If you’re someone who bases travel plans almost entirely on what food you’ll be eating along the way, this information might be pertinent to you.
Restaurant and travel review aggregator TripAdvisor has just released a list of its top 10 food cities in the world, based on data gathered using an algorithm that looked at bookings, traveller reviews and ratings. Considering TripAdvisor counts 455 million unique visitors each month, it might very well be one of the best-placed websites to comment.
Unfortunately for us, no Australian cities made the cut this time, although Brisbane is listed as a “foodie destination to watch”.
“Foodie experiences are dominating traveller booking growth,” a TripAdvisor spokesperson writes on the website. “Food tours are the fastest growing experiences category on our site based on traveller spend, which increased a whopping 61% last year versus 2016.”
The list pulls together the highest rated food tours available to book through TripAdvisor in countries like Thailand, Italy, Spain and the US. Unfortunately for us, no Australian cities made the cut this time, although Brisbane is listed as a “foodie destination to watch”.
So, is time to start thinking about a holiday? Peruse the full list below, and if a plane ticket isn't on the cards right now, recreate the experience at home with recipes inspired by each city.
Anyone who’s been to Rome won’t be surprised that this foodie mecca has taken out the number one stop. The culinary traditions in Italy’s capital distinctly celebrate simplicity (many Roman dishes have roots in “poor man’s food”), rich flavours and time-worn techniques honed in the Lazio region of the country. TripAdvisor’s Rome Food Tour includes a walk through the famed suburb of Prati, where participants can try an iconic bowl of pasta from XBacchus Ristoranteand some of the best gelato the country has to offer.
Taking out second place is Firenze, where mellow cheeses, grilled meats and white beans reign supreme. Bistecca alla Fiorentina, or steak Florentine, is a must-try in the Tuscan capital (just don’t ask the chef to cook the steak to your liking), as is a rich bowl of pappardelle al cinghiale, a dish of wide noodles with slow-cooked free range boar. TripAdvisor takes foodies on a local market tour, and provides a chance to brush up on basic skills with a cooking class and lunch at a Tuscan farmhouse.
TripAdvisor’s most-booked food tour in Paris is the Paris Food Tour: Taste of Montmartre, where a wide range of French delicacies like croissants, éclairs and plenty of fromage are all ripe for the taking. But the beauty of Parisian cuisine lies not solely in delicately layered French pastries and the five Mother Sauces, but in its eclecticism. In the Jewish quarter, you might just bite into the finest Israeli-style felafel you’ve ever had, or perhaps you’ll discover something completely different at Black Spoon, a one-of-a-kind food truck cooking up Mali and Senegalese food. Paris has earned its rightful place at number three on this list – and not just thanks to pommes frites.
Read our Insider’s Guide to Paris and plot out the essential food stops on your next trip to the City of Light.
In Spain, how and when you eat is just as important as what you eat – starting early and grazing all day on small bites is encouraged, preferably with a glass of Spanish Tempranillo in hand. Barcelona is famous for bringing the best of contemporary Spanish and Catalan cuisine together, in a seemingly infinite line-up of unassuming tapas bars, all-day eateries and upscale, Michelin-starred restaurants. If you’re hungry for a taste of everything, get lost amongst the endless offerings are Mercat de La Boqueria.
TripAdvisor’s most popular Barcelona tour is the Interactive Spanish Cooking Experience in Barcelona, a three-hour tapas and paella party helmed by a Barcelona chef.
5. New Orleans
The first of only two American cities to make the list, New Orleans offers a cuisine vastly different to the first four cities. It’s is all about big flavours, bright colours and bold spirit – plus, it received the official nod of approval from Anthony Bourdain, so the city as a whole must be doing something right. Head to the Louisiana capital for French-Creole inspired dishes like jambalaya, shrimp po’boy and gumbo, but don’t forget the classic American fare, a craft honed by New Orleanians at long-standing institutions like Tujague’s Restaurant, The Camellia Grill and Mandina’s.
Trip Advisor’s New Orleans Food Walking Tour Of The French Quarter incorporates visits to classic spots in a historic neighbourhood, tasting everything from beignets to brisket along the way.
6. New York City
Would a list of the world’s great food cities be complete without mention of the Big Apple? TripAdvisor users certainly don’t think so. Of course, in city as big and as dynamic as New York, it’s hard to pick just a few must-try hotspots – all five boroughs make up a proverbial playground for foodies. TripAdvisor’s most-booked food tour is the Best of Brooklyn Half-Day Food and Culture Tour, which treats people to a little taste of Brooklyn’s iconic snacks, from pizza to pierogi. But you might want to add a pit stop to newly-opened General Deb’s, the restaurant firmly planting Sichuan cuisine on an already-chock-full culinary map in Bushwick.
Back to Italy we go – this time to Venice, which boasts a cuisine steeped in history and tradition. TripAdvisor offers a Cicchetti (bars offering snacks or side dishes) and Wine food tour, facilitating five essential bar stops and ample restaurant recommendations, as well as tastes of the city’s world-famous dishes like polpette (spicy fried meatballs), seafood topped polenta and marinated olives.
Between trademark dishes like street-side bocadillo de calamares and patatas bravas, there’s little wonder why Spain’s capital appears on this list. It’s home to three-Michelin-star restaurant DiverXO, and it also boasts Mercado de San Miguel, one of the oldest produce markets in Madrid and everything you’d expect from a classic European food hall. The TripAdvisor Madrid Tapas and Wine Tasting Tour delivers the best of the city’s eating in the form of hidden gems and a healthy dose of Spain’s storied culinary history.
Tokyo’s myriad food offerings may seem like a dense and uncrackable network – that is, until you learn that almost any eatery you walk into will surpass your expectations. Plus, you can always turn to Tabelog, the app Eater calls “the definitive catalog of restaurants in Japan.”
TripAdvisor’s Tokyo By Night: Japanese Food Tour acts as a line straight to the heart of the city, with opportunities to try local favourites like yakitori, moniyaki and wagashi (Japanese confectionery). Of course, you might want to treat yourself, in which case you should refer to this list of the best Tokyo restaurants worth the money.
Whatever meal you go for, you’re not likely to forget it. The Bangkok Food Tour is TripAdvisor’s most-booked food experience on the city, and includes access to 15 shops, eateries, food stalls and markets.
But if you can’t make it to Thailand, take yourself there with Jay Phao-Chinda’s recipe for the classic Bangkok dish, Pad Thai.