Andrew Zimmern Says This Is The Best Place On Earth To Eat

"Top" and "Best Of" lists are popular and controversial, in the gastronomic world and otherwise. It stands to reason: The hierarchy such lists establish shines a light on lesser-known stars, but also underscores the perceived status differences between those who made it and those who didn't (like in Yelp's poll). Thus, the publication of "Top" lists often elicits both wild enthusiasm and bitter disappointment.

Earlier this year, Andrew Zimmern published a list of his top 35 (!) food cities (via Substack), and it provides lots of food for thought. The famous chef loves to push boundaries and boasts an unusual path to stardom: born and raised in New York City and educated at Vassar College, he found himself homeless for about a year of his life when addiction got the best of him. After getting rehabilitated in Minneapolis, he stayed in the state and has developed a tremendous career.

Zimmern has received numerous awards as a chef and TV personality, and his shows have proved extremely popular as he explores and challenges American food tastes with programming like "Bizarre Foods" and "What's Eating America." So it's not surprising that his list is as insightful as he is — and subtly reinforces his stated commitment to "exploring and promoting cultural acceptance, tolerance and understanding through food." The list is unsurprisingly international: of the 35 places he includes nine are European while 13 are in Asia; Sydney, Fez, Alexandria, Lima, Oaxaca, and Mexico City all make the cut, too.

A culinary destination fit for a queen

What's Andrew Zimmern's top choice? While the list of food cities isn't ranked per se (he groups by region but without numbers), spot numero uno appears to go to a place that isn't quite a city and whose residents are usually known by the neighborhoods contained within it (which were traditionally listed as their town in their mailing addresses, per Gothamist). Stumped? Zimmern says that it is "Pound for pound, by square block, the best place to eat on earth. Been saying it my whole career." Getting any closer? A couple more clues: A) It's actually part of a city listed as a separate entry on his list B) Paul Simon hails from there (Kew Gardens Hills), as does Lidia Bastianich's daughter Tanya Bastianich Manuali (Forest Hills).

Have you guessed Queens, New York, yet? Zimmern includes NYC on his list, but Queens garners a separate entry (plus enthusiastic accolades) despite being one of the five boroughs of New York City. Queens frequently ends up playing second-fiddle to flashier Manhattan and hipster Brooklyn. But when it comes to demographic diversity and spectacular food, it's truly the place to be. It remains to be seen if the rest of the world catches on with Zimmern's expert opinion. In the meantime, there's just more great undiscovered food there for the rest of us (per The New York Times).