To be sure, we’ve traveled a lot. While some of the most exciting parts of our travel are finding those quiet lanes off the beaten path or turning a corner and seeing a monument or piece of art known the world-over, another favorite of ours is to seek out interesting and oftentimes unique restaurants where we can see how the locals live and eat. In these palaces of food, we force ourselves out of our comfort zone and try new things at the recommendation of the establishment. Putting your dining experience into the hands of a complete stranger can be scary at first, but when it works out (like it often does for us), we’re left with memorable experiences.
Here is a list of some of our favorites where the gastronomy gods and stars aligned to give us an unforgettable experience.
Disclaimer: by the time this post is published, many of these restaurants may be exactly the same or completely different. Either way, we recommend trying them out if you ever find yourself in one of these locations.
Imago, Rome, Italy (April 2016)
- Favorite Dish: Parmesan cheese ravioli in cold tuna broth.
- What Makes it Notable: the unobstructed view of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
Oaxen Krog, Stockholm, Sweden (July 2016)
- Favorite Dish: venison with pine needle puree.
- What Makes it Notable: the location, open kitchen, attentive service
Da Divo, Siena, Italy (April 2016)
- Favorite Dish: anything during truffle season or the risotto finished in a Parmesan wheel.
- What Makes it Notable: dining in a cave in Siena, Italy.
Semilla, Paris, France (January 2017)
- Favorite Dish: scallops (in France called Saint-Jacques) or anything from the plancha.
- What Makes it Notable: in a really cool area of Saint-Germain-des-Pres with awesome service.
Ox, Belfast, Northern Ireland (October 2016)
- Favorite Dish: cauliflower mussels curry; venison and beetroot.
- What Makes it Notable: Links Belfast back to the sea like the Harland and Wolff cranes did during the shipbuilding years.
El Xampanyet, Barcelona, Spain (November 2015)
- Favorite Dish: two words… jamon Iberico.
- What Makes it Notable: the crowd and setting in the Born just steps from the Picasso Museum.
Demo, Helsinki, Finland (May 2015)
- Favorite Dish: squid ink risotto.
- What Makes it Notable: for being a Michelin star restaurant, it has an incredibly reasonably-priced seven course tasting menu.
Brasswood Kitchen, Napa, California, USA (August 2016)
- Favorite Dish: hand pulled burrata served with fresh basil and vine ripe tomatoes.
- What Makes it Notable: gorgeous respite near the tasting room.
The Woolen Mills, Dublin, Ireland (July 2015)
- Favorite dish: curried crab and sea beans on toast.
- What Makes it Notable: eating something we’ve never had before and just steps across the River Liffey from Temple Bar.
Sjavagrillid, Reykjavik, Iceland (March 2014)
- Favorite dish: as one of the countries that still permits whale hunting, the Minke whale.
- What Makes it Notable: freshest fish by one of the rising star chefs in Iceland.
Farm, Tallinn, Estonia (May 2015)
- Favorite dish: not surprisingly, the locally sourced venison.
- What Makes it Notable: besides the fuzzy bear and wolf having a meal in the front window, what more could be needed.
Muusu, Riga, Latvia (May 2015)
- Favorite dish: grilled duck breast, Jerusalem artichoke purée, purple cabbage,
- What Makes it Notable: dining al fresco in the shadow of St. Peter’s church at dusk.
A La Mort Subite, Brussels, Belgium (March 2016)
- Favorite dish: 8 Euro croque monsieur accompanied by Mort Subite blanche
- What Makes it Notable: steps from the Grand Place in Brussels, it feels like stepping back in time.
Quintonil, Mexico City, Mexico (May 2016)
- Favorite dish: Escamole, yes it’s ant eggs.
- What Makes it Notable: Located in the posh Polanco neighborhood, the stark Scandinavian style interior makes the colorful and playful food pop that much more.
Restaurant Radio, Copenhagen, Denmark (January 2015)
- Favorite dish: Carrot sorbet
- What Makes it Notable: started by the sous chef at world’s number 1 restaurant Noma.