2014’s Hottest Travel Destinations for Food (Slideshow)
One of the world's most expensive cities also boasts a burgeoning food scene. Travelers headed to Sochi for the Winter Olympics Feb. 7-23 can easily have a stopover before or after The Games. Be sure to try the 24-hour Café Pushkin near Red Square which serves traditional Russian fare, Italian Syr, Arkadiy Novikov’s art gallery/cafe Galereya, the opulent, avant-garde Chaike, and the 10-table Varvary (number eight, five, three, two, and one, respectively on The Daily Meal’s 15 Best Restaurants in Russia and Its Neighbors).
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Host of this year's World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, Rio is an ideal culinary hot spot. Four of the The Daily Meal's 101 Best Restaurants in Latin America and Caribbean are here: Bar Do Mineiro (number 90), which serves generous portions of feijão tropeiro (beans with sausage, served over rice, neighborhood eatery Aconchego Carioca (number 85), Sushi Leblon (number 42), and French-born father-and-son duo Claude and Thomas Troisgros’ Olympe (number 14). Plus the hot spot is packed with picture-postcard beaches and mountains with attractions showcasing the diversity of Brazil’s other major cities into one destination. Don’t overlook Rio’s fantastic botequim, inexpensive, simple restaurant opened by and for Portuguese immigrants to savor petiscos (finger foods). When you’re toasting your Brazilian adventure with a caipirinha, a concoction of cachaça (sugar cane rum), sugar, and lime, you’ll thank us.
The rising popularity of street food, particularly food trucks, has rolled into the city’s arrondissements. An association, Street Food in Movement, presided over by French chef Thierry Marx, has recently launched in response to the growing popularity of food trucks. The craze began in November 2011 with burgers slung by La Camion Qui Fume by Kristin Frederick, who trained at Grégoire Ferrandi and Apicius. Food trucks selling ice cream, French fries, and tacos now circulate the capital. Look for Cantine California for American fare, El Carrito by Classico Argentino for empanadas, Goody’s and Le Réfectoire for burgers, 2FIC (deux filles un camion) for a variety of innovative Western fare, and Glazed for ice cream.
An offshoot of the street food trend is food stalls selling burgers, hot dogs, and dim sum. Some of the hottest spots include Blend in the second arrondissement, Big Fernand in the ninth arrondissement, and Au Comptoir de Brice in the Saint-Marin covered market for hamburgers, La Candelaria in Haut-Marais for tacos, Le L de Liza for Lebanese sandwiches in the second arrdonissement, Clasico Argentino in the third arrondissement for empanadas, and hot dogs at trendy bar Glass at Pigalle in the ninth arrondissement or American-style at Hot Dog House on Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis in the 10th arrondissement. Single-food Asian food stalls worth seeking out include Gyoza bar on passage des Panoramas in the second arrondissement for Japanese ravioli, La Taverne de Zhao on Rue des VInaigriers in the 10th arrondissement for Shaanxi-style bread and meat, and Yoom on Rue des Martyrs in the ninth arrondissement for steamed bouchées (flaky pastries).
If street food and stalls aren’t your thing, another big trend is multidisciplinary restaurants, open kitchens, and wood-burning grills. Visit Michelin-starred Anne-Sophie Pic’s newest restaurant La Dame de Pic, which has a glassed-in kitchen visible from the street.
For two years, Paris has had the most restaurants honored on The Daily Meal's 101 Best Restaurants in Europe (2013: 23 in France with 15 in Paris 2013: 15 in France with 11 in Paris) and 101 Best Hotel Restaurants (2013: 4 in Paris 2012: 5 in Paris). But there’s more than chic cafes, bistros, and boulangeries. The hottest and newest tables are those at three Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alléno’s Le Terroir Parisien, Spanish chef Sergi Arola’s Arola Restaurant at the Hôtel W Opéra, French chef Flora Mikula’s Auberge Flora, and French chef Akrame Benallal’s Atelier Vivanda.
Hawaii is brimming with superfoods; making this a great 2014 culinary destination particularly for the health-conscious or those who have made a new year's resolution for a healthier lifestyle. KonaRed, the red fruit surrounding coffee beans, is made into an antioxidant-rich juice while Noni Juice, a light green fruit said to boost the immune system, is also popular. Try snacking on breadfruit (ulu), a low fat fruit full of essential minerals like fiber, calcium, copper, iron, and magnesium. For those who prefer to get their nutrients from spa products, Kukui nut oil is rich in Vitamins A, C, and E and found across Hawaii in creams, lotions, and massage oils.
Each of Hawaii’s six islands offers a unique experience but Honolulu and the North Shore on Oahu are noteworthy. Annual events include September's Hawaii Food and Wine Festival, August's Wahiawa Pineapple Festival, and Taste of the Arts in mid-September. No matter when you visit, anytime is a good time to enjoy a sunset drink on Waikiki beach. Some of the best views are at Mai Tai Bar at The Royal Hawaiian, House Without a Key at Halekulani Hotel, The Beach Bar at Moana Surfrider, Hula Grill at Outrigger Waikiki, and Tropics Bar & Grill at Hilton Hawaiian Village.
Din Tai Fung topped The Daily Meal's 101 Best Restaurants in Asia 2013 and that's just the beginning. From innovative local chefs like Ping Chiu at Nonzero (number 50 of 101 Best Restaurants in Asia) and foreign chefs like Joël Robucho who have set up shop here to bustling night markets like Shilin Night Market brimming with Taiwanese snacks like dumplings, stinky tofu, and shaved ice, Taipei is a treasure trove for food-lovers.
There are a variety of annual food festivals across the island including the Kinmen Mid-Autumn Moon-cake Gambling Festival in August and September where revelers can participate in dice games to win moon cakes (traditional, savory round cakes eaten during the fall Mid-Autumn Festival); Taipei’s Taiwan Culinary Exhibition in August, an expo including dining, food culture, and kitchenware exhibits and activities, and Miaoli’s Hakka Food Festival in November where visitors can learn about one of Taiwan’s ethnic minority groups and try Hakka cuisine like mountain boar and millet. The Taiwan Tourism Bureau has a free Taiwan Giveaway app which features giveaways and promotions at top destinations in Taiwan including restaurants.
With a culinary scene that changes by the day – literally – international chefs have been flocking to the Chinese capital since the early 2000s. Many top-level chefs have an outpost there - or on the way - from Brian McKenna’s The Courtyard which offers artful molecular gastronomy overlooking the Forbidden City to Daniel Boulud who recently shutter his Maison Boulud but is scouting new Beijing properties for a future foray in the Chinese capital, There's also plenty of local and regional talent that is outstanding, including chef Pan Jianjun at newcomer King’s Joy which serves up vegetarian fare, and Ignace Leclair‘s Temple Restaurant, which is still one of the hottest tables more than two years after it served its first European dishes It’s no wonder Beijing is home to the most restaurants on The Daily Meal's 101 Best Restaurants in Asia 2013 with 21 restaurants in Beijing.
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town has more than 450 events in the works as part of its World Design Capital designation in 2014,
Food and wine festivals not to miss include: Taste of Cape Town April 3-6 which includes cooking demonstrations and samplings of the city’s top restaurants and wines; and the Good Food & Wine Show May 29–June 1 which includes chef Gordon Ramsay and patisserie provocateur Eric Lanlard of Baking Mad fame and the inaugural South African Bar Show.
Þingvallavegur & Lake Myvatn, Iceland
The Northern Lights are said to have one the best showings in years in 2014. This, coupled with favorable exchange rates make Þingvallavegur and Lake Myvatn in Iceland an ideal 2014 destination. Head to Thingvellir National Park to fish on Iceland’s largest natural lake—then let the Hotel ION's chef cook your catch. Then dine while gazing at the spectacular natural light show.
The ‘Music City’ is also home to a calendar of culinary events beginning with Nashville Restaurant Week Jan. 20-25, which features dozens of restaurants offering discounted three- and four-course dinners; Taste of Music City on June 21, the city’s largest food and drink festival and held on Gateway Bridge; the summertime Music City Festival & BBQ Championship Aug. 22-23 which features 100 barbecue cook teams; Tomato Art Show, a free art show celebrating the tomato Aug. 8-9 ; the second annual Music City Eats; and Wine on the River, an outdoor wine festival featuring 300 domestic and international wine selections.
Be sure to check out Nashville’s newest hotel, the Middle Tennessee farmhouse-style The Inn at Fontanel, a luxury boutique hotel with a 24 hour kitchen and dining room opening in February.
New restaurants opening in 2014 include The Acme, a 22,500-square-foot restaurant, bar, and music venue; City Winery, a winery, restaurant, and music venue near The Gulch and downtown from the folks behind City Winery in New York, Chicago, and Napa, Calif., Butchertown Hall, a beer garden in Germantown; and Chauhan Ale & Masala House, an Indian-inspired tapas restaurant and microbrewery by Chef Maneet Chauhan of Food Network’s Chopped.
New York City
It's home to The Daily Meal and for three years, it has dominated the top 20 restaurants on The Daily Meal's 101 Best Restaurants in America. In 2013, 26 restaurants on the list were in New York City’s five boroughs. The city also had the third most food trucks featured on 101 Best Food Trucks in America 2013 with 10 trucks.
The Big Apple is also host to the 2014 Super Bowl and numerous food festivals and food eating contests, making it a mecca for culinary travel. Highlights include the New York Food and Wine Festival Oct. 16-19; Stone Street Oyster Festival in the fall; and the Big Apple Barbecue June 7-8.
The recently opened 208-room The Quin, featuring The Wayfarer restaurant, and the 33-room The William Hotel, a private club-cum-modern British-style hotel with two restaurants and a pub offer new places to bunk while New Yorkers and visitors alike can re-embrace the ‘Power Breakfast’ at the newly renovated and reopened Loews Regency on Park Avenue. Other forthcoming newcomers include the Garment District’s sleek Archer Hotel featuring a restaurant by David Burke, Times Square Knickerbocker Hotel which will include a rooftop bar and restaurant, the Philippe Starck-designed SLS Hotel New York on Park Avenue.