Why Foodies Will Love These 6 Culinary Cities
Let Your Appetite Be Your Guide
What’s for dinner tonight? It’s an age-old question most of us have to answer every day. But what if you could travel to any city in the world to satiate your hunger? Those nuked leftovers would be a distant memory, right? Get ready to go on a culinary tour to taste the local cuisine served at the finest Michelin-starred restaurants and world-renowned eateries. Pack your appetite! You’re about to embark on an unforgettable, lip-smacking food crawl to some of our favorite food cities, including Copenhagen and Hong Kong.
Why: Copenhagen is Scandinavia’s gastronomic stronghold. Within the last decade, this city has made its way onto the culinary map thanks in part to amazing restaurants such as Noma, scheduled to reopen in February 2018 with a menu to celebrate Scandinavian seafood. Noma is just one of 15 Michelin-starred establishments in a city featuring countless innovative New Nordic eateries, atmospheric bistros and traditional cafes serving up the Danish staple of smorrebrod – delicious open-faced sandwiches topped with everything from pickled herring to raw beef.
Vacation Expert Tip: Visit Torvehallerne and the Meatpacking District, where the markets and tables offer organic, sustainable produce and mouth-watering pastries to satiate any foodie’s appetite.
San Sebastian, Spain
Why: With more Michelin stars per capita than anywhere else, the small Basque city of San Sebastian makes a solid claim to being the world’s greatest city for foodies. It’s not only home to world-class restaurants – Arzak and Mugaritz – but, it has outstanding pintxos bars that offer the Basque equivalent to tapas, serving everything from traditional snacks and rustic bites to full-blown gourmet dishes. These simple venues are the cornerstone of San Sebastian’s food culture and are mainly concentrated in the Parte Vieja and Gros neighborhoods with standout taverns including Txepetxa, Zeruko and Borda Berri – the latter famed for its veal cheeks.
Vacation Expert Tip: If you’re lucky enough to get a table at Mugaritz, then its 24 courses won’t disappoint. Chef Andoni Luis Aduriz dispenses with menus and dining traditions to offer a sensory and experimental experience – think dishes such as egg yolk with sea urchin.
Why: Going hungry isn’t an option with more than 24,000 registered places to eat in Hong Kong. The only challenge is deciding where to go with everything from celebrity restaurants and Michelin-starred dim sum cafes to traditional dai pai dongs – open-air street food vendors – part of the city’s hugely diverse and evolving food scene. Yes, celebrity chef Jason Atherton continues to lure foodies to his collection of Hong Kong restaurants, including Aberdeen Street, 22 Ships and Tim Ho Wan, known for its world-famous dim sum. Get a true taste of the city at the street food stalls that still draw lunchtime crowds hungry for diced pork and cashew nuts, beef with tomatoes and chicken liver with vegetables.
Vacation Expert Tip: Securing an invite might be tricky – talk to your hotel concierge – but Saturday brunch at the members-only China Club is well worth the effort with its atmospheric setting and extensive menu of Chinese specialties.
Why: From its modern bistros and hipster cafes to all-out steakhouses and gourmet food cart scene, quirky Portland has firmly established its credentials as a destination city for food lovers. Thanks to a combination of great Pacific Northwestern produce, creative kitchen talent, stellar wineries and low start-up costs, the city is a delicious medley of left-field restaurants and cooking styles – often at pleasingly palatable prices. Standouts include the gutsy avant-garde French fare of Le Pigeon, the tapas-inspired menus of Toro Bravo and the big-flavored Thai street food of Pok Pok, famed for its spicy charcoal rotisserie game hen with tamarind dipping sauce.
Vacation Expert Tip: Visit Portland’s Saturday Market to enjoy the free bite-sized tastings from stall to stall. And no trip to the city is complete without indulging a sweet tooth at the kooky confectionary haven of Voodoo Doughnut.
Cape Town, South Africa
Why: Central Cape Town is a mere 45 minutes from South Africa’s idyllic Cape Winelands, making it the perfect place to indulge in outstanding food and wine. The city’s cuisine has Dutch, Malay, French and Indian influences, and its artisanal stores, markets and restaurants focused on showcasing the region’s best local produce. Cape Town’s top restaurants, such as chef Luke Dale-Roberts' Test Kitchen, serve artistic food with excellent wine pairings over five or nine courses. Equally renowned are the romantic settings of the Roundhouse and Rumbullion restaurants, sitting in a small 18th-century hunting lodge, with the latter a favorite for its al fresco picnic-style menu during the summer months.
Vacation Expert Tip: Don’t leave without sampling some of Cape Town’s local producers such as Honest Chocolate, offering raw and decadent handmade chocolates, bonbons and spreads in beautiful boxes.
Why: Lyon is arguably the French gastronomic capital, with rich culinary traditions, iconic chefs and peerless haute cuisine. Legendary chef Paul Bocuse has pioneered Lyon’s food scene with his innovative approach to French cuisine, elevating it to an art form in his restaurants, culinary school and the annual Bocuse d’Or – one of the world’s most prestigious cooking competitions. Try Bocuse’s Michelin-starred L'Auberge du Pont de Collonges and his collection of Lyon brasseries, including Le Nord, which serves up perfect classics such as ris de veau (sweetbreads), boudin noir (blood sausage), cream chicken and feather-light quenelle dumplings.
Vacation Expert Tip: Visit Lyon’s 1st and 2nd arrondissements to try its top bouchons – traditional, but casual restaurants serving up rustic dishes washed down by some of France’s best wines. We highly recommend Café des Federations.
Inspired by this article and want to speak with a Vacation travel agent about how you can plan an unforgettable culinary trip? Let one of Vacation’s on-call travel experts connect you with a specialist to plan your next vacay.