7 Best World Cities for Cheap Eats

If you're like me, you take cuisine into account when you're choosing your travel destinations. I love nothing better than enjoying delicious, authentic food in the country where it was invented. Here are seven world cities to do just that — and do it with the frugal traveler in mind.

1. Naples, Italy

Pizza is practically a food group for me. If you're also a pizza aficionado, then you want to experience it as it was truly intended: a thin crust with just the right balance of chewiness and crunch, decorated with a tomato sauce that's both rich and refreshing, and sprinkled with fresh mozzarella in all its melted glory. All that can be found, with plenty of variations, from a wood-fired oven deep in the heart of Naples.

2. Cape Town, South Africa

While getting to South Africa can be a pricey plane ticket, once you're there it's a very reasonably priced vacation spot. The food and wine are second to none. I enjoyed many a good meal with a small price tag in the foodie mecca of Cape Town. One of my favorites included an ostrich steak and a seemingly bottomless wine glass of Pinotage — a rich red wine with dark chocolate undertones that is a trademark of the South African wine industry — all for less than $20 USD.

3. Barcelona, Spain

For me, Spanish cuisine is comfort food. It's approachable, soothing even when spicy, and so satisfying that I could never get tired of it. Barcelona is the culinary gem of Spain, thanks to the many celebrity chefs with worldwide reputations that have taken their inspiration from the rich heritage and its equally rich bounty of staples like olives, jamón, and the freshest fish you can find.

4. Tokyo, Japan

While the ramen phenomenon is relatively new to the U.S., ramen has been a celebrated dish in Japan for many years. The deep and velvety broth, homemade noodles that retain their texture and chewy despite their softness, and the sliced chashu (stewed pork) arranged on top, make ramen a dish best consumed hot and quick in one of the many hole-in-the-wall restaurants on Ramen Street in Tokyo.

5. Cochin, India

While not a usual stop on a trip to India, Cochin is well worth it for the food, alone. Nestled along the west coast in the state of Kerala, it boasts a cuisine that is hard to beat. Its proximity to the freshest spice plantations make all of the food wonderfully flavorful in a way that is difficult to replicate here in the U.S. It also benefits from fresh catches of fish and plenty of fresh tropical produce. While I was there, I never paid more than $15, even for the most extravagant authentic meals.

6. Paris, France

Paris is one of those cities that draws you in with its charm, ease, and overwhelming beauty. Its food scene is almost unbeatable. I spent hours there seeking out the best chocolate croissant, admiring the pastry windows that are true works of art, consuming pomme frites by the plateful, and scarfing down as much cheese atop baguette slices as I could. For foodies, Paris is paradise and it doesn't cost nearly as much as I expected.

7. New York City

While the other cities in this article are international, I just couldn't write an article about food in good conscience without including New York City. No matter what kind of food you want or what hour you want it, you can find it and have it delivered right to your door. And while just about everything in else in New York City costs an outrageous amount of money, the best food doesn't. It's found in the tiny neighborhood joints, still owned and operated by people from other countries who brought their incredible culture to New York City in search of a better life. Eating in New York is a spiritual experience and it remains my favorite foodie city in the world.

Have your travels led you to incredible frugal foodie finds? Please share your recommendations in the comments below.

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