Families eat noodles outside a restaurant in China's capital city.
Photograph: Angela Ostafichuk / Shutterstock.com

The world’s 20 best cities for food right now

We asked thousands of locals all about eating out in their cities to rank the world’s culinary capitals in 2024

Grace Beard

To really know a city is to eat its food. But what makes a great food city? It isn’t its number of plaudits and Michelin stars, but something a bit more simple: options. Good quality meals at reasonable prices. So we asked thousands of city-dwellers to tell us exactly how good – and how affordable – it is to eat out in their hometown right now. 

Locals were quizzed on their city’s must-visit restaurants, must-eat dishes and best-value bites, and were also asked to rate their city’s food scene on both its quality and affordability. To create and rank the final list, we narrowed down the selection by excluding cities with lower overall scores, and including only the highest-scoring city for each country. We then asked our global network of Time Out editors and writers to give us the lowdown on what makes their city an exciting dining destination in 2024, and to recommend their favourite places to eat right now.

Of course, Time Out knows food. We’ve been eating our way around the world’s best cities for decades, reviewing and ranking restaurants to keep our best-of lists as fresh as can be. And that world-class curation has since been transformed into bricks-and-mortar spaces: our Time Out Markets, where the best food, drink and cultural experiences all come together under one roof. So for this feature, we turned to the experts – our Time Out Market chefs – to nominate three culinary capitals that deserve a spotlight for their food scenes. 

This list is a celebration of culinary culture the world over. Whether for high-end fine dining or affordable street eats, these are the very best cities for eating and drinking right now. Ready to tuck in?

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The world’s best cities for food

1. Naples

Must-eat dish: Pizza margherita

You can’t talk food in Italy without talking Naples – and you can’t talk food in Naples without talking pizza. A’ pizz was born in Naples in the nineteenth century as a quick, affordable meal for the city’s working classes, and old-school pizzerias (mostly centred around Via dei Tribunali, aka Pizza Street) continue to feed hungry Neapolitans today. While there are certainly elevated iterations around the city, it’s still the cheapest bite in Naples – locals named pizza a portafoglio the city’s best-value dish, a grab-and-go folded slice that costs around €1 a pop. And the proof is in the pie: Naples ranked as the most affordable city to eat out in our survey.

Why visit now ‘Neapolitan cuisine celebrates diversity, simplicity and the marriage between land, sea and history,’ says writer and Naples local Gabriela Proietti. ‘This rich food culture can be found everywhere in the city: it’s in the piping hot plates of pasta alla genovese and Neapolitan ragù, the morning sugar rush from ricotta-filled sfogliatella or rum-soaked babà, a stroll through the sixteenth-century Mercato della Pignasecca.

‘The energetic Quartieri Spagnoli district is erupting as the place to be for food right now, but don’t settle for any open-air trattoria. For the city’s crowning dish, pizza margherita, head to Santa Maradona, where owner Andrea Viviani honours Naples’ most prized possessions: pizza, football, and Diego Armando Maradona. And for Neapolitan culinary classics with a creative bistrot twist, pay a visit to CU.QU. / cucinadiquartiere.’

🍕 Discover the best restaurants in Naples

2. Johannesburg

Must-eat dish: Kota sandwich

Cape Town might steal the limelight for its international cuisine (and our newly opened Time Out Market, on the V&A Waterfront, is testament to the culinary talent in the Mother City), but Jo’burg is a worthy rival for the title of South Africa’s food capital. From Ethiopian cafes in Little Addis to Nigerian and West African eats in the south of the city, you can eat your way across the continent here – though the majority of locals we surveyed recommended the city’s traditional South African delicacies, like the Sowetan kota sandwich, bunny chow and mala mogodu. 

Why visit now ‘If Jo’burg is the soul of South Africa, Braamfontein is the pulse of the city. This central neighbourhood is home to some of my favourite places to eat, people-watch and dance, with some of the most innovative ventures combining the forces of food and culture,’ says Johannesburg food writer Thando Moleketi-Williams. ‘Head to Mamakashaka and Friends on De Beer Street for weekends of wine and hip hop, cocktails and playlists, a monthly book club and an exciting rotation of food collabs. A few blocks up on Reserve Street, Artivist is a restaurant and gallery space that’s recently launched a monthly fine dining Sunday brunch club residency by award-winning chef Katlego Mlambo. While you’re there, don’t miss speakeasy and live music space Untitled Basement.’

📍 Discover the best things to do in Johannesburg


3. Lima

Must-east dish: Ceviche 

Lima is not only the culinary capital of Peru, but of the entire South American continent. It’s home to the ‘world’s best restaurant’ in Central, but you can sample the Peruvian flavours on Central’s ten-course tasting menu everywhere across the city (and for a fraction of the price). Tangy pisco sours, citrusy ceviche and lomo saltado (Peruvian beef stir fry) all got the nod from locals in our survey, but when it came to value, the simple, hearty arroz con pollo (chicken and rice) was named the city’s most affordable dish.

Why visit now ‘Lima’s meteoric rise to leading culinary city was cemented last year when Central topped the world’s best restaurant list, throwing light on a country where ancient grains meet the fish-rich Humboldt Current and the culinary influences of Chinese and Japanese immigrant communities,’ says travel writer and Lima expert Steph Dyson. ‘The latter shaped Lima’s emblematic marinated fish dish, ceviche; you can sample it everywhere from five-star restaurants to portside markets, although my preference is at unpretentious Punto Azul. Limeño gastronomy is constantly evolving, too. Don’t miss Mérito, a lauded Venezuelan-Peruvian fusion restaurant where high Andean tubers and Venezuelan arepas meet.’

📍 Discover the best things to do in Peru

4. Ho Chi Minh City

Must-eat dish: Pho Saigon

Sweet, spicy, fragrant, fishy – however you’d describe it, Vietnamese cuisine never compromises on flavour, and you can sample the very best of it in Ho Chi Minh. Beyond the streetside food stalls and bustling markets hawking banh mi, snails, broken rice and offal stew are a clutch of Bib Gourmand and Michelin-starred restaurants serving up creative renditions of classic dishes. But by far the most mentioned dish in our survey was pho. The warming noodle soup – in the south typically heavily garnished with basil, coriander, chilli and hoisin sauce – is a Vietnamese staple, ubiquitous across the city. 

Why visit now ‘Though Hanoi might be the birthplace of Vietnamese cuisine and culture, Ho Chi Minh has emerged as the country's most exciting dining destination,’ says Ho Chi Minh writer Dan Q Dao. ‘In District 1, the central downtown hub, there's Ănăn Saigon, chef Peter Cuong Franklin's ‘new Vietnamese’ restaurant that nabbed the city's sole Michelin star in last year's inaugural guide to Vietnam. It's within walking distance of Bánh Mì Huỳnh Hoa, a 30-year-old street food institution specialising in French-influenced Vietnamese baguette sandwiches, which originated in the city. Across the river in District 2 is a burgeoning modern restaurant landscape – the tasting menu concept Tre Dining and gastro-focused wine bar Little Bear stand out for their interpretation of Vietnamese ingredients and flavours through Western culinary techniques.’

📍 Discover the best things to do in Vietnam


5. Beijing

Must-eat dish: Peking duck

Beijing is a city for carnivores. Asked which dish everyone should try when visiting their city, locals overwhelmingly put meat on the menu: gongbao chicken, hot pot, and (of course) peking duck were the most common answers. But veggies won’t be disappointed, either – stir-fried, steamed, spiced or parcelled in a dumpling, you can find the good stuff all over the Chinese capital. And while Beijing has its share of gourmet restaurants, the city’s many snack streets and night markets ensure eating out won’t cost a fortune – grab a jian bing (a Chinese savoury crepe) and a local beer and you’re set. 

Why visit now ‘Peking duck is the quintessential Beijing cuisine, and my go-to spot is Siji Minfu,’ says Wendy Xu, editor at Time Out Beijing. ‘It's not unheard of to wait more than an hour to be seated here, even when you book ahead, but their perfectly roasted ducks with crispy skin make waiting in line so worth it. If I'm looking for something a bit more fancy, I head to Qu Lang Yuan, where French-Chinese fusion cuisine shines with fresh local ingredients. For a true hole-in-the-wall experience, there's no better place than Yudefu's lamb hotpot. For something new and delicious in the Jing, don't miss Puzzles and Greek Freak. Puzzles is a perfect sunshine brunch spot, featuring a European-inspired brunch menu, while Greek Freak is a go-to for authentic gyros and hummus.’

6. Bangkok

Must-eat dish: Som tum

Street food capital of the world, Bangkok unsurprisingly ranked as the third-most affordable city to eat out in. Sizzling in streetside woks or served up from a boat in a floating market, street eats are the lifeblood of the city; locals named som tum, a sweet and slightly spicy papaya salad found in many a sidewalk stall and rickety pushcart, as the Thai capital’s must-eat dish. Beyond the markets and no-frills food joints is a city flush with gourmet accolades: Bangkok has 34 Michelin-starred restaurants under its belt, and won big in the recent Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards.

Why visit now ‘We’re never surprised when Bangkok receives another accolade as one of the best food destinations in the world,’ says Top Koaysomboon, editor of Time Out Bangkok. ‘Street food is the heart of Bangkok's food scene and it’s only becoming more exciting, with emerging foodie hub Ban Tad Thong rivalling the classic street food hotspot of Yaowarat Road. On the fine dining side, there are more restaurants with Michelin stars and 50 Best accolades than ever, which have given a much-deserved spotlight to beloved female chefs like Tam Debakham of Baan Tepa, Pam Soontornyanakij of Potong, and Garima Arora of Gaa. And any trip to Bangkok won’t be complete without a visit to Jay Fai’s. The queue is long, but you definitely have to go.’

🥗 Discover the best restaurants in Bangkok


7. Kuala Lumpur

Must-eat dish: Nasi lemak

The Malaysian capital is a big, delicious melting pot, with a food scene influenced by Malay, Chinese and Indian culture and reflective of centuries of migration. Nasi lemak, an aromatic dish of coconut milk rice, crispy anchovies, cucumber and boiled egg, was named the city’s must-eat meal, followed by Thai tom yam soup and roti canai, a crispy pan-fried flatbread. 

Why visit now ‘Kuala Lumpur punches well above its weight with some of the most sought-after food in all of Asia,’ says Kuala Lumpur writer Ng Su Ann. ‘Make time for our many kopitiams, mamak and hawker stalls, and neon-lit night markets to sample our world-famous street fare, like laksa, roti canai, and nasi lemak. From cafés to omakases, from supper clubs to bars with skyline views, the city’s food scene has more to offer than ever. Over the past few months, we’ve welcomed a number of notable new restaurants well worth the reservation: there’s Pickle Dining, where fermentation and pickling is all the rage, and the new nusantara eatery Kai spotlights flavours from across the Malay Archipelago. My go-to when friends visit? APW in Bangsar has 103 Coffee (maybe the best coffee in the city), and Olivia Deli for tapas and sangria, a sushiya, wood-fired sourdough pizzas, natural wines and more.’

🍜 Discover the best restaurants in Kuala Lumpur

8. Mumbai

Must-eat dish: Vada pav

Mumbaikars are rightly proud of their city’s food scene, scoring it the highest for quality of all cities surveyed. Locals’ favourite dishes are proof that this city is full of explosive flavour: fiery manchurian (roughly chopped vegetables or meat, fried and smothered in a sticky sauce), creamy butter chicken, and street food staple vada pav (a deep-fried potato dumpling stuffed into a bread roll, accompanied by red and green chutneys) were named Mumbai’s must-eats.

Why visit now ‘Mumbai’s food scene is reflective of the city’s diversity, with ingredients and flavours from across India and the world,’ says Mumbai writer Kunal Bhatia. ‘Everyone has a favourite find here, from a street vendor for a quick bite to rooftop bars with sweeping views. New restaurants are always opening in the lively neighbourhoods of Bandra and Lower Parel, but my favourite places to eat are in my home turf of Versova. Goan food at the newly opened Sorozai is delectable, but I find myself equally drawn to old favourite Tanjore Tiffin Room – its sampling platter of 16 rice and curries is always an instant hit.’

🌶️ Discover the best restaurants in Mumbai


9. Dubai

Must-eat dish: Mandi 

With its man-made islands and vertiginous skyscrapers, we all know Dubai isn’t afraid to innovate. In recent years, the city’s propensity for pushing boundaries has extended to the city’s food scene, with new-wave dining experiences and emerging local chefs scooping up awards left, right and centre. The emirate, home to the world’s largest expat community, is a magnet for international culinary talent, attracting some of the world’s best chefs at the helm of some of the world’s best restaurants. But while it’s possible to sample cuisine from almost anywhere on earth here, locals named traditional Middle Eastern dishes – namely mandi rice, shawarma and charcoal-grilled chicken – as their must-eats.

Why visit now ‘Growing up in Dubai, I’ve seen the food landscape evolve enormously over the past 30 years,’ says Yousra Zaki, food editor at Time Out Dubai. ‘Right now, the city’s culinary landscape is more diverse and creative than it’s ever been. We’ve seen a rise in incredible chef-led dining experiences that break all the rules; Moonrise, for example, has created its own version of ‘Dubai cuisine’ with a 12-course omakase menu (one of the dishes is inspired by – of all things – food court alfredo pasta). Another home-grown concept, Jun’s (Time Out Dubai’s Best Asian Restaurant 2024) is all about third-culture cooking, with dishes influenced by Chinese, Indian and North American cuisine; an approach that really reflects Dubai’s multicultural population. It’s such a vibrant industry, one where chefs and restaurateurs stand with and support each other, matching healthy competition with interesting collaborations. We can’t wait to see what the next five years bring.’

🥙Discover the best restaurants in Dubai

10. Portland, OR

Must-eat dish: Pizza

New Orleans has gumbo, Boston has clam chowder; Portland, on the other hand, isn’t known for just one iconic dish, but rather for its food scene at large. The laidback Oregon city has made headlines for being one of America’s most exciting food and drink destinations, where the city’s best plates can be found not only in restaurants but at food carts, farmers markets and breweries. While locals shouted about restaurants flush with plaudits like Gado Gado, Portland’s pizza scene got the biggest nod in our survey, with a slice of Mexican pizza (essentially a pizza topped with typical taco ingredients) named the city’s best-value bite.  

Why visit now ‘Portland’s reputation has graduated from Portlandia and peanut-butter-bacon Voodoo Doughnuts,’ says Portland writer Alice Wolfe. ‘What I love about the Portland food scene is that high calibre doesn’t mean high prices. Of course, if you want fine dining there’s no shortage – Haitian restaurant Kann and Korean Han Oak come to mind. But what makes this city’s food stand out is affordability, which Portlanders unwaveringly prioritise. Consider Ki’ikibáa, opened last year by Manny Lopez and Suny Parra Castillo, serving affordable Yucatecan food (the panuchos are my favourite). Southeast Belmont restaurant Annam VL also opened in 2023, and offers a small selection of Vietnamese dishes that change each day of the week, all for under $20 per person.’

🦐 Discover the best restaurants in Portland


11. Liverpool

Must-eat dish: Scouse

If recent rankings are anything to go by, Liverpool is hot on London’s heels. We named it the seventh-best city in the world this year, a recognition seconded by a recent Which? survey naming Liverpool the best large city in the UK. And now, according to our survey of UK locals, Liverpool can claim the title of the country’s best place to eat out. With everything from cult street food vendors to contemporary small plates, it’s no wonder locals were full of praise for their city’s food scene. Their go-to dish? Scouse, of course. This meaty stew is so beloved in Liverpool, it gave the city’s inhabitants the ‘Scouser’ nickname. 

Why visit now ‘Liverpool is perhaps better known for its nightlife than its food, but a clutch of brand-new foodie ventures have earned the city a newfound rep for its dining scene,’ says Liverpool-based writer Alice Porter. ‘This is largely down to homegrown talent: local chefs like Paul Durand, who opened Michelin-mentioned Manifest in 2022, and Sam Grainger who owns small-plates spot Belzan and Mexican taqueria Madre. All are well worth making the journey to Liverpool for.’ 

🍲 Discover the best restaurants in Liverpool

12. Medellín

Must-eat dish: Bandeja paisa

Whether biting into a hot, cheesy arepa or slurping up the hearty broth of a sancocho (a type of stew made with corn, vegetables and meat), eating out in Medellín is a lesson in simplicity and flavour. Take the bandeja paisa: named the city’s must-eat dish by locals, Colombia’s answer to the fry-up makes a hearty meal out of local ingredients and Colombian staples, including rice, red or black beans, avocado, pork rind, arepas, plantain, hagao and chorizo. Medellín’s influential chefs and restaurants like Carmen and El Cielo keep the city on the map for high-end dining. 

Why visit now ‘Medellín offers culinary delights for every budget,’ says Medellín writer Maggie Clark. ‘Backpacking? Explore sumptuous fruits at Central Mayorista. Want a great view while sampling local flavours with an international spin? Check out the Mediterranean-inspired Cannario Rooftop. Or for a splurge that keeps you ahead of the curve, Mal de Ojo is months on the scene with a stunning nightlife vibe and the fusion cuisine to match. You’ll find can't-miss staples like cazuela, sancocho, and bandeja paisa in every barrio, but for an elevated experience, Alambique offers a price-conscious twist on the classics, while El Cielo is a top-tier modernist delight. For Amazonian flair, try La Chagra – and don’t leave without drinking antioqueño, which is to Colombia what mezcal is to Mexico.’

🌽 Discover the best restaurants in Colombia


13. Seville

Must-eat dish: Serranito

There are over 3,000 tapas bars in Seville, and the best way to get a taste of the Andalusian capital is by hopping from one to the next, chowing down on one delightful savoury bite at a time. Local specialties include jamón ibérico, solomillo al whisky (pork loin in whisky sauce) and salmorejo, a silky Andalusian tomato soup. But it was the humble serranito, Seville’s favourite sandwich made with pork, Serrano ham, green pepper and tomato, that was crowned the city’s most-loved and best-value bite.

Why visit now ‘Seville’s dining scene has been among the most exciting in Spain for years,’ says Seville writer Anna Kaminski. ‘I love wandering the streets of Triana, shopping for fresh produce at the Mercado de Triana, and reassuring myself that classic trianero tapas bars such as Bodeguita el 24 and Bar Casa Ruperto are still going strong. In Centro, my favourite recent find has been Manzil – opened in 2023 by stellar granadino chef Juan Andres Morilla – which has already earned a Michelin star for its imaginative Andalucian small plates, crafted in the open kitchen.’ 

🍅 Discover the best things to do in Seville

14. Porto

Must-eat dish: Francesinha 

Move over, Lisbon: Portugal’s second city, the capital of canned fish, is the country’s best place to eat right now. On the menu: shellfish, port wine from the Douro Valley, and the gargantuan francesinha, an absolutely stacked sandwich of thick white bread, Portuguese sausage, ham and roast beef or steak, served with a fried egg and smothered in beer and cheese sauce. It’s without a doubt the city’s must-try dish, and you can find the best one at Brasão Cervejaria.

Why visit now ‘When it comes to food, Porto is a city of two halves,’ says Mariana Morais Pinheiro, editor of Time Out Porto. ‘On one side, we have the quaint taverns and traditional restaurants still cooking food in the old-fashioned way; on the other we have avant-garde cuisine with young chefs at the helm. Cervejaria Gazela with its hot dogs, Casa dos Presuntos ’Xico’ with its tasty sandwiches, or Cozinha da Amélia with classic Portuguese dishes are some of the places I like to go when I want food made the old-fashioned way.

For fine dining, Euskalduna, The Yeatman, or Casa de Chá da Boa Nova are some beautiful examples. But when theres not enough time for everything, there's one place that brings together the best of the city under one roof: the brand-new Time Out Market Porto. There, you can find Michelin-starred chefs working side by side with cooks from well-known restaurants in the city.’

🐟 Discover the best restaurants in Porto


15. Marrakech

Must-eat dish: Tagine

Eating in Marrakech is a treat for the senses. There are the cafés, where sweet Maghrebi mint tea is poured from a height into fist-sized glasses. There’s the rowdy central square of Jemaa el-Fnaa, where vendors compete to sell freshly squeezed orange juice and skewers of grilled meat. There’s roasted lamb on Mechoui Alley and fragrant tagine in palatial courtyards – and, relatively new to the city’s food scene, a new generation of innovative Moroccan chefs and international restaurants, serving everything from sushi to vegan eats. Needless to say, there’s no better time than now to make the trip to North Africa’s food capital. 

Why visit now ‘Marrakech's food scene has grown beyond its Moroccan roots of earthy tagines into a global culinary offering that includes Nobu, with its iconic Japanese menu and 360-degree rooftop views, and Plus 61, where Australian owner brings Sydney-style ambience, creativity and freshness to the city,’ says Marrakech-based writer Sally Kirby. ‘Last year, Rivayat, an exquisite Indian culinary experience, opened under Michelin-starred chef Rohit Ghai; it’s been enchanting diners with its innovative menu and opulent heritage palace setting. Meanwhile, Le Trou au Mur, a Medina favourite, ensures that otherwise forgotten Moroccan dishes, such as camel tangia and tride, are kept alive and enjoyed in style. 

🧆 Discover the best restaurants in Marrakech

16. Lyon

Must-eat dish: Saucisson brioché

The hometown of legendary chef Paul Bocuse, succulent Bresse chicken and the Mères Lyonnaises (‘mothers of Lyon’, a group of celebrated female chefs), it’s no wonder Lyon is the so-called ‘stomach of France’. Sausage is a staple on Lyonnaise menus, with locals recommending saucisson brioché – a pistachio-crusted sausage baked in a brioche – as the city’s must-try dish. And Lyon’s best-value bite? Tacos Lyonnais, a tortilla stuffed with French fries, cheese and meat. 

Why visit now ‘Lyon’s reputation for great cuisine stands – but not for the reasons you’d expect,’ says Lyon writer Anna Richards. ‘Out are the tourist-trap, meat-heavy ‘bouchons’ of Vieux Lyon. In, fusion and vegetarian cuisine, by pioneering young chefs. I particularly love Franco-Lebanese kitchen Ayla in the 6ème, and Franco-Mexican fusion Alebrije in Croix-Rousse. Even fine dining has evolved. Lyon is still heavily decorated (18 restaurants with one or more Michelin stars), but I’d choose innovative Jérémy Galvan’s multi-sensory dining experience over yet another Bresse chicken any day.’

🍖 Discover the best restaurants in Lyon


17. Sydney

Must-eat dish: Australian steak

Sydney is easily one of the world’s great brunch cities. Before becoming a worldwide breakfast phenomenon, avocado on toast was created here in the ‘90s, and purportedly the flat white (though New Zealand would argue otherwise). But, from cheap ‘eat streets’ to world-class fine dining, the food scene of this harbourside city goes well beyond avo toast. Locals’ recommended eats are testament to this variety, from Australian T-bone steak and Sydney rock oysters to sushi, seafood and pad thai. Sydney could also lay claim to being one of the best cities for steak, if the city’s recent success in the World’s Best Steak awards is anything to go by. 

Why visit now ‘Sydney’s got the golden beaches, the babes and the famous white-sails of the Opera House, but its our multicultural dining scene that really has me smitten,’ says Avril Treasure, food and drink editor at Time Out Sydney. ‘For a fiery curry with as much depth as the Pacific Ocean, make a beeline to Little India. For Thai, try hole-in-the-wall PorkfatSean’s is perfect for a long lunch with a side of Bondi Beach views, while Quay, overlooking the harbour, is a go-to for a fancy meal. And for seafood, Josh Niland has you covered. Sydney may first capture you with her good looks, but her diverse, joyous and delicious eats and drinks will keep you coming back for more.’

🥩 Discover the best restaurants in Sydney

18. Montreal

Must-eat dish: Poutine

Think of food in Montreal, and you’ll likely think of poutine, bagels and smoked meat. It’s not hard to see (and taste) French influence on the city’s culinary culture, from Breton crepes at Jean-Talon public market to patisseries stacked with macarons and pastries. But as one of the most restaurant-dense cities in North America, Montreal has cuisine from all over the world. One in four Montrealers come from outside the country, and this convergence of cultures has made an indelible mark on the city’s food scene. 

Why visit now ‘When the only Canadian restaurant to make the World’s 50 Best hottest global restaurant openings list for 2024 is in Montreal, and the city’s classic eateries are elevating their culinary game in the face of staffing shortages and rising costs, you know you’re in the right place to eat your heart out,' says Laura Osborne, editor of Time Out Canada. ‘And with forward-thinking chefs like Derek Dammann and Liam Hopkins involved in one of the most high-profile restaurant openings Montreal has ever seen (hello, Île de France) now is the time to dig in.’

🍟 Discover the best restaurants in Montreal


19. Osaka

Must-eat dish: Takoyaki

Much like Lyon for France, Osaka is known as the belly of Japan. From conveyor belt sushi to mouthwatering street food at Kuromon Ichiba – a huge covered market dubbed the kitchen of Osaka – you’ll need to come hungry; the culture of ‘kuidaore’ (which roughly translates to ‘eat until you drop’) is strong here. Takoyaki (fried octopus balls) and okonimiyaki (a savoury pancake cooked with cabbage, seafood or meat, smothered in different sauces and toppings) were named the city’s must-eats. And while your stomach might be full, your wallet needn’t be; Osaka ranked as the second-most affordable city to eat out in on our survey.

Why visit now ‘Home of tentacle-filled takoyaki and okonomiyaki, Osaka is all about the snacks (try the blowtorched tuna at Izakaya Toyo), but Japan’s third biggest city is a culinary giant in every department, with more Michelin stars than London or New York,’ says writer and Osaka food expert Thomas O’Malley. ‘Trailblazing chefs include Akemi Nakamura, who apprenticed for 22 years before opening Nishitemma Nakamura with its all-female crew, and Yusuke Takada, whose two-starred La Cime combines French and Japanese cooking with playful nods to Osakan culture.’

🍣 Discover the best dishes in Osaka

20. Copenhagen

Must-eat dish: Smørrebrød

High-end dining is the name of the game in Copenhagen. It’s a hub for New Nordic cuisine, where sustainability is key: the best restaurants here have a laser-sharp focus on seasonal, local produce. Though Noma – a restaurant that influenced fine dining tables around the world with its pioneering New Nordic ethos – is sadly soon to close, there are plenty more gourmet restaurants where that came from. But locals’ go-to dish, according to our survey, is the smørrebrød. This classic Danish lunch is a showcase of Scandinavian simplicity; an open sandwich of sour Danish rye bread topped with anything from smoked fish and pickled herring to eggs and meat. You’ll find them at lunch restaurants across the city, with elevated versions served up at Bib Gourmand-awarded Selma.

Why visit now ‘Copenhagen is a city where chefs come to play – even in corner bakeries and ice cream shops, there’s a sense of innovation and experimentation,’ says Copenhagen writer Laura Hall. ‘It is rightly famed for its fine dining options – this year’s El Bulli x Alchemist collaboration redefined just how mind-bendingly brilliant it can be – but we’re also seeing more restaurants at lower price levels delivering inventive food in cosier settings, like in Italian trattorias such as Paesano, Asian-inspired kitchens like Goldfinch, and vegan hotspots Ark and Baka d’Busk. It’s vibrant, dynamic and always changing.’ 

🥪 Discover the best restaurants in Copenhagen

Chef’s picks

Los Angeles

Picked by chef Tim Cushman of Ms. Clucks Deluxe at Time Out Market Boston 

‘LA and the surrounding cities and neighbourhoods are full of flavour. The sheer variety of cuisines is always exciting to explore; there’s an incredible mix of traditional family-run restaurants and new, up-and-coming chefs and restaurateurs doing interesting twists and takes on the traditional. These are some of my favourite spots – most are off the beaten path, but I think each is worth the trip. 

At Smorgasburg LA, try Miya Miya for amazing Jordanian shawarma and Glad for light, airy, bubbly focaccia from Liguria. The original is fantastic, but do try the beef or caprese versions, too. In Silver Lake, Azizam is a go-to for homestyle Persian cuisine; in Studio City, the weekend pop up Smogen serves up interesting open-faced bagels – the hamachi, wasabi cream cheese and shiso bagel sells out regularly. Danny Boy's Famous Original Pizza does crave-worthy New York and Sicilian-style pizzas by the slice or by the pie in an office building in the Bunker Hill area Downtown LA. Chef Chris Yang of Yang’s Kitchen in Alhambra does a Californian take on traditional Chinese, while Sea Harbour Seafood in Rosemead is dim sum heaven. The chilled chicken, truffle and cilantro dish is a highlight. Ercoles is a wonderfully divey local bar that's been open since 1929 in Manhattan Beach. Go here for excellent bar cheeseburgers. Finally, Aghoo’s Kitchen, a Taiwanese restaurant in Temple City, serves a delicious beef roll and green onion pancake.

If you’re into cooking, there’s a very special bookstore in Chinatown called Now Serving. Husband and wife owners Ken and Michelle curate an amazing collection of cookbooks and artisan smallwares in an intimate space and host cookbook author events. And for Japanese kitchenware and ceramics, go to Hitachiya in Torrance and Toiro in West Hollywood.’ 

🍔 Discover the best restaurants in LA


Picked by Chef Reif Othman of REIF at Time Out Market Dubai

‘Seoul is well-known for its numerous Michelin-starred restaurants and upscale dining experiences, but it’s also home to true hidden gems, tucked away in neighbourhoods like Myeong-dong and Hongdae. It’s the best city for elevated Korean cuisine, with notable establishments like Jungsik, Mingles, and Gaon consistently delivering exceptional contemporary Korean cuisine with innovative takes on classic dishes. You also have iconic street food destinations like Myeongdong and Gwangjang Market, plus food-focused events and festivals – the Seoul Food Festival is a major showcase of culinary talent from all over the world, with world-class local and international chefs creating unforgettable foodie experiences. Notably, the recent gathering of Asias 50 Best in Seoul serves as a testament to the city's rising prominence on the global culinary stage and goes to show that the city has really become a culinary powerhouse.’

🍳 Discover the best restaurants in Seoul



Picked by Chef Michael Ayoub of Fornino at Time Out Market New York

‘The selection of Serrano and Iberico ham in Madrid is unparalleled; it's something I've never encountered elsewhere. Save for paella, Iberico ham is a delightful surprise in almost every dish. It's no wonder that Madrid is home to what is often considered the best restaurant in Spain, Diverxo. Dining there was an experience of a lifetime. Chef Dabiz Muñoz is one of the most creative culinary minds on the planet, delivering dishes that are both innovative and deeply rooted in Spanish tradition. Beyond its diverse cuisine, Madrid is a treasure trove of cultural wonders, with a rich culture and profound historical heritage. It’s no doubt one of the world’s best cities – for food and everything else.’

🍤 Discover the best restaurants in Madrid

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