Looking for the best foodies cities across the world? Want to know which city centre restaurants to visit? Read our guide for the coolest city areas, from Walthamstow to Wedding.
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Vibrant and ethnically diverse, the Oost (East) area of Amsterdam is home to leafy Oosterpark, the Dappermarkt street market – pick up inexpensive Surinamese, Moroccan and Turkish specialties – and countless cafés and restaurants.
When your caffeine levels need topping up, seek out the excellent Rum Baba bakery and roasters, or Hartje Oost, where you can browse vintage clothing as you sip your flat white. Oost is packed with great value ethnic eateries – try Boi Boi for a tasty Thai-Laos Isaan-style lunch. For dinner, stop by the Scandi-inspired, wood-clad Fyrre seafood bar for some Zeeland oysters or a giant fruits de mer platter washed down with natural wine. Or, treat yourself to dinner in the greenhouse at legendary plant-to-plate restaurant De Kas. It’s Amsterdam’s answer to Petersham Nurseries.
Where to stay
Doubles from £60, check availability at booking.com
The 11th, Paris
Weekenders often stick to the single-figure arrondissements but if you’re willing to head slightly further out you’ll find a dynamic foodie hotspot around Charonne Metro in the historically working class 11th arrondissement. Bertrand Grébaut’s rustic, unpretentious fine dining restaurant Septime is the area’s big hitter (book three weeks in advance, or try for a lunchtime table) but if you don’t manage to get a reservation, try Grébaut’s nearby walk-in-only spot, Clamato for sublime seafood.
At Le Petit Keller, Kaori Endo serves exciting French/Japanese fusion food (a là mackerel donburi bowls with marinated, poached eggs) served with natural wines, while Mokonuts Cafe and Bakery bakes the best cookies in Paris.
Where to stay
The handily located Eden Lodge is Paris’ only zero carbon guesthouse and serves a communal organic breakfast in the garden.
Doubles from £156, check availability at booking.com
Dodge the tourist hordes in out-of-the-way Poblenou, a charming former industrial district stretching down to the beach.
You can’t visit Barcelona without eating tapas – try El 58 for top-notch tapas made by French foodies, Balius for rogueish cocktails and great vermouth served along with organic tapas such as lomo de orza in a former pharmacy, and Els Tres Porquets, a true hidden gem serving simple seasonal morsels such as crispy octopus with paprika oil. For great Catalan seafood, head to family-run Els Pescadors – the Fisherman’s Rice is a must-try — or the waterfront Xiringuito Escriba.
Where to stay
Stay at Hotel Poblenou B&B, a simple, friendly guesthouse where you can borrow bikes to explore the area, and kick off your day with excellent Nomad coffee at Espai Joliu Coffee & Plants, followed by a gut-busting brunch of pulled pork eggs benedict at Nolita.
Doubles from £51, check availability at booking.com
Greenpoint, New York
Williamsburg foodies are venturing past its brewery to Brooklyn’s northernmost neighbourhood, bordered by the East River’s Newton Creek. Trendy bistros and bars have popped up here beside grocery stores and bakeries run by the area’s Polish community. Make a beeline for Peter Pan Donut and Pastry Shop, where Polish girls serve chocolate-frosted rings and cream-filled donuts.
Newer to the area is Paulie Gee’s slice shop, offering its popular Neapolitan-style pizzas in a casual environment (try the trademarked Hellboy topped with pepperoni and chilli-infused honey). Or, for date night vibes, book a table at intimate Middle Eastern bistro Glasserie and try fried cauliflower with caper yogurt or pine nut-studded lamb sausages. Continue the cosy vibes by the fire at Achilles Heel cocktail bar. Order a ‘hotter toddy’, a warming concoction of bourbon, apple brandy, walnut and ginger.
Where to stay
Wander south, just over the border into Williamsburg, for a nightcap at The Hoxton’s rooftop bar (with its sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline) before sinking into one of its beds.
Doubles from £159, check availability at booking.com
Still well off the tourist radar, Wedding is a friendly, unpretentious neighbourhood that packs some true foodie gems in among its Weimar-era architecture and former factories. Müllerstrasse is packed with Lebanese, Syrian and Turkish restaurants – order the lamb dürüm and a glass of homemade ayran at Imren Grill, regarded by döner kebab aficionados as the best in Berlin. The area also has a fantastic emerging Korean food scene; check out Shikgoo for authentic Korean comfort food including bibimbap and homemade mandu dumplings and Hite beer.
Two of the coolest and most unique dining experiences in Berlin can also be found in Wedding: Café Pförtner, where you can tuck into sophisticated, experimental cooking in a refurbished Seventies school bus, and Ernst, Canadian wunderchef Dylan Watson-Brawn’s acclaimed 12-seater farm-to-table restaurant.
Where to stay
Doubles from £50, check availability at booking.com
Priced out of hip Newtown and Surry Hills, Sydney’s cool kids have edged south, to pretty Erskineville, for their flat whites and zucchini noodles. ‘Erko’ institutions – including gastropubs The Imperial, The Erko and The Rose plus Maggies Thai – have been joined by some innovative newcomers.
Check out Shenkin Kitchen for its epic seven-hour slow-cooked shakshuka, The Hive Bar for its vegan burgers, creative cocktails and live music and Fleetwood Macchiato for homemade delights, coffee from local roasters Sample Coffee and specialist teas from Western suburbs-based Tea Craft.
Where to stay
Walk it off with a brisk stroll back to Little Albion, an intimate hotel in Surry Hills where the wood-panelled honesty bar stocks everything you need to create your own evening cocktail.
Doubles from £120, check availability at booking.com
This neighbourhood, at the far western end of Södermalm, used to be so risky it was nicknamed ‘knife Söder’, but these days ‘knife and fork Söder’ is a more appropriate moniker. Epitomising the new culinary scene, Tjoget is a contemporary concept incorporating a dining room, wine bodega, beer café and a cocktail bar that consistently makes the list of the world’s best bars – try the “Beets by Tjoget” beetroot cocktail and you’ll understand why. Nearby Barbro combines Asian fusion sharing dishes with an always-buzzy bar and art-house cinema and, during the warmer months, the colourful rooftop bar at Barrio is the place to be. For moreish un-baked sweet treats and healthy vegan food, stop by Sthlm Raw.
Where to stay
Hellstens Malmgård, an 18th century mansion turned hotel, provides a tucked-away, peaceful contrast to all the trendiness. Wake up to its classic Scandi breakfast buffet (best eaten out in the garden in good weather).
Doubles from £71, check availability at booking.com
San Rafael, Mexico City
Not far from the better known Condesa and Roma districts, San Rafael is still largely residential but with emerging art and food scenes. Alongside neighbourhood stalwarts such iconic taqueria El Califa de León – try the gaoneras, sliced filet mignon in corn tortillas – and La Polar – famous for its birria (a spicy stew from the state of Jalisco) – you’ll find popular newcomers such as bright, busy Cochinita Power which specialises in Yucatan streetfood.
Hit up the taco stands on the corners of Moreno and Icazbalceta streets, and the corner of Velazquez de Leon and Pimentel streets, for inexpensive suadero tacos, and get your artisan coffee fix at Camino a Comala. If you want to sample northern Mexican food, La Tonina is the place to go. Order its flour tortillas with machacha (rehyrdrated dried meat) and gorditas de nata (sweet masa pancakes).
Where to stay
Bed down at El Patio 77, a funky eco-friendly b&b in a 19th century mansion with a pretty courtyard dining area where you can start the day with coffee, fresh fruit juice and quesadillas with pico de gallo.
Doubles from £53, check availability at booking.com
Sometimes billed as Tokyo’s answer to Brooklyn this trendy neighbourhood, only 10 minutes’ walk from the bright neon lights of Shibuya, makes a laid-back base for exploring the city. Mooch along Log Road, popping into the timber-clad boutiques that have sprung up along this converted train track, until you get to Spring Valley Brewery. Here you can order a craft beer flight and sip on umami pilsner Copeland, smooth, rich Afterdark and refreshing Daydream with its notes of yuzu and Japanese sansho pepper.
Elsewhere, grab a pouch of cold-pressed Japanese citrus juice from the counter at Why Juice? or sip on a Yemeni coffee in Hussein Ahmed’s greenhouse café, Mocha Coffee. For lunch, King George is known for its toasted doorstop sarnies (try the likes of roast chicken, provolone cheese and mint). The space morphs into a cocktail bar in the evening, an antique dresser-turned-drinks cabinet storing the necessaries for making Nikka highballs and spicy Moscow mules.
The area’s biggest draw, however, is Daikanyama T-site, a creative hub of cafés with a cavernous book store. Make like a local and head to Ivy Place’s leafy terrace at the weekend for Mediterranean-style brunch.
Where to stay
Doubles from £77, check availability at booking.com
Its postcode may have been immortalised by ‘90s pop band, East 17, but in recent years this North East London borough has become a destination for foodies. From the station, 20 minutes from Oxford Circus, walk into Europe’s longest outdoor market (it doubles as a farmers’ market on Sundays, with street-food traders galore). Or, carry along the same street for pie and mash at Manze’s (which still has its original 1929 décor); at night it transforms into the Jellied Eel bar, where you can order a ‘martini for two’, served in a lab beaker, alongside small plates of burratina with ’stow honey and Iberico ham croquetas.
If you’d prefer craft beer, head to God’s Own Junkyard, a vintage sign-packed warehouse in Walthamstow’s ‘village’. You can drink inside at the Rolling Scones Café or visit one of three neighbouring breweries and tap rooms (Wildcard, Pillars, The Real Al Co). Next door, at Mother’s Ruin gin palace, you can work through up to 80 gins. If wine’s more your thing, Gnarly Vines on Hoe Street serves funky biodynamic wines – try the low-intervention Force Majeure chenin blanc – alongside cheese, meat and fish plates.
Pizza fans will love both the giant 18-inch pizzas with inventive toppings at Yard Sale Pizza, and the perfectly crispy and fluffy sourdough bases at nearby Sodo, which makes the most of super-fresh, seasonal and local ingredients for its toppings and salads.
Weekend strolls might see you wandering inside the area’s many Polish, Asian, Caribbean and even Sri Lankan grocers, or being tempted by the smell of freshly baked naans or Turkish flatbreads drifting from a diverse field of restaurants, but save room for slippery hand-pulled noodles at Etles – London’s first authentic Uyghur restaurant also focuses on the tingling sauces, wonton soups and aromatic lamb kebabs of China’s northwestern Xinjiang province.
Finish any visit with a Sunday brunch at Wood Street Coffee, where your cup of Joe will be roasted in-house, before heading to Eat 17 for beef roasted in a Bertha charcoal oven served with a fine pile of yorkies, East London sausage stuffing and garlic butter spring greens.
Where to stay
Stay in nearby King’s Cross, at the super-cool Standard Hotel, and you can fill up on Mexican-meets-Spanish food and drinks from Michelin-starred chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias in the 10th floor restaurant.
Doubles from £152, check availability at standardhotels.com
Words by Tatty Good, Alex Crossley and Laura Rowe
Photographs by F.Flohic and Kenny Chung