As a self-proclaimed foodie, one of my primary goals in travel is eating the local food. I look for both adaptations of American dishes (i.e. Belizean hot wings) and meals that are completely unique to the region. Along with the quality of dishes, I look for an amazing ambience that complements the meal and enhances my experience at the restaurant.
Here are the top 5 meals I’ve had while traveling:
- Where: Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.A.
Restaurant: El Pinto
Meal: Red Chili Ribs
Why: Both the ambience and meal put El Pinto at the top of my list. El Pinto is an adobe-style building with beautiful gardens inside and outside the restaurant. We had a wait and were able to spend it admiring the indoor courtyard and looking at pictures of El Pinto’s famous visitors. For the meal, we ordered the red chili ribs: their specialty dish. They were topped with a southwest red chili sauce and fell right off the bone. These ribs were outstanding and better than any others I have ever tasted.
- Where: Rome, Italy
Why: Tullio comes in a close second place solely for its food. I had a classic spaghetti with tomatoes and basil and a glass of Ruffino Aziano Chianti Classico. The spaghetti was cooked perfectly, filled with flavor, and the Ruffino Chianti is still my favorite type of wine. Tullio had a fine dining atmosphere, with low lighting and fancy linens. Beware of Italy’s bread scam, though: if you so much as touch a piece, they will charge you six euros.
*This meal is in the picture above.
- Where: San Pedro, Belize
Restaurant: Caroline’s Kitchen
Meal: Fish Tacos
Why: Belize offered an amazing selection of food. In our week-long stay, we had crab cakes, shrimp burgers and hot wings. All of these meals likely place in my “top 20 all-time meals” list. Bar-none, my favorite meal here was fish tacos at Caroline’s Kitchen. All of the ingredients were fresh, and we were able to talk to Caroline (the owner) for about an hour. Aside from the incredible food, I loved Caroline’s Kitchen because it was so unassuming. Her daughters were running around the restaurant playing with their dog, and Caroline took the time to get to know us as people rather than customers.
- Where: Beijing, China
Restaurant: Hui Zheniou (The Peking Duck Restaurant)
Meal: Peking Duck
Why: Most meals I had in China were pretty strange. Swallow-spit soup. Cow tongue. Puffed intestines. Fish eyeballs. For one of our last dinners in Beijing, we were able to eat a classic Chinese meal: Peking duck. This was my first time having Peking duck, and I was thoroughly impressed. This restaurant not only delivered in quality of food, but also in accommodation. The room we ate in was quiet and secluded and had elements of traditional Chinese culture scattered around.
- Where: Murren, Switzerland
Restaurant: Piz Gloria
Meal: Breakfast Buffet
Why: Piz Gloria comes in 5th place almost entirely for the ambience. Piz Gloria is a revolving restaurant that sits atop Schilthorn, a mountain in the Swiss Alps. I’m a huge fan of breakfast buffets, so I enjoyed the meal, but the most incredible part of my experience here was the 360-degree views of one of the greatest mountain ranges on earth.
What’s your favorite meal you’ve had abroad?
The Wayfaring Woman