Not going to lie: One of my favorite things about traveling is the food. If you, too, relish the opportunity to point at new-to-you things on a menu and find out what they are when they arrive, then you’ll undoubtedly appreciate this list of cities worth traveling to for the food alone, according to OpenTable’s “Will Fly For Food” survey. The survey polled over 3,400 OpenTable users — and they’re probably well worth listening to: 66 percent of American respondents, 84 percent of Australian respondents, 55 percent of UK respondents, and 84 percent of Canadian respondents said they travel specifically with food in mind. To which all I can say is: Heck, and yes.
“Will Fly For Food” also includes 25 dishes to try in a whole variety of different cities all over the world, vouched for by OpenTable. And, I mean, yes, there are loads of reasons to visit each and every one of these locations; I don’t mean to minimize all of the awesome things they’ve got going on. But if you’re especially into food, these cities might be putting on your travel bucket list —because where better to try some of these dishes than the places from which they originate?
Check out some of the highlights below; you can head on over to the “Will Fly For Food” website to see all 25.
I know, I know — there are other things to eat in Canada besides poutine. But according to “Will Fly For Food,” disco poutine is worth the trip to Montreal, with the version at Deville Dinerbar being of particular note. Interestingly, though, I note that Deville Dinerbar’s menu states that theirs are made with a “signature melted cheese blend,” which seems… unusual. The Daily Hive Montreal is adamant that what separates poutine from the American dish known as disco fries is the fact that poutine uses cheese curd, while disco fries just use plain ol’ melted mozzarella. Food (haha) for thought.
2. New Orleans
Having recently just returned from a trip to New Orleans, I can confirm: Yes, the food is absolutely worth it. Cajun, Creole, French, and soul food factor prominently in the region’s cuisine, so if you like a little spice in your eats, you’ll be quite happy there. OpenTable’s survey notes the oyster po’boy — a sandwich featuring seafood or a variety of other fillings served on a fluffy New Orleans baguette — as the thing to try, although honestly, I’m going to go ahead and say you should just try everything, because it’s all delicious. Food and history are very much tied together in New Orleans, too — the history of the po’boy is worth reading — so consider it a learning and appreciation experience as well as a gustatory one.
London made it onto the list no fewer than three times, two of which are for things you’d probably expect: The Sunday roast, and afternoon tea. But the third thing is what really intrigued me, because all I could think upon seeing it was, “…‘Meat fruit?’ WTF is a ‘meat fruit,’ and why do I have to go to London to get one?” So I did a little digging, and it turns out that the current “meat fruit” is an update of a medieval dish for which British celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal is famous. According to Eater, it “looks like an orange [and] tastes like meat”; it’s a staple at Heston’s restaurant Dinner by Heston, which has locations both in London and in Australia (Melbourne, to be exact).
Head to Singapore for beef buah keluak, a nut stew that the website Traveling Foodies describes as something people seem to either “love or loathe.” The Peak noted in 2016 that buah keluak is the current “it” ingredient in Singaporean cuisine; Michelin-starred Singaporean restaurant Candlenut apparently uses it a lot, although reviews of the restaurant seem to be a little mixed. It’s certainly not commonly found in the United States, though, so, I mean, if you’ve got the opportunity to try it, why the heck wouldn’t you?
5. Mexico City
Mole is one of my favorite things in the world. I realize that it’s a celebration food — a real labor of love that’s only made for special occasions — but honestly, if I could eat mole every day, I absolutely would do so with no regrets whatsoever. And apparently at Enrique Olvera’s restaurant Pujol, mole madre is the thing to get, according to “Will Fly For Food.” “Because there is so much work involved and the celebrations — weddings, patron saints’ days, town balls — last so many days, a large quantity is typically made and served on the first day, with reheated mole (or recalentado) served on the following days,” Olvera told the New York Times’ T Magazine in 2014. “Pujol’s mole madre is a contemporary version of this. Our own paste is reheated twice a day and is ‘fed’ with new mole whenever we are down to 10 liters.” The result, he explained, is “a mole that is exponentially more subtle and complex than your average mole.”
I mean, absolutely go to Costa Rica for things that are not food — a trip I took there in 2012 remains one of my favorite trips ever, because there is just so much cool stuff to do. But while you’re there, also make sure you get some ceviche, a staple in many Latin American and Caribbean countries made from fresh raw fish, citrus juices, and spices. It’s similar to poke (which seems to be having A Moment in the United States right now), although not identical; traditional poke tends to use soy sauce, seaweed, and sesame oil for the sauce instead of citrus. Also, as Modern Farmer observes, in the United States, “poke” is also often used to describe pretty much any dish that consists of raw fish cut into cubes or bite-sized pieces and served in a bowl.
What comes to mind for you when you think of German food? Sausage and pretzels? Me too. And according to “Will Fly For Food,” in Munich, white sausage and pretzels are the do-not-miss-it food experience. White sausages — weisswürst in German — look a little… uh… interesting, but as the website A Sausage Has Two notes, they taste better than they look. Made of veal and back bacon, they’re usually seasoned with parsley, onions,lemon, nutmeg, cardamom, mace, and ginger. OpenTable suggests heading to Wirtshaus Zum Straubinger for this meal, but this Reddit thread has some alternative options.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I think it’s about lunchtime for me…