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The world’s 20 best cities for food in 2024 ranked by Time Out: The birthplace of pizza comes top overall, America has one entry in the top 10 – and a UK city comes 11th (and it’s NOT London)

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The world’s 20 best cities for food in 2024 have been named by Time Out and it’s Naples – the birthplace of pizza – that takes the crown.

It’s followed by Johannesburg, a ‘worthy rival’ to Cape Town for the title of South Africa‘s food capital, in second place, with Lima in Peru, ‘home to the world’s best restaurant’, taking bronze.

America has one entry in the top 10 – and one UK city just misses out, finishing 11th.

To compile the list, Time Out surveyed thousands of people around the world about food in their city, with each ‘ranked on how locals rated the quality and affordability of their food scene’. They were also asked about their favourite restaurants, must-try specialities and best-value dishes. 

Grace Beard, Travel Editor at Time Out, says: ‘Our inaugural list of the world’s best cities for food is a celebration of culinary culture the world over, based on the feedback of Time Out’s city-dwelling readers.

‘While some cities on the list are well-known for their food scene, others might surprise you. This ranking is fully informed by input from on-the-ground locals, who had their say on everything from how affordable it is to dine in their city to the one must-eat dish.’ Scroll down for the full results – presented in reverse order.

15. Marrakech, Morocco

Marrakech comes 15th in the ranking, with Time Out declaring that the must-eat dish is tagine

‘Eating in Marrakech is a treat for the senses,’ says Time Out.

The guide explains that there are cafes ‘where sweet Maghrebi mint tea is poured from a height into fist-sized glasses’; vendors competing to sell freshly squeezed orange juice and skewers of grilled meat in the ‘rowdy central square of Jemaa el-Fnaa; and ‘roasted lamb on Mechoui Alley and fragrant tagine in palatial courtyards’.

The must-eat dish in this 15th-ranked city? It’s tagine, says Time Out, which adds that ‘there’s no better time than now to make the trip to North Africa’s food capital’.

14. Porto, Portugal

Porto comes 14th on the list thanks to menu items that include shellfish and a sandwich stacked with ham or beef that's served with a fried egg and smothered in beer

Porto comes 14th on the list thanks to menu items that include shellfish and a sandwich stacked with ham or beef that’s served with a fried egg and smothered in beer

Porto, ranked 14th, is Portugal’s second city but the best place to eat in the country right now, according to Time Out.

Why?

Thanks to notable menu items that include shellfish, port wine and ‘the gargantuan francesinha, an absolutely stacked sandwich of thick white bread, Portuguese sausage, ham and roast beef or steak, served with a fried egg and smothered in beer and cheese sauce’.

The guide adds: ‘It’s without a doubt the city’s must-try dish, and you can find the best one at Brasão Cervejaria.’

13. Seville, Spain

Seville comes 13th in the ranking, with Time Out pinpointing a sandwich stuff with pork, ham and tomato as the must-try meal

Seville comes 13th in the ranking, with Time Out pinpointing a sandwich stuff with pork, ham and tomato as the must-try meal

This Spanish city is bursting with over 3,000 tapas bars, notes Time Out – ‘the best way to get a taste of the Andalusian capital is by hopping from one to the next, chowing down on one delightful savoury bite at a time’.

Delicacies include: jamón ibérico, solomillo al whisky (pork loin in whisky) and salmorejo, ‘a silky Andalusian tomato soup’.

The title of must-eat dish is taken by serranito – a sandwich stuffed with ‘pork, Serrano ham, green pepper and tomato’.

12. Medellín, Colombia

The must-eat dish in Medellin, ranked 12th, is bandeja paisa - a 'fry-up' made from 'Colombian staples, including rice, red or black beans, avocado, pork rind, arepas, plantain, hagao and chorizo'

The must-eat dish in Medellin, ranked 12th, is bandeja paisa – a ‘fry-up’ made from ‘Colombian staples, including rice, red or black beans, avocado, pork rind, arepas, plantain, hagao and chorizo’

Medellín, ranked 12th, has something for ‘every budget’ from ‘biting into a hot, cheesy arepa or slurping up the hearty broth of a sancocho (a type of stew made with corn, vegetables and meat)’.

The must-eat dish is bandeja paisa – a ‘fry-up’ made from ‘Colombian staples, including rice, red or black beans, avocado, pork rind, arepas, plantain, hagao and chorizo’.

Medellín writer Maggie Clark says: ‘Backpacking? Explore sumptuous fruits at Central Mayorista. 

‘Or for a splurge that keeps you ahead of the curve, Mal de Ojo is months on the scene with a stunning nightlife vibe and the fusion cuisine to match.’

11. Liverpool, UK

Liverpool, which comes 11th, can claim the title of the UK's best place to eat out, says Time Out

Liverpool, which comes 11th, can claim the title of the UK’s best place to eat out, says Time Out

Some British readers may be surprised to see a British city come so close to breaking the top 10, but Time Out says ‘Liverpool can claim the title of the country’s best place to eat out’. 

It adds: ‘With everything from cult street food vendors to contemporary small plates, it’s no wonder locals were full of praise for their city’s food scene. 

‘Their go-to dish? Scouse, of course. This meaty stew is so beloved in Liverpool, it gave the city’s inhabitants the “Scouser” nickname.’ 

10. Portland, USA

'Portland [10th] isn¿t known for just one iconic dish, but rather for its food scene at large'

‘Portland [10th] isn’t known for just one iconic dish, but rather for its food scene at large’

'The city¿s best plates can be found not only in restaurants but at food carts, farmers markets and breweries' (above: food at Gado Gado restaurant)

‘The city’s best plates can be found not only in restaurants but at food carts, farmers markets and breweries’ (above: food at Gado Gado restaurant)

‘Portland isn’t known for just one iconic dish, but rather for its food scene at large.’

So says Time Out, which adds that the ‘laidback Oregon city’ has made a splash as one of the U.S’s ‘most exciting food and drink destinations’. 

The guide continues: ‘The city’s best plates can be found not only in restaurants but at food carts, farmers markets and breweries. 

‘While locals shouted about restaurants flush with plaudits like Gado Gado, Portland’s pizza scene got the biggest nod in our survey, with a slice of Mexican pizza (essentially a pizza topped with typical taco ingredients) named the city’s best-value bite.’

9. Dubai, UAE

Dubai ranks ninth, with Yousra Zaki, from Time Out Dubai, declaring: 'Right now, the city¿s culinary landscape is more diverse and creative than it¿s ever been'

Dubai ranks ninth, with Yousra Zaki, from Time Out Dubai, declaring: ‘Right now, the city’s culinary landscape is more diverse and creative than it’s ever been’

Locals rate the food in Dubai (above), says Time Out

Locals rate the food in Dubai (above), says Time Out

Dubai (ninth) is known for its man-made islands and skyscrapers, notes Time Out, but locals rate the city’s food, too, with award-winning chefs and ‘new-wave dining experiences’ emerging.

‘While it’s possible to sample cuisine from almost anywhere on earth here, locals named traditional Middle Eastern dishes – namely mandi rice, shawarma and charcoal-grilled chicken – as their must-eats,’ says Time Out.

Food editor Yousra Zaki, from Time Out Dubai, adds: ‘Right now, the city’s culinary landscape is more diverse and creative than it’s ever been. We’ve seen a rise in incredible chef-led dining experiences that break all the rules.’

8. Mumbai, India

Mumbai (eighth) offers foodies street vendors and rooftop bars with sweeping views

Mumbai (eighth) offers foodies street vendors and rooftop bars with sweeping views

A favourite Mumbai dish is vada pav (above), a deep-fried potato dumpling

A favourite Mumbai dish is vada pav (above), a deep-fried potato dumpling

Mumbai (eighth) in India has the highest score for food quality out of all the entries.

The must-eat dishes are fiery manchurian (‘roughly chopped vegetables or meat, fried and smothered in a sticky sauce’), creamy butter chicken, and vada pav – ‘a deep-fried potato dumpling stuffed into a bread roll, accompanied by red and green chutneys’.

Mumbai writer Kunal Bhatia says: ‘Everyone has a favourite find here, from a street vendor for a quick bite to rooftop bars with sweeping views. 

‘I find myself drawn to old favourite Tanjore Tiffin Room – its sampling platter of 16 rice and curries is always an instant hit.’

7. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur (seventh) 'punches well above its weight with some of the most sought-after food in all of Asia'

Kuala Lumpur (seventh) ‘punches well above its weight with some of the most sought-after food in all of Asia’

‘The Malaysian capital is a big, delicious melting pot, with a food scene influenced by Malay, Chinese and Indian culture and reflective of centuries of migration,’ says Time Out.

It continues: ‘Nasi lemak, an aromatic dish of coconut milk rice, crispy anchovies, cucumber and boiled egg, was named the city’s must-eat meal, followed by Thai tom yam soup and roti canai, a crispy pan-fried flatbread.’

Kuala Lumpur writer Ng Su Ann notes: ‘Kuala Lumpur punches well above its weight with some of the most sought-after food in all of Asia.’

6. Bangkok, Thailand

Street eats are the lifeblood of sixth-place Bangkok, says Time Out

Street eats are the lifeblood of sixth-place Bangkok, says Time Out

'Beyond the markets and no-frills food joints is a city flush with gourmet accolades,' says Time Out. Above: Summer Curry

‘Beyond the markets and no-frills food joints is a city flush with gourmet accolades,’ says Time Out. Above: Summer Curry

The capital of Thailand (sixth) is dubbed the ‘street food capital of the world’ and som tum, a spicy papaya salad, the top must-eat dish there.

Time Out continued: ‘Bangkok unsurprisingly ranked as the third-most affordable city to eat out in.

‘Sizzling in streetside woks or served up from a boat in a floating market, street eats are the lifeblood of the city.

‘Beyond the markets and no-frills food joints is a city flush with gourmet accolades: Bangkok has 34 Michelin-starred restaurants under its belt, and won big in the recent awards.’

5. Beijing, China

Beijing (fifth) is famous for its night markets, 'snack streets' and gourmet restaurants, which Time Out says 'won¿t cost a fortune'

Beijing (fifth) is famous for its night markets, ‘snack streets’ and gourmet restaurants, which Time Out says ‘won’t cost a fortune’

'Beijing is a city for carnivores,' says Time Out. Above: Beijing Dong'anmen Night Market

‘Beijing is a city for carnivores,’ says Time Out. Above: Beijing Dong’anmen Night Market

Beijing (fifth) is famous for its night markets, ‘snack streets’ and gourmet restaurants, which Time Out says ‘won’t cost a fortune’. 

The guide continues: ‘Beijing is a city for carnivores. Asked which dish everyone should try when visiting their city, locals overwhelmingly put meat on the menu: gongbao chicken, hot pot, and (of course) Peking duck were the most common answers. 

‘But veggies won’t be disappointed, either – stir-fried, steamed, spiced or parcelled in a dumpling, you can find the good stuff all over the Chinese capital.

‘Grab a jian bing (a Chinese savoury crepe) and a local beer and you’re set.’

4. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Vietnamese food 'never compromises on flavour', according to Time Out, which awards Ho Chi Minh fourth place

Vietnamese food ‘never compromises on flavour’, according to Time Out, which awards Ho Chi Minh fourth place

Above is a platter served up by Ho Chi Minh's Pot Au Pho restaurant

Above is a platter served up by Ho Chi Minh’s Pot Au Pho restaurant 

Food in Vietnam ‘never compromises on flavour’, according to the guide, which awards fourth place to the country’s most populous city, Ho Chi Minh.

Time Out says: ‘Sweet, spicy, fragrant, fishy – however you’d describe it. You can sample the very best of it in Ho Chi Minh.

‘Beyond the streetside food stalls and bustling markets hawking banh mi, snails, broken rice and offal stew are a clutch of Bib Gourmand and Michelin-starred restaurants serving up creative renditions of classic dishes.’

Pho is the hero dish of this foodie gem: a ‘warming noodle soup – in the south typically heavily garnished with basil, coriander, chilli and hoisin sauce’.

3. Lima, Peru

Lima, third, is the culinary capital of South America, says Time Out

Lima, third, is the culinary capital of South America, says Time Out

Ceviche (above) - fish or shellfish marinated in citrus juice and seasonings - is the 'must try dish' in Lima

Ceviche (above) – fish or shellfish marinated in citrus juice and seasonings – is the ‘must try dish’ in Lima

‘Lima is not only the culinary capital of Peru,’ says Time Out, ‘but of the entire South American continent. It’s home to the world’s best restaurant in Central, but you can sample the Peruvian flavours on Central’s ten-course tasting menu everywhere across the city (and for a fraction of the price). 

‘Tangy pisco sours, citrusy ceviche and lomo saltado (Peruvian beef stir fry) all got the nod from locals in our survey, but when it came to value, the simple, hearty arroz con pollo (chicken and rice) was named the city’s most affordable dish.’

The guide pins ceviche – fish or shellfish marinated in citrus juice and seasonings – as the ‘must try dish’ of the city.  

2. Johannesburg, South Africa

You can eat your way across the continent of South Africa in silver-medal-winner Johannesburg, says Time Out

You can eat your way across the continent of South Africa in silver-medal-winner Johannesburg, says Time Out

Traditional South African delicacies such as bunny chow, above, come highly recommended in Johannesburg

Traditional South African delicacies such as bunny chow, above, come highly recommended in Johannesburg

‘From Ethiopian cafes in Little Addis to Nigerian and West African eats in the south of the city, you can eat your way across the continent here – though the majority of locals we surveyed recommended the city’s traditional South African delicacies, like the Sowetan kota sandwich, bunny chow and mala mogodu,’ notes Time Out. 

Johannesburg food writer Thando Moleketi-Williams adds: ‘Head to Mamakashaka and Friends on De Beer Street for weekends of wine and hip hop, cocktails and playlists, a monthly book club and an exciting rotation of food collabs.’

The city’s ‘must eat’ dish is the kota sandwich – a hollowed out chunk of bread filled with French fries, meats, cheeses, eggs and sauces.

1. Naples, Italy

Naples, the birthplace of pizza, takes the crown as top foodie city on the planet

Naples, the birthplace of pizza, takes the crown as top foodie city on the planet 

A pizza Margherita at Naples restaurant Starita

A pizza Margherita at Naples restaurant Starita

In top-spot Naples, Time Out singles out the pizza Margherita as the must-eat dish (it was invented there, after all), while locals named pizza a portafoglio – ‘a grab-and-go folded slice that costs around €1 a pop’ – the city’s best-value dish.

The widespread availability of cheap eats helped Naples top the ranking as most affordable city to eat out in.

The guide adds: ‘You can’t talk food in Italy without talking Naples – and you can’t talk food in Naples without talking pizza. A’ pizz was born in Naples in the 19th century as a quick, affordable meal for the city’s working classes, and old-school pizzerias (mostly centred around Via dei Tribunali, aka Pizza Street) continue to feed hungry Neapolitans today.

‘For the city’s crowning dish, pizza Margherita, head to Santa Maradona, where owner Andrea Viviani honours Naples’ most prized possessions: pizza, football, and Diego Armando Maradona.’

For more visit www.timeout.com/travel/worlds-best-cities-for-food

THE WORLD’S 20 BEST CITIES FOR FOOD IN 2024 

1. Naples, Italy

2. Johannesburg, South Africa

3. Lima, Peru

4. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

5. Beijing, China

6. Bangkok, Thailand

7. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

8. Mumbai, India

9. Dubai, UAE

10. Portland, USA

11. Liverpool, UK

12. Medellin, Colombia

13. Seville, Spain

14. Porto, Portugal

15. Marrakech, Morocco

16. Lyon, France

17. Sydney, Australia

18. Montreal, Canada

19. Osaka, Japan

20. Copenhagen, Denmark

 Source: Time Out

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