10 of the world’s best destinations for foodies
Taste the flavours of the world when you visit these gastronome favourites
How much do you love great food? Enough to drop everything and disappear on a culinary pilgrimage that’ll have your tastebuds dancing for months after you’ve got back?
Then you’re gluttons after our own hearts (or stomachs…).
Here are 10 of our favourite foodie destinations, guaranteed to get you salivating (and booking) straight away…
With food, as with so many other things, sometimes it’s all about location, location, location. Take Nice [lead image], for example – it’s in France (French cuisine!), it’s right on the sea (fish!) and it’s only a few miles west of Italy (pasta!), and the result is a city you’ll want to eat your way around again and again. Salade Niçoise is the star dish, obviously, but we’d take daube Niçoise any day of the week – beef stew made with red wine and vegetables, served with pasta drowning in the rich, meaty sauce. Not exactly the healthy option, but if you’re going to Nice to count calories, you’re doing it all wrong.
You’ll find the tiny medieval fishing port of Rovinj on the west coast of Croatia’s Istria peninsula – right opposite Italy and known (for its food as much as its idyllic, undulating landscape) as Little Tuscany. There’s plenty of Italian influence in the food (expect a lot of pasta and pizza), though look out for delicious, impossibly fresh seafood, truffles from the nearby hills and – who knew? – incredible drink, not least sparkling wine so good you’ll wonder why you ever bothered with prosecco.
Which city do you reckon has the most Michelin stars? Paris, maybe? Perhaps New York? Or even London? Non, nah, and nope. That’ll be Tokyo, by miles, where 227 restaurants have at least one star. At one end you’ll find tiny, super-high-end sushi dens like Sukiyabashi Jiro (where Japanese PM Shinzo Abe took then-US president Barack Obama for dinner), while at the other there’s Tsuta, where a bowl of Michelin-starred ramen noodles will set you back less than a tenner.
Lake District, England
All that beautiful – and wet – scenery in the Lake District isn’t just for looking at or walking in – this lush and mountainous region in the north west of England produces some of the best food in the country, from delicious lamb and beef to artisan bread and cheese. You’ll find plenty of it everywhere from farm shops to fine-dining restaurants and everything in between, though if you’re anything like us you’ll ruin your dinner by gorging on the Lakes’ plentiful fudge and Kendal mint cake. It’s for energy, obviously…
The central medina of Marrakech is a bustling hive of narrow streets, packed with furiously intense markets (souks), throngs of people and the constant smell of woodsmoke. On every corner – but mostly within the massive Jamaa el Fna square – grills are tended by traders selling meat kebabs and sweet mint tea, or aromatic tagines made with meat, vegetables and loads of spices. You’ll hear scare stories about dodgy kebabs, but pick a busy stall and be prepared to wait and you won’t regret it.
If Italy’s the shape of a boot, then Salento is the heel, right at the very south-east tip where the Ionian and Adriatic seas meet, in the region of Puglia. Not only is it packed with fantastic beaches and charming towns and cities, but Salento is a foodie powerhouse – providing the rest of Italy with olive oil, fruit and vegetables, delicious wines, and fabulous seafood. The best of it, though, they keep for themselves, from the unique ear-shaped pasta, orecchiette – often served with cime di rapa (turnip tops) – to creamy burrata (a cheese made with cream and mozzarella), plus the best langoustines you’ll ever taste.
Pronounced ‘Wa-ha-ka’, the city of Oaxaca is a glutton’s mecca, recognised for its food on Unesco’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. But Oaxaca’s whole food scene is driven by its people’s all-consuming love of antojitos, or snacks – from toasted savoury cakes called memelas to meat-and-cheese-stuffed empanadas with spicy sauces called moles. And if you’re really brave/made/hungry, try chapulines – crispy, delicious, deep-fried grasshoppers. Yep, actual grasshoppers. Buen provecho!
This ancient Catalan city is only 100km from perennial-tourist-magnet Barcelona, but when it comes to food Girona packs a punch to rival its more famous neighbour. Though it’s probably best known for El Celler de Can Roca – consistently named among the best restaurants in the world – Girona offers serious eating for anyone who can’t get a table at the Roca brothers’ gastronomic temple (that’s most of us – they’re booked solid for the next 11 months). Head to the huge Plaça de la Independència and you won’t go far wrong – it’s packed with restaurants, most of them serving insanely good tapas on cheap plastic tables outdoors, where you can get your fill of both people watching and some of the best patatas bravas (fried potatoes in a rich tomato sauce) in Spain.
This easygoing Texan city is best known for two things – live music (they call it the ‘Live Music Capital of the World’) and barbecue. We like gritty guitar bands, but we really like huge hunks of meat cooked ‘low and slow’ over burning embers, often for the best part of a day. Try beef brisket – dark and crunchy on the outside and melting in the middle – gigantic hot sausages and beef ribs with juicy meat that falls right off the bone. You’ll need plenty of beer to wash it all down with, and an appetite of truly epic proportions…
For the most intense culinary experience on the planet, it’s hard to look past Mumbai, where the sheer quantity and variety of street food on offer will have your head (and stomach) spinning. Pani puri is the unmissable iconic dish – little puffs of fried flatbread filled with spiced, tangy water (pani), plus pickles and curries made with potatoes, peas and mung bean sprouts. For locals it’s a dish that conjures up all sorts of memories and emotions – once you’ve tasted the best (Elco Market in Bandra is legendary), you’ll know why…