Photograph by Michael Ventura, Alamy.
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Guests dine in the Brown Hotel lobby in Kentucky.

Photograph by Michael Ventura, Alamy.

Top 10 Food Cities

What makes an urban legend? A dish so unforgettable it becomes just as famous as its birthplace.

This list was first published in the National Geographic book The World's Best Cities.

Louisville, Kentucky
Invented as a midnight snack for revelers at the Brown Hotel (335 W. Broadway), Hot Brown, an open-faced turkey sandwich on Texas toast with bacon, tomatoes, and a cream sauce, gives eaters plenty to get excited about, day or night.

Chennai, India
Chicken 65 is to India’s restaurants what buffalo wings are in the United States. It is widely believed India’s spicy, deep-fried chicken starter was invented at Chennai’s Buhari Hotel by the hotel’s founder and possibly named after the number of chilies in the original recipe.

Buffalo, New York
Spicy, tangy buffalo wings, a favorite of bar crawlers the world over, owe a debt to the city’s Anchor Bar Restaurant (1047 Main St.), where the chicken finger food was born in 1964.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Saigon, now called Ho Chi Minh City, became the hot spot for the popular Vietnamese crispy bread sandwich bánh mì, originally served on a French baguette, after gaining independence from France in 1954.

Lyon, France
In a country whose cuisine is arguably the world’s finest, Lyon is considered its foodie epicenter. It seems only juste the city has a dish named after it: famed Lyonnaise potatoes, sliced and pan-browned spuds with onion and parsley.

Cincinnati, Ohio
Famed for their chili, Cincinnatians chow down on two million pounds of the city’s spicy stew (beans optional) a year. Order like a local: three-way (on spaghetti topped with cheddar), four-way (add onions or beans), or five-way (all of the above).

Osaka, Japan
Street food takoyaki is so beloved in its birthplace of Osaka that there’s even a theme park–like museum dedicated to the grilled balls of octopus batter, topped with seaweed flakes and served with sweet takoyaki sauce.

Bologna, Italy
Spaghetti with meat sauce is a staple of college students everywhere. But the real deal is pasta Bolognese, named after the city where it was created. To reestablish its authenticity, the city’s chamber of commerce staged a cook-off in 1982 to choose an official version. (Rule No. 1: It’s served with flat tagliatelle, not skinny spaghetti.)

Edam, The Netherlands
For centuries the most popular cheese in the world, still eponymous Edam is named for the town harbor where it was sold. In summer months, you can still watch farmers navigate the ancient canals and ferry taking rounded hunks of the cheese to the market.

Ensenada, Mexico
When the Ensenada market opened in 1958 and began selling fresh, local seafood, the fish tacos became the stuff of legend. Today, foodies flock to Ensenada’s many street stands serving the classic combo of fried fish and shrimp topped with mayo, salsa, and cabbage.