Sure, you can whip out your iPhone and consult a slew of restaurant apps with screens and screens of user reviews. But were they written by real customers or the restaurants themselves? More important, if you’re planning a daylong urban foodie tour, app-checking isn’t necessarily the most efficient way of culling and assembling a can’t-miss itinerary.
That’s where we come in. From a spectacular sashimi breakfast in Tokyo to a plate of after-hours fish and chips in London, we’ve compiled a list of some of the world’s top tables and scheduled hours of overindulgence.
So the next time you visit New York, consider yourself one of the city’s in-the-know eaters. In the morning, head straight to TriBeCa’s Locanda Verde for chef Andrew Carmellini’s dreamy breakfast menu (sheep’s-milk ricotta drizzled with truffled honey; olive-oil coffee cake). At lunch, Midtown’s Má Pêche—the latest restaurant from the city’s burgeoning Momofuku empire—is a must. Try the pork ribs in lemongrass caramel or the tender skate with brown butter and pea shoots. And if you’re a seafood addict with time for only one Big Apple dinner, look no further than Marea on Central Park South: here, chef Michael White works his magic on frutti di mare, with jewel-like crudi and fusilli with red wine–braised octopus.
Fortunately, culinary greatness doesn’t always come with an expensive price tag. In Barcelona’s Barri Gòtic neighborhood, La Plata is a humble, tile-walled bodega that former El Bulli pastry chef Albert Adrià considers one of the finest examples of classic Catalan cuisine. Traditional dishes such as fried sardines or tomato-and-onion salad are sources of inspiration for Adrià’s popular Inopia tapas bar, but you won’t pay much more than $15 for two people.
Great restaurants can also become an integral part of their communities. San Francisco’s Nopa—a favorite hangout among Bay Area chefs, including Daniel Patterson of the city’s two-Michelin-starred Coi—exudes a casual conviviality that has helped transform its namesake neighborhood (North of the Panhandle) from an emerging area to a vibrant community. Other businesses have since grown up around Nopa, but locals still consider the pioneering restaurant the neighborhood gathering spot.