Where to Eat the World’s Most Iconic Foods

Some foods are simply iconic.

They become so associated with a specific place – listed on every blackboard menu in town, recommended by every bartender, raved about in every travel guide – that no visitor can leave without tasting. Travelers can’t miss the gooey cheese of a square of alla pala pizza in Rome; the savory sip of perfectly fluffy noodles of smooth shoyu ramen in Tokyo; the adrenaline blast of a hot and spicy golgappa in New Delhi; or the sweet zing of a taco al pastor in Mexico City. These foods are woven into the fabric of a city, and while the word “destination” has been overused (rashly applied to Michelin-starred tasting menus and neighborhood brunches), it’s an apt term for meals that attract visitors as much as the historic architecture or the museum. exhibitions.

When tourists plan a trip to a cebicheria in Lima, a barbecue in Kansas City, or a pastry shop in Paris, they enter an ongoing conversation among local chefs, bakers, and diners about sustainable culinary practices. In these cities, a piece of fish tinged with lime, a burnt end or a delicate choux pastry is a totem to establish, reinforce and challenge a common identity, it is also an invitation.

For our summer travels, we’ve turned to cities with dishes that are destinations in every sense of the word, from Cincinnati chili to Puerto Rican mofongo, highlighting the restaurants that serve the best versions of those dishes. iconic. These places may be known for a signature item, but the expressions are endless – they are destinations worth visiting, again and again.

A restaurant serves hot sauce on a three-course plate of spaghetti covered in chili cheese.  The plate sits next to a cheese-laden carney (hot dog) and a Camp Washington Chili-branded styrofoam cup.

The 10 Best Chili Parlors in

A map of the United States with a red dot pointing to Cincinnati.

Ever since the Kiradjieff brothers began pouring meat sauce over spaghetti a century ago, Cincinnati has gotten creative in serving up its famously spicy chili. Salons pile it on spaghetti with increasingly wild toppings in threes, fours and fives. They spread it on cones, fries and chili sandwiches. They layer it on lasagna, toss it on goetta, and pour it over corn chips. One thing that never changes: it’s always delicious.

A cook holds a large piece of meat, ready to drop it into a fiery pit.

The 19 best taquerias of

A map of Mexico with a red dot indicating Mexico City.

Tacos are an all-day activity in bustling Mexico City. Wake up to Norteño music and fire-roasted barbacoa overnight in brick ovens. Then find a canasta taco vendor on bikes for a scorching taco of chicharron with salsa verde, or squeeze into a stand-up counter for suadero or tripe from a bubbling cauldron. End the day with the late-night set crowding around trompos for tacos al pastor, filled with fiery salsas of overflowing molcajetes.

Seen through the glass of a deli crate, a worker dispenses a poke ball into a plastic container.

The 11 Best Places To Eat Poke

A map of Hawaii with a red dot indicating Honolulu.

Of all the misconceptions about poke (how to spell it, that it should always include kale), the biggest mistake is thinking the dish has to be a flashy production. “This liquor store serves good poke” isn’t a phrase you hear on the mainland, but it’s par for the course in Honolulu, where great poke emerges from the humblest of settings: supermarkets, malls, docks. Choose the freshest option from the deli crate and enjoy your precious takeout meal to the beach.

An employee uses tongs to add a hot coal from a pan to an oven.

The 14 Best Grill Restaurants in

A map of South Korea with a red dot indicating Seoul.

Be prepared to wait at Seoul’s best barbecue spots, where wait times are measured in hours, not minutes – just remember that patience pays off. The city’s prized meat palates fire up grills to perfectly sear thinly sliced ​​hanwoo beef or frozen pork belly, among other signature high-quality cuts. Finish with a classic siksa like cold buckwheat noodles or kimchi jjigae, or more inventive options like omurice or instant rice stir-fried at the table with leftover banchan.

A pastry chef uses a piping bag to swirl decorative cream around a center of cooked strawberries.

The 14 Best Pastries in

A map of France with a red dot indicating Paris.

There is a complex taxonomy of French sweets on display in Parisian patisseries: flaky viennoiseries like croissants and pain au chocolat, choux-based sweets like eclairs and nuns, butter shortbread sandwiching a ganache or a creamy cheesecake, sparkling fruit pies and all kinds of cakes, cookies, buns. You might need help keeping track of it all, but you won’t need help finishing your sweet treat.

A restaurant lifts a pile of ramen noodles with chopsticks.

The 16 Best Ramen Shops in

A map of Japan with a red dot indicating Tokyo.

Diners usually eat ramen quickly and move on, but a 15-minute meal belies the number of years top ramen chefs spend developing their recipes. Dig into the broth, which could taste with pork bones, shellfish, duck, miso, Parma ham or sardines. Or notice the kodawari, specialty ingredients like artisanal soy sauce, rare breeds of chicken, and noodles made with complex flour blends. If you can’t get it all in one bowl, you’ll just have to come back again and again.

A busy street scene in New Delhi.

The 12 best chaat sellers in

A map of India with a red dot indicating New Delhi.

India takes her cat very seriously. In the capital – where chaat was introduced hundreds of years ago as a medicine – the Dilliwalas have favorite vendors for golgappas or aloo tikkis, fervent loyalties for chaat masalas and chutneys, and opinions well stopped at the spicy, tangy and crunchy snacks that feed the city’s millions. residents.

Pizza on a metal paddle entering an oven lit by large flames.

The 20 best pizzerias in

A map of Italy with a red dot indicating Rome.

Rome tends to be overshadowed in the pizza world by Naples, but the Italian capital has some incredible world-class pizza. The city is home to indigenous styles like pizza in teglia, pizza alla pala, and pizza tonda; crispy yet chewy Roman-Neapolitan hybrid pizzas; bizarre creations caused worldwide sensation such as the trapizzino; high-concept pizza finished with tweezers; and pies that celebrate the regional wealth of Lazio.

From above, a bowl of ceviche under construction, with sliced ​​avocado and capers topping a pile of fish, a piece of baked sweet potato and bowls of corn nuts nearby.

The 12 Best Cebicherias in

A map of Peru with a red dot indicating Lima.

Cebiche had its star turn in the 2000s, when it invaded almost every gourmet restaurant in the world. But it’s hard to replicate the experience of eating cebiche in Lima. Limeños don’t demand any fancy embellishments or splurges—they just want the cebiche to strike the perfect balance of acid, temperature, and spice on fresh, delicious fish. It’s not much to ask, but it is is lots of flavor.

A cook looks at the camera between peeling green plantains.

The 15 best spots for Mofongo in

A map of Puerto Rico with a red dot indicating San Juan.

In San Juan, mofongo is prepared in every way imaginable. You can get it stuffed with bindings or on the side with a standout entry. You can get ripe plantains, yucca, or mashed breadfruit in the standard green fried plantains. You can get it with camarones en salsa criolla, chuleta kan kan, chillo frito or churrasco encebollado. Whatever you do, don’t forget the mayo-ketchup.

From above, a platter of grilled meat, including a full rack of ribs, burnt ends and pulled pork, plus slices of toasted white bread.

The 14 best barbecues in

A map of the United States with a red dot indicating Kansas City.

Kansas City knows its meat. Burnt ends, briskets, beef and pork ribs, sausages, cured ham – the town’s pitmasters can do it all, and the omnivorous locals devour it all without prejudice. Chefs also feel free to get creative, showing off their skills by stuffing brisket and beans into locally made tortillas or infusing Thai flavors of lemongrass and makrut lime into pork sausages.


Editorial manager: Nicholas Mancall-Bitel
Creative Director: Nat Belkov
Publishers: Erin DeJesus, Stephanie Wu
Contributors: Andy Brownfield, Martha Cheng, Liz Cook, Natalia de la Rosa, Sharanya Deepak, Dayna Evans, Gabriela Torres, Matty Yangwoo Kim, Liliana Lopez, Brian MacDuckston, Katie Parla
Photographers, in order of appearance: Hailey Bollinger, Andrew Reiner, Ryan Siphers, Robert Evans, Joann Pai, Ken Shimizu, Ajmal Jami, Andrea Di Lorenzo, Jimena Agois, Zuania Muñiz Meléndez, Steve Puppe
Video editor: Michael Corcoran
Copy editors: Nadia Q. Ahmad, Rachel P. Kreiter
Pledge Editors: Frances Dumlao, Mira Milla
Special thanks to: Nicole Adlman, Missy Frederick, Damla Heard, Brenna Houck, Amanda Kludt, Ellie Krupnick, Lesley Suter

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