Best Food Locations in the World
Foodie Hotspots you Need to Visit
In the rapidly changing world of the global foodie, hot gastronomic locations come and go as quickly as a Big Mac and fries. Which means it’s easy to lose track if culinary satisfaction is a big part of your annual vacation itinerary. Jo Keohane takes a tour around the world’s must-visit food locations…
If, like me, you spend your entire year obsessing about food, why should it be any different when it comes to choosing your holiday? It goes without saying that the cosmopolitan cities of London, Manhattan, Paris and Tokyo are already food Meccas. But what about the more hidden gourmet gems? Turn your annual break into a food odyssey, with On: Magazine’s guide to some of the best food destinations in the world.
Food and wine buffs have been quietly arriving in Franschhoek in droves. Nestling in the fertile wine country above Cape Town in South Africa, it offers restaurant after restaurant of outstanding quality in a stunning setting. Wine-tasting, cooking classes, olive harvesting, its all here – and for less than the price of a pub meal for two in Blighty you can feast on the very best seafood, steak and wine. You’ll struggle to find a bad eaterie here but Le Quartier Français (lqf.co.za) and Reubens (Reubens.co.za) come with great reputations.
“Eat like a king for pennies”
The Big Easy is a culinary revelation where tradition meets cutting edge. The mix of Creole, Cajun and European cooking means whopping flavour – with dishes ranging from classical Oysters Rockerfeller to unbeatable street food like the muffaletta sandwich. As good as gumbo and jambalaya are, make sure you also try less famous dishes like crawfish etouffe and dirty rice. The Commander’s Palace (commanderspalace.com) does a famous jazz brunch, as well as a midweek 25 cent martini. For lighter-than-air beignets it has to be Café du Monde (cafedumonde.com).
Nothing tops freshly made pad thai in Bangkok, where you can still eat like a king for pennies on street food. There’s plenty to excite the adventurous foodie, including fried grasshopper and the hottest jungle curry you’ll encounter. There’s also an increasing range of high-end dining options. For those who want to learn the secrets of a perfect green curry the BaiPai Thai Cooking school has a good reputation (baipai.com). And if you’ve got a strong stomach don’t miss Chatuchak weekend market where no ingredient is too extreme (sheep’s eyeballs anyone?)
Hipper than a handlebar moustache, the migration of Manhattan based chefs to more accessible eateries just across the river means Brooklyn offers some of the world’s best cuisine – for surprisingly affordable prices. Plus, you get to feel less like a tourist into the bargain. It’s easier to be a big fish in a smaller pond and restaurants like Marlow & Sons (marlowandsons.com) and Diner (dinernyc.com) have made a big splash. Modern American comfort food rules – try lobster rolls, fried chicken, meatballs and anything truffled.
“You won’t get any fancy toppings”
With one of the highest concentration of Michelin stars in the world its impossible to leave this relaxed seaside town off the list. With world-renowned eateries such as Arzak (arzak.info) it does haute cuisine like nowhere else. But for the real food fun, make your way to the old town for a feast of ‘pintxos’ – the Basque equivalent of tapas. Order your beer and settle in – seafood is the local speciality but you’ll be hard pushed to find anything that disappoints.
Hanoi’s food heritage is legendary. Slurping Vietnam’s national dish of Pho – fragrant noodle soup made with braised beef bones – from the side of a crazy bustling street is a foodie-must not to be missed. Next, try a spicy Ban Mi pork sandwich on fresh baguette – just one example of the lingering influence of French colonization, which has also given the city an amazing café culture. Other Hanoi specialities include delicate green papaya leaf salad with dried beef, and steamed rice roles.
Hard to pick one town in Italy, granted. But for pizza lovers it has to be Napoli. This is the home of pizza, although you won’t get any fancy toppings. The Margharita is simple perfection – with locally grown San Marzano tomatoes and mozzarella and maybe some basil if you’re lucky. The wood-fired crust, however, will be jaw-droppingly good. Crispy round the edges, floppy in the middle and charred with the all-important ‘leopard spots’. Traditionalists swear by Pizzeria Da Michele (damichele.net). This being Italy, Naples is hardly a one trick town. Neapolitan ragu on locally made pasta is also pretty unbeatable. Make sure you also try sfogliatella – pastries filled with sweetened ricotta egg custard. But don’t try to order pineapple on your pizza.
“Dunk it in vinegary sauce and snaffle the whole lot”
Shanghai has so much to offer it’s hard to know where to start. But lets talk about dumplings. Jiaozi – pork or shrimp, fried or steamed, in this city are out of this world. The tiny parcels of meat are encased in a stock or ‘soup’. So eat like a local and suck out the juice. Then dunk it in vinegary sauce and snaffle the whole lot. Hole-in-the-wall dumpling shops are everywhere – just don’t expect an English menu. First timers won’t be disappointed with Jai Jai Tang Bao (90 Huanghe Lu, Fengyang Lu.) It would also be worth a trip here for the food markets alone. Here, every creature known to man is available. Usually on a stick, for your convenience.
Britain’s Best Foodie Destinations (Yorkshire aside, naturally):
Go for fabulous food and a heavy dose of Brit nostalgia. With pasties, fish and chips, locally sourced lobster and a cream tea, you have your work cut out to include all the culinary must-have’s in one trip. You can also hone your cooking skills at the Rick Stein Padstow Seafood school.
This often-overlooked county has so much to offer. Orford, Southwold and Aldeburgh on the unspoiled coast have great gastro pubs, the freshest fish and quality smokehouses.
Michelin starred restaurants as well as the more down to earth annual food festival in September have put Ludlow on the food map.