What to Eat in the Most Visited Cities Around the World

There are many reasons people flock to these cities, and spectacular food is high on the list

What to Eat in the Most Visited Cities Around the World

Travelers are drawn to cities when voyaging abroad. These bustling hubs of commerce and culture give visitors the most bang for their buck, providing a crash course in foreign flavor. While urban capitals — and their savvy tourism offices — are easier to navigate than their rural counterparts, it can be daunting to decide what to do, see, and eat when faced with near-infinite choices. We’re here to help with the latter: the edible. As experts in all things food and drink, let us be your gastronomic guide.

#10 Hong Kong

Though this bustling cosmopolitan city brims with food from around the globe, the core cuisine is Chinese. Start your day with dim sum; seek out an old-fashioned spot with rolling carts for authentic fun. Two-Michelin-starred chef Kam Fu Cheng insists on seafood to take advantage of Hong Kong’s teeming waterfront; try sampan-style crab stir-fried with ginger and garlic. Take a break between meals at a traditional tea hall, a holdover from the former British rule, to sip milk tea, a creamy mix of black tea, evaporated milk, and sugar. Dine as locals do at a cha chaan teng, the diner-style eateries popular for everyday meals. Often open 24 hours, these places are perfect for noshing on iconic Hong Kong bakery foods like pineapple buns and egg tarts. 

#9 Seoul

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Start your Seoul visit with a shared favorite for Koreans and Americans: barbecue. Two standouts from the dizzying carnivorous choices are bulgogi (ribeye) and galbi (short ribs), both deliciously doused in a soy, ginger, garlic, green onion, and sesame marinade. For an immunity and digestive boost, enjoy kimchi, one of the fermented vegetable offerings that comprise Korea’s signature side dishes. Visit Noryangjin Fish Market for the freshest hwae: raw fish sprinkled with raw garlic, green pepper, and vinegared red pepper paste. To navigate Seoul’s dizzying array of food, keep in mind that the city is divided into “towns” that specialize in specific foods. Jeon Town boasts stalls selling savory pancakes of the same name, for instance. Take a shot of soju, Korea’s national tipple; this neutral spirit can be enjoyed chilled and neat or shaken in your cocktail of choice. 

#8 Kuala Lumpur

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In Malaysia’s capital, join locals at the abundant food stalls for a fast way to eat authentically and affordably. The melting pot of Malaysian cuisine is strongly influenced by the neighboring countries of India and China. The latter inspires char kuey teow, wok-fried rice noodles tossed with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts.  Tuck into nasi lemak, coconut rice topped with sambal (traditional chili sauce), crunchy dried anchovies, roasted peanuts, cucumber, and hard-boiled egg. For dessert, enjoy apam balik, pancakes stuffed with ground, roasted peanuts and sugar. Optional add-ons include banana and coconut, two popular ingredients in Malaysian fare. 

#7 Singapore

Singapore’s ethnically diverse habitants make this unique city-state a foodie mecca.  Begin with kaya toast, a sweet coconut jam spread that traces its origins to the former British rule. Dine with locals at hawker centers, open-air food stalls that teem with quick and tasty grub like noodles topped with handmade fishballs. Singapore excels in seafood — after all, this urban sprawl is set on an island — and the sweet, spicy, salty chili crab is perfectly pungent on a hot day. Duck into a trendy speakeasy; Operation Dagger has locally distilled spirits you can’t find elsewhere.

#6 New York City

In the city that never sleeps, visitors can satisfy their culinary cravings 24 hours a day. Nosh on bagels, which owe their signature flavor to the Big Apple’s water. Almost every street corner boasts a hot dog stand, selling what’s sometimes termed a “dirty water dog” due to the NYC tradition of holding the links in a warm water bath. However you take your pizza — thick, thin, wood- or coal-fired — a slice of New York’s finest is a must-eat. Relish New York’s Jewish deli culture with a pastrami on rye at Katz’s Deli; these towering sandwiches beg to be shared.  

#5 Istanbul

Turkey’s largest city is the most diverse destination in our top 10 list, with 50 percent of its visitors coming from 33 different countries. You could make a meal out of meze, the Turkish medley of hot and cold appetizers; try börek — meat- and onion-filled pastries — or anything with patlıcan (eggplant), a ubiquitous vegetable. At Istanbul’s street stalls, carnivores enjoy içli köfte, a tubular meatball stuffed in a fried bulgur wheat pocket. Fish lovers should head to the docks for balık ekmek: grilled fish sandwiches served simply with fresh onion and lemon juice. Energize your eating with thick Turkish coffee, a small yet potent cup of caffeine. 

#4 Dubai

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In this sybaritic city, you can dine at outposts of some of the world’s best restaurants, a floating eatery, and the highest restaurant in the world. If you want to sample local flavors while saving money, head to restaurants serving Emirati cuisine. Adventurous eaters can try camel, which is available roasted, stuffed, and ground into burgers. Spin the globe in Old Dubai for international street food, like Indian appam and Yemeni mandi

#3 Paris

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Known throughout the world as a culinary capital, Paris poses quandaries not about what to eat — bad food is almost illegal — but where to savor it. Grab an outdoor table at an all-day café to soak up the city as you sip. Try a traditional bistro for French classics like coq au vin, steak frites, and confit de canard. If you can afford the splurge, ssavor a multi-Michelin-starred spot like L’Arpège. Offering more than just fermented grapes, wine bars are convivial places for sampling small plates. For street food à la française, enjoy crêpes or galettes, the healthy, buckwheat version. 

#2 Bangkok

Thailand is known as the Land of Smiles, due to its citizens’ friendly natures. We think it is also thanks to the terrific food, which Bangkok dishes on every corner. Taste how different your Thai takeout order is in its native land; pad thai, the noodle, egg, peanut, and scallion stir-fry, features tamarind in its homeland. Tear into Isan-style gai yang, savoring each juicy morsel with your hands while scooping up sticky rice and som tum, a spicy green papaya, green bean, peanut salad. For a meal to beat the heat — Bangkok has the highest average temperature of big cities worldwide — try yum nua, spicy beef salad tossed with chile, lime, and cilantro. Like other Asian capitals, some of Bangkok’s best grub can be found at street stalls. Look for mango sticky rice, coconut milk-infused rice topped with fresh mango; this sweet treat is served throughout the day. 

#1 London

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Last year’s winner, London, retains its crown as the Most Visited City for 2015! Having been awarded first place five times in the past seven years, London is as popular as the royals who grace the gossip rags. Fortify yourself with an English breakfast , aka a fry-up — aka a gut-bomb of bangers (sausages), eggs, toast, tomatoes, beans, and mushrooms. Don’t miss the quintessential pubs where comfort fare like fish and chips and bangers and mash go great with a local pint; it’s only fitting that London is where the term “gastropub” was coined. While away the afternoon at high tea, a British tradition that gets gussied up at London’s swankiest hotels. Indians make up the largest immigrant population in London, which translates into spectacular curries, samosas, and dals for locals and visitors alike.