Food Worth Traveling For: What to Eat and Where to Eat It
“There is no love sincerer than the love of food,” said George Bernard Shaw, and let us also add that there’s arguably no better way to explore a culture than to eat voraciously while traveling. Yes, there are many five-star restaurants worth booking an entire trip for, but it’s equally important to savor classic treats from across the world.
Paella in Valencia, Spain
It’s this classic rice-based dish that first pops to mind when thinking of Spanish gastronomy. For the best there is, head to the source: Valencia. And don’t forget to scrape the bottom of the pan for heavenly bites of crunchy rice, or socarrat: the most flavorful arroz ever to land on your palate.
Nasi Lemak in Malaysia
Malaysia’s national dish, nasi lemak is a fragrant coconut-milk rice mixture, served with sambal sauce, fried crispy anchovies, toasted peanuts, and cucumber and cooked with screw pine (pandan) leaves. Available on almost every street corner, this much-loved classic hits all the notes.
Pintxos in San Sebastián, Spain
Among the most highly ranked cities for Michelin-starred restaurants, San Sebastián boasts pintxos (the equivalent of small tapas) with über-creative takes on classics and beyond. Spain’s haute cuisine shines in this culinary paradise on the Basque coast.
Pastel de Nata in Lisbon
The most iconic Portuguese pastry, the pastel de nata is a sublime custard tart with hints of lemon, cinnamon, and vanilla. Buttery goodness in the middle, crunchy sweetness on top—what’s not to love?
Mole in Puebla, Mexico
Mole, a specialty in the Mexican city of Puebla, is a labor of love. The spicy-sweet combination of this rich, chocolate-colored sauce takes arduous preparation and packs ingredients such as ancho chiles, spices like anise and coriander, sesame seeds, almonds, peanuts, stale bread, brown sugar, raisins, chocolate, and ripe plantains. The culminating dish is fit for the gods.
Sichuan Hot Pot in China
This isn’t for the faint of heart. But if you’re an extreme spice lover, you’ll welcome the tears that come from the hot pot’s perfect nexus of pain and pleasure.
Tagine in Morocco
This slow-cooked savory stew, typically made with sliced meat, poultry, or fish and lots of herbs and spices, is true Moroccan soul food. Cooked for hours in a clay cooking pot with a conical lid (known as a tagine), this irresistible dish is served with couscous or bread and can be found all over Morocco.
Beignets in New Orleans
A must-have in a city packed with deliciousness, this donut-like sweet treat is all that it’s said to be, especially at Café du Monde.
Poutine in Canada
French fries + cheese curd + brown gravy: how can this not result in immeasurable joy? Quebec’s signature food, poutine has pretty much made its way across Canada and even beyond.
Barbecue in the American South
Whether it’s in Kansas City or St. Louis, tender, flavorful, fall-off-the-bone, perfectly smoked pork and ribs can be, well, a life-affirming (if artery-clogging) experience. We’ll leave it to you to explore the barbecue trail from South Carolina to Kansas.
Feijoada in Brazil
Feijoada (pronounced fay-zwah-da) is a hearty stew of pork and black beans that’s traditionally served over rice. Brazil’s national dish is a comfort food of sorts that brings together family, food, history, and tradition.
Asado in Argentina
With or without chimichurri (sauce made with parsley, garlic, oregano, red pepper, and olive oil), legendary Argentine asado (steak) needs little introduction. The typical Argentinean asado involves a proper brick-built parrilla (grill) with coal or firewood and is nearly a daylong family affair.
Pav Bhaji and Bhel Puri in Mumbai
Mumbai might be just the city to binge on street foods like pav bhaji and bhel puri. Between pav bhaji’s toasty, buttery goodness and bhel puri’s crunchy, cold, sweet-and-sour tamarind chutney-laced perfection, this is forget-all-your-cares type of fare any time of day.
Jerk Chicken in Jamaica
Here’s more burn for spice aficionados. Perhaps the best-known Jamaican dish, jerk chicken is prepared with allspice, thyme, Scotch bonnet peppers, and garlic. The flavorful and spicy seasoning can also be used on fish and veggies.
Chicken and Waffles in the American South
A plate of this comfort food—golden, crispy fried chicken atop golden waffles—is good for whatever ails you, anytime, any day. It’s a true American classic.
Arepas in Venezuela and Colombia
This melt-in-your-mouth flatbread is made from corn or flour and can be fried, grilled, or baked. Served as sandwiches in Venezuela and a staple for Colombians, arepas can be stuffed or topped with succulent meat, eggs, cheese, or any number of savory options.
Poulet Yassa in Senegal
This traditional chicken stew is a packed-with-flavor marinade of chile, lemon, and onion, slow-cooked to exquisite perfection. A little mustard in the preparation puts it over the top.