underrated food cities

7 of the Most Underrated Food Cities in the World

Forget pasta in Rome, cheese and wine in Paris or street food in Bangkok: these underrated food cities are where you need to fill your belly on your next getaway.

Chef’s Pencil asked 250 chefs and foodies to tell them which place they thought was the most underrated foodie destination. They were allowed to name countries, cities or regions – no restrictions whatsoever! The result? A drool-inducing roundup of places every food lover should visit.

Most Underrated Food Cities

1. Cape Town, South Africa

Chef’s Pencil says that Cape Town is “the premier South African city for food, catering for every taste and style – haute cuisine, street food to die for, eclectic pop-ups.

“Being a port city and sitting on the Dutch East India’s Spice Route, its food has been flavored by spices and cuisines from around the world.” See some of the best things to eat in Cape Town here.

2. Budapest, Hungary

“Budapest is one of the most exciting gastronomic destinations in Europe. Michelin has had an eye on the place for a while – 2020 saw six Michelin-starred restaurants, one with 2 stars.”

There’s also an amazing choice of vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Budapest.

Image: Street Food Karavan

3. Chicago, USA

“With 24 Michelin-starred restaurants, 52 Bib Gourmands, and 103 awarded the Michelin Plate in 2020, how is Chicago underrated?’ Well, Chef’s Pencil notes that some people feel the city’s dining scene is “in the past.”

But with new innovative dining solutions and the iconic 3-Star restaurant Alinea Chicago is looking very much future forward.

4. Melbourne, Australia

“The culinary capital of Australia – Sydney may have something to say about that, but Melbourne really is a top Australian destination for foodies… From Chinese dumplings to Russian borsch and strong Italian coffee, the city embraces its diverse cultures.”

5. Mexico City, Mexico

“This is a great eating city with exquisite haute cuisine, famed street food, and tastes from around the country and the world, particularly Japan, Korea, and Lebanon. You’ll find restaurants run by some of the country’s top chefs.”

Oh and of course, some of the best street food in the world on every corner.

6. San Sebastian, Spain

“San Sebastian is home to just 186,665 people, and between them they have the choice of not one but three 3 Michelin-star restaurants. Food is just something San Sebastian is famous for – along with its beaches and quaint Old Town.”

Most people however, skip it in favour of Madrid or Barcelona – big mistake!

7. Bergen, Norway

“Norway is fast becoming a major foodie destination, and Bergen is building itself an impressive foodie reputation… This UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy thrives on organic, sustainable food production… The quality of the seafood is legendary, and there are plenty of good seafront eateries at which to sample it.”

underrated food cities
Image: Fjellskål

Other top gourmet cities include Hong Kong; Montreal, Canada; and Naples, Italy.

Sarah Clayton-Lea

Co-founder of Big 7 Travel, Sarah created the company through her passion for championing the world's best food and travel experiences. Before her career in digital media, where she previously held roles such as Editor of Food&Wine Ireland, Sarah worked in the hospitality industry in Dublin and New York.

Contact [email protected]

View stories