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11 travel destinations for foodies—from Lyon’s innovative cafes, and Tbilisi’s upscale restaurants to Bogota’s must-visit eatery and more

Food and travel go hand in hand, and I completely believe that you can’t get to know a country without getting to know the land, what grows there, and what the people who live there like to shop, cook, and eat. Whenever I’m in a new place, I’m drawn to the bustling, busy places that are seemingly full of locals, eager to try what they’re enjoying, be it tapas in Mahon on the island of Menorca, the most authentic South Indian restaurants in Dubai, delightful but cheap eats in Alicante or the hearty traditional Bulgarian food in Sofia.

I love trying it all, and a dish or ingredient I’ve never heard of before is a total bonus. Over the past 20 years of exploring, a few cities really stood out as incredible travel destinations for foodies. These are places that are unrivaled when it comes to delicious, fresh food, inventive chefs, and top-class restaurants, as well as hole-in-the-wall, basic but can’t-stop-thinking-about eateries.


The ultimate travel destinations for foodies


1. Bogota, Colombia

As the second most biodiverse country in the world, Colombia overflows with exciting plants, roots, and herbs all used as ingredients in exciting local dishes. King trumpet mushrooms, macadamia nuts, and ripe guava are plucked from the forests of the Andes, and the rare umari and guayaba fruits, cacao nibs, and cashew apples come from the rainforest region.

Four plates on one large gray plate, each dish features an exciting course at Leo Restaurant in Bogota, one of the best travel destinations for foodies in South America
Stunning creations at Leo in Bogota, one of the top travel destinations for foodies
The ideal place to try these exciting ingredients? Hip Bogota restaurant Leo, headed up by a true enigma, Leonor Espinosa. Flavorsome, inventive, and colorful the 12-course tasting menu at Leo is one of the best in the world, featuring exciting dishes made with ingredients sourced from 52 destinations spanning the whole of Colombia. It’s one of my all-time favorite restaurants, don’t miss it when in Colombia.

2. Lisbon, Portugal

Having visited the art-filled city of Lisbon twice now I can safely say that Cervejaria Ramiro serves some of the most incredible seafood I've ever eaten, right up there with the best seafood restaurants of the Florida Keys, a place known for its daily fresh catches. The tiger prawns covered in melted butter and the perfectly cooked crab are the dishes to order at Cervejaria Ramiro along with a dry bottle of white wine and lots of bread.

A close up image of cooked tiger prawns smothered in butter and lemon at cervejaria ramiro, one of the most amazing restaurants in lisbon portugal
Incredible tiger prawns at Cerejaria Ramiro
Since everyone in town knows how good this spot is there’s always a snaking queue to get in, so get there early and be prepared to wait. Trust me, it’s worth it. If cheese and wine are more your thing, BA wine bar in Bairro Alto is a great option. There are just a few tables so try and book online for an evening of the most delicious cheeses paired with local Portuguese wines.

3. Tbilisi, Georgia

Food is a key part of Georgian culture, and one that makes use of the country’s diverse terrain that provides the ideal climate for crops and vines to thrive, meaning Georgia’s flavorsome fruits, oversized vegetables, and leafy herbs are some of the tastiest around. The country’s capital, Tbilisi does a great job of not only showcasing Georgian cuisine authentically but is full of buzzy restaurants that have put a modern spin on the country’s most famed dishes. I recommend Amra, Otsy, and Salobie Bia. Wondering where to find the best khinkali in Tbilisi? Make a beeline for Asi Khinkali or Klike’s Khinkali for the softest handmade dough and hearty soupy filling around.

4. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

If you love food, Vietnam will make you cry with delight. The busy, boisterous, hot, and dusty place overflows with hidden eateries selling delights like mint-filled fresh summer rolls, creamy iced coffee, and Banh Mi (a type of Vietnamese baguette). Pho is one of the most commonly eaten dishes throughout the whole of Vietnam, and for good reason; the meaty, herby soupy broth filled with green vegetables and noodles is not only delicious but filling and cheap. Goi Cuon (fresh spring rolls) are not to be missed either, and if you think you’ve tried good spring rolls before, think again, Vietnam’s will blow your mind.

rice paper spring rolls and chilli sauce in the vietnamese city of ho chi minh, one of the best travel destinations for foodies
Goi Cuon in Ho Chi Minh City
For drinks grab a smoothie made with incredible tropical fruits like custard apple, dragonfruit, and durian blended with ice and condensed milk—so sweet but so good. Buy one from the busiest street side vendor you can find for around $1 (80p).

5. Istanbul, Turkey

Having spent two weeks living in Istanbul I made it my mission to immerse myself into the food scene of this vibrant city, and I can tell you, I wasn’t disappointed. Although I didn’t manage to eat at all 20,000 of Istanbul’s eateries, I did find some gems in the neighborhood of Cihangir with its mix of authentic bakeries, hip cafes, and stunning restaurants as well as the best low-cost kebabs.

A flat lay of Grilled lamb, lavash bread and turkish tea at Sehzade Cag Kebap in Istanbul, Turkey. The city is one of the best travel destinations for foodies
Grilled lamb and lavash bread at Sehzade Cag Kebap
Unmissable places included Sehzade Cag Kebap’s charcoal grilled lamb and lavash bread, any of Hanimeli’s take-out lunch options, and upscale Karaköy Lokantasi where the shrimp with garlic and chili is a stand-out dish.

6. Lyon, France

Forget Paris, Lyon is where the food scene really gets interesting, from top-class Michelin-starred restaurants to tasty cheap eats. Some of the best places to eat and drink in Lyon include Le Kitchen which uses local suppliers to source ingredients. With a menu that changes weekly according to the seasons, bread is from Luc Mano bakery, fruits and vegetables from Le Jardins de Vartan or Pyot & Ondine and coffee is supplied by Mokxa Roasters, so you know what you're getting is made with love.

Two bowls of granola, pieces of cake and glasses of juice inside le kitchen, a great restaurant in Lyon, France
Breakfast at Le Kitchen
For lunch or dinner, book a table at the place to be, Alebrije, headed up by the charming and innovative chef Carla Kirsch. Offering a gourmet Franco-Mexican fusion with dishes made using ingredients like blue corn, soft crab in tempura, and black beans it’s one of the most exciting additions to Lyon’s food scene.

7. Toronto, Canada

Much like Montreal, Toronto is a food lovers' playground, since whatever you’re after, from ramen and sushi to poutine and pho, you can find it all. Cute shop OneZo Tapioca makes their own tapioca pearls for insanely good bubble tea, I tried and loved the Brown Sugar Dirty Black Latte, while Ramen Isshin on College Street had me dreaming of their ramen for months after, I’d recommend the Black Tan Tan Noodle dish which comes with a small bowl of black sesame seeds you can grind into your ramen yourself.

A beavertail snack on wooden table with apple and cinnamon topping in toronto, Canada, one of the best foodie travel destinations in the world
An apple-topped Beaver Tail in Toronto
I’m not a huge ice cream fan but Sukoi on Queen Street serves fab flavors served in fish-shaped cones, or for something a little more Canadian, don’t miss a beaver tail. These deep-fried flat pastries are stretched out into the shape of a beaver's tail and come served with various toppings such as maple spread or apple cinnamon, what’s more, they’re delicious and affordable.

8. Singapore

Street food is a big deal in Singapore so if you’re passionate about food it’s an unmissable city for a few days at least. Maxwell Road Food Center is the place to go, with over 100 stalls selling Tian Tian chicken rice (loved by Anthony Bourdain), wanton noodles, oyster cakes, and pork satay. For a memorable dessert and to help cool down try an Ice Kacang which sees shaved ice topped with red beans, agar jelly, rose syrup, and condensed milk, bliss.


9. Naples, Italy

I don’t think anywhere satisfies the stomach in such a homely, indulgent way than Naples. While some travelers find the place abrupt, stressful, and grimy I couldn’t disagree more, it’s one of the most exciting cities in Italy and a place I adored eating my way through over the course of a week. For pasta dishes, my favorite restaurant is Buatta Di Angela Gargiulo in the district of Vomero.


A bowl of Potato and brocolli pasta at Buatta Di Angela Gargiulo in Naples, Italy, one of the best travel destinations for foodies
Potato and brocolli pasta at Buatta Di Angela Gargiulo

The menu features super traditional simple cooking, lots of bacalao cod fish, and great wine. The potato and broccoli pasta dish is so wholesome that it made me smile with every single forkful. Elsewhere in the city, Di Matteo’s crochès are just sublime, and it would be rude not to visit the pizzeria from the book Eat, Pray, Love. L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele arguably serves the best pizza in the city, so be prepared to queue. 


10. Madurai, India

The best food in Madurai spans super sweet drinks like the famed jigarthanda made with sweetened reduced milk, jelly pearls, syrup, and homemade ice cream, to light as a cloud dosas, crisp on the outside and filled to the brim with aromatic spiced potatoes. I’d recommend heading to Merina Restaurant for the latter, where the chai is also very good. 

11. Lima, Peru

While wondrous Machu Pichu commands attention with its ancient mystery, it’s Peru’s capital, Lima, that wows with an abundance of top-class restaurants and dining options, that span cheap eateries through to sophisticated spaces with inventive mind-blowing tasting menus.

A plate with a colourful array of pickles and vegetables at Kjolle in Lima, Peru. Lima is one of the best travel destinations for foodies
One of Kjolle's creative courses
After visiting the addictive city twice, the best restaurants in Lima include La Nina, Isolina, and Kjolle where dishes are not only art-like but delicious, too.

1 comment

  1. Thanks 🙏 for all your amazing tips

    ReplyDelete

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