Living in: Cities with great food
Lyon is France's undisputed capital of gastronomy due to its rich culinary traditions and plentiful markets. (Kim Sayer/Getty)
Food is a powerful draw – gourmand travellers will roam far and wide for a taste of the local, the unusual and the authentic. And while every country has its own dishes, some cities are particularly known for their sheer abundance of quality restaurants; the love their residents have for dining out; and the access they have to local produce and specialities. These five cities, taken from foodie lists in publications including Travel and Leisure and the Guardian, may be very different from one another – but they have one thing in common: a hunger for delicious cuisine.
New York City
New York is, without a doubt, a food town with a capital F. Restaurant openings are a blood sport here, and the cult of personality around chefs, restaurateurs, critics and bloggers grows stronger every year, with devoted and enraged followers in equal parts. This is the place for fine dining and ethnic eats; for Michelin star chefs and line cooks who dream of opening gourmet hotdog stands; for classic French cuisine and Brooklyn beard food, the type of restaurants that use words like artisanal, small-batch and local on the menu. Food trends are amplified and multiplied in New York – from tasting menu-only dining at places such as Atera and Blanca to New Nordic cuisine at Aska – while the multicultural population means that dumplings, cured Spanish ham, and sheep’s milk gnocchi can often be found within a 10-block radius of each other.
New York’s real estate market has long since shaken off its doldrums from the economic downturn a few years ago, and it is a seller’s market because there is so little inventory. Supply in Manhattan is down 12.3% over the last three months and estate agents are blanketing coveted neighbourhoods such as the West Village and Chelsea) in Manhattan and Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights in Brooklyn with leaflets and cards, exhorting sellers to put their apartments and condos up for sale. Open houses are packed, bidding wars are back and all-cash offers above asking price are the norm, with prices averaging at $1.7 million for a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan and $503,000 for the same in Brooklyn.
The rental market also has very low inventory. Currently, the average monthly rent in Manhattan is $4,406 for a two-bedroom apartment in a non-doorman building. The average rent for a similar two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn is $3,185 a month.
This city in eastern France is the undisputed Gallic capital of gastronomy due to its rich culinary traditions and to iconic chef Paul Bocuse, whose restaurants, culinary school and influence on the foodie world and other master chefs is immense. The January Bocuse d’Or, where chefs from 24 countries compete for a gold medal, is like the Olympics and the World Cup rolled into one biennial foodie event. Plus, a number of Bocuse’s proteges have restaurants in and around the city with multiple Michelin stars affixed to them.
But the world’s epicurean travellers are also attracted by Lyon’s warmly-lit bouchons (casual eateries) such as Café des Federations, the city’s feather-weight quenelles (a type of dumpling) and the various bits of pig that get inventively stuffed, roasted and turned into paté and sausages.
Many of the best restaurants and bouchons are in the Presqu’ile, the central district that encompasses the 1st and 2nd arrondissements and sits between the Rhone and Saone Rivers. These, along with the 6th arrondissement (particularly near the Parc de la Tete d’Or), are some of the most desirable areas, with large apartments, shops and restaurants. Vieux Lyon, the oldest part of town, which includes the 5th arrondissement, is also popular, with its narrow streets and historic buildings. “It is the most romantic part of Lyon,” said Stanislas Limouzi, a property agent in the city. “It is very touristic with good bars and restaurants, and is a nice area to live in for a short period of time.” A 70sqm flat in the Presqu’ile sells for around 280,000 to 310,000 euros and rents for about 1,000 euros a month. In the 5th arrondissement, a flat of the same size sells for upwards of 260,000 euros and rents for around 900 euros a month. According to Limouzi, the market has slowed recently, but prices remain steady, and the rental market is very active.