35 Can't Miss Culinary Journeys Every Foodie Should Add to Their Bucket List
We selected their best finds, together with the spots still on their bucket lists. From a foraging camp in Sweden to a fried-chicken-fueled road trip through the American South, home-style cooking in Fiji to fine dining in Tokyo, here’s inspiration for your next food-themed trip.
José Andrés: Eating Conch in the Caribbean
It’s the stuff of vacation legend: that relaxed, authentic shack serving fantastic local seafood. Travel + Leisure joins irrepressible Spanish chef José Andrés on an excursion to get fresh conch in the Bahamas.
Find out the secret to “Boom”-worthy conch sauce.
Zac Posen: Scandinavian Classics in Norway
“I had a babysitter from Norway, so we grew up with an appreciation for pickled herring, licorice, and fish balls. I’d love to go experience them in their native setting,” says fashion designer Zac Posen.
Tim Mondavi: Drinking Italian Wine Al Fresco in Tuscany
“Food is something to be celebrated with friends and family — to me, that is more important than the excellence of the food alone. La Pineta, a restaurant on the beach in Bolgheri, Tuscany, is for me a perfect combination of nostalgia, great food, and a beautiful setting,” says Tim Mondavi, winemaker at Continuum Estate. “I have fond memories of going there with the wine-making families of the region, the Frescobaldis and the Antinoris. The chef-owner, Luciano Zazzeri’s family have been fishermen there for generations. They are wonderful people, and they work with the freshest seafood, so everything is incredibly flavorful.”
Edouardo Jordan: The Cuisine of West Africa
“I dream of traveling to Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, and Guinea to rediscover my roots,” says Edouardo Jordan, chef-owner at Junebaby and Salare in Seattle. “There are so many dishes I want to eat: jollof rice, groundnut soup, and grilled fish, to name but a few.”
Tastes of West Africa leads culinary tours packed with lectures and cooking classes.
Katie Button: The Coastal Flavors of the Costa Brava
“My husband, Félix, is Spanish, and we take our daughter to see her grandmother every year,” says Button, executive chef-owner at Cúrate Tapas Bar in Asheville, North Carolina. “We typically visit the Costa Brava, where the seafood and the scenery are both amazing, and we have developed personal connections with a number of chefs, wineries, and producers in the region. These trips have been so influential that we launched our own guided tours.”
Book a tour with Katie Button and Félix Meana's Cúrate Trips.
Michael Tusk: Fine Dining and Culinary Craftsmanship in Kyoto
“In Kyoto, I find the combination of incredible eating experiences, coupled with amazing shopping for the tabletop and kitchen, to be totally mind blowing,” says Tusk, chef-owner at Quince in San Francisco. “Some favorites are Tsujiwa Kana-ami, which produces kitchen utensils by hand using metal wire, and Aritsugu, an iconic kitchen and knives shop where I always do heavy damage. A trip to a high-end restaurant like Tempura Matsu is a must, but you can’t go wrong eating pickles at the Nishiki Market.”
Missy Robbins: The Ultimate Aperitivo in Venice
“I’m so excited by Venice’s culture of a Spritz and cicchetti, or bar snacks — kind of like Venetian tapas, says Robbins, chef-owner at Misi and Lilia in Brooklyn. “It started when I was working in nearby Friuli almost 20 years ago. I would travel to Venice on my days off. My favorite bàcari, or cicchetti bars, include Osteria Al Mercà, All’Arco, and Al Timon. The idea of moving from bar to bar, having a Spritz and snacking, appeals to me more than sitting down to a full meal.”
Jim Meehan: Mixing Cocktails in Northern Sweden
“I’d like to return to Fäviken the award-winning restaurant in the Swedish countryside,” says Meehan, bartender, cocktail writer, and proprietor at PDT in New York City. “I hear the chef, Magnus Nilsson, has a bar now, so maybe I can arrange a work-study!”
Floyd Cardoz: Farm-to-table Food in Goa
“When I was growing up in India, the thing I looked forward to most was our summer visit to my great-grandmother’s home in Goa,” says Cardoz, chef-owner at the Bombay Bread Bar in New York City. “She had a very primitive kitchen, but the food was always amazing, from the homegrown rice, coconuts, and mangoes to the bread delivered every day. My first farm-to-table experience started in her home, where the coconut oil was home-pressed and was used to cook everything. Our cook would go to the fish market every morning, and we would go to the beaches and forage for clams. My love for food came from this kitchen, where cooking was about celebrating the family — and reminding ourselves of who we were.”
Greaves India hosts a nine-day expert-guided culinary tour of Goa.
Ashley Christensen: A Pasta Pilgrimage to Chicago
“The restaurant that I’m desperate to get to (and will buy a plane ticket just to try) is Monteverde in Chicago,” says Christensen, chef-owner at Poole’s Diner and Death & Taxes in Raleigh, North Carolina. “Chef-owner Sarah Grueneberg and I met in California at an event, and hit it off immediately. Since then, we’ve had the chance to cook together on the road several times, and I’m just blown away by her food. She has such a clear, inspired way of handling ingredients. I learn something new in the kitchen every time we hang out. I’m dying to eat on her home turf!”
Rosio Sanchez: Foraging in the Swedish Wilderness
Best known for bringing Mexican cuisine to Copenhagen, American-born chef Rosio Sanchez takes a break from the kitchen to explore Scandinavia’s newest dining destination.
The restaurant at Stedsans is resolutely Nordic, serving hearty, elemental feasts rooted in the seasons. The open air kitchen is powered solely by fire, so we found ourselves sipping aperitifs of Crémant beside makeshift grills strung from the trees before joining the other guests — a total of 12 that evening — for a family-style dinner. T+L heads to Stedans with the chef.
David Kinch: Truly Site-specific Dining in the French Alps
“I recently ate at Flocons de Sel in Megève, France, after years of hearing people rave about Emmanuel Renaut’s work,” says Kinch, chef-owner at Manresa in Los Gatos, California.“ I wasn’t disappointed. Chefs often talk about a connection to the land and the region where they work, but it’s rare that they actually achieve it. Coming across someone who is able to execute that connection between food and place so perfectly was incredibly inspiring.”
Erin Shambura: Elemental Grilling at a Yucatán Peninsula institution
Louis Tikaram: Family-style Cooking in Fiji
“My family is from Fiji, and I always tell anyone who hasn’t been that it’s one of the most fascinating food destinations, says Tikaram, executive chef at E.P. & L.P. in Los Angeles. “For traditional Fijian, I recommend a restaurant called Sweet Laisa’s Kitchen, on the main island, Viti Levu. The flavors remind me of my grandmother’s cooking, and the fish is always fresh. Kokoda, which is ceviche with coconut milk, and palusami, or creamed spinach, are some of the standout dishes.”
Daniel Boulud: Fusion Flavors in the Pays Basque
“I’m still haunted by the flavors of the Pays Basque region of France, where I took a summer job when I was 16,” says Boulud, chef-owner at Daniel, Café Boulud, and Bar Boulud in New York City. “It’s perfectly positioned between the sea and the mountains, and chefs use Spanish spices to accentuate their dishes. Our very first Voyage menu at Café Boulud was themed around the Pays Basque, and in fact we brought it back this summer as part of the restaurant’s 20th-anniversary celebrations.”
Curtis Stone: Getting Back to Nature in Upstate New York
Ghetto Gastro: A Food Tour of Japan
This Bronx-based culinary collective makes a point of thinking outside the borough, sampling global food traditions to curate site-specific dinners across the world. The core team — Jon Gray, Malcolm Livingston II, Pierre Serrao, and Lester Walker — recently took a gastronomic trip around Japan, tasting everything from fine cuisine to street food.
Erik Anderson: Beach Eats Off the Coast of Nicaragua
“It wasn't easy getting to Little Corn Island in Nicaragua, but I loved it,” said Anderson, executive chef at Coi in San Francisco. “These older women would open their homes along the beach and cook this amazing fried chicken in coconut oil. It reminded me to relax and just enjoy the simple things.”
Those headed to Little Corn should consider staying at Yemaya Island Hideaway & Spa, the island’s newest (and only) luxury resort, with 16 villas right on the beach.
Nina Compton: Shopping for Spices in Marrakesh
Corey Lee: The Most Famous Restaurant in the World
“Noma, no question” says Lee, chef-owner at Benu in San Francisco. “I'm embarrassed to say that as a working chef who travels a fair amount, I still have yet to visit what is arguably the most influential restaurant of our generation. I would love to dine there, and also experience the dynamic food scene that has sprung up around the area.”
Matt Griffin: Avant-garde Chefs in Mexico City
Stephanie Danler: An Unforgettable Spanish Fish Restaurant
On a rite-of-passage trip to the Basque Country, “Sweetbitter” author Stephanie Danler encountered an unfamiliar restaurant culture that made the local wine and seafood taste all the more extraordinary.
Cheetie Kumar: The Female-led Kitchens of New Orleans
“I'm embarrassed to say that I have never been to Willa Jean or Herbsaint in New Orleans,” says Kumar, musician and chef at Garland in Raleigh, North Carolina. “I’ve cooked with and gotten to know and love the incredible chefs leading those restaurants in the last year (Kelly Fields and Rebecca Wilcombe, respectively). So that’s one trip that is definitely flagged as urgent!”
Anita Lo: The Hottest Tables in Portugal
“I’m leading a culinary trip to Lisbon in the spring, and I’m so excited,” says Lo, chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author. “When I was young, I visited some former Portuguese colonies in Asia and had some amazing food. Everyone raves about the local seafood in Lisbon; the fine-dining scene is said to be pretty robust as well. I think João Rodrigues’s Feitoria is one of the first restaurants we’ll head to.”
Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli: Going Straight to the Source in Campania
“A few years ago, we were lucky enough to tour a San Marzano tomato factory in Italy during production, which only happens one month out of the year, when the tomatoes are in peak season. We visited tomato fields and saw the ripe tomatoes on the vine, then watched seasonal workers carefully process that year’s crop, flash-steaming and peeling the tomatoes, then placing giant basil leaves in each can by hand. We’ve always loved San Marzano DOP tomatoes, because of their amazing color and flavor, but actually seeing the careful process by which the tomatoes are preserved was a unique experience. It only deepened our love for the product.”
Yotam Ottolenghi: Life-changing food in Malaysia
“Two good friends who are originally from Malaysia took me there. Before that, I had no real ideas about Malaysian food, apart from a vague recollection of some noodle dishes,” says Ottolenghi, cookbook author and chef-owner at Ottolenghi, Nopi, and Rovi in London. “The world that opened to me in Kuala Lumpur and Penang made me look at food differently. From hot achar pickles, which are now my condiment of choice, and otak-otak (fish cakes steamed in banana leaves) to nasi lemak (the national dish — coconut rice cooked with pandan leaf and served with a bunch of condiments) to asam laksa (a spicy fish soup with tamarind and a choice of delicious toppings) to roti canai (those heavenly flaky flatbreads) — I love the complexity of the cuisine, which comes from the fascinating mash-up of Malay, Indian, and Chinese cultures.”
Audley Travel offers culinary tours of Malaysia.
Amanda Cohen: Family-style Dining on Prince Edward Island
“I’m obsessed with “Anne of Green Gables,” so I’m dying to go to Michael Smith’s restaurant at the Inn at Bay Fortune on Prince Edward Island, Canada, where the books are set,” says Cohen, chef-owner at Dirt Candy in New York City. “He cooks a family-style dinner in a 25-foot-long wood oven, and no tipping is allowed. Anne would approve.”
Richard Schiff: Oysters Straight From the Loch in Scotland
“I went to visit a salmon and oyster farm in Scotland; afterward we ate at the Loch Fyne oyster bar, where langoustines and oysters are served straight from the waters of the lake, alongside the most spectacular smoked salmon,” says Schiff, Acme Smoked Fish in Brooklyn. “It has to be one of the culinary highlights of my life.”
Helen Mirren: A Southern Food Road Trip
“I didn’t really know about real Southern cooking until my husband and I took a road trip from Nashville to Charleston, where he taught me about the enormous pleasures of the all-you-can-eat buffet,” says Helen Mirren. “When you find those places they’re usually called Ruben’s, or Mama’s, and the food is just fantastic.”
Phillip Lim: Learning Kitchen Secrets in Rajasthan
“I just returned from my first trip to India and was blown away,” says the fashion designer. “I would love to go back and plan a culinary journey—perhaps focused on Rajasthani cooking.”
The “Mysteries of India” itinerary from Collette includes stops in Udaipur and Rajasthan, with culinary experiences like a home-hosted dinner and cooking demo.
Eric Ripert: An Eating Tour of Thailand
“Thailand without a doubt is on my bucket list,” says Ripert, chef and co-owner of Le Bernardin in New York City. “I’ve visited many countries across Asia, but Thailand has always eluded me. I love the power of the flavors, combined with the purity and simplicity of the food. To me, it’s a very inspiring culture.”
Artisans of Leisure offers customizable Thai food itineraries.