This blog post was updated on July 30, 2021.
There’s something special about exploring a place through its cuisine. By tasting the local foods and flavors, you can learn so much about a culture and place (and have some seriously delicious experiences at the same time). Foodies like to travel via their tastebuds — and after one bite of a delectable local favorite, it’s not hard to see why! But not all great culinary cities get the love and appreciation they deserve. So, if you’re aiming to eat your way around the world, why not make those the places you go to? We’ve rounded up some of the best food cities in the world that are not appreciated enough, but will still leave your mouth watering to visit!
New Orleans, Louisiana
It’s easy to get caught up in the fun and festive atmosphere of New Orleans (particularly during Carnival season) and forget to stop and smell what’s cooking! While New Orleans is indeed a vibrant and colorful city, don’t count it out as a must-visit culinary location. New Orleans has a mouth-watering assortment of cuisines to sample, from gumbo and jambalaya to beignets and muffulettas. Whether you prefer dining at a high-end luxury restaurant or are most comfortable sampling the wares of a local food truck in the busy streets of the Big Easy, you’re sure to find something wonderful to satisfy your cravings.
Paris is widely known for its legendary culinary scene, but don’t overlook Provence! As the birthplace of many Provencal style dishes, you’re in for fresh, vibrant flavors cooked lovingly by expert chefs. From fresh herbs that burst with flavor to fish plucked directly from the water, you’ll be blown away by the complex dishes that can be crafted from simple, hearty ingredients. And for those who love a good glass of wine with dinner, there are an assortment of impressive vineyards you can tour and drink at. It’s a gustatory experience you won’t want to miss!
If you’re looking for fresh, local fare with a funky and unconventional twist, it’s time to book some airline tickets to Portland. The local culinary scene is passionate about organic, farm-to-table offerings, and visitors can taste the difference! There are tons of fun walking tours for those who like to learn while they eat, providing you with a fascinating look at the culinary history of Portland in between bites of remarkably unique dishes. And if you’re a fan of food trucks, this is the place to be: the city has over 600, many run by award-winning chefs with menus you’ll have to see to believe!
Grab a cheap international flight to Lima, but don’t forget your appetite! Lima has emerged in recent years as one of the most exciting and dynamic culinary hotspots on the planet, and its reputation is only growing with each year. You can eat your way across the city, starting with fresh seafood and ceviche at the coast, and then head into the Amazon for simple, hearty local fare like balls of spiced rice, fried piranha, and deliciously salty olives that have been wrapped in plant leaves and boiled in clay pots. You’ll get to experience a whole new world, and a whole new way of eating!
Fans of street food the world over convene in Penang, which has become the epicenter of this culinary tradition. Don’t bother making reservations at a fancy, overpriced restaurant; instead, take to the streets of Penang to sample a vast array of different foods. It feels like each vendor is offering a different delicacy, be it satay, hand-pulled noodles, or shaved ice. You can enjoy a multi-course meal without breaking the bank, making it a great option for those who want to eat more for less!
Italy is renowned internationally for its culinary prowess and influence on the world, making it a must-visit travel spot for any foodie. But with cities like Rome and Venice getting all the attention, it’s easy to overlook some underrated gems like Palermo. And that’s a true shame, because it has some of the most dynamic, versatile, and interesting food in the country. Most of the eating is done in open-air markets filled with hungry people, loud conversations, and the smell of simply succulent food. Whether you opt for fresh Sfincione pizza (what most Americans know as Sicilian style), a handmade cannoli with fresh-whipped ricotta, or some savory arancini (fried rice balls), you’re in for an unforgettable trip for all your senses!
Know of any other great food cities around the world that are unappreciated? Let us know in the comments section below!