Hostel food gets a bad rap, and most of the time, that reputation isn’t unfounded. If a hostel serves any food at all, the best most backpackers can expect to find is some cheap white bread and bad coffee. For many travelers, this lack of decent food is hardly a point of contention. After all, eating pricey gourmet meals often isn’t an option for those traveling on a budget, and as long as the hostel is well located, safe, and free of bedbug sightings, what more could a backpacker ask for? A lot more, apparently, according to our recent research. Hostels around the world are setting the bar high for hostel dining, and this list will help you find the best of the best.
A hostel meal will likely never reach the ranks of Michelin-starred dining or compare to the breakfast buffet at the St. Regis. However, the quality of hostel food is nonetheless improving as hostels realize the value of feeding their guests. Some establishments are offering culinary delights such as barbecue, ceviche, poutine, and a burger that even the locals clamor over, and these are just a sampling of some of the excellent dishes found in hostel dining rooms around the world. "Having good-quality dishes at an affordable price means our guests will always be happy," says Jordi Sinclair, head of marketing for PLUS Hostels. "To us that’s the most important thing, and we like to think that will keep them coming back."
So what makes a hostel’s food stand above the fray? "Food is part of the cultural experience you get when you visit a foreign country," explains Andres Poveda Solano, co-owner of Hostel Pangea in Costa Rica. Lyle Kent of Green Tortoise Hostel in San Francisco adds, "We believe that good food and budget travel are essential partners in discovering the world."
Good food at a hostel enhances the backpacker’s experience. One of the charms of staying in a hostel is the opportunity it offers to meet people from all over the world, and for these hostels, the dining room is one place where the magic happens. Whether you’re enjoying a hearty breakfast on a terrace overlooking the scenic French countryside or participating in a free tour with fellow travelers of a Spanish city’s tapas bars, the food at these top 20 hostels will create memories you won’t quickly forget.
What hostels have you stayed in that had great food? Let us know in the comments below.