The United Kingdom is often looked down upon with scorn when it comes to food. The nation has a reputation for producing bland, unhealthy, and colourless cuisine. When people think about foodie destinations they tend to think of our European neighbours, Italy, France, and Spain.
This is quite understandable as France has the highest number of Michelin-star restaurants in the world by a large margin. Italy is third and Spain is fifth.
However, is the UK’s bad reputation for food justified? It places eighth in the world for Michelin-starred restaurants and has produced some of the best chefs of all time. Gordon Ramsey for example is world-renowned for his cooking prowess. With 16 Michelin stars, he is the third most decorated chef in history.
So amongst the bad reputation of food in the UK, lies a burgeoning food scene, and a wealth of cooking talent. But, which UK destinations have the best eating options? This article will look at the best UK cities for foodies to live in and why.
Where are the best cities for foodies?
The UK is blessed with great restaurants up and down the country. From the Scottish capital to the rarefied streets of Bath, from Michelin-star restaurants to local hidden gems, there’s an abundance of cuisines to choose from.
In the north of England, Newcastle and Manchester are emerging as popular foodie destinations and Belfast in Northern Ireland has a choice of excellent Michelin-starred restaurants. If you’re thinking about buying a property and dining out is important to you, then these are some great areas to consider.
Let’s take a closer look at these cities and what they have to offer for people who love their food.
The best Scottish cities for food
Food-wise in Scotland there are two competing cities, East vs West, vying for dominance over the food scene. The Scottish capital city of Edinburgh versus the ‘unofficial capital,’ Glasgow.
Glasgow vs Edinburgh
The cost of living in Glasgow is estimated to be around 10% cheaper, with the price of food being around 14% cheaper. Rent is also around 14% to nearly 30% cheaper in Glasgow compared to Edinburgh. This is despite Glaswegians earning around 5% more on average.
Glasgow clearly has the edge in terms of budget, but, Edinburgh has the better restaurants. Edinburgh has three (down from four) Michelin star restaurants to Glasgows two (up from one). Edinburgh’s three restaurants are:
- Restaurant Martin Wishart
- The Kitchin
Glasgow’s offering includes:
- Cail Bruich
It has also been shown that Edinburgh has a higher happiness index score than Glasgow, so that will be a factor for property-hunters.
London’s best restaurants
As you would expect of London, the UK’s largest city, it has a vast array of incredible restaurants. With a condensed population of 9.5 million, there is an incredible amount of mouths to feed and tastes to satisfy. Luckily good places for food and drink are aplenty with 71 Michelin star eateries in London. Five of these have three stars, including:
- Core by Clare Smyth
- Hélène Darroze at The Connaught
- Sketch Lecture Room & Library
- Restaurant Gordon Ramsay
- Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester
The international fame of head chef Gordon Ramsay is perhaps the biggest tourist draw for food lovers. However, even outside fancy award-winning dining, there is an eclectic mix of flavours from all over the world in London. The city is the most culturally diverse in Europe flooding the city with flavoursome dishes from across the globe.
London is notorious for having expensive house prices. Surprisingly, however, they are not the most expensive in the UK. They are in fact the eighth most expensive place to buy from. Cost of living however is another matter as London is the most expensive. The average price of dinner for one rose to £59.28 in 2021. However, with an abundance of culture, opportunity and entertainment London is the second happiest city in the UK.
Belfast’s best restaurants
The city centre of Belfast has achieved culinary excellence in recent years. Belfast now has three Michelin-starred restaurants. These are:
- The Muddlers Club
Owner and head chef at the Muddlers club Gareth McCaughey, handpicks the finest local produce and ingredients. As well as exceptional food you will find the most exquisite selection of wine and cocktails to drink.
Ox also uses the best local produce in their dishes, aiming to use ingredients and flavour to express seasonal months. For example, they currently have a six-course winter tasting menu. The surrounding decor is purposefully bare to further accentuate the colours and taste of their dishes.
Having served as a chef for two of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants Alex Greene of Eipic has a wealth of experience. Served Thursday to Sunday they have a lunch menu, a tasting menu, a menu surprise, and a vegetarian menu. Expert wine pairing is offered by Didier Nyeceront for the perfect dining experience.
Belfast is also far cheaper than the UK’s capital. Consumer prices are 31.10% cheaper and rent is also a whopping 188.47% cheaper.
Manchester’s best restaurants
Manchester is also one of the best places for dining in the UK. One restaurant – Mana, has achieved a Michelin star. Using the best produce, the dishes aim to express the elements and seasons of the UK.
Mana offers one of the most unique dining experiences in England, as the menu is exclusively tailored to each dining party. When making a reservation chef-owner Simon Martin will match information to your palate, for a truly personalised eating experience. They do not provide a vegan menu option, but they do cater to vegetarians and Pescatarians. Pescatarians can expect to taste the finest seafood and fish. Martin celebrates the island nation and history of fishing, by specialising in fish and seafood.
Manchester is the 59th most expensive city in the UK. However, Manchester locals are some of the happiest in the UK as Manchester has the second-highest livability score.
Bath’s best restaurants
Bath has the most restaurants per head of population than any other city in the United Kingdom. For every10,000 people, there are 19 places to eat, making it the densest of all the foodie destinations.
Foodies and visitors alike benefit from stunning views all throughout the historical city. No matter your budget, what you like to eat, or time of day, Bath has something for everyone. You can enjoy lunch or afternoon tea at the luxurious Pump Room or sample the finest wild food and Sunday roasts at The Elder.
Seafood lovers must visit the charming Scallop Shell for simple yet delicious dining. Dishes include fresh shellfish, and fish and chips. The best craft beers can be found at Kingsmead Street Bottle.
The city’s jewel in the crown is its only Michelin star restaurant, The Olive tree. The award-winning restaurant serves ‘de-fomalised’ fine dining dinner options. The Olive Tree also serves a quality breakfast. A discount is included for guests who book bed and breakfast with the Queensberry Hotel. The boutique hotel itself, is one of the most sought-after places to stay, because of its unique styling and decor.
A 2019 study revealed the city’s dwellers were the third happiest in the United Kingdom. Consumer prices and rent combined are 26.14% cheaper in Bath than in the capital. However, restaurant prices are marginally higher in Bath at 1.12%.
Newcastle’s best restaurants
Newcastle is without a doubt one of the best foodie destinations to visit. The city’s premier restaurant is the House of Tides. A grade one listed building beautifully encapsulates the multi-award-winning restaurant. Visitors can book a table to dine at lunch, or for dinner at night. Along with a Michelin star, they have earned four AA Rosettes despite only opening in 2014.
Chef Patron, Kenny Atkinson of House of Tides, is one of the most well-known chefs in England. He has won the BBC TV show, The Great British Menu twice along with many other TV appearances.
Of course, Newcastle also has a number of pub venues to visit. The Bridge Tavern has become a favourite for re-invented pub classics. It is also beloved for its Sunday lunch menu as it serves a legendary Sunday roast. Also even if you don’t manage to get a table, there is a sidebar menu to snack on.
Newcastle is 65.39% cheaper to rent than the capital and 22.82% less expensive, not including rent.
The United Kingdom has long held an unfair reputation for having bad, tasteless food. However, there are many places in the nation to visit that will destroy that prejudice. Whether it is breakfast, afternoon tea, lunch, or dinner there are options aplenty across the land.
Scotland’s two largest cities vie for dominance in Scotland. Edinburgh edges in front of Glasgow with better-rated venues and a higher happiness index. But, Glasgow is not far behind and is substantially cheaper.
London has a considerable amount of choice, with some of the highest-rated venues and chefs in the world. It is obvious to see that the most culturally diverse city in Europe has reaped benefits in flavour and cuisine. Residents are among the happiest in any district, but living costs, and property prices, continue to be a problem.
Belfast has provided a strong showing for Northern Ireland. Selections of the best/freshest local ingredients, seasonal menus, and wine pairing, continue to impress foodies. It is also considerably cheaper to live in Belfast than in London.
The Mana restaurant in Manchester offers a unique experience, as each course is tailored to your desires when booking. It is a must-visit for this personalised reason alone. Manchester is a fairly expensive city but has a high livability score.
Bath has the most amount of eateries per head of population. There is a stunning variety set within the beautiful historic city. The finest of which is the Olive Tree. According to a 2019 study, it is the third happiest city and cheaper overall than in the capital.
The House of Tides in Newcastle has earned multiple accolades even though it was only opened in 2014. There is also a selection of pubs serving re-invented pub grub and hearty roasts. The best option is the Bridge Tavern. Newcastle is also far cheaper to live in than the United Kingdoms’ largest city.