2017 Best Food Destinations

At Caterwings, food is at the heart and soul of what we do. With employees hailing from all four corners of the globe, we’re constantly debating where you can find the most delicious culinary delights.

Every city is fundamentally different, so it’s no mean feat comparing an oyster omelette in Penang to a salt beef bagel in New York. However, with food tourism as one of the fastest growing travel trends, cities all over the world are now vying for the accolade of best food destination. We commissioned this study, incorporating, among other factors, ratings from 20,000 food journalists and restaurant critics, to reveal the ultimate 100 best food destinations.

The research began by analysing thousands of established food hubs and hidden provincial gems to determine the final list of top 100 cities. We then considered which criteria are paramount to food lovers to create several scalable factors to rank the cities. For instance, we know that many foodies would be infinitely happier with freshly prepared fish beside the seaside than going to a Michelin star restaurant. Therefore, the number of highly rated chefs and eateries is equally as important as the number of mouth-watering street food options available. For this reason, we focused on both the quality and the variety of cuisine on offer.

It was important to our study that good food was both accessible and affordable, so we calculated how many hours a person on minimum wage would have to work in order to afford a two-person dinner in a restaurant. Additionally, we looked at factors such as the availability of vegetarian/vegan options, the quality of street food, and the percentage of fast food chains as compared to restaurants. All of these criteria were then given a score to determine the final index of The Best Food Destinations, with every single city deserving of recognition.

Whether you’ve always dreamed of trying percebes in San Sebastian or okonomiyaki in Osaka, this study is the ultimate foodie bucket list.” comments Manuel Queiroz, CEO of Caterwings. “Every delicious destination in this index can offer inspiration to food industry professionals such as ourselves, as well as burgeoning chefs, gastronomes and globetrotters.

Legend


Expert Opinion of Culinary Scene
Expert Opinion of
Culinary Scene
Diversity of Cuisine
Diversity of Cuisine
Affordability for Locals (with PPP)
Affordability for
Locals (with PPP)
Expert Opinion of Quality of Service
Expert Opinion of
Quality of Service
Vegetarian and Vegan Options
Vegetarian and
Vegan Options
Affordability for Visitors
Affordability for
Visitors
Restaurants/10,000 Citizens
Restaurants/10,000
Citizens
Rating of High End Restaurants
Rating of High
End Restaurants
Hours Worked at Min. Wage to Afford a Dinner for 2
Hours Worked at Min. Wage
to Afford a Dinner for 2
% of Fast Food Outlets to Restaurants
% of Fast Food Outlets
to Restaurants
Quality of Street Food and Food Trucks
Quality of Street Food
and Food Trucks
 
 
 
Input of Critics
Accessibility and Variety
Quality
Affordability
 
# City
Country
Expert Opinion of Culinary Scene
Expert Opinion of Quality of Service
Restaurants/10,000 Citizens
% of Fast Food Outlets to Restaurants
Diversity of Cuisine
Vegetarian and Vegan Options
Rating of High End Restaurants
Quality of Street Food and Food Trucks
Affordability for Locals (with PPP)
Affordability for Visitors
Hours Worked at Min. Wage to Afford a Dinner for 2
Total
1. San Sebastian Spain 10.00 9.50 36.56 2.65 7.95 5.99 10.00 2.98 7.82 6.08 5.42 8.09
2. Tokyo Japan 9.50 8.80 90.32 0.74 9.47 2.01 9.82 2.67 6.95 2.44 5.60 7.98
3. New York City United States 9.10 8.20 10.96 15.31 8.88 9.11 9.08 8.04 10.00 4.06 3.27 7.81
4. Barcelona Spain 9.60 8.10 51.53 5.50 8.93 6.55 8.30 4.55 7.56 5.36 5.78 7.72
5. Singapore Singapore 8.90 8.20 16.93 6.21 9.44 5.05 8.42 5.56 9.84 2.95 10.40 7.58
6. Paris France 8.70 7.50 73.26 2.59 8.20 6.12 9.78 3.28 7.12 2.16 4.92 7.54
7. Madrid Spain 9.40 8.50 29.40 2.91 7.90 4.81 8.33 2.67 7.83 6.84 5.23 7.47
8. Lima Peru 9.60 8.50 2.86 3.55 8.04 5.53 8.45 7.25 7.20 8.06 14.92 7.44
9. London United Kingdom 8.90 9.20 20.67 12.90 9.12 8.08 8.08 4.48 7.24 2.70 4.76 7.41
10. Munich Germany 8.10 9.00 20.92 2.97 8.26 7.56 8.54 3.62 8.34 4.80 3.96 7.31

METHODOLOGY


To determine the final 100 cities for the ranking, we started with the most widely known popular cuisines and countries well-established for their food. Good food is a very subjective term, so in order to narrow our country selection, we first looked at countries with the most restaurants per capita. We then considered established food and restaurant rankings to create a list of countries. Once we had established the final selection, we then did a closer analysis of the food scene in each country to determine the final list of 100 cities. Every city in this final index has an excellent food scene and ought to be applauded for their efforts. Our study specifically focuses on those cities which offer the highest quality and variety, so although there are undoubtedly great food cities not featured in our final list, they did not rank highly enough for our qualifying criteria in order to be included.

Note: UNESCO has a list of creative cities in the category of gastronomy. However, as we consider different categories than those considered by the UNESCO selection committee, only 1 out of these cities remained in our final top 100.

To create the final score we ranked the raw data from highest to lowest value and then we awarded a standard score based on their ranking in the following manner:

Each factor is scored from 1 – 10, the higher the score, the better. Below you can find a description of how each factor was researched.

Category Specifications

Expert Opinion of Quality of Culinary Scene & Expert Opinion of Quality of Service

20,000 food journalists and restaurant critics were asked to rate the quality of both the food scene and the service in their city.

Restaurants per 10000 population

Population. Source: Google.
Number of restaurants.
Source: Official City Records, Yelp and Trip Advisor.

% of Fast Food Outlets to Restaurants

Number of restaurants and fast food establishments. Official City Permits and Trip Advisor

Diversity of Cuisine

Percentage of non-local food restaurants.
Source: Yelp, Trip Advisor, Local Official Data. E.G. for Germany, find the percentage of restaurants in German cuisine category, then subtract it from 100 percent.
Percentage of restaurants with vegetarian options.
Source: Trip Advisor and local travel guides for all cities.

Vegetarian and Vegan options

Vegetarian: Percentage of restaurants with vegetarian options.
Source: Trip Advisor and local travel guides for all cities.
Vegan-friendly restaurant percentage.
Source: Trip Advisor, and local travel guides for all cities.

Rating of High End Restaurants

Number of Michelin 3 star restaurants.
Source: Michelin
World’s 50 best restaurants (Highest Rank).
Source: Available Online Database
World’s 100 best restaurants (Number).
Source: TripAadvisor, Zagat and Michelin
Restaurants in the ‘Fine dining’ category in Trip Advisor (more costly restaurants). Taken in terms of percentage out of restaurants.
Source: Trip Advisor, Zagat and Michelin
Number of restaurants.
Source: Trip Advisor.

Quality of Street Food and Food Trucks

Food trucks: percentage of food trucks out of available restaurants. Source: Trip Advisor and other local guides.
Number of restaurants.
Source: Trip Advisor and Google
Street food restaurants.
Source: Trip Advisor, Yelp and other local guides.

Affordability for Locals (with PPP)

For this factor, we considered the local wage level.
The Big Mac Index.
Source: The Economist
Prices of food: price of lunch, fast food, eating in a pub for 2 people, dinner in an italian restaurant, prices of a cappuccino, cocktail and beer (in total). Source: Collected data from 3 restaurants in each city and Expatistan
Average net salary.
Source: Online Salary Survey Database
GDP per capita, (PPP).
Source: World Bank Data

Affordability for Visitors (without PPP)

Here we do not take the local wage into consideration, only the price of food.
The Big Mac Index.
Source: The Economist
Prices of food: price of lunch, fast food, eating in a pub for 2 people, dinner in an italian restaurant, prices of cappuccino, cocktail and beer (in total). Source: Collected data from 3 restaurants in each city and Expatistan.

Hours Worked at Min. Wage to Afford a Dinner for 2

Hourly minimum wage.
Source: Eurostat, Online Wage Indicator
NOTE: for countries that do not have a legal minimum wage, the lowest available wage is taken.
Average dinner price for 2 people.
Source: Data collection from at least 20 to 40 restaurants per city and Expatistan.