Any gastronomically minded traveler should be sure to plan a trip around these editor-favorite food experiences.
At Travel + Leisure, we strive each month to bring you the best experiences from around the world. But there’s more to an extraordinary vacation than top restaurants and chic hotels. So often, the magic of a trip lies in the offbeat discoveries you won’t find written about on any hotel websites or travel forums. That’s why we’ve created the Editors’ Choice Awards, a compendium of the people, places, and experiences that have made our recent adventures memorable.
One thing our editors can’t get enough of? Top-notch meals and unforgettable culinary adventures. And while we love a magical, multi-course tasting menu — like the one at Tbilisi’s BinaN37, a restaurant hidden in a top-floor apartment where wine & spirits editor Ray Isle had one of his favorite meals in recent memory — it’s not all haute cuisine and high-priced dishes.
In Nagano, Japan, assistant editor Hannah Walhout picked up a bottle of shichimi, a seven-spice blend that was traditionally a souvenir for pilgrims to the Zenkoji temple. Look for the Yawataya Isogora brand, which comes in a cylindrical red tin with a gold top — a shake or two will transform ho-hum noodles or rice dishes into a flavorful treat.
Photo editor Skye Senterfeit was mystified and delighted to find a vegan tea service at the Shangri-La Hotel in Paris — after all, when’s the last time you thought of Paris for vegan anything? Even non-vegans will love this spread, which comprises plenty of sweets, English tea staples like scones and faux-clotted cream, and patisserie items so flaky you’ll swear they must have butter. (Not sure where to stay in Paris? Here's how to find the right arrondissement for you.)
In Busan, South Korea, executive editor Jesse Ashlock wandered out late at night for a bowl of dwaeji-gukbap, a pork-and-rice soup that’s one of the city’s most legendary dishes. On Seomyeon Food Alley, you can find vendors selling hot bowls of the savory soup at all hours of the day and night, and for just $4, it’s as affordable as it is delicious.
Since returning from his honeymoon in Tulum last fall, assistant editor John Scarpinato can’t stop talking about the octopus tacos at Nest Tulum. “I ordered them every day for lunch while staying there,” said Scarpinato. “By the end of the week, the staff didn’t even have to ask for my order; they’d just bring a plateful when my wife and I sat down.” If charred octopus, chile aioli, and crispy potato strings weren’t a magical enough combo, washing it all down with a margarita while gazing out at the ocean is about as idyllic as it gets.
An unforgettable dish doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Editor Nathan Lump had one of his all-time favorite food experiences in Mumbai: a bowl of perfectly in-season Alphonso mango. When the buffet at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel had run out, a waiter brought Lump a bowl piled high with cubes of the sweet, juicy fruit. “Words cannot capture its heady perfume, the sensual quality of its texture and flavor. Heaven!” (Here's another must-try dish if you're headed to India.)
For more of our editors’ favorite meals and food experiences worth traveling for, watch the video above, or click through our full Editors' Choice Awards.