Ever had a REALLY good meal? I mean REALLY, REALLY good meal? Where were you? Were you traveling? I was recently asked to name my best travel meas ever. So, that's exactly what I did, and here's my list!
A transcendent meal is one of the great human experiences! Growing up in my grandmother's kitchen, I learned the true value of good food. It doesn't have to be fancy or gourmet. It doesn't have to be molecular, organic or even authentic. Of course it can be all those things, but a really good meal is more than just the food on your plate. It's the attention to detail paid by the "chef", the overall atmosphere of the dining environment, and the company you keep at the table.
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By far my BEST travel meal ever is one that can never be recreated, by you, me or anyone else. I shared said meal with my beau at a random cafe in the heart of Dijon, France, after what turned out to be a MUCH longer walk than we had expected. We'd set off from our lodging in search of a restaurant which turned out to be closed.
After walking a very long way, we were tired, hungry and starting to bicker. We found a little cafe with green awnings that looked authentic enough. What happened next was amazing! We shared a spectacular meal of hand-made charcuterie, delicious cornichons, fresh baguette and killer Burgundy. It was exactly what we had hoped to find at the other restaurant and more.
We'll never forget how that meal tasted, how we felt before and after, or how we found it. It's etched in our minds, unnamed and unmarked on any list or site.
Over the past several years I've had the good fortune to experience some stellar meals, like the one detailed above. Below are a few of My BEST Travel Meals Ever (in no particular order). Today, I share those with you in hopes that you are inspired to seek your own good food fortune!
This casual Washington, DC restaurant offers "homestyle" Turkish food in an environment as lively as it's location in Dupont Circle. The super chic interior, coupled with the hip atmosphere, made me feel posh, which is a rare thing. It was my first ever taste of Turkish food, and I've still yet to replicate the experience. Maybe a trip to Turkey is in my future?
Located in LA's hip Melrose District, Chi Spacca is a meat-lovers dream. The space is limited, so reservations are a must. It's a great option for special occasions (we went for my birthday) because of the quiet, intimate atmosphere. This meat-centric menu is ideal for the carnivore in the family, so be sure to explore the menu first if you're not a fan of meat. For me, the highlight was the in-house salumeria...absolutely nothing beats a good charcuterie board in my book.
This small, quiet little cafe in Paris (France) will wow you, I promise. Owned and operated by a lovely couple (who also serve), the small menu packs big punches. The quiet, dark space is super romantical. I really love the neighborhood feel of this place, too. We got a tip from a local and rushed to snag a table for two. It was here that we had the best beef tartare EVER. Hand mixed at the table, it was the most delectable treat coupled with my first ever taste of Parisian frites. Divine says I.
Located in the Warehouse District of New Orleans (Louisiana), this hip eatery offers a pork-centered menu in an upscale yet casual atmosphere. FYI, reservations are required. But don't worry if there are no tables to be had. Just walk around the corner to Butcher for a taste of the porky goodness deli-style!
Houston (Texas) isn't where I expected to find an amazing meal, but boy was I wrong! This upscale Mexican restaurant blew my mind. The octopus ceviche was literally one of the best things I've ever put in my mouth. Terracota tiles, colorful ceramics and delicious margs made the meal even better.
Are you in search of the perfect Chinese dumpling? With multiple locations in the Greater NYC area, Joe's should definitely be on your radar! You MUST go here to try the most amazing soup dumplings. This delicious little pockets of pork and cabbage are filled with a rich, boiling hot broth. A dozen of these is just what the doctor ordered after a long day of winter sightseeing in The Big Apple. The wait may be long, but it's soooo worth it.
I went to Rome (Italy) with one mission: a good raviolo. I found that and more at this sweet little osteria. Fresh ricotta + Sage brown butter + Freshly grated parmesan = Mission accomplished. Sit street-side for a glimpse at Roman daily life, for this spot is tucked away from tourists in a more residential area. Locally sourced meats and fish make this changing menu worthwhile. The history (first opened in 1903) is remarkable, and the tradition shines through in the service and the food.
It's not hard to find a good meal in Louisiana, but, of course, I'm a little biased. But, in my opinion, Roberto's is everything that's great about Louisiana cuisine. The drive to rural Sunshine, Louisiana, is part of the fun, too. Catch the sunset along the levee, then follow it up with a great meal in a rustic river front shack. The culture and history of Cajun and Creole cooking, coupled with French traditions, invigorates the menu. Hint: you can't go wrong with the fish en papillote.
Tucked away in the artsy Noailles neighborhood of Marseille (France), this mom & pop cafe offers amazing cuisine in a casual, street-cafe style. Grab a curbside table to admire the graffiti and the local passersby. I'll never, ever forget the eggplant parmesan I had here: decadent, cheesy, and hearty. Add a glass of delicious of Bordeaux and you're set!
Locals know: if you want good pizza in Rome (Italy), you go to Ai Marmi in Trastevere. Loud, busy and bustling, you immediately know you're in the right place. With authentic Roman pizza and delicious (and cheap) house wine, you can afford to feed an army, and feed them well. I gorged on the eggplant pie, which I highly suggest.
Having spent the greater part of the day yesterday in my friend's kitchen I've been reflecting about some of my greatest travel meals. This one at Ai Marmi in #Rome is high on that list. The unpretentiousness of this restaurant was surprising given the lovely marble topped tables and line to get in. Filled with local families and busting at the seams, this was the Rome I was hoping for! What makes a #goodmeal? When was your last good meal? I'd love to know! Tip: The eggplant pizza was out of this world good!!!
One of my first LA memories is of this amazing meal. Sushi Nosawa, now closed, was located in the San Fernando Valley. After landing my job we decided to celebrate with an amazing sushi meal. We sat down to the sushi bar, ordered omakase and followed every order from the strict Chef Nosawa. Surrounded by signs that said "Trust Me", Chef served us some of the most delectable fish we've ever eaten. Although the flagship restaurant has closed, Chef Nosawa's legacy continues with the opening of several new sushi bars, Kazu Nori and Nosawa Bar, as well as his Sugarfish chain.
Tucked away in the quaint little town of McMinnville (Oregon) is this "farm-to-table" treasure. The entire menu is seasonal and highlights the rich bounty of this beautiful state. The best pâté I've ever eaten was had here. Feeling brave? Let the chef take you for a ride with the "Chef's Whim" selection on the dinner menu. Be sure to check out some of the marvelous Oregon wines while nibbling your locally sourced salmon and pork.
My last, and most recent, mind-blowing food experience was in San Francisco's Chinatown. We lined up and waited for one of the most delicious, spiciest meals ever. The menu is full of traditional Szechuan dishes, including the three we ordered: Chicken with Explosive Chili Pepper, Wonton With Spicy Peanut Sauce and Tan Tan Noodle. Do yourself, and your sinuses, a favor and GO TO HERE!
Well, folks, there you have it, the list of my best travel meals ever! Of course, this list will likely continue to grow and change as the years go by. But, for now, this is the best I can do 🙂
Let's talk about good meals: when was your last really good meal? where were you? what made it special? Know any of these places? Been there before? Got any more recommendations to add to the list? I want to get a good discussion going, so be sure to comment below!
I'd love to hear what you think of my list. Have you been to any of these restaurants? Be sure to comment below.
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