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Best and Worst World Cities for Food

I recently passed the U.S. Foreign Service Exam, and while I wait for my clearances to come through I'm engaging in the fascinating pastime of speculating on my future foreign postings. Being a chowhound, availability of delicious food is very important to my happiness. So, if you had to choose a world city to live in based solely on the food, where would you go? Where would you avoid? I'm especially interested in your thoughts on non-Europe areas of the world.

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  1. Sidney, Tokio (if you're gonna make big bucks....), Singapur, Saigon.

    Europe: Rome, Barcelona, Berlin.

    3 Replies
    1. re: linguafood

      Food in Tokyo can be surprisingly cheap. You can eat lunch sets in many excellent restaurants for ¥1200-1500, and simple but delicious foods like ramen are bellow ¥1000.

      You can eat fantastic 3 star Michelin sushi for ¥ 5500 too (US$ 60). Or just go to a popular place like Standing Sushi Bar and eat every kind of exotic fish (kohada, toro, unagi etc) spending around ¥1000.

      1. re: babreu

        Agreed! I've had JPY1,500 sushi sets in Tachiaigawa which still visit me in my dreams.

        1. re: babreu

          Or you can eat at ramen shops or a slew of local ticket-based vending machine outlets for less than 700 yen. Regardless of whose dime it's on, if you're in the mood for these greasy spoon-type places which have an interesting clientele in their own right, they certainly exist in Tokyo, among other Japanese cities.

      2. I am a food addict and I've traveled up and down, and here are my two cents. There aren't places to GO to per se, because it depends on what foods you like. If you can't handle spicy, for example, don't go to India.

        Here are places TO AVOID. Unless you're going to stay at a home (in which case the world is your buffet plate), you are guaranteed that you will have a passable but not remarkable time eating.

        A: UK. Home food's marvelous, but otherwise it's passable at best.
        B: Scandinavia. Might be good in some places, but bloody expensive to boot.
        C: Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, e.t.c.). Again, restaurants are unremarkable.

        I know this sounds prejudiced, but here is the rule of the thumb: Wherever feminism is NOT rampant, restaurant food's generally above average (Japan, Italy, France). My friend maintains that wherever the women are notorious (Brazil, Italy, Japan, France, Russia) for their aesthetic virtues (or whatever makes them appealing to the men), food's good. Basically if the women hold to their conservative roles, they cook and therefore aim to cook better, and ergo the restaurants will up their quality because they have to compete with the housewives. This sounds sexist but to my experience it holds true.

        Happy eating!

        19 Replies
        1. re: Gabrielleduvent

          Interesting theory, Gabrielleduvent. But what about India and Mexico, famous for the food and not so famous for the women?

          From my experience (I travel and eat a lot).

          Top 3 best:

          1. Tokyo (the rest of Japan too, but Tokyo is the real paradise for food lovers)
          It's a tie, 2 and 3: São Paulo/Brazil and France.

          Women-wise, it's Tokyo and Brasil too. :)

          Top 3 bad places for food:

          1. China (chinese food may be great, but the chinese are the opposite of the japanese when it comes to attention to detail. Not to mention the scary cantonese food).
          2. Tunisia (even the couscous is below average);
          3. Eastern europe.

          1. re: babreu

            It would seem you haven't been to Shanghai lately.

            1. re: babreu

              Just curious - what is it about cantonese food that makes you say it is scary?

              1. re: babreu

                I beg to differ about Chinese food. If you eat at some cheap mom-and-pop joint, you get exactly what you pay for. But higher end Chinese dishes often require much attention to detail. Some dishes require days to prepare.

                I am also curious why you are scared by Cantonese food.

                1. re: babreu

                  I'll have to take issue with some of these statements:

                  1.) Indian and Mexican women - India has won the Miss World title for 4 years in the 2000's. Hardly not famous aesthetically. And Mexican (and Colombian) women in telenovelas? (Makes hourglass shape with hands and wolf whistles).

                  2.) Doesn't sound like you've had an opportunity to experience real Cantonese food. Cantonese cuisine is considered to be one of the highest prestige cuisines in all of China, because of the hundreds of years of influences as a trading port and thus incorporating a diverse set of ingredients and cooking methods. Unlike other cuisines of China where liberal usage of spices and flavors reign, Cantonese cuisine relies solely on technique and freshness of ingredients. The intricacies of technique and preparation of high-end Cantonese cuisine is acknowledged as on par with high-end French cuisine.

                  1. re: HungWeiLo

                    (Eat in Guangzhou, Die in Liuzhou, Play in Suzhou, Live in Hangzhou)
                    as the saying goes.

                    1. re: huiray

                      I have a Chinese coworker who went to China last year. He said food in Guangzhou was amazing but other cities were very disappointing to the point he couldn't eat most of the time.

                      1. re: Monica

                        This is the most ERRONEOUS statement made about Chinese cuisine.
                        The type of food in Guanzhou is mainly cantonese. Presumably your coworker prefers cantonese.
                        Even so, he can find great cantonese restaurants in other Chinese cities like Shanghai, Chengdu. Too bad he missed out on the local cuisine,which are absolutely fantastic.!

                        1. re: towkay

                          We don't know about that coworker's travel conditions. Maybe he was in an organized tour eating in hotel restaurants or the kind of places where tourists are herded. I have heard such organized tour tourists say food in Italy and France is awful too. :-)

                          1. re: Parigi

                            That's true re organized tours...but food in other parts of China is more exciting TO ME -- I emphasize TO ME so Guangzhou chauvinists don't try to string me up...
                            Even within the corridor between Nanjing and Shanghai there are multiple cuisines -- Nanjing food is different from Wuxi food is different from Suzhou food (ah, Suzhou) is different from Shanghai food. And there are other ones I don't know about.
                            Yours sincerely, someone who must go back to China soon.

                            1. re: buttertart

                              I am a GZ chauvinist, I guess, but I like other cuisines too. t's organized tours I deplore :-)
                              I noticed something funny: people in HK, at least my friends there, consider S'hai food refined. When I was in S'hai, local friends wanted to take me to have … Cantonese food - ! - which they consider chic. Sort of the opposite of chauvinism.

                            2. re: Parigi

                              Chinese organized tours are hilarious - you will get Chinese food (bland and bad Cantonese) no matter where you go. Europe, Latin America, etc. And they LIKE it that way. One meal without rice and the tour members collectively riot.

                              towkay: Why is that statement erroneous? Cantonese cuisine is one of the main staples of Chinese cuisine, both historically and in modern times. As one of the posts above states, the Chinese have a saying (not just in Guangzhou) that one should "marry in Suzhou, live in Hangzhou, eat in Guangzhou, die in Liuzhou".

                              And it's not as if Guangzhou is the hick backwaters. It's got almost just as many varieties of good places to experience all regions of Chinese cuisine as Shanghai and Beijing.

                              1. re: HungWeiLo

                                Erroneous, as the implication that only ,"amazing" food is found in GZ and nowhere else in China. Good cantonese cuisine is subtle and refined.
                                I,wholeheartedly agree that different parts of China have equally "amazing" food!

                          2. re: Monica

                            I believe he was visiting his family in China and I do not think he was with a tour group.

                          3. re: huiray

                            In that order. I think Cantonese food in general turns me off primarily because when I'm not eating dessert, I don't want something sweet, or 点心 that makes me feel gross after just a few bites. There are definitely good Cantonese dishes out there (ones with fish, har gau, literal desserts), but at the end of the 日, it's still just my opinion. And about individual opinions, I think Taiwanese food is the pits...along with Kejia cuisine. A bunch of visits to night markets in Gaoxiong, Taibei (oh wait, it's called New Taibei City now, right?) and Jilong left me not craving anything particularly Taiwanese...both oyster pancakes and sweet potato cakes I've seen in Xiamen (not too shocking) and elsewhere. At least the 7-11s in Taiwan have decent drinks though (one was a pumpkin milk).

                      2. re: Gabrielleduvent

                        This is nonsense.

                        Russia and Eastern Europe have incredible women (Scandinavia, too, to a lesser extent), but the food there is, on the whole, substandard. Other countries with women who aren't renowned for their aesthetic virtues (India, Mexico) have excellent food.

                        In other words, the two (good food, good women) are completely unrelated.

                        In my experience, the highest correlatives to good food are quality ingredients (which depends in no small measure on climate -- hence the general quality of Mediterranean and other temperate cuisines, even if the country is undeveloped) and per capita GDP (since surplus income allows one to focus on the good life, e.g., haute cuisine).

                        1. re: porphyrogenitus

                          Hmm. Yet the OP's theory includes this statement:
                          "Basically if the women hold to their conservative roles, they cook and therefore aim to cook better, and ergo the restaurants will up their quality because they have to compete with the housewives."
                          I read this to mean that the women in these countries COOK WELL at home, in their "conservative"/traditional role, which is separate from (i.e. NOT the same as) saying the women are stunning va-va-voom bombs of physical attractiveness which the comments here are fixating on. :-) This might "account for" your supposition about womenfolk in Mexico and India?

                          OTOH, I don't know where you are from, but how do you know the menfolk in Mexico and India find their womenfolk physically attractive, for that matter?

                          1. re: huiray

                            Oops, I meant:
                            "...how do you know the menfolk in Mexico and India DON'T find their womenfolk physically attractive..."

                        2. re: Gabrielleduvent

                          theory fail.
                          the most promiscuous cities in america have some of the best food. Because people flirting like to go to restaurants. and good ones too.

                        3. Cuba had a good run as the jewel of the Antilles for a couple centuries, but the food in Havana now sucks.
                          Mexico City has great food.

                          1. Kuala Lumpur is a melting pot. You can find a lot of different types of food there. And Cairo is one of the best places to eat! Service sucks though.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: ButteredUp

                              Cantonese food in KL is incredible - so different from HK's.
                              And Malay food - with its nasi lemak, ikan masak merah, rendang, laksa, etc - one of the world's great under-rated cuisines!

                              1. re: klyeoh

                                ...although the halal laws make finding pork in the place more difficult than in Singapore or HK, for example. [Cantonese cuisine without pork - in restaurants that choose to be or are obliged to be halal - is faintly nonsensical ;-) ]

                                p.s. you have posted extensively also about the cuisines of China other than Cantonese in KL also; as well as some examples of very good European/Continental places there...

                                1. re: klyeoh

                                  How different is it, for Cantonese in KL as compared to HK? Presumably there are good tasting Cantonese in KL, but generally Cantonese/Chinese cuisine is assumed to be more refined and sophisticated in HK than anywhere else in Asia.

                                  Any fine dining for Malay/Cantonese/Penang style in KL?

                                  1. re: towkay

                                    HK's Cantonese cuisine is definitely more refined than KL's, but I found that the more robust, assertive KL Cantonese flavors suit my (Singaporean) palate more: liberal lashings of chillis, dried shrimps & "belachan" (fermented shrimp paste), use of local ingredients like the "petai" (stink-beans), "kangkung" (water-spinach), etc. In Cantonese restaurants in KL, there is also sometimes a blurring of lines between different Chinese regional cuisines (so you can find Hainanese or Hakka dishes alongside Cantonese ones) and local/Nyonya hybrids like "kangkong fried with sambal belachan", which has been accepted as a "Chinese" dish.

                                    Recently, I noticed that New Fook Lam Moon in Gerrard Street (Chinatown, London) was taken over by Malaysian-Chinese owners and, besides the usual traditional-Cantonese dishes, they'd added quintessential Malaysian-Nyonya-Chinese ones like chilli crab, steamed fish topped with chilli-beansauce, "bak kut teh" (herbal pork-rib soup), etc. - see attached photo.

                                    Fine-dining Malay restaurants are, frankly, not worth the money - Malay cuisine has not evolved much beyond simple homecooked fare, so you probably end up paying big bucks for the same food which you can get in roadside street-stalls: "ikan bakar" (grilled fish), "sambal petai" (stink beans stir-fried with chillis & belachan), "gulai ayam" (chicken curry), fried tempe, "ulam-ulam" (raw vegetables, served with sambal belachan dip), etc. Some fine-dining Malay restaurants in KL included Enak (Starhill mall), Bijan (Ceylon Road), Bunga Emas (Royale Chulan Hotel) andmost recently Songket restaurant at Jalan Yap Kwan Seng (opened by a group of Bijan alumnus).

                                    Good fine-dining Cantonese in KL included Ming Room (Bangsar Shopping Centre), Han Room (Gardens, the Mall), Oversea (Jalan Imbi), Li Yen (Ritz-Carlton Hotel KL), and the halal/no-pork Lai Poh Heen (Mandarin Oriental KL), amongst others.

                                    There are no fine-dining Penang-style restaurants anywhere, as Penang fare is usually street-food style, but you can find good Penang food in air-con comfort in Litte Penang Cafe (branches in Suria KLCC, Mid-Valley Megamall, etc).

                                    1. re: klyeoh

                                      Thank you. Great take on Cantonese cuisine in KL. Seems like a fusion of Cantonese with local Malay ingredients.

                              2. All my opinions:
                                Japan -- everywhere -- and Singapore are my favorites. I love Asian food, so I adore Malaysia, Thailand, and Hong Kong as well. One can eat well in Indonesia too, but badly as easily. In Italy, Italians eat much better than tourists, so it depends. Austria has high standards if the meat appeals to you. London has become better, but it is so expensive. Berlin is really average, but I love the high quality Vietnamese places which have been springing up. Buenos Aires is fabulous. I do not love Cairo or Tel Aviv, generally speaking. Paris is too expensive, but the markets are so great that eating at home is a treat. Barcelona is delicious. Athens is great for a month, then it all repeats itself. Istanbul is better to me.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: taiga

                                  We have a week of dining in Istanbul. What do you suggest. Thanks

                                  1. re: taiga

                                    IMO, Tel Aviv has become great in the past 30 years, particularly in the past 3 years...

                                    1. re: veggielover

                                      I agree, Tel Aviv is now amongst the best. I also like KL, Toronto, Sydney, Bangkok and of course New York.

                                      1. re: DDD

                                        Check Montreal out. It is the most interesting city in Canada for food.

                                        1. re: towkay

                                          I agree about Toronto. Walked into a random restaurant with my husband and i still remember their food....so memorable. And the baguettes we picked up from a random bakery, so good. Overall, i thought food was better than nyc...god knows it's so hard to find good baguette even in NYC.

                                          1. re: Monica

                                            Are you serious? I can get wonderful baguettes here in Miami, and I suppose it would take me about 30 minutes to find them in New York. I love Toronto, but better food than NYC?

                                            1. re: taiga

                                              I can't walk into a random bakery and find the perfect baguettes in NYC but I did in Montreal at a fraction of prices I normally pay in NYC.
                                              I think quality of baked goods are still pretty low in NYC but that's my opinion.
                                              There are a lot of good restaurants in NYC but often times, you have to pay for it.

                                  2. non europe areas
                                    japan: not just tokyo but from okinawa (great porks) to hokkaido (sea foods and dairy products).
                                    singapore: you can have everything but expensive.

                                    europe area
                                    spain: good quality in general. the best olives.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: yumyumyumyum

                                      Spain emphasis on San Sebastian. Yet to have a bad meal here.

                                    2. BEST: Tokyo, Saigon, San Francisco, NYC.
                                      WORST: any city in Germany. Hmm after Germany, I can't think of any worse maybe except Midwestern USA.

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: linguafood

                                        We had great food in Germany last time we were there...great vegtables. Chicago also has great food so I disagree with midwestern USA having the worst food.

                                        I agree with Vietnam and San Francisco, and I have never been to Japan.

                                        1. re: veggielover

                                          I agree with Germany. We've had meh food there but we've also had amazing food there. I think you can often have brilliant regional food if you do the research and are open minded! Even in Eastern Europe where I have spent a lot of time.

                                        2. re: muppditt

                                          what a silly post, I had lots of spectacular food in Germany - especially at Jorg Muller in Sylt. I had a white fish with sauce full of miniature shrimp that were only about half an inch in size - so delicious and so unique, I've never seen it anywhere else. would love to hear if anyone knows where I can get this closer to home.

                                          1. re: lizardqueen

                                            Having spent an inordinate amount of time (years) over the years in Germany, I must say that it is not one of my favorite places to eat either. Of course we are talking about a massive country, but classic German cuisine is not one of my favorites, nor a favorite of many young Germans. In Berlin, you can get a lot of good affordable food these days, but I can remember when it was a culinary disaster, save for the expensive places. This said, I suppose one could make this argument about a number of places. Finally, the best test might be, as some have suggested, to measure how the commoner eats at home. In this case, I vote for most of the east, and southeast Asian countries, plus Italy. I love the food in Chicago too, but I imagine that dinner on the table there might not be as delicious as in the streets.

                                            1. re: taiga

                                              Belgium, Germany and Thailand rank high on my list for food if only because their supermarkets have such a diversity of foods. No comment about their food as that's for another post, but at least for Thailand (or Bangkok), due to the cornucopia of ethnic groups represented by tourists and residents, you can find quite the otherwise obscure items in say Emporium or Foodland.

                                          2. re: muppditt

                                            "...I can't think of any worse maybe except Midwestern USA."
                                            Uhh, Chicago is one of the top dining destination cities in the world. That's not my personal opinion only, but the opinion of folks in the food world.

                                            1. re: huiray

                                              Arguably, Chicago isn't exactly exemplary for the rest of Midwestern USA.

                                              1. re: linguafood

                                                Yet the OP is asking for comments about CITIES.

                                          3. The worst overall I found is Geneva. The food Is OK, but the prices are astronomical!! There IA nothing unique there either.
                                            And I agree that Germany was quite good. Especially on the kuchen side if things. You do have to look beyond the bratwursts though and I found that one regions cuisine is not readily found everywhere so you have to travel for it as opposed to France where you can find any dish in any city.

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: meatnveg

                                              Agreed - I love Maultaschen, and it's hard to find Swabian food outside Baden-Wuttermberg.

                                              1. re: klyeoh

                                                Babreu asked about Indian and Mexican.

                                                In case you go to India the place is amazing for range and variety. You will get the Good, the Bad and also the Ugly !!

                                                Cuisine in differen parts of the country varies - North Indian is the usual fare you get in many "Indian Restaurants" worldwide while the South is mainly vegetarian (with some exceptions like Hyderabad for Biryani ec). In East India, Kolkata is a foodies delight - make sure you know where you are going - also try out the "Indian Chinese" food there.Also, try Goa for fusion Indian/Portugese food.

                                                See the South Asian board for more insights.

                                                1. re: rocklandfoodie

                                                  Second goanese cuisine. I brought back 5 packets of freshly ground Xacutti spice when I caem back last year. It saddens me that I spent 17 years of my life in India bumming around north and east india.

                                                  1. re: meatnveg

                                                    Singapore will rank amongst one of the world's best. We are a food-obsessed nation!
                                                    Why? Because we have access to cheap street food (from US$1.50 per bowl of noodles), moderately priced restaurants (from US$10 per head) and costly celebrity chef (starting from US$150 per head).
                                                    Apart from that, you can pick from different cuisine types: Chinese (Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese, Hakka) , Japanese, Korean, French, Spanish, Italian, Mod. European, etc..you name it. The variety is eye-popping.


                                                    1. re: evechen

                                                      IMO there's way too much Chinese food everywhere (again, not surprising), let alone southern Chinese food. I walked into a Sichuan restaurant in Geylang and the menu was just a menu from the mainland with the yuan symbol replaced with the Singapore $. Mm, overpriced inferior quality Sichuan food (at least the crowd was purely mainland expats) when I'd much rather be eating in the less discussed Little India or Malay sections. Though, I'd be curious to know how well Bee Cheng Hiang pairs with vanilla ice cream...
                                                      As an aside, I think HK is much, much worse in the eating department. It's another place I escape to the South Asian (ie, Chungking Mansions) epicentre. Excessively rude staff (even for HK), endlessly foul odors and a huge menu with nothing edible are just a few reasons why I'm rarely present in them...and if my HK mates want to eat Chinese, they already know I'd only want to do so in Shenzhen.

                                            2. Just my two cents but it's hard to beat London for good eating. I've lived many places, eaten in many restaurants, and I am always amazed how much is offered in London... every ethnic food, terrific 'modern British,' and even some of my favorites from back home in the U.S. I thought I'd starve here but instead have gained too much weight!

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: zuriga1

                                                I love London, too. We ate better there than in Paris last year (we went low to medium range in Paris, nothing splashy).

                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                  Hey evechen, have you tried "Indian Chinese"? This is Chinese food cooked by the large chinese population that live in Eastern part of India who came over many generations back - the food had changed over time to suit the Indian palate, started in Kolkata India and spread to all over India. We have some places here in the US that specializes in Indian Chinese - those who have been to Edison will know. Also, look up "Tangra Masala" in Queens, NY - a hole in the wall but great Indian Chinese grub !!

                                                  Looking at these comments, as my grandpa used to say - we have a "Gruesome Preoccupation with Food !!

                                                  1. re: rocklandfoodie

                                                    I've noticed more opening up in Curry Hill and Jackson Heights...not surprising about the neighborhoods, of course.

                                              2. Singapore for me was the best in terms of food choice. There are so many options at all budgets. From street food, to fine dining and everything in between, I am hard pressed to think of anywhere in the world that has so many options. Its also very clean!

                                                The worst city for me is Kathmandu!

                                                1. Actually, I would add New Delhi to this list. You can get everything andeven some cuisines that are harder to come by (tibetan, burmese, nepalese)

                                                  1. Congrats on passing your exam. I will tell you the same thing they said to me- welcome ot the foreign circus. I am in Bulgaria, and the food here is ok. I find Bulgarian food uninspiring, except for the produce, but there are some good international retarurants here. Romanian food is a bit better for me. Instanbul- very good food. Santiago, Pretoria, Capetown, Taipei, Tallin, as I recall all had good food. Most places in Africa except Egypt and South Africa I have had a hard time finding really good food. South America varies - Caracas, Georgetown,and Paramaribo did notstrike me as good places for foodies. Same with most of the Carribbean with a few exceptions. The food in Port au Prince was not good. Baghdad has ok food if you like greasy american food. Moscow- you have to pay mucho but there is some good food to be had. I loved ever single meal I have had in Greece. I was dissappointed in Hanoi but perhaps I had bad luck because I love vietnamese food.

                                                    1. You can add Lima to the list of cities with good food. Be it lunch, dinner or a 3am snack, this city has amazing at every hour of the day for every taste you have.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: meatnveg

                                                        Lima- what kind of food can be expected? Fine dining or home cooking style?

                                                        1. re: towkay

                                                          Though you'll find pretty much every cuisine, it's best to stick to the Peruvian, Andean, Chinese (chifa's) and Criollo places. These are, without exception, extremely proud of their offerings. The typical food is Cevice (at lunch), alpaca, llama, lomo saltado (stir fried beef), Cuy (guinea pig), Anticucho (grilled beef heart), Chicken la Brasa and sandwiches with everything from Turkey to Chicharrones.
                                                          If you are lookig for the wierd, you'll find Guinea pigs, beef hearts, Chicharrones, purple corn and 3 kinds of sweet potatoes! I actually found a place that specialises exclusively in Chicharrons (fried pork and chicken skin).
                                                          On the fine dining and home cooked end, you have both and both are equally good. What differentiates them is the ambience, service and 'creativity with food'. For example I had the12 course tasting menu last night at Astrid y Gaston, at 170 soles it's definitely high end. On the other side, I've had a meal from the local supermarket (above normal quality) that ran me 10 soles. Even lower, you can get complete meals for 5 soles if you like. There are ofcourse the foodstand is parks and on the road sides which are famous city-wide like the anticucho lady in the north west corner of the city.

                                                          If you have any questions, just shoot.

                                                          1. re: meatnveg

                                                            The sushi in Lima is some of the best I've had. I also like Astrid y Gaston (in Lima), there are others now including BA, but I think the one in Lima is considered the best.

                                                      2. My "go" list includes: Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Ghana, and Turkey. If we throw in Europe, then: Greece, Italy and Austria make the list. People seem pretty down on Eastern Europe here (I'm living in the Czech Republic right now) and I tend to agree it can be fairly bland and at times lacking in immagination but the produce is top notch and home cooking can go to a different level.

                                                        My "avoid" list is short: Nigeria

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: vanderb

                                                          The title of this thread is "Best and Worst World Cities for Food" which to me has to be a place with top-notch cuisine from a variety of countries and styles as well as unique food markets. I would put New York City at the top of the list. Frankly, outside the U.S. there are very few places where you can get quality restaurant food not from the native country or region.

                                                          There is great Italian food in Italy but I'm not aware of any top-notch Chinese restaurants or Mexican places. Japan has great sushi but can you find bratwurst? If these other cuisines do exist, there are few choices and they are really expensive. These places don't have the history of immigration of the U.S. and are much more homogenous societies so their food culuture is somewhat limited. They are improving though. I've never been to Australia so I'm not sure about the food options there.

                                                        2. Outside of Europe, I miss eating food in Bali and Japan the most.
                                                          I too was surprised by food quality and culture in Austria compare to surrounding countries.
                                                          IMO, if you stick with simply prepared locally produced food, it will be good no matter where you are...

                                                          1. Colombia has excellent food. Restaurants and homemade. Ironically, I found Bogota, the capital, to be the least successful in tasty eats. Everywhere else, such as Barranquila, Pereira and Cartegena, were not only delicious, the style varied from neighborhood to neighborhood. And Colombian towns and cities seem to be having an influx of ocersea restaurants. Such as Chinese, Italian, Middle Eastern and so on.

                                                            14 Replies
                                                            1. re: David11238

                                                              Styles varying from neighborhood to neighborhood is fascinating, David in my former and beloved zip code, I presume. Examples possible?

                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                I believe I just gave them. If you want exact names of the neighborhoods I simply don't know the names, or maybe I'm using the wrong term. But in my defense, a mile or two in most Colombian towns and cities seems to make a difference.

                                                                1. re: David11238

                                                                  No no, I didn't mean this in any way as a challenge (I know zip about Colombian food, unfortunately), I meant specific foods prepared differently in different neighborhoods (don't need to know the names of the neighborhoods) and how so? Just curious.

                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                    Ms. Tart, I misread your first post/reply. My very sincere apologies.

                                                                    When I was in Barranquillia it seemed one part of the city would sautee their beef and pork, mostly popular cuts, while the another would trend towards smoking or grilling, snout to tail. So while I enjoyed a sauteed ribeye in one part, I certainly loved the grilled pork tripas and smoked beef tongue in the other. Cartegena, on the mainland, the restaurants seem to deep fry whole fish (El Boxer Restaurant on the beach has got to be tried to be believed) and place it in a bowl of milk based soup. While on the islands, about five miles from the beach, pluck the food right from the sea and either grill it or steam it in ocean water. In Pereira, the chorizo can go anywhere from chunky cuts (inside the casing) and mild to an almost fine mush and spicy (not heat but seasoning). Both very distinct and both very delicious. Actually, don't quote me on Pereira. Too be honest, I had trouble telling the difference between the city proper and its surrounding hamlets. Still, they're close enough to each other that it warrants my consideration. I guess it would be like an extreme difference in the styles of cooking in diners if one went from Coney Island to Dyker Heights or Bath Beach.

                                                                    1. re: David11238

                                                                      That is fabulous and one of the most interesting posts on CH in a very long time. Thanks for explaining.

                                                                      1. re: David11238

                                                                        " I guess it would be like an **extreme** [my stress] difference in the styles of cooking in diners if one went from Coney Island to Dyker Heights or Bath Beach."
                                                                        'splain, please? I checked what the demographics of the three places are and Google shows few diners in/around the three places and none on Coney Island itself, so I guess you are being rhetorical - but perhaps you could describe what you have in mind?

                                                                        1. re: huiray

                                                                          I thought it was pretty clear from his post that he was trying to make an example of neighborhoods in general and their distance to each other in particular, not making any point about the actual demographics of the neighborhoods.

                                                                          But hey, it's early in the day.

                                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                                            That was definitely how I took it, linguafood.

                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                              Totally agree: Huiray, I do believe you missed the point entirely. Bummer, after that google work you did.

                                                                              1. re: mamachef

                                                                                I'm not sure I missed the point.

                                                                                David described the slight differences in the food between adjacent neighborhoods of the places he was in. I understood very clearly that these neighborhoods were right next to each other, just like Coney Island - Bath Beach - Dyker heights are.

                                                                                Yet he refers to "...extreme difference in the styles of cooking in diners..." (his words) in the statement I am asking about. From that it seems he is trying to say something about how the dishes differed, even though the neighborhoods are so close together. So, in that sense, I wondered if those differences had something to do with differences in those adjacent neighborhoods - perhaps the people in it, or some extremely local geographical difference, etc -- such as his description of the difference between Cartagena and the islands just offshore. So, in that sense, I rechecked what sort of neighborhoods the Coney Island - Bath Beach - Dyker Heights triptych represented in character (they are indeed different from each other) but wondered what he had in mind in terms of DINER FOOD when he used that triptych of adjacent Brooklyn neighborhoods as a comparison to those DIFFERENCES in the food he was referring to.

                                                                                If he was merely using those Brooklyn neighborhoods to represent closeness of the areas in his post then why would he say those words he said - again, "... it would be like an extreme difference in the styles of cooking in diners..." ? Note that he also used the word "extreme".

                                                                                Perhaps David 11238 still needs to clarify, if he wishes to respond.

                                                                                1. re: huiray

                                                                                  The Neighborhoods I mention are part of Brooklyn proper and not far from each other. Probably a three to ten minute drive point to point. Now, while Bath Beach, Dyker Heights an Coney Island differ in the ethnic make up (not so much Bath Beach & Dyker Heights) you can pretty much bet on the remaining diners in Brooklyn serving standard fare. Examples: The Vegas Diner in Dyker Heights and the Parkview Diner in Bath Beach/Coney Island. Hell, I'll throw in MOST diners in Bay Ridge, Canarsie and Flatlands as well.They all pretty much serve the same canned corned beef & hash, hamburgers, milkshakes and desserts. You really don't see or taste any differences in the style. Pretty much standard staple menu. Now, while you really can't compare neighborhoods in Colombian cities and New York (I believe) because NYC's ethnic diversity, I can certainly proclaim that a diner is a diner in Brooklyn.

                                                                                  1. re: David11238

                                                                                    Thanks for the response. Yes, i would have thought too that there wouldn't be much difference in the techniques or offerings in diners in Brooklyn, which was why I was puzzled by why you used the comparison between CI-BB-DH to illustrate what you were saying about the differences in the foods you experienced in those neighboring Colombian places. I suppose I would have found it unambiguous if i had read in your post the phrase "...as if it were that there were extreme differences..." instead. Cheers.

                                                                                    1. re: huiray

                                                                                      Thank you for making nice, gentlemen. : ) Maybe y'all can meet up in Brooklyn for some pizza one day. Avoid the grappa, though: it's awful.

                                                              2. To add my vote, Singapore, Japan, France, Spain, Vietnam work for my palate the best. On the down side as mentioned by many others Eastern Europe can be dreadful. Once in rural Latvia, ordered a dish of potatoes and it came with a side of potatoes. Been to 71 countries thus far and always searching for good eats, but the five l listed are for me head and shoulders above the rest.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: BuildingMyBento

                                                                    Was in Peru in April, and while potatoes and guinea pigs were interesting IMHO nowhere near my favorite places.Best thing for me was wherever you got breakfast, Peru and Ecuador, you had a zillion fruit juices to try, just juice, no additives. Maracuya, oh my.

                                                                1. I too, have had wonderful food in cities in Germany!

                                                                  The worst food I was ever faced with while traveling was in Amsterdam!

                                                                  I can rememer being mighty hungry after visiting a few *coffee* bars...and yet never ever being satisfied with a meal.

                                                                  I was determined to find some good local specialties, but only came across ethnic restaurants... (Chinese, Indian etc...) they may have been good,, but not what I want when I am abroad. I wanted some Dutch food (herring etc) and there was none to be had in Amsterdam. At least that I found.

                                                                  This, of course was many years ago, before each trip was painstakingly researched over the internet... I'm sure now a days, I'd find the spots before I even got there.!

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: NellyNel

                                                                    Although, upon reflection, I had one of the best pastries I have ever had - it was a pecan covered flaky thing, which I can taste till this day...mmm.And I got it at Amsterdams train station!

                                                                  2. There is no "worst". A true Chow can find interesting food anywhere.

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                                                      So - which wine bar in Berlin did ya end up at?

                                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                                            We got to Weinbar Rutz. Surprisingly limited German and Austrian red wines on the list. Great whites however and of course great wines in general. We stayed for about two hours. Nice time. Good staff.

                                                                    2. I'll throw in a few that hasn't been mentioned yet:

                                                                      San Jose, Costa Rica
                                                                      Incheon, S. Korea


                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: HungWeiLo

                                                                        Love this thread...I agree with San Jose,CR and Reykjavik. Regarding the eastern European food quality, we did have some excellent meals in Croatia esp Istria and some pretty good ones in Ljubliana, Slovenia.
                                                                        We loved the food in KL and Bangkok and think outside NYC these are near the top.
                                                                        Also regarding a variety of ethnicities in a single place, I agree NYC is awesome, but Toronto, Sydney (Aus) are also stellar in that respect.

                                                                        1. re: DDD

                                                                          Jakarta is a great place to try different Indonesian (regional ethnic groups) too. No way to claim those in Aceh and Papua Barat are feasting on the sane thing, not least because of (religious) beliefs.

                                                                      2. Are we still talking about cities? It seems most repliers aren't.
                                                                        Best: Bangkok, San Sebastian.
                                                                        Worst: Athens, Belgrade. Shudder.

                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Parigi

                                                                          Best: Lima, Sao Paolo, San Sebastian, New York, Bologna

                                                                          1. re: taxigourmet

                                                                            I had two really great dinners at Einar Ben in Reykjavik, so I can't agree that the food there is the worst. Some food in Reykjavik was terribly bland, but I was pleasantly surprised at times throughout Iceland. The worst aspect of the cuisine was the produce. Some places clearly have access to greenhouses, but others simply rely on poor quality imported stuff or canned and preserved vegetables that are overprocessed and lifeless.

                                                                            I had pretty good food in Bulgaria, though I didn't care for much of what I ate in Romania. I really enjoyed the food in all regions I visited in China, Vietnam and Laos, but struggled a bit in Cambodia. Cuban food was hearty, but often uninteresting, overcooked, oversalted but otherwise underseasoned. The best food I ate in Cuba was in Baracoa. Costa Rican food wasn't great, nor was Honduran food. I have to say I wasn't thrilled with anything I ate in Serbia, but Croatian, Slovenian, Bosnian and Macedonian food was much more enjoyable, perhaps mostly because there was better access to fish and seafood. I cook some of the foods I enjoyed there. Albanian food was pretty uninspiring though the very garlicky tripe soup I sampled was surprisingly delicious. Love Greece (especially Crete), Italy, Spain, Portugal (though the food is not flashy), Mexico, Morocco and Tunisia (had really good food in a few places). I don't recall loving the food in Peru or Bolivia, though some meals were interesting. Panama wasn't great, Nicaragua was fine, as was Guatemala. As for Toronto, I love the choice of restaurants, but tend to go with cuisines from other countries of the world. I can't even think of a restaurant that serves "Torontonian" food, if such a thing exists.

                                                                            A few pleasant surprises awaited me in Malta. The octopus and rabbit were wonderful. I avoided the heavy pastries and starchy pastas and was quite happy. I loved Hungarian food, liked the foods of Czech Republic and Slovakia, Austria and Germany, though all four are a little too meat and potato-based for my preferences.

                                                                            I have had good food in Paris, London, Montreal and Vancouver, but amazingly, I can't think of a single stand-out meal from any of those cities, yet I can vividly remember dumplings in Lanzhou, noodle soups in Luang Prabang, horse and lamb in Reykjavik, grilled fish and zarzuela in Barcelona, amazing street treats in Udaipur, yummy vegetarian fare in the Gujarat, and some pretty crappy food in India as well. The few days I spent in Thailand were enjoyable, but I don't think the places we chose to eat were among the best representatives of the varied cuisine.

                                                                            I am sure good and bad food exists quite equally in many, if not most cities in the world. It is certainly true of my own city and cities I have lived in throughout my life.

                                                                            1. re: taxigourmet

                                                                              Best: Osaka, Tokyo, Singapore

                                                                              Lots of worsts with occasional delights

                                                                              1. re: taiga

                                                                                What's a must have in singapore. My current project is based there so I might get to go.

                                                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                  Defintely a) Hainanese Chicken rice - follow Anthony Bourdain's Tian Tian chicken rice stall in Maxwell market.
                                                                                  b) Oyster omelette,
                                                                                  c) Char Kway Teow and d) numerous others. Any of these will have their favourite followers!

                                                                              2. Best Where I have travelled to and eaten:

                                                                                A) Northwestern Europe: San Sebastián & Barcelona on the Iberian Peninsula; Bolognia, Emilia Romagna & Valle d´ Aosta, Italia, Thessasaloniki / Salonica, Greece and Lisbon, Portugal.

                                                                                B) South America: Lima, Peru, Buenos Aires, Argentina and Punto de Este, Uruguay and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

                                                                                C) USA: Washington D.C., San Francisco & its vicinity

                                                                                D) Marrakesh for Moroccan; Istanbul, Turkey and Crete, Greece

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: foodeditormargaux

                                                                                  "A) Northwestern Europe: San Sebastián & Barcelona on the Iberian Peninsula; Bolognia, Emilia Romagna & Valle d´ Aosta, Italia, Thessasaloniki / Salonica, Greece and Lisbon, Portugal."

                                                                                  Sorriest, that's not Northwestern Europe. In fact it's southern Europe in general.

                                                                                  1. re: Parigi


                                                                                    Meant to state, Apologies. I live in Mediterranean Southern Europe ... My blunder.

                                                                                    1. re: foodeditormargaux

                                                                                      I often confuse north south too, and east west, and man woman. :-)

                                                                                2. Worst for me could be any uncaring restaurant and cook in any city or any village in the world.

                                                                                  Additionally, I am veered toward Meditteranean and do not really care much for starchy, over cooked, heavy sauced dishes. So I would state, some eastern European cities and I do not use any Soy; so any soy products or soy in any form; as I am highly allergic. So, I love sashimi and have it with wasabi and ginger; however, never Chinese or Korean. Just not for me aromatically.