We’re well and truly in the midst of a food revolution. We live in the era of celebrity chefs, finest-quality ingredients and techniques, and growing globalization. Different cultures from all over the world have come together, shared culinary secrets and swapped old family recipes, changing what we eat forever. Put simply: there’s never been a time to consider one of these vacation getaways for foodies.
And let’s face it: Eating “good” food every day just doesn’t cut the mustard anymore. And why should it when you’re on vacation? If you’re a culinary enthusiast—or you just appreciate a damn fine salt-beef bagel—you’ve probably considered heading to a world-class destination for food and drink on your time off. After consulting with the travel experts at Insight Guides, we’ve put together this list of the best foodie cities in the world: From resorts full of luxury restaurants to cities with the best street eats. We recommend you don’t read this list hungry. And if you’re dashing off to the airport soon, be sure to book the Best Seat on Any Airplane.
In reference to the British, the French president Jacques Chirac famously quipped, “One cannot trust people whose cuisine is bad.” He may be eating his words now, as London has shot to culinary stardom in the years since. Once the purveyor of plain, soggy grub such as fish and chips, London now has a huge number of luxury eateries run by chefs such as Gordon Ramsey and Alain Ducasse (both of whom hold three Michelin stars). Aside from fine dining, there are also many food markets and pop-up restaurants, most notably Borough Market, which serves everything from Andean and Zimbabwean dishes. Brick Lane is legendary for its Indian restaurants and its 24-hour bagel shop. For even more great reasons to visit London, know that it’s one of the secret escapes for the ultra-wealthy right now.
Why go to Bangkok? In a word (well, two): street food. The city’s street fare is world famous. Vendors occupy almost every corner and line every pedestrian street (except on Mondays, the city’s designated road-cleaning days). There are literally thousands of vendors serving thousands of dishes, so it’s hard to pick recommendations. But we have: Be sure to try some Morning Glory (also known as Chinese water chestnut), a long green vegetable that’s sliced lengthways and stir-fried with crispy pork, soy sauce, garlic and served on a bed of sticky rice. Som tam (green papaya salad) is a hugely popular dish and comes in many delicious varieties. Moo ping (marinated, grilled pork skewers) is another famous street-eat not to be missed. Head to Sukhumvit or Chinatown and get some tom yum (noodle soup) or a gai pad pongali (yellow chicken curry). For dessert, try a grilled banana or roti, a kind of crepe.
Fine-dining in this city is literally unbeatable: The area is home to highest concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants on the planet. Part of the Basque region of Spain, San Sebastien is close to the French border, and the influence is clear on the region’s mouthwatering cuisine. Basques have long sought independence from Spain, which won’t surprise you when you see the beauty of the area (and food!). Most bars serve pintxos — the Basque word for tapas. After a pre-dinner drink and an appetizer, head to a restaurant for dinner. Recommending somewhere in San Sebastien is tough because the quality of the food is so high that a restaurant has to have considerable repute even to survive. Restaurants of note include Arzak, run by Juan Mari Arzak and his daughter, Elena, who both hold three Michelin stars.
This one’s for the more carnivorous: Come for the steaks, stay for the wine. In a country famous for its beef and steaks, Mendoza stands head and shoulders above the rest. Local beef cooked asado–on a barbeque-style grill–and served with vine tomatoes is the city’s signature dish, and it’s served literally everywhere. Other beef dishes include stew and empañdas (a fried pastry stuffed with meat). To accompany your steak, have a glass of the local Malbec or the lighter Torrentes. We recommend Azafran, one of the best restaurants in town.
Why to go to this, of all vacation getaways for foodies? Curry, of course! At first, Delhi is somewhat overwhelming, but once you get your bearings, you’ll be rewarded with an unforgettable food experience. Head to Chandi Chowk in Old Delhi, and make your way down a labyrinth of backstreets to Karim, which is regarded as one of the best restaurants in Asia, let alone India. The mutton roghan josh or tandoori are must-trys. The Moti Mohal has three locations across the city, and all are highly rated. Be sure to sample the street food, particularly samosas. Pop into any café and try a thali (meaning plate in Hindu) consisting of rice, poppadums, chutneys and a selection of vegetable curries. Unsure about where to eat? Look for places that are full of locals.
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