Traveling the world and experiencing new destinations and cultures is incredible no matter what, but let’s be real, it’s even better when the country you’re visiting has amazing food. At this point, food is such an important part of travel that we often find ourselves prioritizing our trips according to the strength of the local culinary scene. And when it comes to that, these hopping cities have food at the forefront.
In recent years, this coastal Mexican resort town has become a popular locale for young, hip(pie), food-loving travelers. Beyond its stunning beaches, outdoor yoga classes, and Mayan ruins (see above), Tulum offers a plethora of amazing food options, often drawing visitors purely for the culinary offerings. Sparklingly fresh seafood is the order of the day, whether prepared in the Mayan style or in ceviche and tacos. Don’t miss a trip to Eric Werner’s famed restaurant Hartwood, which offers a fish-centric menu, almost all prepared on a wood-burning oven or outdoor grill.
Looking to try the flavors of Mexico without the travel price tag?
Sign up for Plated for globally inspired recipes delivered to your door.
The Big Easy has long attracted scores of visitors, thanks to its unbridled fun vibes (read: no open container laws), wealth of local culture, and incredible food. New Orleans cuisine reflects its melting pot identity, from multi-layered muffaletta sandwiches stuffed with salami, cheese, and marinated olive salad to deep-fried pastries called “beignets,” and lots and lots of crawfish and BBQ shrimp. Po’Boy sandwiches invented to feed streetcar workers are a must-try, as are big juicy gulf oysters, and Jambalaya, a spicy rice-meat stew. Gumbo, a stew of meat and/or shellfish, has been part of Louisiana’s culinary tradition since the 18th century, and can’t be missed on any NOLA trip. Wash it all down with a stiff Sazerac (rye whiskey, pernod or Absinthe, a sugar cube, and two types of bitters), the official cocktail of New Orleans.
This stunning port city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast is known for its fantastic islands and gorgeous “ciudad vieja” or Old City. The regional cuisine is a mixture of classic Colombian foods, Coastal specialties, and Middle Eastern dishes, thanks to the arrival of Arab immigrants during the Ottoman era. Eating in Cartagena, you’ll be surrounded by Colombian arepas (crisp corn cake, as seen above) and egg empanadas alongside ultra-fresh tiraditos (a raw fish dish similar to ceviche), fried fish, and heaps of coconut rice. Middle Eastern dishes including kofta and kibbee are widespread as well, particularly the Lebanese varieties.
Recently, Canada’s second-largest city has become a go-to food destination, with people traveling from all over to experience the cuisine, whether ethnic, classically Quebecois, or French. Thanks to its large immigrant population, visitors will be spoiled for international culinary treats—Portuguese specialties like sardines and piri-piri sauce dominate the Little Lisbon area, but nearby you can find amazing Syrian mezze and kebabs. Traditional Quebecois dishes like poutine (fries topped with gravy and cheese curds) can’t be missed, nor can the bevy of maple-flavored goodies like “tire sur la neige” (fresh maple taffy).
Want to expand your palate without leaving the house?
Plated offers innovative recipes—try it and get a free dinner for two with your first delivery.
In addition to being Texas’ epicenter of cool, hip, weirdness, Austin is a terrific culinary destination known for its Mexican-inflected dishes and fine dining scene. From traditional Texan migas, a breakfast dish made with scrambled eggs, sautéed onions, and fried tortillas, to egg-stuffed breakfast tacos, Austin has a wealth of Mexican inspired breakfast options throughout the city. There’s an impressive sushi scene in Austin as well, alongside many upscale Mexican options, and some really, really good BBQ.
Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, lives up to its foodie culture, with terrific eats to be found on literally every street corner. Street vendors and stands sell some of the best food in the city, from next-level mango sticky rice to stir-fried and roasted pork dishes, pad thai (pictured) and other noodles. Due to its proximity to the water, the seafood is extremely fresh, and often served in fragrant, super flavorful curries. Food tours are a wonderful way of seeing the culinary attractions, and cooking classes are also very popular.
Historically a significant Asian seaport, Singapore’s many ethnic communities have made it a seriously popular culinary destination, and food is an extremely important component of the Singaporean cultural identity. Hawker food is a central part of the cuisine, with vendors preparing Chinese, Malay, and Indian cuisines and dishes that combine all three. Typical Singaporean dishes include Haianese curry rice, sliced fish soup, chili crab, roti prata (savory flatbread), and Katong Laksa, a rich spicy fish soup. Singapore caters to many Eastern and Western elite, and also has a wealth of upscale restaurants serving tasting menus, and chic sushi spots.
If you are lucky enough to visit Tokyo, the dining and food culture will definitely not disappoint. The Tsukiji fish market is a must-see for any sushi-lover, where you can try a variety of different sushi—all insanely fresh—at one of the restaurants inside. Throughout Tokyo, though, the sushi is incredible, if expensive. The Japanese are all about convenience and streamlining, selling onigiri (triangular seaweed-wrapped rice balls stuffed with fillings ranging from fish to pickled plums) at convenience stores and ramen from vending machines. Gyoza dumplings are served throughout, as are skewered, grilled meats and vegetables known as kushiyaki.
All this talk about travel and global cuisine have you hoping to try some new cuisines?
Sign up for Plated and get a dinner for two free on your first Plated night.
About the author: Leah Bhabha is a cookbook co-author, recipe tester, and food writer who has written for numerous publications including Food & Wine, Marie-Claire, The Guardian, and Food52. She chronicles her cooking and eating experiences on her blog, OneHungryPickle.com.