The 10 Best Cities for Michelin Dining on a Budget

If you want to eat well on a budget, Asia is the place to be. Nine out of the top 10 most affordable cities for Michelin dining are located on the continent, with Tokyo coming in first place.
Takoyaki being prepared out of a stall in Osaka, Japan.
Takoyaki being prepared out of a stall in Osaka, Japan. / Craig Ferguson/GettyImages

Dining can eat up a significant portion of your travel budget when exploring a new city. While it’s possible to see museums, parks, and historic landmarks for free, spending money on the local cuisine is unavoidable. While you shouldn’t deny yourself good meals on vacation, eating well doesn’t have to mean maxing out your credit card. Below you’ll find the best cities on Earth for affordable Michelin dining.

To compile this list, John Lewis Finance analyzed 16,000 international restaurants recommended in the Michelin guide to determine which culinary destinations give diners the most bang for their buck. Michelin has served as a lifeline for hungry travelers since the early 1900s, and many of the businesses it recognizes are considered fine dining. But the guide book also acknowledges that life-changing cooking can come from humble origins. Some of the cheapest meals to receive a star from Michelin include street food in Singapore and dim sum in Hong Kong

When defining cheap eats for their report, John Lewis Finance only considered restaurants where customers can enjoy a full meal for $25 or less. They looked at cities around the world, but nearly every city in the top 10 is located in Asia, with Tokyo coming out on top. The Japanese capital is home to 77 Michelin-recommended eateries that met the criteria for affordable dining. Seoul in South Korea comes in second place; followed by Osaka, Japan, in third; Bangkok, Thailand, in fourth; and Kyoto, Japan, in fifth. George Town in the Caymans Islands is the only non-Asian city to make the list, coming in ninth place.

This list is a good starting point if you’re planning an eating tour on a budget, but it doesn’t come with specific food recommendations. Here you can find the most affordable Michelin-starred meals around the world and the places that sell them.

The 10 Cities With the Most Affordable Michelin Restaurants

  1. Tokyo, Japan
  2. Seoul, South Korea
  3. Osaka, Japan
  4. Bangkok, Thailand
  5. Kyoto, Japan
  6. Taipei, Taiwan
  7. Tainan, Taiwan
  8. Guangzhou, China
  9. George Town, Cayman Islands
  10. Taichung, Taiwan