11 mouth-watering foodie destinations you need to visit

By offering a treat to the senses, a blend of history and modernity, and a unique chance to experience a city at its most flavourful, a food-themed holiday is never a bad idea. Whether you’re hungry for a short weekend in the Cotswolds or a full-blown culinary trail through Italy, these 11 up-and-coming destinations across the globe will undoubtedly whet your appetite – so pack your finest garments and fine-tuned taste buds, as an imminent foodie break is high on the menu.

Pêche Restaurant, New Orleans. Image courtesy of Pêche Restaurant

New Orleans, USA

Those who enjoy their food on the heartier side should try New Orleans for size: here, Creole, Cajun and soul foods come together with Italian and German immigrant influences, creating a true melting pot of flavour and heat. Picture stodgy corn and shrimp stews, spiced rice dishes packed with chicken, beans and sausage, oysters topped with bread crumbs and herbs, and simmering soups filled with beef – or even turtle, if you’re feeling adventurous. Try TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence-awarded Clancy’s for fine food with substance and heart, indulge on fine Creole fare in an old-world setting at the highly praised Commander’s Palace, or satiate your seafood cravings with a stop at Pêche (where shrimp bisque and steak tartare with oyster aioli steal the show, and live-fire cooking results in some irresistibly grilled fish and steak).

Cotswolds, UK

An unlikely contender in the Great British foodie scene, the pretty-as-a-picture Cotswolds is home to its fair share of praiseworthy restaurants – including the ultra-cosy, modern-rustic Wild Rabbit in Kingham, Upper Slaughter’s elegant Lords of the Manor, and Le Champignon Sauvage – the area’s only holder of two prestigious stars. The latter’s David Everitt-Matthias was named Chef of the Year in 2014, and the restaurant itself received top reviews from the Guardian and Good Food Guide –it’s no wonder, as its lunch and dinner menus feature all manner of beautifully-plated options, from halibut with cep mushroom cream and baby parsnips, to pavé of Cotswold venison with smoked apple purée.

Bologna, Italy. Image: iStock/RossHelen

Bologna, Italy

Veer away from Italy’s usual tourist destinations to uncover the sights and sounds of Bologna: beneath the city’s arched colonnades and sand-hued stone facades, you’ll find no shortage of flavour and flair to please even the most discerning Italian food lover. Bustling markets (including the Mercato di Mezzo, the city’s oldest, and the Mercato Ritrovato) offer row upon row of fresh egg pasta, wholewheat breads, cured meats, mortadella and cheese, while restaurants serve up healthy portions of tagliatelle alla bolognese and tortellini. Try Trattoria Anna Maria for budget, homely pasta dishes mixed with classic kitsch décor, or opt for 2017 Michelin Guide-recommended La Scuderia which, housed in an 18th-century barn, spills with rustic charm.

Shanghai, China

Although vibrant, dynamic and futuristic in appearance, Shanghai has remained strongly rooted in its heritage; sleek sky-high builds rub shoulders with colonial-era buildings and temples dating as far back as 242 AD, and intriguing modern-day cuisine reflects a strong attachment to tradition. 2017 has marked a leap forward for Shanghai’s dining scene, as the arrival of its first-ever Michelin Guide means 31 stars and 25 Bib Gourmand titles have been awarded to deserving high-end eateries. Make a beeline for T’ang Court at The Langham, the first and only restaurant in Mainland China to boast three impressive stars, for a gorgeously bright setting and Cantonese delicacies (menu features include stir-fried Wagyu beef, sautéed prawn and crab roe with pork and crab meat mille-feuille, and bamboo bird’s nest with white fungus).

Porto, Portugal. Image: iStock/rusm

Porto, Portugal

Keep your sights set on Portugal’s food capital, where coastal thrills and postcard-perfect architecture blend with market-fresh smoked meats, salted codfish, light custard tarts, and meat and melted cheese sandwiches – all washed down with world-famous wines from the Douro vineyards. For an unbeatable setting try the Michelin-starred Restaurante Casa de Chá da Boa Nova: occupying a house built over rocky terrain, it brings the sea and glistening horizon views straight to your table, and offers a unique blend of classic culinary finesse and calming, contemporary design.

Reykjavik, Iceland

Follow Iceland’s elusive Northern Lights, and discover a side to Reykjavik that deserves a spot on any intrepid traveller’s checklist. Fusing tradition with a contemporary twist, New Nordic cuisine here goes far beyond the modest salted cod and Icelandic hot dog. For a true showcase of local produce with a confident modern edge, try a daily-changing tasting menu at chef Gunnar Karl Gislason’s famous restaurant, Dill. Budding chefs could give a gourmet cook-and-dine class a whirl at Salt Eldhús, while those looking to combine food and adventure could try a walking tour, which offers a chance to roam classic sights and taste local treats en route – from Icelandic lamb and through to rich cheeses.

Suvarna Mahal at Rambagh Palace, Jaipur. Image courtesy of Taj Hotels

Jaipur, India

Spicy deep-fried snacks, saccharine sweet cakes and thick breads paired with soupy dals…  Jaipur is a mecca of Rajasthani food, offering a regal feast for the senses – one that goes hand-in-hand with its opulent palaces and forts, lush gardens and colour-infused old Pink City. With Rajasthan’s arid climate, the dishes here are simple and rustic. For an all-round tasting experience, try a traditional thali – a selection of savoury dishes served on a platter. This can be savoured with a regal and elegant twist at Suvarna Mahal, Rambagh Palace hotel’s restaurant where high ceilings, gilded mirrors and Florentine frescoes make for a rather extravagant setting.

Lyon, France

A sharp and less tourist-stricken contender to Paris’s established and well-decorated dining scene, Lyon is home to a handful of Michelin-starred restaurants of its own, making food-tasting in this historic, Roman ruin-filled city both tempting and easy. Try Restaurant Têtedoie, which combines seriously scenic city views with chic and intelligent gastronomic options – don’t miss a chance to sample the foie gras, melt-in-your-mouth garlic lobster, and faisselle cheese soufflé with olive oil ice cream. With a clear Florentine influence introduced in the 16th century by Catherine de Medici, Lyonnaise specialities include candied chestnuts, the Coussin de Lyon which blends chocolate and marzipan, the cured Rosette de Lyon pork sausage, the pistachio sausage, and the incredibly pretty pink praline tart.

Motovun in Istria, Croatia. Image: iStock/jasminam

Istria, Croatia

As the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea, covering Slovenia, Italy and – for the most part – Croatia, heart-shaped Istria lovingly delivers a modest gastronomic scene, which prizes its land’s natural produce, hearty meats and fresh seafood plucked from the Adriatic’s turquoise waters. Intensely flavourful oysters, white truffles, grilled sardines, pršut (prosciutto) ham, wild asparagus and olive oil produced by local farmers are list-topping palate-pleasers here. Combine these with secluded rocky beaches, village farmhouse restaurants (including Zigante, Istria’s most famous truffle-based hotspot) and rolling green expanses reminiscent of the Tuscan countryside, and you’ve the perfect recipe for food coma-induced relaxation.

Toledo, Spain

Looking out towards the plains of Castilla-La Mancha, the hilltop city of Toledo offers a cultured combination of history, medieval architecture, and creative food. As Spain’s 2016 Capital of Gastronomy, this city’s culinary scene continues to thrive. For a spot of fine dining in-between church and convent-hopping, try the 2017 Michelin Guide-recommended and 2016 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence-awarded Restaurante Adolfo, where seasonal menus include grilled duck liver with spiced bread, lamb with wasabi and jalapeño chilli, and prawn carpaccio with pomegranate and passion fruit – all perfected with a pretty presentation and great wine selection from the restaurant’s own bodega. Hearty stews, cheeses and game are all high on the menu in this city, but leave enough space to feast on a local favourite – marzipan.

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Image: iStock/ferrantraite

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

A riot of colour and Spanish architectural splendour, this colonial-era Mexican city certainly delivers a strong, baroque-themed visual display – and its culinary flavours are no less enticing. Foodies will find every reason to visit here, whether for a traditional experience or to seek out high-end eateries. Stave off hunger pangs with a tour of local rotisseries and carnitas street vendors, or head straight to the big-hitting Moxi: headed by esteemed chef Enrique Olvera, this cosmopolitan-chic restaurant offers tasting menus that show off Mexico’s best traditional fare – fried quesadillas with tatemada sauce, salted shrimp with chipotle mayonnaise, and Chuletón with herb guacamole are just some of the mouth-watering options here.

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