Is NYC Still the Culinary Leader of the World?

February 27, 2017 Antasha Durbin


New York City is a global culinary leader. With more than 24,000 restaurants in its five boroughs alone, (77 of which are Michelin-rated), it’s no surprise tourists and locals flood the city’s streets in search of their next great bite.


Whether it’s one of Black Tap Burger’s crazy milkshakes, a wastED dish from Dan Barber’s West Village Blue Hill pop-up (now launching in London), or Uma Temakeria’s famous sushi burrito, the city that never sleeps is also the city that always sets trends. New York City attracts talented, innovative chefs, and restaurateurs who set the pace of what’s hot in food.


But trend setting in the Big Apple comes at a high price, often one that leads to a restaurant’s initial success and eventual demise. Rising costs, decreasing profits and stiff competition have resulted in 70 percent of NYC-based restaurants closing their doors within the first three years of operating.


The times are changing, and other established and up-and-coming food metros are making their marks on the culinary scene by influencing food trends and luring promising talent to their locations.


Here are five cities giving the Empire State a run for it’s title as a leading culinary destination and global trendsetter:



With a population hovering around five million, Singapore has an astounding 20,000 food establishments. It’s a food-loving nation famous for its hybrid cuisine and culinary variety. Renowned chefs come from all over the world: France, Japan, Australia, Britain, and beyond to set up shop in Singapore and experiment with flavors.


Diners can enjoy worry-free street food (rated much like NYC’s graded venues) such as soy-marinated frog porridge or Bbqed stingray. Or, for those seeking a finer dining experience, there are thousands of high-end restaurants to choose from and countless alluring dishes such as Waku Ghin’s marinated botan shrimp with sea urchin and oscietra caviar.



Known for it’s expensive lifestyle (which is actually 28 percent cheaper than NYC), Dubai’s food scene is rich in both variety and flavoring. Its cuisine is inspired by Asian and Middle Eastern dishes meaning it’s spicy and savory. What's interesting though, is that it’s open for negotiation – a diner in Dubai can order the famed stuffed camel, or lamb shawarma, and then haggle down the price.


Tourists flock from all over to world to visit this desert-centered city and immerse themselves into its multicultural melting pot – complete with art, delicious food and the Burj Khalifa, a building twice the size of the Empire State building! Because it was just built in the 1990’s, Dubai’s population is full of newcomers offering chefs and restaurateurs a clean slate to launch their careers.


New Orleans

Unlike New York, which is densely populated and always go-go-go, New Orleans is a thriving city where diners can sit back, relax, and enjoy some of the best Southern food in America, without feeling rushed and overcrowded by people.


Known for its cajun, famed Po-boys, and Southern-style comfort food, New Orleans continues to climb up the global culinary ladder –captivating the attention of national and international tourists, chefs, and restaurateurs who seek a fully immersed foodie experience without the hustle and bustle.


Buenos Aires

Famous for its steak, empanadas and red wine, Buenos Aires appeals to chefs, foodies, and restaurateurs alike. The cost of living is 66 percent less than that of New York City, meaning opening a restaurant in Buenos Aires, launching a career, or eating like a king there, won’t break the bank.



Toronto has it all – a bustling city center, rich culinary diversity (thanks to its massive multicultural population), and a less expensive cost of living than many other major cities. Exotic cuisines, – be they Ethiopian, Mexican, Korean, or Pakistani, transport diners to distant locations without the need to travel abroad.


Being New York’s neighbor, Toronto has the unique ability to stay abreast any up-and-coming trends started in NYC and launch them simultaneously – hello revamped East Coast poke bowls, veggie centric menus, and fried chicken sandwiches.


When it comes to being a food mecca, New York City is still a force to be reckoned with, but the tides are quickly changing in favor of other less expensive, yet still incredibly diverse, and trendy food-loving cities.


If costs continue to soar, while profits continue to decline, New York City may find itself struggling to maintain its position as a worldwide culinary leader because its talent will take their ideas and innovations elsewhere.




About the Author

Antasha Durbin

Antasha is an Online Marketing Specialist at TouchBistro where she spends her days advising restaurateurs on their point of sale systems and her nights writing hospitality-related content. A veteran bartender and server, Antasha enjoys bringing her industry experiences to life through blogging. Her three-year-old son and BFF, Elijah, is her self-proclaimed muse for all things creative.

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