All vacations create lasting memories, but the food you eat almost always leaves the biggest impression. If you’re a food lover who is longing for a trip filled will delectable cuisine and out-of-this-world flavors, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve done the deliciously hard work for you and narrowed down our 10 favorite foodie destinations to travel to in 2019.
1. Bangkok, Thailand
From casual street food to Michelin-starred restaurants, Bangkok has been a foodie paradise for years. Fresh ingredients and authentic spices are the name of the game here—your taste buds will practically explode taking in the burst of local flavor they’ll be treated to. It’s hard to choose just one dish to try, so we won’t. Check out the floating markets and sample the crispy pork neck, sticky rice mango, spicy green papaya salad, and of course, the traditional stir-fried goodness of pad Thai—you truly can’t go wrong.
2. San Sebastián, Spain
Spain as a whole is off the charts when it comes to its food scene, and the city of San Sebastián takes gourmet to a whole new level. When you travel here, we recommend skipping the Michelin-starred restaurants and indulging in a pinxto tour, instead. What’s a pinxto, you ask? Think of it as a tapa—a delightful, bite-sized treat, perfect for sampling the city’s best ingredients. Meat lovers, take note—we recommend the salt-cured anchovies, seared foie gras, sheep’s milk cheese, and slow-cooked beef cheeks.
3. Portland, Maine (USA)
Sea-foodies rejoice! Right on the coast of the Atlantic, this New England city is a mecca for fresh-caught ocean dwellers. Most people who travel here would be perfectly happy to just eat the Maine lobsters the area is famously known for. But if eating lobster three times a day starts to get a little boring (as if!), you should also try the local oysters, seafood stew, and ceviche. While you’re here, check out the city’s craft beer scene, too.
4. Zanzibar, Tanzania
Strategically located off the coast of East Africa, the island of Zanzibar is a veritable melting pot of cultures. The result? An incredibly unique (and delicious) food scene full of an eclectic mix of international cuisines. Fresh local ingredients paired with Indian, Middle Eastern, and Portuguese-inspired flavors meld together to create an exceptional foodie experience. A food and spices tour, complete with a traditional Swahili lunch, is the perfect way to taste all the flavors of this region. Try the biryani-style rice and octopus curry, topped off with a mandazi cake to satisfy your sweet tooth.
5. Cusco, Peru
Machu Picchu aside, Cusco has a lot more to offer than just this tourist hotspot—namely, its food. The people here take great pride in their cuisine, and that love shines through in the local ingredients, earthy Andean spices, and Spanish-style influences. No trip to Cusco is complete without trying their famous delicacy, cuy. The meat from this dish comes from a guinea pig and is traditionally served baked or fried. If cooked rodent isn’t quite up your alley, we recommend visiting the gastronomy stalls at any of the local farmers markets. You can sign up for a Peruvian cooking class, or belly up to a traditional lunch of beef stir-fry and potatoes, chicken stew, or lentils and eggs. The main ingredients in these dishes may sound simple, but we promise the food here is anything but.
6. Durban, South Africa
If lip-searing spices and barbecued meats make your mouth water, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere better than Durban’s food scene to satisfy your cravings. South Africans don’t barbecue—they braii. Steak, pork chops, chicken, sausage—if it’s a meat, they’ll braii it. Fall-off-the-bone meats aside, aromatic spices like saffron, cinnamon, and chili are heavy players in many of the city’s dishes. The result? Fragrant curries and stews that will leave you wanting more long after your trip has ended.
7. Tokyo, Japan
Yes, we like sushi, but that’s not why we think foodies should travel to Tokyo. We’re actually here to talk about the city’s night markets, chock full of mind-blowingly delicious (and cheap!) bites. A stroll through the rows of booths will present you with hundreds of options. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, so we recommend a Tokyo food tour led by a local expert to help you navigate your options. If you decide to go it alone, try starting with the tamogoyaki—a fluffy and sweet omelet on a stick that is anything but basic. Next, indulge in the beef manchikatsu, a deep-fried ball made from the meat of black-haired Wagyu. Round it out with some green-hued matcha soft serve to finish off your meal with something sweet.
8. Bologna, Italy
This is the city that invented bolognese—leaving it off our list was never an option. Aside from its famous sauce, Bologna is the epicenter for traditional Italian eats like handmade tortellini, garlicky mortadella, salty prosciutto, and parmigiano reggiano. Top it all off with some perfectly-aged local balsamic, and Italian food anywhere else will be ruined for you forever (and that’s ok). For the ultimate experience, a gourmet Italian food tour is the best way for foodies to sample all the dishes this region has to offer.
9. Hanoi, Vietnam
Any foodie trip to Vietnam’s capital city should start with a steaming bowl of the country’s most iconic dish, Pho. Once your belly is full of broth-y, noodle-y goodness, you can set your sights on the rest of the city’s cuisine. With flavors that are diverse and balanced, Vietnamese food packs a savory punch. Its close proximity to the ocean means fresh seafood like prawns, shrimp, crab, and clams are bountiful. Try the Nem Cua Be (spring rolls filled with crab and noodles) or the Chả Cá (grilled fish seasoned with dill and turmeric). In the mood for some cheap and tasty fare? Hit up a street food walking tour of Hanoi’s markets, where you’ll find dozens of vendors selling local produce, sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves, and of course, meat on a stick.
10. Quito, Ecuador
Ecuadorean food is steeped in tradition, with many of its staple dishes dating back to the Incan society. Today, most of these foods have been given a modern twist, and we’re not complaining. When you travel to Quito, we recommend signing up for a local cooking class and culinary tour for an up-close look at how traditional Ecuadorian quesadillas are made. And don’t forget to try the grilled plantains stuffed with mozzarella, seabass and shrimp ceviche, and llapingachos—fried potato or yuca patties stuffed with cheese. Simple, hearty, and delicious, Ecuador’s mouthwatering food scene may still be largely overlooked, but we don’t think it will stay under the radar for much longer.