When you think of destinations around the world that are known for great food, the usual suspects come to mind: Paris, Rome, Bangkok, New York City. But there’s nothing quite like stumbling upon a city with slightly lower expectations and having your taste buds absolutely blown away. Chef’s Pencil connected with top chefs and food experts to put together a list of the most underrated food destinations in the world.
It asked 250 chefs and experts to provide input on the world’s most underrated food destinations. Cities, regions, and countries were all fair game. The resulting list is full of cities you might not have previously thought of for restaurants, recipes, and food culture. The list is pretty wide-ranging, from South Africa to Norway, and Canada to Mexico.
Cape Town, South Africa, ranked first on the list thanks to its haute cuisine, street food, and pop-up restaurants. Its picturesque location also makes it an ideal place to dine outside while overlooking the ocean. Chicago, which ranked third, might seem like an obvious pick to Chicagoans, but the experts Chef’s Pencil interviewed thought the Windy City has been sliding under the culinary radar. With 24 Michelin-starred restaurants, 52 Bib Gourmands, and 103 restaurants awarded the Michelin Plate this year, Chicago’s food scene is both resilient and versatile.
Other entries include Bergen, Norway, which is considered the country’s capital of gastronomy. A UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, Bergen has a heavy focus on organic and sustainable food production, with much of the city’s famous seafood locally caught in the North Sea. Hong Kong made the list for its mix of street food and Michelin-starred restaurants. Curry fish balls, siu mai, tofu, cheung fun, and cuttlefish are all staples of the street food scene, while the city is also home to seven restaurants with three Michelin stars.
The full list, and more information about each, is available at Chef’s Pencil.