Which City Offers The Most Gastronomically Diverse Food Scene?

Brussels, Belgium
Food is central to culture all around the world and whether it’s a roast dinner you love the most, or if you can’t get enough of burritos, it’s something we can all agree brings more flavour and enjoyment to each and every day. However, for people that have moved to an entirely new country, one of the things they can often miss the most, is that taste of home.
 
This makes locations that offer an eclectic mix of food choices all the more appealing, with cities such as Paris, New York and London, world renowned for the vast variety of food on offer throughout their city streets.
 
With this in mind, we wanted to discover where in the world is actually the most gastronomically diverse, based on the number of international restaurants, per each city’s own population. To find out, we used data from TripAdvisor to firstly reveal the total number of restaurants in every city, before subtracting the amount of native restaurants in each (for example, American restaurants in America, or Japanese eateries in Japan!)
 
We were then left with the total number of restaurants offering international cuisine in each of the 200-plus cities researched, before calculating by population to reach our final ranking…
 
The 10 Most Gastronomically Diverse Cities in the World
Rank City Country Total number of restaurants Total number of international restaurants Number of international restaurants (per 1,000 people)
1. Brussels Belgium 3,687 2,739 14.65
2. Osaka Japan 35,638 20,695 7.51
3. Geneva Switzerland 1,644 1,399 6.86
4. Las Vegas USA 4,511 3,526 5.49
5. Bordeaux France 2,519 1,374 5.34
6. Atlanta USA 3,396 2,528 5.06
7. Paris France 17,503 10,633 4.88
8. Nagoya Japan 18,668 11,255 4.82
9. Portland USA 3,774 3,106 4.76
10. San Francisco USA 4,924 4,053 4.63
Taking the top spot as the most gastronomically diverse city on Earth when it comes to its variety of restaurants, was Brussels in Belgium. Unofficially known as the ‘capital of Europe’, the city has long been revered for its great food, and looks to have added yet another accolade to its crown. Home to an impressive five two-star Michelin restaurants and a further thirteen one-star eateries, Brussels isn’t just about its fine dining, but also has cheaper eats and street food aplenty, including highly-rated food markets that run across the Belgian capital.
 
In second place, and yet another city which offers an incredible choice for locals and newcomers alike, is Osaka. Branded as ‘tenka no daidokoro’ – or, ‘the country’s kitchen’, Osaka is far and away the foodie capital of Japan. Its unique blend of multiple cuisines comes from the fact it is perfectly placed on the map as a port city, with access to the rest of the world. It’s geographical location provides the ideal blend of low-altitude crops in the Osaka Plains, in addition to its mountainous regions, making for delicious home-grown ingredients too. If you’re visiting or planning a move and fancy a true taste of Osaka before finding some more familiar fare, seek out ‘okonomiyaki’ (cabbage pancakes) and ‘takoyaki’ (octopus balls), two dishes the region is famous for.
 
Elsewhere in the top 10, you’ll find Las Vegas, a city benefitting from the dizzying amount of choice on offer throughout its famous strip, and Bordeaux, France’s famous wine-growing region that evidently packs more of a gastronomic punch when it comes to food choices per person, than even Paris.
 
The Best Places to Sample World Cuisine (Outside of its Country of Origin)
 
To help people from various countries and cultures to discover where provides the most choice when it comes to gaining a taste of home outside of where you grew up, we also looked into where provides the best choice for a selection of the world’s favourite cuisines. Similar to our overall rankings, we again used data from TripAdvisor to find how many restaurants that serve up particular cuisines were in each city, divided by its total population, to give a fair view of the amount of choice versus city size.
 
Again, Brussels fared particularly well, showing its credentials as the true culinary hotspot, however, beyond Belgium’s capital, there is much more choice if you’re searching for somewhere that tastes a bit more like home.
 
Where offers the most choice for Thai food?
Rank City Country Thai restaurants (per 1,000 people)
1. Brussels Belgium 0.65
2. Lille France 0.58
3. Geneva Switzerland 0.26
4. Bordeaux France 0.25
5. Paris France 0.23
Thai food is evidently a beloved cuisine in Europe, with the top five made up of European cities that offer a good amount of choice. Brussels again heads up the list, with more than 115 Thai restaurants that you can find throughout the city.
 
Having not featured in the overall top 10, Lille in France is more of a surprise entrant, ranking as the second-best place in the world to get Thai food outside of Thailand itself.
 
Where offers the most choice for Indian food?
Rank City Country Indian restaurants (per 1,000 people)
1. Valencia Spain 0.52
2. Leicester United Kingdom 0.49
3. Newcastle United Kingdom 0.40
4. Brussels Belgium 0.37
5. Dubai United Arab Emirates 0.34
Outside of India itself, great Indian food has become synonymous with Britain. Many Brits love a good curry, and it seems that either the Midlands or the North East are your best bet if you’re in the country looking for one. Leicester in particular is home to a large Indian community, which shines through in the city’s 230-plus Indian restaurants!
 
That wasn’t enough to top this list however, as it's actually Valencia in Spain that serves up the greatest number of Indian restaurants per person. Potentially a surprising top spot for some, but with 425 restaurants serving Indian cuisine in the city, you can’t argue with the numbers!
 
Where offers the most choice for Chinese food?
Rank City Country Chinese restaurants (per 1,000 people)
1. Kuala Lumpur Malaysia 0.67
2. Brussels Belgium 0.53
3. Singapore Singapore 0.50
4. Osaka Japan 0.48
5. Tokyo Japan 0.42
Chinese food is beloved around the world; unsurprisingly however it is very popular throughout the rest of Asia. So, for anyone from China not looking to move out of the continent, but still be able to grab some great Chinese food, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Osaka or Tokyo present perfect choices. As mentioned earlier, Osaka is particularly well equipped when it comes to its gastronomy and you won’t ever be left scrambling for choice, with over 1,000 restaurants serving Chinese cuisine in the city.
 
With Chinese food almost becoming a second national cuisine in the US, the American cities of San Francisco and Las Vegas also deserve a special mention, ranking just outside of the top five.
 
Where offers the most choice for American food?
Rank City Country American restaurants (per 1,000 people)
1. Brussels Belgium 0.54
2. Geneva Switzerland 0.32
3. Vancouver Canada 0.30
4. Bordeaux France 0.29
5. London, Ontario Canada 0.26
A cuisine many of us crave, indulgent American dishes range from burgers and hot dogs, to the delectable spice of Nashville hot wings. Go anywhere in the world, and you should be able to find some American-inspired eats, be it from a big chain or a local independent eatery. Brussels tops the list again as the place American taste buds would feel most at home, with more than 100 American themed restaurants in the city.
 
There’s no surprise that Canadian cities feature in the top five too. Sitting just across the border from the United States, you can expect a heavy American influence throughout the country, with some Canadian favourites (poutine, anyone?) thrown in for good measure!
 
Where offers the most choice for British food?
Rank City Country British restaurants (per 1,000 people)
1. Dublin Ireland 0.068
2. Brussels Belgium 0.054
3. Kuala Lumpur Malaysia 0.045
4. Bordeaux France 0.042
5. Dubai United Arab Emirates 0.040
Of all the cuisines we took a further look into in our study, British food was by far the most underrepresented worldwide. Making it decidedly more difficult for Brits to find fish and chips or a steak and kidney pie overseas, however there were some cities that serve it up more than others.
 
Sitting in close proximity to the likes of England, Scotland and Wales, Dublin unsurprisingly provides the most British food choices outside of the UK itself. However, much further afield, Dubai ranked fifth for British food. A place that has seen a major western influence over the last decade, Dubai actually has 120 British eateries within its city limits. These even include traditional British pubs that sit amongst the modern glamour of Dubai.
 
Where offers the most choice for French food?
Rank City Country French restaurants (per 1,000 people)
1. Brussels Belgium 3.32
2. Geneva Switzerland 3.15
3. Liege Belgium 3.11
4. Quebec City Canada 2.56
5. Antwerp Belgium 2.48
French cuisine is often revered as some of the best, with high class dishes that exhibit flair and a great understanding of the palette with every single bite. But where offers the greatest amount of choice, outside of France itself?
 
It’s no surprise that cities based within countries that have a significant historical connection with France rank highly. With many French immigrants having moved to Canada, or crossed the border to Switzerland having a big influence on the culture and cuisine. Top of the list once again however is Belgium’s Brussels, with over 600 French restaurants in the city.
 
Where offers the most choice for Italian food?
Rank City Country Italian restaurants (per 1,000 people)
1. Brussels Belgium 3.16
2. Geneva Switzerland 1.45
3. Nice France 0.97
4. Bordeaux France 0.96
5. Paris France 0.79
Whereas British cuisine was particularly underrepresented across the globe, it’s the polar opposite when it comes to Italian food. No matter where you are, it seems we all love some pizza and pasta, with the majority of the cities we studied having an abundance of Italian restaurant choices. This means that if you are from Italy and are considering a move elsewhere, then you’ll likely be covered when it comes to finding the food you love. France in particular provides some strong choice, with the coastal city of Nice beating both Bordeaux and Paris to the accolade of the French city that caters to Italian visitors the most.
 
In Summary
 
Hopefully our research has given a flavour for what food culture looks like around the world, and potentially helped you a little more in deciding where might be best for a permanent move, when considering the home comforts you don’t want to completely leave behind.
 
For more insights into cultures around the world, in addition to tips and advice on immigration, check out our blog!
 
Methodology
 
The number of restaurants listed for each city was taken from TripAdvisor, with native restaurants subtracted from the total, then divided by the population of the city using https://www.citypopulation.de/ and multiplied by 100 to ascertain the number of international restaurants available per 1,000 people
 
The cuisines researched to reveal which city offered the best choice for specific food options were: Thai, Indian, French, British, Chinese, American, Italian and Indian.
 
Data correct as of December 2021.

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