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Chicago is the third most underrated foodie destination in the world

You're still No. 1 in our hearts, Chicago.

Morgan Olsen
Written by
Morgan Olsen

The rest of the world is finally accepting something we've known for a long time: Chicago's food scene is criminally underrated. And now, we have proof. Chef's Pencil, a culinary resource that collects recipes and advice from chefs, just released its list of the most underrated foodie destinations in the world, with Chicago stealing third place.

Chef's Pencil consulted 250 chefs and foodies from around the globe and asked them a simple question: What's the most underrated dining destination on the planet? From there, they divided their rankings into countries and cities, both of which give shoutouts to 10 undervalued locales.

On the city-centric list, only Cape Town and Budapest beat out Chicago for the first and second spots, respectively. The authors acknowledge that yes, Chicago has plenty of Michelin-starred restaurants and awards in its trophy case, but they also point to a hotly debated article that was published in Chicago magazine in 2018 claiming that the city's "once-vaunted dining scene has lost its luster."

The Chef's Pencil writeup goes on to say that Chicago's "food scene has remained resilient even this year with new restaurant openings and has adjusted to takeaway, some investing in garage doors, air filtration systems and smaller menus, all to make it less complex and safer for everyone."

All true. But here's where they lose us: "Not only that, but fine dining in the Windy City continues to serve the best. Chicago is home to Alinea, one of only 14 restaurants in the entire United States good enough to be awarded 3 Michelin stars." We'd argue that it's actually the restaurants that aren't acknowledged by the big-time awards that make Chicago the underrated dining destination that it is. We're talking about Lem's and Marie's, Red Hot Ranch and Carnitas Uruapan, Vajra and Tzuco. But hey, we'll proudly accept the title.

Take a look at the rest of the ranked list below for some wistful travel inspiration (one day!). You can read about the cities and countries that made the list on Chef's Pencil.

1. Cape Town
2. Budapest
3. Chicago
4. Melbourne
5. Mexico City
6. San Sebastian
7. Bergen
8. Hong Kong
9. Montreal
10. Napoli

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