Restaurants that have earned coveted Michelin stars no doubt come with a hefty price tag — but just how much an average meal costs can vary by country. So, global foodie magazine Chef’s Pencil recently analysed 450 restaurants, revealing the destinations with the most affordable and expensive Michelin-starred meals. According to its report, the cheapest meals can be found in Thailand, while Denmark is home to the priciest. By Rachel Chang
The study broke down the destinations in two ways — by city and by country — and only looked at restaurants with two stars (which have “excellent cooking that are worth a detour”) and three stars (which have “exceptional cuisine and are a destination by themselves”). It surveyed the prices for the top tasting menus — usually about an eight- to 12-course dinner — noting that exact numbers in various countries may be different because some include beverage costs and service charges.
Overall, it found that Michelin-starred meals at the two restaurant tiers cost, on average, USD 276 (INR 20,468) per person, with two-star establishments averaging USD 252 (INR 18,688) and three stars at USD 357 (INR 26,475).
The list of most affordable countries was topped by Thailand, with an average price of USD 173 (INR 12,829), followed by Ireland in second place at USD 212 (INR 15,722) and South Korea and Taiwan tied in third at USD 213 (INR 15,796). The top 10 list is rounded out by Portugal (USD 217 or INR 16,093), Spain (USD 218 or INR 16,167), Belgium (USD 224 or INR 16,612), Austria (USD 230 or INR 17,057), Netherlands (USD 236 or INR 17,502), and Germany (USD 247 or INR 18,317).
For a more granular look at the most cost-effective eateries, the top city was still in Thailand, with Bangkok averaging USD 173, followed by Lyon (USD 203 or INR 15,054), Seoul (USD 213 or INR 15,796), Rotterdam (USD 216 or INR 16,018), Barcelona (USD 224 or INR 16,612), Vienna (USD 225 or INR 16,686), Madrid (USD 228 or INR 16,908), Taipei (USD 232 or INR 17,205), Hamburg (USD 240 or INR 17,798), and Macao (USD 248 or INR 18,392). And if you’re looking to pack in several meals, the study points out that Seoul has seven two-starred restaurants and two three-starred restaurants, with tasting menus starting at USD 170 (INR 12,607).
On the other end of the scale, the most expensive meal, on average, is more than double, with Denmark leading the charge at USD 404 (INR 29,961), followed by Singapore at USD 364 (INR 26,994) and Sweden at USD 327 (INR 24,250). The list continues with Japan (USD 322 or INR 23,880), the USA (USD 313 or INR 23,212), China (USD 310 or INR 22,990), the UK (USD 301 or INR 22,322), France (USD 300 or INR 22,248), Switzerland (USD 292 or INR 21,655), and Italy (USD 255 or INR 18,911).
The top country is again home to the top city, where the average cost in Copenhagen is a whopping USD 448 (INR 33,224), followed by Shanghai at USD 406 (INR 30,109) and Kyoto at USD 401 (INR 29,738). The top 10 list is completed by Singapore (USD 364 or INR 26,994), Paris (USD 358 or INR 26,549), Stockholm (USD 335 or INR 24,844), Hong Kong (USD 324 or INR 24,028), and Amsterdam (USD 320 or INR 23,731), with New York and Milan sharing the last spot at USD 309 (INR 22,915).
Among the restaurants with the most sticker shock are Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet in Shanghai, where a tasting menu meal can start at about USD 618 (INR 45,831) and run up to nearly USD 1,547 (INR 1,14,727) per person. Taking that single restaurant out of the count drops Shanghai’s average down to USD 284 (INR 21,061). Also on the high end is Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, with an intimidating USD 911 (INR 67,561) price tag on its top-tasting menu.
If you’re looking for a Michelin-starred meal at a better deal, Chef’s Pencil suggests going for lunch menus, as well as a la carte options, though it notes that they’re not available at every restaurant.
“Dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant is on the bucket list of every respectable foodie out there,” the report says. “But it can come at a price.”