June 5, 2024 | Samantha Henman

The 50 Best Foods In The World, Ranked


“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” – James Beard

There’s really nothing that brings people together across the world than a love of food. It’s the one thing that we can talk about endlessly—that one taco truck we ate it in Mexico, the fresh seafood from a trip to the East Coast, or the ripe strawberries picked straight from the plant while visiting family.

Real food lovers will go to great lengths to try the best different countries have to offer—and we’ve ranked the best dishes out there in all four corners of the world.

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50. French Toast, Hong Kong

Hong Kong French toast isn’t just the white bread soaked in eggs and milk that you might be familiar with. It’s way more decadent. Peanut butter, jam, or another sweet filling is sandwiched between slices of bread that are then dipped in batter and deep-fried. It’s then topped with butter and either syrup or honey.

It’s sweet, soft, crispy, buttery, rich, and every other adjective you’d want in a dessert.

French Toast from Hong Kong.Alpha, Flickr

49. Coney Island Hot Dogs, USA

A hot dog appearing on the list of best foods in the world? Deal with it. From the simple ballpark dog to the Sonoran hot dog popular in the Southwest, there are many variations on the beloved classic, but our pick is the Coney Island hot dog.

Despite its name, the best Coney Island dogs come from Detroit, Michigan, and are topped with meat sauce, chopped onions, and mustard..

Hot Dogs from Coney Island, New York.Chris barker, Flickr

48. Colcannon, Ireland

Who says something needs to be complicated to be good? Ireland’s colcannon is ever-so simple: cabbage and mashed potatoes made with milk and butter. But it all comes together to form something so comforting, it just had to make it onto our list.

Colcannon meal.arsheffield, Flickr

47. Brigadeiros, Brazil

Brigadeiros are a type of confectionary from Brazil, most similar to a chocolate truffle. These rich, decadent, and soft bites are made from condensed milk, cocoa powder, and butter, mixed and rolled into balls and then covered in chocolate sprinkles.

And if you’re really into decadent treats, there’s also brigadeiro de colher, which has the same filling poured into a small container and eaten with a spoon.

Brigadeiros sweets.liknes, Flickr

46. Raclette, Switzerland

You truly can’t go wrong with melted cheese—and no one knows this like the Swiss. Racelette is a dish that involves heating cheese and scraping off the melted part, typically onto boiled potatoes. Though there are table-top grills with small pans that can be used to make raclette at home, many restaurants make it by resting the wheel of cheese in front of a roaring fire.

Raclette meal.bionicgrrrl, Flickr

45. Goulash & Nokedli, Hungary

Though American goulash—the kind with ground beef, tomatoes, and macaroni—is certainly a delight, traditional Hungarian goulash is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. Made with a hearty dose of fresh Hungarian paprika, goulash is a meat stew that’s simultaneously rich, comforting, and vibrant. It’s often served with nokedli, small dumpling or pasta. And as we all know, pasta makes everything better.

Goulash - Hungarian sausage stew served with homemade nokedliPaul_Brighton, Shutterstock

44. Fish And Chips, UK

A couple of frozen fish sticks and some fries can’t really stack up to the real fish and chips you’ll find in the UK. Fresh fish, a crispy batter, a handful of fries, some malt vinegar—there’s really nothing like it. Just hold the mushy peas, please.

Close-up Photo of Fish And Chips and bowl of sauceSmabs Sputzer, Flickr

43. Arepas, Venezuela

Arepas are a delicious—and gluten-free!—stuffed flatbread found in South America, primarily in Venezuela and Colombia. Prepared with maize, maize meal, or maize flour, the unleavened flatbread is usually stuffed with cheese or butter, and then split open to make a sandwich with meat and/or beans.

Arepas food.Rosa G. , Flickr

42. Esquites, Mexico

When it comes to street food, Mexico has to be in the top five—and esquites are one of their most iconic, yet underappreciated dishes. It’s also our favorite way to serve fresh corn! Corn is boiled then served in a cup, with a variety of toppings that includes any combination of lime juice, chili powder or hot sauce, salt, mayonnaise, and crumbly cotija cheese. The salty/spicy/acidic additions really play up the sweetness of the fresh corn.

Close-up Photo of Esquites served on the streetAngélica Portales, Flickr

41. Khachapuri, Georgia

Cheese and bread pop up on this list in many different variations, and the Georgian khachapuri is one of the most mouth-watering versions. In this dish, bread essentially becomes a little boat for melted cheese—and to make things even more rich, it’s topped with an egg.

Close up of KhachapuriValeria Boltneva, Pexels

40. Momos, Tibet

Almost every country has their own version of dumplings—and according to us, every dumpling is beautiful. Tibetan momos are especially delicious—with a thick wrapper and intensely juicy meat filling, often served with a bright red chili-garlic sauce.

Momos meal - Tibetan dumplingmomo, Flickr

39. Dolsot Bibimbap, Korea

Rice, veggies, meat, and egg is a classic combo—but the beloved Korean dish of bibimbap takes it to the next level when it’s served in a dolsot, or heated stone dish. Ideally, the rice is served on the bottom, and after it makes its way to you, you let it sit for a few minutes to get some crispy rice bits, before mixing through.

Dolsot Bibimbap meal.T.Tseng, Flickr

38. Pasteis de Nata, Portugal

Perhaps Portugal’s most iconic dish, the pasteis de nata, is a type of custard tart. It has a light, flaky crust, rich bright yellow filling, and a lightly scorched top that adds a caramel-y flavor. In its best form, its served warm from a bakery, with a tiny packet of cinnamon on the side for those who are so inclined to dust their pasteis with it beforehand.

Pastel de Nata - Portuguese Custard Egg Tart.Lou Stejskal, Flcikr

37. Cochinita Pibil, Mexico

Often overshadowed by its cousin carnitas, Mexican cochinita pibil is a pork dish from the Yucatan Peninsula. Whereas carnitas involves pork shoulder cooked in lard, cochinita slow-cooks the pork in a marinade of achiote paste and sour orange juice, resulting in a vibrant orange skin harboring a fork-tender, shreddable meat. It’s best served with tortillas and a very cold Pacifico on the side.

Cochinita Pibil meal.Noonch, Flickr

36. Haianese Chicken Rice, Singapore/China

Though Haianese chicken rice originated in the Haian province of China, it has made its way to become one of the national dishes of Singapore. It’s deceptively simple: poached chicken, rice, some slices of cucumber, and a chili sauce. But the simplicity of the technique and seasoning really lets the ingredients shine, with the tender poached chicken bursting with flavor in every bite. The stock and fat from the poached chicken are used to cook the rice, which adds an oily richness.

Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken RiceAlpha, Flickr

35. Jollof, West Africa

Jollof rice, or simply jollof, is a dish that originated in Senegal but has become an emblematic dish of West Africa. Long-grain rice is cooked with tomatoes, chiles, onion, and spices, resulting in a vibrant and unforgettable dish.

Jollof rice and chickenKake, Flcikr

34. Karaage, Japan

We could’ve included a few different versions of fried chicken in this list, but ultimately, we settled on karaage. Why? Well, this Japanese dish has a few slight tweaks that really take fried chicken to the next level. First, chicken is marinated, and then in a coating of flour and either potato stratch or cornstarch, which makes for a light, crisp coating once it’s deep-fried.

It’s usually served with a spritz of lemon and sometimes, Kewpie mayo.

Nankotsu Piri KaraageKirk K, Flcikr

33. Kofta, Middle East

The argument between which ground meat-based Middle Eastern dish to include was fierce. Though kibbeh put up a fight, we settled on kofta—perhaps the simplest iteration. It involves ground meat and spices, which are then made into balls or a loaf and are fried, steamed, or, our preference, grilled.

Kofta meat balls.Dimitris Antonoglou, Flickr

32. Pain au Chocolat, France

If there’s one thing you can trust the French to do, it’s to take an already-beloved dish, say “Hold my beer,” and somehow make it even better. That’s exactly what they did with the pain au chocolat—or chocolatine, if you prefer—a flaky pastry made with croissant dough, with two of three sticks of dark chocolate inserted in the center before baking.

Pain au ChocolatJesse Loughborough, Flickr

31. Jerk Chicken, Jamaica

The word jerk actually refers the technique of cooking in this Jamaican dish, which has been around for hundreds of years. It also refers to the spice blend used to season the meat, which usually uses allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers. Marinated meat is then grilled over coals or cooked in wood-burning ovens to achieve the dish’s classic smoky flavor.

Jerk Chicken Wingsbionicgrrrl, Flickr

30. Empanadas, Latin America

If you think about it, Pop Tarts, Jamaican patties, Hot Pockets, and empanadas are all kind of the same thing—a filled turnover. And while each has its advantages, there’s truly nothing like a golden brown, freshly fried empanada. Different regions have wildly different recipes for the empanada dough and fillings, but our favorites are Venezuelan empanadas, with a crispy corn-based dough and gooey cheese filling.

Empanadas filled with meat on a black plateAlexandr Vorobev, Shutterstock

29. Tiramisu, Italy

When it’s done right, tiramisu is a perfect dessert—and it’s all a matter of ratios and timing. Espresso-soaked ladyfingers float in a fluffy, rich layer of sweetened mascarpone and are topped with cocoa powder.

When the ladyfingers are soft, but haven’t yet dissolved, and the cocoa has been sitting long enough that it melts into the mascarpone, it really can’t be beat.

Tiramisu. Traditional italian dessert on white plateanna_shepulova, Adobe Stock

28. Laksa, Malaysia

Malaysian laksa is an absolute flavor bomb. This noodle dish features thick rice noodles, a variety of toppings, and a spicy coconut curry broth with a tamarind base. This delicious dish is also popular in Singapore and Indonesia.

Singapore Laksa meal.Alpha, Flickr

27. Bun Cha, Vietnam

Though many would choose pho for their favorite Vietnamese dish, we have to go another route and put it a vote for bun cha—a dish that’s always satisfying and filling, yet also fresh. Bun cha features a lemongrass-marinated grilled pork served over rice noodles, AKA bun, along with herbs and a dipping sauce.

image of a bun cha with vegetables and noodlesMalingering, Flickr

26. Pierogi, Eastern Europe

As we mentioned earlier, nearly every culture has their version of a dumpling—and pierogi are up there on the list of best dumplings. They can be sweet or savory, steamed or fries, and served with apple sauce or sour cream, but they’re always satisfying.

Homemade PierogiThree Points Kitchen, Flickr

25. Grilled Sardines, Portugal

Portuguese cuisine makes the best of the country’s access to the sea. While Portugal is known for its tinned fish, there’s really nothing like a being served a mountain of grilled sardines eaten at an outdoor restaurant nestled into the crowded streets of a Portuguese city. These small, fatty fishes hold up incredibly well when grilled over a fire.

Pick them apart over a papo seco, or Portuguese roll, which will soak up the drippings, and wash it down with a glass of ice cold vinho verde—and you’ve captured a Portuguese summer tradition.

Grilled Sardines dish.Kirk K, Flickr

24. Souvlaki, Greece

Greek cuisine was also a tough category to pick a favorite from. The national dish, moussaka, isn’t nearly as beloved outside of Greece as other dishes like spanakopita, tzatziki, and horiatiki are. Ultimately, the choice came down to the simple yet delicious souvlaki.

Pork Souvlakiesimpraim, Flickr

23. Piri-Piri Chicken, Mozambique

Though many think that piri-piri chicken comes from Portugal, the piri piri spice actually comes from Mozambique, which was once under Portuguese colonial rule. Sauce made from the piri piri chili is now served all over the world—including at South African restaurant chain Nando’s. As far as grilled chicken dishes go, the addition of piri-piri sauce helps land this one at #23 on the list.

Chicken PiripiriKolforn, CC-BY-SA-4.0, Wikimedia Commons

22. Jamon Iberico, Spain

When it comes to jamon, AKA dry-cured ham, Spain takes things very seriously—especially jamon Iberico, which comes from specially-fed Iberian pigs. The resulting leg of pork is dried for anywhere from 12 to 48 months to produce the special, and very expensive, jamon iberico.

Jamon iberico on plate.yosoynuts, Flickr

21. BBQ Pork Fried Rice, China

It’s iconic. It’s beloved. And it’s also underrated. How? Well, fried rice might not seem glamorous enough to make it onto a list of best foods, but it’s never a disappointment. In an effort to scam a little 2-for-1 action, we’ve voted BBQ pork fried rice as the best variation, since we didn’t have room to add Chinese BBQ pork on its own.

BBQ Pork Over RiceRon Dollete, Flickr

20. Murgh Makhani, India

It was almost impossible to pick a dish from Indian to add to this list. Samosas, pakoras, palak paneer, biryani, gulab jamun—all delicious choices. And while murgh makhana, AKA butter chicken, may get flack for being the most obvious (and American) pick, you can’t deny that tender pieces of chicken in a rich, creamy, buttery tomato sauce sounds delicious.

Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken)Luca Nebuloni, CC-BY-SA-2.0, Wikimedia Commons

19. Paella, Spain

Paella is one of the best-known Spanish dishes—and for good reason. It truly has everything—rice, seafood, chorizo, and vegetables, flavored with saffron and served in its namesake wide pan. The presentation is as beautiful as the flavor is addictive.

Paella ValencianaChoo Yut Shing, Flickr

18. Ceviche, Peru

Japan may get all the attention when it comes to raw fish and seafood, but Peru’s ceviche truly gives them a run for their money. In fact, UNESCO has recognized it as an expression of Peruvian traditional cuisine and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In ceviche, fish or seafood is cured in citrus juice and then seasons with chili pepper. It’s simple, but it really works to highlight the texture of the base.

Ceviche - street food in LimaChristian Haugen, Flickr

17. Crème Brulée, France

Burnt sugar is one of those things that doesn’t sound that addictive—until the first time you crack your spoon into a dish of crème brulée. A rich, creamy custard is delicious enough on it’s own, but once you add that crunch, sugary topping, it easily shoots to the top of the list of best French—or even European—desserts.

Creme BrûléeDennis Wilkinson, Flickr

16. Wagyu Beef, Japan

When it comes to beef, Japanese wagyu is the top of the line. In the early 20th century, Japanese farmers began cross-breeding their cattle with European stock, resulting in a meat with exquisite marbling. As we all know, fat = flavor, and as a result, wagyu beef is some of the most expensive meat in the world.

Wagyu Beef dish.Nishimuraya Kinosaki Onsen, Flickr

15. Guacamole, Mexico

Mexico has brought us a lot of beloved foods—but we wanted to highlight it for also bringing us the best possible use of avocado: a big ol’ bowl of guacamole. There’s a reason burrito places upcharge for guac—they know that people want it.

Close-up Photo of Person Making GuacamoleRDNE Stock project, Pexels

14. Key Lime Pie, USA

The top dessert spot on this could’ve gone to many different desserts—and while it was tempting to list a piece of rich, chocolate cake, ultimately, it was sweet, light, and refreshing key lime pie that won out. The combination of graham cracker crust, rich yet tart filling, and fluffy whipped cream is never not satisfying.

Key Lime Piearsheffield, Flickr

13. Tacos Al Pastor, Mexico

When it comes to tacos, everyone has a favorite—but our vote goes to tacos al pastor. Lebanese immigrants brought the basis for the dish, cooking the meat on a trompo, or vertical spit, to Mexico. Prepared with pork, there’s truly nothing like watching as the cook shaves meat onto a tortilla and then finishes it with sliced pineapple, which is usually placed at the top of the spit so that the juices drip down. It’s the kind of dish that converts pineapple haters in one bite.

Tacos al PastorAri Helminen, Flickr

12. Nigiri, Japan

Sure, we could’ve just said sushi—but then, by extension, someone might’ve thought that includes California rolls—when it most certainly does not. While we do love a negitoro maki roll, there’s a beautiful simplicity to nigiri, which balances the vinegared rice with a perfectly cut piece of raw fish.

Nigiri sushi on the plate.Alpha, Flickr

11. Barbecue, Southern US

Once again, we’ve cheated—though this list item initially just said BBQ brisket, we made the executive decision to expand it to include all that barbecue means, and all its accoutrements. And now, we’re not talking about grilled hamburgers and hot dogs. We’re talking about real, Southern barbecue—brisket, pulled pork, ribs, as well as all the sides: collard greens, cornbread, beans, slaw, etc.

Central BBQ - grilled meat.Southern Foodways Alliance, Flickr

10. Pan Con Tomate, Spain

How can something so simple be so good? On the surface, the idea of pan con tomate, AKA pa amb tomaquet, AKA Spanish tomato bread, doesn’t seem like much. But when made with high-quality ingredients and in-season tomatoes, it’s simply transcendent. It involves rubbing toasted bread with a clove of garlic, then either rubbing a tomato or spooning grated tomato over top. Finished with salt and olive oil, it’s as perfect as a snack gets.

Pan Con TomateKrista, Flickr

9. Banh Mi, Vietnam

We love sandwiches at The Snacker—and while Italian sub and BLT fans certainly made their case, banh mi easily won out. During a period of French colonialism, the baguette made its way to Vietnam, and they ran with it, filling it with meat, cilantro, cucumber, pickled carrots and daikon, mayo, and some kind of chili. As far as sandwiches go, it’s perfect.

Banh Mi - street food.wEnDy, Flickr

8. Pasta Alla Carbonara, Italy

Italians love arguing about food, and they can debate about guanciale vs pancetta, pecorino vs Parmesan, and cream vs no cream all they want—as long as it ends with a bowl of pasta carbonara in front of me. The dish, made with eggs, cured pork, and hard cheese, is beautifully rich, and our pick for the ultimate Italian pasta dish.

Spaghetti carbonara.jeffreyw, Flickr

7. Steak Frites, France

Pretty much any steak is a good steak—and while we appreciate the classic American steakhouse style ribeye served with baked potato and creamed spinach, it’s often outshone by a simple French steak frites, with a hollandaise, bernaise, or au poivre sauce on the side if you’re feeling extra.

Steak Frites dish.Susan Lucas Hoffman, Flickr

6. Dim Sum, China

There are so many different Chinese foods that could’ve made it to this list—but there are few experiences as wonderful as going to a dim sum restaurant and picking out different dishes from the carts that go by. Everyone has their favorites, but ours would have to include shu mai, har gow, cheung fun, turnip cake, gai lan, and spare ribs.

Dim sum selection platter.Kake, Flickr

5. Hamburger, USA

There’s nothing more American than a good ol’ hamburger—and whether you like it with a simple slice of cheese or piled high with toppings, grilled over a flame or smashed on a griddle, there’s nothing like your perfect burger.

Man holding CheeseburgerDoran, Flickr

4. Khao Soi, Thailand

When it comes to curry dishes from all over Asia, khao soi is king. It’s all killer, no filled—it has everything we want in a curry dish, and nothing we don’t. That includes thick, chewy noodles; tender chicken or beef; a spicy, rich broth; pickled mustard greens to cut the fat and heat; and crispy fried noodles for a crunchy accompaniment.

Khao Soi (closeup)Gary Stevens, Flickr

3. Lobster Roll, East Coast, USA

Sure, we could’ve thrown a steamed lobster dinner in here, or made any other concessions to the beauty of East Coast seafood shack delights, but it’s hard to rank anything above a lobster roll. A fluffy roll, piled high with lobster? Who could say no to that. Though there is a little drama in the regional variations—cold lobster mixed with mayo for Maine, and warm lobster with butter for Connecticut—to us, either version is a win.

Lobster Roll on a plate.m01229, Flickr

2. Macaroni And Cheese, USA

Drumroll, please. Is it simple? Yes. So simple that it’s often one of the only foods kids with eat? Also yes. But, despite its lack of glamor, macaroni and cheese is pretty much as good as comfort food gets. Though it has its origins in Italy and England, it was arguably perfected in the US. It may not have a “cultural designation” like many of the foods on this list, but we’re begging UNESCO to give it a second look—and taste. A world without macaroni and cheese is one we don’t want to live in.

Macaroni And Cheese on a plate.Ruthie Hansen, Flickr

1. Neapolitan Pizza, Italy

Are you surprised? If you ask any person on the street to name one perfect food, it’s likely that they’ll say pizza. There’s a pizza style for every mood, but our pick for this list takes it back to the source—Naples, Italy. Neapolitan pizza, with its thin, fire-scorched crust, perfectly balanced San Marzano tomato sauce, mozzarella di bufala, and any other combination of toppings, is the platonic ideal of pizza.

A Neopolitan PizzaNathan Hughes Hamilton, Flickr


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