55 Foods Worth Traveling For
The Nashville-style hot chicken trend has swept the country, but the original source is still the best: Prince's. The menu is simple: Chicken is battered and fried, and coated in a bright red oil- and cayenne-based hot sauce. Order the XXXHot at your own risk, and have a cooling side of potato salad at the ready.
There is one city in the world where you can find Michelin-starred street food: Singapore. The venerable food guide awarded one star each to HK Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle, where bronzed, shiny roast chickens hang in the stall's window, and to Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle, which draws long lines for its famous minced pork with noodles, known as bak chor mee. Both can be had for under $5.
New Haven, Connecticut
The tiny Louis' Lunch has been open since 1895 and lays claim to having created the first hamburger in 1900, according to the Library of Congress -- though other burger spots dispute the claim. These burgers are a little different than you're used to, but the same as they've always been here: Beef is cooked in a vertical grill, then served on toast with onions and tomatoes. It's a far cry from some massive burgers today, but still comfortingly familiar.
The little corner restaurant Pierrette Patates caters to locals with simple sandwiches and other takeout foods. To create the legendary poutine, the casual spot uses homemade chunky fries, fresh white cheese curds, and thin brown gravy -- and it's considered one of the best renditions in the region where the dish was invented. They keep it simple and use classic ingredients.
New York City, New York
The first pizzeria opened in 1905 in New York City, and America has been obsessed with the dish ever since. Lombardi's still uses its original coal-fired oven, and it pumps out crispy, chewy New York style pies every day. Order the margherita with San Marzano tomatoes and fresh mozzarella.
No trip to Spain is complete without some tapas. Spaniards hop from bar to bar, eating and drinking what each spot is known best for. Find one of the best versions of patatas bravas at Docamar, where the fried potato chunks are covered in a bright orange sauce heavy on the paprika.
One of the most famous dishes in Singapore is Hainanese chicken rice, which is made with whole chickens simmered in a broth. The broth is used to make richly flavored rice served with the chicken, with more offered on the side. At Tian Tian, a stall in the Maxwell Food Centre, the simple chicken, rice, and broth dish is done with just the right amount of seasoning and chicken fat.
You've probably heard of the two main competitors in the Philly cheesesteak rivalry -- Pat's and Geno's -- but just because they're the best known doesn't mean they're the best. Head to Tony Luke's for a cheesesteak instead and get juicy sliced ribeye that's grilled fresh to order instead of languishing in a pile for hours. You can order yours with provolone cheese or "wit wiz" -- aka "with onions and cheese whiz," the classic way to order.
There's a famous sandwich in Philly you may have never heard of that's just as good as a cheesesteak -- and some would say even better -- the roast pork sandwich at John's, made with Italian-style roasted pork, sliced thin and topped with cheese. Choose sharp provolone, and add the optional wilted spinach topping.
A specialty of the Yucatan region of Mexico, cochinita pibil is a succulent shredded pork dish served with raw onions and fresh tortillas. La Chaya Maya serves up a traditional version wrapped in banana leaves and cooked with bright red achiote and sour oranges.
Started as a hot dog pushcart in 1939, Pink's serves up hot dogs to celebrities, tourists, and locals alike. It serves standard chili cheese dogs, but why not try something unique such as a Lord of the Rings -- topped with onion rings and barbecue sauce -- or the bacon burrito dog, wrapped in a tortilla?
If you're used to Mexican-style ceviche, the Peruvian version will be a treat. Raw, fresh seafood is marinated in lime and other citrus juices -- which technically cooks the seafood -- and, in Peru, topped with shaved red onion and served with sliced steamed sweet potato and fat kernels of corn. Head to La Mar for modern versions that include some with octopus, scallops, grilled tuna belly, and more.
Forget about the omelet -- green chili is a Denver specialty. Part pork stew and part sauce, it's made with roasted mild green chilies and sometimes tomatoes. Get the best version in town at El Taco de Mexico, where it comes in a bowl as a thin stew or atop burritos, enchiladas, or tamales as a pork-flecked, spicy sauce.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Considered Brazil's unofficial national dish, feijoada is a hearty pork and bean stew most often cooked at home and served on Sundays. If you don't have a local family's home to crash, head to Bar de Mineiro for its casual version of the comforting dish and wash it down with a caipirinha, Brazil's national cocktail made with sugar, lime and cachaça, a spirit made from sugarcane juice.
A relative newcomer to the scene in Texas, Franklin BBQ has made a fast name for itself as the best brisket in the state. Aaron Franklin is the first barbecue chef to win a coveted James Beard Award, and people line up for hours for his smoky, juicy meat. It reopened recently after a fire, and the brisket is just as tasty as ever.
New Orleans, Louisiana
A Sicilian immigrant opened Central Grocery in 1906 and created one of the best sandwiches in NOLA. Round loaves of sesame-seeded Italian bread are stuffed with layers of Italian meats, cheeses, and a signature olive and pickled vegetable salad. It's the juices from the salad soaking into the bread that gives this sandwich standout texture and flavor.
The baguette is quintessentially French, where bakers have perfected the simple bread loaf over centuries. The best in 2017, as determined in annual competition by the Parisian baker's union, was Boulangerie Brun. Pick up some crispy, golden brown baguettes to snack on while strolling through Paris.
New York, New York
Since opening in a tiny basement in 2005, Xi'an Famous Foods has expanded to nine locations, thanks in part to its spicy cumin lamb noodles. Stir-fried lamb shoulder and vegetables, freshly ground cumin, and hot chili oil all top a pile of wheat-based, hand-pulled noodles. Making the unique noodles is a labor of love, and you can watch them do it all day long to keep up with demand.
A Mozartkugel is a truffle-like confection filled with pistachio marzipan and nougat covered in chocolate. It was named after Salzburg's most famous resident, Mozart, by its creator, Paul Furst. You can buy the Mozartkugel at his Furst chocolate shops in Salzburg, where the pastry is still made by hand.
New Orleans, Louisiana
The fried chicken at Willie Mae's in the Treme neighborhood is often considered the best in the nation. It's even helped win Willie Mae's a James Beard Award for America's Classic Restaurant in the Southern Region. Today, Willie Mae's great-granddaughter runs the restaurant, continuing a cooking tradition that started in 1957 and survived Hurricane Katrina.
Doner kebabs could be considered Germany's favorite street food and late-night snack. In Berlin, head to Imren Grill for a primo version of this Turkish sandwich. Thin beef is stacked feet high on a vertical rotisserie and sliced off to order before being topped with vegetables and sauces.
The best fish and chip shops are casual ones doing a lot of takeaway. Poppies has a kitschy, retro-London vibe and a busy takeout counter. The battered cod and haddock are crisp and golden, while the fat chips soak up malt vinegar perfectly. Grab an order of jellied eels if you're feeling adventurous.
While the debate between New York and Chicago style pizza continues in the rest of the country, Chicagoans know to head to Pequod's for the best pan pizza money can buy. It's baked in old, deep pizza pans, allowing for a deeply caramelized ring of cheese around the crust. There's no skimping on the toppings here.
No world food bucket list is complete without a stop in Italy for Napoletana. Antica Pizzeria Port'Alba opened in 1738, so you can assume it hasn't survived this long with terrible pizza. Get the gold standard pizza margherita topped with San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, and fresh basil. The crust will be soft and lightly charred, the tomatoes and cheese will be wet in the middle, and you'll have to eat it with a fork and knife as the locals do. Or grab a pizza to eat on the street -- folded four times for on-the-go eating.
Wisconsinites love their dairy, even on burgers. Though a butter burger usually consists of a pat of butter on the beef, Solly's Grille goes way further, smearing a massive amount of soft butter on the top bun just before serving. It melts quickly and pools on the plate around the burger in an indulgent butter bath.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
A small family-run restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City has some of the best pho in the world. Pho Hoa's steaming bowls of rice noodles, beef, meatballs, and anise-scented broth are served alongside huge plates of fresh garnishes such as culantro and lime. This shop also serves fried dough, kind of like big breadsticks, for sopping up the broth.
Som tam, also known as green papaya salad, epitomizes the best of Southeast Asian cuisine, balancing sweet, salty, sour, and hot flavors in one refreshing dish. In Bangkok, Som Tam Nua at Siam Square offers numerous versions of the salad, including various types of seafood inclusions.
Even though you probably think of Miami when you think of Cuban sandwiches, the dish actually started in Tampa when cigar workers moved them from Key West in the late 1800s. At Columbia you can get one the same as it was in 1915, made with mojo-marinated roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and Genoa salami, a uniquely Tampan touch.
Wagyu beef is known globally for its extensive fat marbling, making it melt-in-the-mouth tender and juicy. Order it as part of shabu shabu at Zakuro: A hot pot of broth will be delivered to the table, where diners custom cook their own accompanying vegetables and meats. It's a relatively inexpensive way to enjoy wagyu beef and admire its marbling before cooking.
San Diego, California
Fish tacos are a must when in San Diego, and the best place to enjoy them is right on the beach. Sandbar, just off the Mission Beach boardwalk, offers three kinds of fish tacos. Try the TKO style with cotija cheese grilled onto the tortilla, chipotle aioli, tangy slaw, guac, and fried onion strings.
Even more well-known than wagyu beef is Japan's No. 1 contribution to the food world: sushi. Try any number of fresh fish and rice combinations at Michelin-starred Sushi Masuda. Chef Masuda trained under Jiro Ono of "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" fame, making this some world-class fish.
The best crab cakes in Baltimore come from Faidley's, a little restaurant in Lexington Market founded in 1886. The baseball-sized cakes are full of lump crab and seasonings, then lightly coated in crumbs and briefly deep fried for a crisp crust. They're the gold standard of Maryland crab.
Discovery Bay, Jamaica
Jerk chicken, coated with a paste made from scallions, allspice, and scotch bonnet chili peppers, is grilled over fresh pimento wood for a smoky flavor. If you're on the road between Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, stop at the Ultimate Jerk Centre, an open-air bar and restaurant that grills up searingly hot jerk chicken and other island specialties such as festival, a fried cornbread fritter, and bammy, a flatbread made of cassava.
It's a good sign when a seafood shack has a constant line of people willing to wait an hour for their lobster rolls. Though the lines are Red's are long, the wait is worth it. One entire lobster's worth of meat is served plain on a grilled bun, with mayo and melted butter on the side, allowing customers to choose which adornments they prefer.
The dish that opened the late Julia Child's eyes to French cuisine was sole meuniere, a simple preparation of sole filet with a brown butter sauce. Experience the same meal at Le Duc in Paris. It won't be cheap, but maybe this classic dish will be just a revelatory as it was for Julia.
Declared the "world's best food" by a CNN poll, Indonesian beef rendang is a curry-like stew made with coconut milk, lemongrass, galangal, spices, and chilies. Sit down to a delicious version at Simay Restaurant, which has won several cooking awards for its recipe.
For the best Peking duck, head to the source: Beijing (once mistranslated as "Peking"). Whole ducks are slow roasted over fruit wood until the skin is crisp and bronzed, then sliced and served with pancakes and vegetables for wrapping. Da Dong serves a traditional version known for having very little fat left under the skin.
Memphis-style barbecue ribs are known for their vinegar wash during cooking and dry rub seasoning. The folks at Rendezvous started that tradition back in 1948. Unlike most barbecue ribs, Rendezvous' are charcoal grilled instead of wood smoked for a unique flavor, then served with beans and slaw.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The spicy chicken stew called doro wat is one of the best things to eat in Africa. At Kategna, it's served traditionally: A large platter lined with injera, a sourdough-risen flatbread that is used as a communal plate, and diners use pieces of the injera to eat the stew with their hands.
Charlotte, South Carolina
The shrimp and grits served at Hominy Grill is one of the most famous versions of this Southern classic. The creamy grits are made with parmesan and butter mixed in, and the shrimp topping includes mushrooms, green onions, and garlic. The recipe is simple, and helped earn owner Robert Stehling a James Beard Award in 2008.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Despite the name, bunny chow has nothing to do with rabbits. It's a popular, messy dish of curry in a hollowed out loaf of bread. Curry and All serves up mutton, chicken, and vegetable versions, all in a spicy brown curry sauce that soaks into the bread.
Like with long lines, if there's no place to park, chances are the food is great. There are eight types of poke to choose from at Ono Seafood, all made with fresh ahi or octopus. The spicy ahi is a local favorite, coated in a mayo-based sauce with ginger and onions.
Named for a Russian ballerina who traveled to Australia in the early 20th century, pavlova is a plate-sized, soft-centered meringue filled with cream and fruit. Gazi, a Greek restaurant in Melbourne, has a unique version filled with banana cream, peanut butter gelato, and fresh passionfruit.
The bucket list restaurant on every food nerd's radar is Noma. Often ranked the best restaurant in the world and awarded two Michelin stars, Noma and chef Rene Redzepi have reinvented Nordic cuisine with an ultra-local focus, including foraging. After a year hiatus and a relocation, the restaurant is back open and just as difficult to score a table at as ever.
San Francisco, California
You can't go to San Francisco without having a burrito, and La Taqueria serves one of the best. It's super simple: just piles of freshly grilled beef, beans, and pico de gallo. Get it "super" style to add cheese, sour cream and avocado, and "dorado" style to get it grilled on the outside. There's no rice or any other toppings, besides hot sauce, to muddle the fresh flavors.
Biryani, a spice-flecked golden rice, is a favorite Indian dish around the world. Hyderabad's Meridian restaurant serves a steam-cooked version that locals love, with mutton, chicken, or vegetables throughout the long-grain rice, often with hardboiled eggs on top. It's deceptively simple-looking, but packed with flavor.
Las Vegas, Nevada
While the Strip has great food, it doesn't have Lotus of Siam, which has some of the best Thai in the county. Venture off to find chef Saipin Chutima, who won a James Beard Award for traditional dishes such as stuffed chicken wings, and don't miss the garlic prawns, deep fried with their shells on for crunch.
The famous Moroccan dish tagine gets its name from the dish it's cooked in, also called a tagine. Couscous, spices, vegetables, and sometimes meats are cooked in the conical pot. Taj'in Darna serves many types, including chicken with olives and preserved lemon, or an unusual version made with ground-beef meatballs and peas.
Mexico City, Mexico
Los Cocuyos is one of the most popular street-side taco stands in Mexico City, especially late at night. A bubbling cauldron contains piles of various meats, from chorizo to pig's head, all cooking together in a glorious melange of animal fat. Order what you like and it'll be chopped and crisped on the griddle before being topped with radish, lime, and salsa.
A Southern food institution since 1945, Mary Mac's serves up some of the best soul food in the South. Opt for the "Southern Special," an all-you-can-eat family style meal for the table that includes such things as meatloaf, fried chicken, collard greens, hoppin' John, banana pudding, and peach cobbler.
Hong Kong's dim sum restaurants, with carts full of bamboo steamers, are a dining experience like no other. Head to Lei Garden for an upscale atmosphere that's surprisingly unpretentious for a Michelin-starred restaurant. Don't miss the lobster-steeped rice with rich orange lobster broth and crisped rice.
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