Best Hipster Cities for Food
November 24, 2014
Best Hipster Cities for Food
Hipster cities are stirring up some new fashion and lifestyle trends, but they’re also stirring up some fantastic culinary movements.
Canada might be cold, but Toronto is one of the world’s hottest cities. Named one of the most hipster cities by Thrillist as well as one of the trendiest cities by Vogue for its West Queen West neighborhood, Toronto is where the hipster scene hails supreme north of the border. And though we may light-heartedly have a laugh at the Canadians and their devotion to hockey or Canadian bacon, it's food scene definitely deserves some kudos - especially in Toronto. ONE Restaurant in Toronto attracts stars from around the world, but that’s not the only thing about the Toronto scene that shines. Toronto has a blossoming food culture, with patisseries and home-grown labels popping up everywhere. It is home to trendy cafés including Clafouti, where you can start your day off with anything from a mini baguette to the café's namesake by getting a clafouti, or a custard tart with seasonal fruit. Must-visit hip eateries include Smoque N' Bones, Grand Electric and Geraldine as well as the Drake Hotel, where patrons can enjoy a cocktail and listen to some live music, and - in the warmer months - grab a seat on the rooftop patio in the warmer months.
Stockholmers love their coffee. This is mostly due to the societal tradition of "fika," which consists of multiple breaks during the day to catch up and socialize with family, friends, and colleagues over cups of coffee and pastries known as " fikabröd," according to Lola Akinmade Åkerström, Stockholm-based writer, photographer, and editor of Slow Travel Stockholm (). There is no shortage of high-quality cafés dotting every city block, serving their own version of "kanelbullar," which are Swedish cinnamon buns and the country's collective favorite fikabröd to consume with coffee. If you head over to the city's hipsterdom center — the district of Södermalm — you'll find some of the most popular and hip cafés, Åkerström says. While the truly ambitious hipsters may be making their own sausages (quite the thing in Stockholm), you can find some amazing ones at Taylor & Jones, where you can indulge in all kinds of sausage, and even pass the time reading their Sausage Telegraph, a newsletter about meat. It doesn’t get much more hip than that. Also check out Kak, named after the Swedish slang for food, which serves sandwiches on locally baked bread, accompanied by boozy shakes. Even more fun, the restaurant was opened by Swedish rapper, Petter!
Berlin is a burgeoning food city, says Joy C. Mitchell, who runs the travel blog JoyinEurope.com. “There are a ton of hipsters and most food, even at sit-down restaurants, is fairly cheap compared to most big cities. When hipsters are not eating the city's famed döner kebabs or currywurst, they're usually looking for other ethnic foods or creative spins on traditional German food,” Mitchell says. Despite the fact that there are some great spots like the upscale Parker Bowles, the mid-priced and addictive Vietnamese restaurant Monsieur Vuong, and the amazingly delicious (and cheap) hole-in-the-wall Nil's Sudanese Imbiss, the real heart of Berlin's food scene is in the street food markets, Mitchell says. This is where Berlin's hipster gourmand scene shines brightest and the Markthalle Neun Thursday night market is the sparkling jewel of the scene. It has everything to sate even the pickiest hipster palate, and it's a good-looking crowd. While eating from the different stands, you can travel around the world in one evening. From Brazilian tapioca to Korean-fusion kimchi burgers, Mexican tostadas, French cheese plates, and Spanish tapas, it's all there, and it's always packed.
Beijing has seen both a food and cultural revolution in the past decade, says Jennifer Thomé, former editor of Agenda magazine, who currently teaches social media and marketing as assistant director of student media at Metropolitan State University of Denver. “Every summer there is a spicy crawfish craze, and the whole of Guijie Street — a culinary street smothered in chili oil and lit by red lanterns — is lined with crawfish shells. But many chose to visit smaller locales, such as Little Yunnan (which serves the crawfish during the summer), where they can take their food selfies without having to wait in line for hours,” says Thomé. But that’s not all. There are some higher-end options, including Capital M, where you can enjoy the view of the old city walls and have some afternoon tea, or The Courtyard by Brian McKenna, which is hidden in the Forbidden City and serves upscale European food with a twist to please Chinese diners. () The city's popular modern eateries are Temple Restaurant, which serves fine, European fare served in an ancient Chinese courtyard and Duck de Chin, a restaurant that coins itself as being Beijing's most stylish and innovative duck restaurant and also features the city's first Bollinger Champagne bar. Long before the Chinese hipster scene emerged, expats from all corners of the world re-created pieces of home in Beijing, giving Chinese locals flavors of alternative cultures, says Thomé. Le Fromager de Pekin launched a handmade artisan cheese business after returning from France and Gung Ho! Pizza’s Sanlitun made its name with fantastic service and high-quality gourmet pizzas. It became so popular with Chinese locals and expats alike that it opened a swank, dine-in restaurant this past summer.
#7 São Paolo
Despite being the third largest metropolis in the world by population, São Paulo’s hip culinary scene doesn’t always get the global attention it deserves. But those in the know are aware it’s the best city to eat in the southern hemisphere. It is home to the largest population of Japanese people outside of Japan and a huge Italian community. This has led to a diverse global community loaded with young people from around the world — and tons of unique shops, edgy cafés, and cool bars. “You'll hear more about Cape Town, Sydney, and Melbourne because these are all touristy places, but the quality, variety, and feeding frenzy in Sampa is right up there with the world's most famous foodie destinations,” says travel writer and Lonely Planet author Kevin Raub. “Chefs Alex Atala (D.O.M.) and Helena Rizzo (Maní) have finally got the world's attention via their outrageous success on the coveted World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, but there is plenty more where that came from, including out-of-this-world Japanese, Middle Eastern, and Italian food. Pizza Paulistana ranks alongside pizzerias in Naples, New York, Chicago, and New Haven for the world's best pizza and the current contemporary Brazilian movement, spearheaded by Atala, has dethroned New Nordic as the current culinary movement of note,” Raub says.
Copenhagen is a food-lover’s paradise, says Julie Karla, a well-known Danish gastronome, food journalist, national champion of home cooking, and founder of the popular website Karla's Nordic Kitchen. Copenhagen is home to the legendary best restaurant in the world NOMA and also boasts 14 Michelin-starred restaurants. Nonetheless, Copenhagen is seeing constant culinary scene growth. NOMA has brought glory and spotlight to Copenhagen, and it has inspired and fostered a whole new generation of Nordic chefs to serve simple yet artful meals, says Karla; dishes based on true Nordic ingredients and are found in all price ranges. “Everyone has their own favorite place to go. Mine are Amass, Host, and Manfreds for the Nordic cuisine. The new food market in Copenhagen, Torvehallerne is also a great place to mingle,” says Karla. Visit the suburb Christianshavn and try one of the hidden gems amongst the small cafés, bars, and wineries.
London has long appealed to trendsetters in style and other areas, and Shoreditch is the London neighborhood that is the hub of fashion and new ideas. “This area was, for a long time, a working-class neighborhood. Then young people moved in and the whole gentrification cycle began,” says travel writer Margot Bigg. It's since become an established hipster hotspot. While it's lost its bohemian ambience of once-upon-a-time, it now has a ton of fantastic restaurants, many of which have been around forever (notably the South Asian restaurants on Brick Lane). “One of my favorite restaurants, Dishoom — a retro remake of the Parsi-owned cafes in Bombay that were big in the '50s and '60s — started out in Covent Garden and has since opened a second location in Shoreditch. However, the ultimate Shoreditch cafe is Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium on Bethnal Green Road. It's not much for food, but you can get hot beverages and pastries and play with cats! I think the concept started in Japan as a way for people without the time or space for pets to connect with other creatures,” says Bigg.
Building Singapore’s hipster reputation is the neighborhood of Tiong Bahru, which has been recognized as one of the most hipster neighborhoods in the world by Thrillist and Business Insider. Tiong Bahru, an area frequented by locals and expats alike, is a community rooted in history with unique architecture and a rich heritage that still retains some of its ramshackle charm from the past. Today, the neighborhood is filled with food-snob-approved eateries, used bookstores, and charming cafés that make this area a hipster haven, including Two Face Pizza & Taproom, which was recommended in Lonely Planet’s Tiong Bahru guide, a traditional kopitiam (hangout) by day, and casual pizzeria by night. It's all about allowing everyone to dig into good pizzas and pastas, even in their berms, muscle tees, and flip-flops; Tiong Bahru Bakery, opened under French baker Gontran Cherrier, is a shop that is known for having the best croissants in Singapore. Most of the creations at Tiong Bahru bakery are infused with Asian flavors and ingredients such as pandan and curry; and then there is the quirky PoTeaTo, serving — you read right — tea and potatoes! While it may sound a little unorthodox, this little café in the heart of Tiong Bahru makes it work, with an assortment of wonderful teas, accompanied by a small but thoughtful menu with a spotlight on the humble potato. While enjoying chili crab at a local Hawker Center will never go out of style in Singapore, the country is also home to an array of Michelin-starred and San Pellegrino-ranked restaurants, as well as unique up-and coming-chefs.
It goes without saying that Paris, home restaurants like L'Arpège, Epicure at Le Bristol, Le Meurice, and Taillevent, is one of the culinary capitals of the world. Yet we all know the city of love is as trendy as it is delicious. In fact, Vogue recently named the Parisian neighborhood Canal St-Martin as one of the trendiest neighborhoods in the world, up there with neighborhoods found in other cities on our list including Brooklyn, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Mexico City, and Singapore. Come the summer months you’ll find locals hanging along the canal having picnics or just enjoying the warm weather. There are a some incredibly great boutique stores in this neighborhood, including Agnes B and Antoine et Lili. Looking to dine after spending a day at the shops? Head to L'hotel du Nord, Chez Prune, or Le Comptoir Général for some of the area’s best food. Choose the legendary hotel du Nord or Chez Prune to see and be seen, or Le Comptoir Général for a more laid-back night. Paris, we knew we loved you.
Melbourne has long been considered the Australian city with European charm, and its vibrant food and wine scene is constantly evolving. Restaurants, specialist coffee shops, cafés, bars, and festivals are run and attended by adventurous entrepreneurs, chefs, and artisans who are driven by quality, authenticity, integrity, innovation, tradition, and passion. Melbourne is unique not only in the sheer number and diversity, but also for the spaces in which they are delivered — in laneways and basements, on rooftops, in historic buildings and iconic settings, and countless quirky spaces in between — creating truly extraordinarily experiences. One of the most notable hipster-chic restaurants in Melbourne is Attica, set in the unassuming suburbs of Melbourne where head chef Ben Shewry delivers tantalizing combinations of unique and eclectic ingredients, some of which are foraged by Shewry himself in the morning near his home on the Bellarine peninsula. Also check out Gin Palace; its origins come from the late 1800s, down a dark Melbourne alley, where there once was an infamous hospitality venue frequented by all kinds of characters at night that eventually adopted the title Gin Palace. Gin Palace was closed for a period of time then reopened by an entrepreneur in 1997, and is still most highly renowned for its outstanding martinis. The depth of Melbourne’s cultural heritage contributes significantly to the richness and authenticity of food and wine experiences in the city, which include Asian, African, and European culinary precincts and produce as well as fresh food markets and an incredible breadth of culturally diverse, high-end dining experiences. Melbourne is a city obsessed with coffee, and there are many specialty roasters and multi-roaster cafés popping up throughout the city. More and more, Melbourne is becoming home to the “it” food scene; in fact, it was announced that Heston Blumenthal's three-Michelin-starred restaurant, The Fat Duck, would temporarily relocate to Crown Resort in Melbourne for six months in 2015.
Brooklyn is not just the center of cultural life in the New York City area (sorry, Manhattan), but it’s also the most famously awesome hipster neighborhood in the world. While the most die-hard hipsters may consider Brooklyn too mainstream at this point, it’s still a hipster mecca, with Williamsburg an established spot for the cool and edgy for decades, Bushwick named as one of the world’s trendiest neighborhoods, and Park Slope having long been considered one of the original cool spots of Brooklyn. There are many must-see places in Brooklyn, but one of the most beautiful (and tasty) is Smorgasburg, the food market that invades East River Park and Clinton Hill with stalls of goodies every alternating Saturday (the locations take turns, and are soon to be joined by a Crown Heights location). Park Slope is home to celebrity chef Dale Talde’s incredibly popular roadhouse-style bar Pork Slope, and is also home to Marco's, a much-loved neighborhood trattoria, as well as famous pizza spot Franny's and fine cheese lovers’ paradise Bklyn Larder. Let’s not forget Boerum Hill favorite Building on Bond, authentic Neapolitan pizzerias such as Crown Heights' Barboncino Pizza and Bay Ridge's 50-year-old icon Gino's Pizza. In the meccas like Williamsburg with popular eateries including Roberta’s or St. Anselm’s and Bushwick with go-to spots including The Narrows and Montana’s Trail House. Moral of the story: It would be difficult to get bored in Brooklyn.