would imply. My impression was that Vegas dining is a lot like buying expensive brands from factory outlets -- not top-quality, because people are content to go with the names with no expectation of meeting their lofty reputations. In fact, Vegas dining, like the rest of Las Vegas, is more smoke and mirrors than substance.

            4. To answer the question, LA offers a much wider scope of cuisines at high level and than does SF, otherwise pejoratively known as "ethnic" food. For a TRUE foodie or TRUE chowhounder, LA's standing as a foodie capital is a given. But this list seems to include only anglo-centric high dining, so yeah, it's bizzare that LA would be included over SF. LA certainly does not have anything close to French Laundry.

              I'm glad they mentioned Firefly in LV. Excellent place for tapas.

              1. For London, do you mean "The Fat Duck"?

                3 Replies
                1. re: bmubyzal

                  Yeah, the piece refers to The Fat Duck. Which is in Bray, near Maidenhead.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Yeah - If the best that London has to offer is in Berkshire.....

                    1. re: cackalackie

                      The Fat Duck's location is irrelevant, what matters is the chef.

                      "Heston Blumenthal has a problem: his dessert tastes like horseshit."


                2. Forbes needs to do a little fact checking before publication.

                  Commander's Palace in Las Vegas has been closed since mid-January and there has been little news as to when - or if - they will reopen in Vegas.


                  12 Replies
                  1. re: Seth Chadwick

                    And no mention of Montreal? And just in response to the OP's comment - no, Toronto should never, ever figure on that list.

                    1. re: swissfoodie

                      Agreed. After living in Ottawa and Washington, DC, I moved to Toronto and I've found the food scene here to be abysmal. I go to the restaurants that are highly recommended and find them to all be mediocre at best. I've found three restaurants that I actually like since I moved here (and I've tried easily over 100, so that's a pretty poor record). One of them is a complete hole in the wall where you can get a meal for less than $10, and the other two are only mid-range priced (a delightful Malaysian restaurant, and a *embarrassed* chain steakhouse). The couple higher end places I've splurged at (that received consistently stunning reviews) were passable, but not worth the price and certainly didn't bear repeating.

                      There isn't, for example, even a single acceptable or close to authentic Thai restaurant in the whole city. Ketchup in Pad Thai, North American broccoli in Pad See Eew, and carrots liberally added to everything? Abysmal and downright disgusting!

                      1. re: vorpal

                        vorpal, Toronto may not be in Top 10, Top 15 ... etc, depending who rank it, but abysmal food scene is way too strong to describe it. Just wondering what are the high end restaurants have you visited in Toronto ?

                        Hong Kong should be up there for sure !

                        1. re: vorpal

                          Such negative remarks on the Toronto foodscene from a Torontonian!! How strange! I too, like skylineR33, would like to know which high-end restaurants you have tried in Toronto. Though not as fancy as some of the Michelin 2 or 3 stars in NYC such as Per Se, Daniel or Jean George, however, for the money, food from restaurants like Splendido or Susur surely does not deserve to be called mediocre. In fact, for a multi course tasting menu, their's are one of the best quality/value for money in the world!! I think I can make such a comment based on the 78 michelin star restaurants I have eaten around the world!!!

                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            You mean Europe with the exception of SF and NYC. Anywhere else and it's not 'Michelin.'


                            1. re: Withnail42

                              Technically yes! However, a restaurant such as Robouchon a Galera in Macau, though not rated by Michelin, is easily Michelin star calibre, especially during 'Truffles' season whence Joel Robouchon, the master 3 star chef himself usually presides over the kitchen. Another, non-European, non Michelin example is Sciroco in the Hotel Lobua, Bangkok. Last year, over six Michelin 3 star chefs were invited to cook in their kitchen. Though not rated by Michelin, however, the food is definitely Michelin calibre. Anyways, with European, SF and NYC Michelin experiences under my belt, I believe I can offer some 'fair' culinary comment regarding food quality in Toronto. Considering I too, reside in Toronto!! By the way, Toronto also has some of the BEST Chinese food outside of Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and China. 'Mediocre at best' to describe Toronto's restaurants - surely NOT!!!

                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                First have to say TO does have some excellent restaurants.

                                Second technically there are no three, two or one Michelin star chefs. The stars are awarded to the establishment not the person. Having a 'Michelin' chef in a kitchen does not elevate it to any sort of status one way or the other. Robouchon, a while back asked to be removed, from the guide.

                                The core philosophy of Michelin is 'value for money'. For Michelin to expand into a new city they have to feel that there are enough places meeting their criteria. As of now, as far as I know, there are no plans for Toronto guide.


                            2. re: Charles Yu

                              I'll admit that I haven't eaten at what I would consider to be Toronto's "highest end" places like Splendido or Susur, simply because as a graduate student, they currently aren't even remotely near my price range. I've heard largely excellent things about Splendido and would never dismiss them out of hand, but my impression I've gotten from my time over in the Toronto area of Chowhounds is that they seem to be the *only* very-high end restaurant in the city that is consistent in both food quality and service. Susur has apparently slid quite badly: the service (from what I've heard) is generally poor, and the food is far too wildly hit-or-miss to bother taking the chance and dropping $500 on a dinner for two.

                              As a prelude, note that "high-end" to me generally consists of restaurants in the range of $50-100 per person pre-liquor (as I don't drink wine). Anything more than this is an extravagance that is completely unobtainable to me, and one I'm not sure I'd be willing to indulge unless I was absolutely guaranteed a virtually impeccable evening. (I'd rather take a nice December trip to St. Martin, enjoy the beaches, and eat in Grand Case, which is guaranteed to be good.)

                              That being said, my most recent Toronto experience was with Batifole, a cute French bistro located charmingly in Chinatown East. I've seen nothing but raves for this restaurant, so I decided to check it out. While I certainly wasn't disappointed and did enjoy my meal, it wasn't particularly exciting and I wouldn't much care to repeat the experience for the price I paid. This seems to be true of the number of other similarly priced offerings - all highly recommended - that I've tried. I haven't completely given up hope yet and would like to splurge on an all-out day at the Gallery Grill soon, although it is slightly cheaper. Their menu looks divine.

                              I think there's something very seriously wrong with a city in which you cannot get a thoroughly satisfying, wonderful meal in the $50-100 per person range, and instead to truly obtain a spectacular experience, you have to shell out $100-200 per diner. Frankly, I've found that I enjoy my $10 tonkatsu curry at Tokyo Grill far more than the $50-100 offerings I've tried, and those hole in the walls tend to be more consistent in service and food quality.

                              Torontonians also largely seem to agree that consistency here is a *huge* problem. A restaurant will build a reputation for itself for several months and then glide on its coattails, allowing many "slips".

                              I'm not sure exactly why this city has such problems with food. I could stop at virtually any Indian, Thai, or Japanese restaurant in Ottawa, Montreal, and DC that looked half decent and have a meal at a comparable price to Toronto's offerings that was at least mediocre and often much better. In Toronto, even trying to find mediocre restaurants is frequently a daunting task. All the more expensive offerings I've enjoyed in other cities were generally lovely, well worth the money, and truly magical evenings. Toronto's similar venues have always left me wanting.

                              I mean, really... this city cannot even do simple Mexican or Thai food right, and most people complain about the lack of decent Greek food despite our large Greek population. There are serious problems here. I suspect that Torontonians have simply come to expect much less from their food establishments. To be perfectly honest, I also believe that Toronto is in general trying to market trendiness, and a good number of people are willing to overlook serious flaws in food quality and service in order to be see and be seen in the right atmosphere with the right people. Even something as simple as Thai and Pan-Asian restaurants are guilty of this these days, becoming vastly popular by serving appalling food in trendy surroundings (think Salad King and Spring Rolls). I can't relate to that desire myself in any capacity.

                              I don't mean to slam Toronto so much, but I imagine that there are much, much better food destinations; at least, I sincerely hope so.

                            3. re: vorpal

                              Vorpal, you surprise me. "Abysmal"? Perhaps for Thai, but across the board? Even with the high exchange rate, the quality (globally speaking) is a bargain here.

                              As for Mexican, we don't have an adequately large Mexican population. It's like expecting Toronto to be a mecca of Armenian cuisine. Why, why can I not find decent Estonian? Etc.

                              As for see/be seen places... they exist in every city, and should be shunned accordingly.

                              Besides... this list is ridiculous.

                              1. re: hungry_pangolin

                                I guess compared to DC and Ottawa, I really do find the food in Toronto to be quite lacking. It's a matter of personal taste, of course, but in my experience, I can dine in restaurants in both of those cities and consistently find significantly better meals for less than half the price of Toronto offerings when you start talking mid- to high-range food.

                                I know a lot of people really like the Toronto food scene, so I apologize if I was insulting to them. I've just been *so* disappointed since I moved here and I've tried many different places. I guess in Ottawa and DC I was at least satisfied and quite often delighted by the restaurants I picked; in Toronto, even listening to hound recommendations and doing significant research ahead of time, I'm usually left wishing that I'd just stayed in and cooked.

                            4. re: swissfoodie

                              Vancouver is up there with Montreal and Toronto.

                              1. re: swissfoodie

                                I concur! Montreal? absolutely, Vancouver? you bet, Toronto? Definitely not!