If your idea of vacation planning is obsessively researching every restaurant, bar, coffee shop and food stand, gay Taipei, Taiwan, belongs on your bucket list. Taiwan’s sprawling capital city is home to 2.7 million residents and what feels like just as many must-visit spots for food and drink.
The island has a contentious history, with bouts of Dutch, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese presence or rule, and Taipei’s rich culinary landscape includes nods to its diverse colonial past as well as the traditions of the indigenous population: fresh Japanese seafood at DOZO Izakaya Bar, superstar soup dumplings at Din Tai Fung, fine-dining French exports like L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, unbelievable street food like stinky tofu, innovative cocktails from the R&D Cocktail Lab, German beer halls like Buckskin Beerhouse, scenic tea houses atop Maokong mountain — and that barely scratches the surface.
There’s never been a better time to visit. In the first Michelin Guide Taipei, the city had 20 restaurants receive stars, with restaurants ranging from the three-star Le Palais, famous for its expertly executed Cantonese fare, to the one-star Taiwanese-meets-Nordic hit Mume.
Thirty-six joints made Michelin’s Bib Gourmand category, including 10 street food stalls scattered throughout the Taipei’s famous night markets, where tourists, locals and everyone in between sample piping-hot black pepper buns and pearl milk tea. You’ll also find plenty of excellent shops, hotels and tourist attractions — Taipei 101, once the world’s tallest building, is definitely worth braving the crowds for — to fill time between meals.