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 analyzed 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.
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 meals at the two restaurant tiers cost, on average, $276 per person, with two-star establishments averaging $252 and three stars at $357.
The list of most affordable countries was topped by Thailand, with an average price of $173, followed by Ireland in second place at $212 and South Korea and Taiwan tied in third at $213. The top 10 list is rounded out by Portugal ($217), Spain ($218), Belgium ($224), Austria ($230), Netherlands ($236), and Germany ($247).
For a more granular look at the most cost-effective eateries, the top city was still in Thailand, with Bangkok averaging $173, followed by Lyon ($203), Seoul ($213), Rotterdam ($216), Barcelona ($224), Vienna ($225), Madrid ($228), Taipei ($232), Hamburg ($240), and Macao ($248). 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 $170.
On the other end of the scale, the most expensive meal, on average, is more than double, with Denmark leading the charge at $404, followed by Singapore at $364 and Sweden at $327. The list continues with Japan ($322), the U.S. ($313), China ($310), the U.K. ($301), France ($300), Switzerland ($292), and Italy ($255).
The top country is again home to the top city, where the average cost in Copenhagen is a whopping $448, followed by Shanghai at $406 and Kyoto at $401. The top 10 list is completed by Singapore ($364), Paris ($358), Stockholm ($335), Hong Kong ($324), and Amsterdam ($320), with New York and Milan sharing the last spot at $309.
Among the restaurants with the most sticker shock are Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet in Shanghai, where a tasting menu meal can start at about $618 and run up to nearly $1,547 per person. Taking that single restaurant out of the count drops Shanghai’s average down to $284. Also on the high end is Kitcho Arashiyama Honten, with an intimidating $911 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.”