150 Foods Worth Traveling For Slideshow
July 26, 2013
You may be able to find these dishes worldwide, but nothing compares to trying them at the source
Merguez is a North African preserved meat that is typically a fresh or dried lamb sausage. Different variations of the dish include sausages made with veal, seasoned with olive oil, lemon, or black pepper. The pork-free sausage is popular in regions like Algeria, where many of the inhabitants maintain pork-free diets. Head over to Restaurant Atlas in Annaba for some authentic Algerian merguez.
Angola: Muamba de Galinha
Typically a home-cooked meal, this iconic dish is a chicken stew with palm oil. Some variations are made with pumpkin and okra. In the capital of Angola, Luanda, there are limited options for dining out, but you can find the dish at Esplanade Gester for a laid-back, authentic experience
A parrillada is a grilled assortment of meat and poultry, and one of the most popular dishes in Argentina. The meat feast can be found everywhere, from fine dining establishments like Cabaña Las Lilas in Buenos Aires to cheaper food stands around the country.
Not to be confused with the chile paste from Tunisia, harissa is a typical Armenian dish that has a similar consistency to porridge. It is made with wheat grain and cooked with meat or chicken, and is traditionally served on Easter. Originally created as a meal for the poor, harissa continues to be offered as a charity meal. Visit Old Erivan to taste this dish while listening to live acoustic folk music.
Australia: Meat Pie
The flashy neon lights and long lines at Sydney's iconic Harry's Café de Wheels contrast with the origin of meat pies, which date back to the Neolithic times. The outdoor stand makes classic meat pies, as well as new variations that draw locals and visitors alike for the flaky crusts and fillings like beef with peas and mash, and chicken and curry.
Schnitzel is a popular dish around Europe, but it is most often seen in Austria. The dish consists of pounded meat coated in egg and breadcrumbs, and then fried. There are many varieties of the savory dish, but it's easy to find a classic schnitzel around Austria, specifically in Vienna. One non-touristy place to go is Kolonitz-Beisl.
This thinly sliced boiled beef dish is typically served with potatoes, apples, and horseradish. It was a favorite of emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria. One of the widely accepted places to get the "best" of the famous dish is Plachutta in Vienna.
Conch is served just about everywhere in the Bahamas. The meaty mollusk is cooked into soups, fried into fritters, shaped into conch burgers, and topped over salads. Harbour Island, just a hop from Nassau, is home to the famed Queen Conch, where you’ll want to try the chef’s specialty washed down with local Bahamian beer.
Bangladesh: Ilish Polau
Ilish pulao, also known as pilaf, is typically served at family events such as weddings. It is made with seasoned rice with pieces of small ilish fish on top. Ilish fish is very common in Bangladesh and can be smoked, steamed, or baked with mustard seeds, chiles, ginger, turmeric, and other spices. Kasturi is one of the best places to try it is in Dhaka.
Barbados: Cou-cou and flying fish
An acquired taste, Barbados’ national dish is cou-cou and flying fish, which is made up of cornmeal and okra (cou-cou) served with flying fish heads, ketchup, olive oil, and spices (flying fish sauce). When traveling to Barbados, you will probably find this national dish at the Friday night fish-fry that takes over the town of Oistins.
A favorite among locals, this potato pancake is served in two styles: savory or sweet. The savory dish is served with sour cream and the sweet version is served with applesauce. A great rendition is available at the Grunwald Café in Minsk, which serves a mix of medieval-style food.
Mussels and fries together are savory and succulent, with just the right amount of crispy and salty. The dish is commonly prepared in a simple sauce of butter, white wine, and herbs. Originally considered a food for the poor since mussels were so plentiful, the popularity of the dish rose during the first half of the 20th century. The dish can now be found in abundance
Bhutan: Ema Datshi
A good place to try the hot, spicy, and cheesy ema datshi is Plums Café, in Thimphu. There, locals and visitors will find traditional ema datshi — made with chile peppers, cheese, and cayenne and served with herbed rice — and other Bhutanese dishes.
Bosnia: Bosanski Lonac
This popular Bosnian specialty is served all around the country, but in many variations. The recipe is difficult to describe because of these various renditions, but generally speaking, the dish is a meat stew featuring a variety of vegetables. Some typical ingredients are beef, lamb, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, parsley, and garlic. One of the best versions can be found at Inat Kuća in Sarajevo.
This Brazilian dish was originally brought to the country by Portuguese colonizers. The meat-packed dish is a stew made of beans, salted pork and beef, bacon, smoked sausage, and spices. For an upscale version, visit Casa de Feijoada in Rio de Janeiro. For a more casual vibe, check out Aconchego Carioca.
Ambuyat has the consistency of thick paste and is sticky and starchy. This nearly flavorless Bruneian specialty is made from the pith of sago palms and is usually eaten with bamboo sticks called candas. To add flavor, dip it into a variety of sauces made from sour fruits. Try it at Aminah Arif restaurant in Kiulap, a local favorite.
This classic Burmese dish, which can be found on almost every street corner and in nearly every restaurant, is made from rice, noodles, and fish broth. Though mohinga is usually eaten for breakfast, locals say there isn't really a bad time to eat the dish. Head to Yangon (formerly Rangoon) for a bowl at Green Elephant.
Cambodia: Amok Trey
Amok trey is made of steamed fish with coconut milk and lots of herbs and spices. After the fish is seasoned, it is steamed in banana leaves. This dish is often called a curry quite often because of its saucy texture, not because there are any curry powders in it. You can find amok trey in many Siem Reap restaurants, but Khmer Kitchen is regarded as one of the best.
Ndole is the national dish of Cameroon, and is a stew that is made with nuts, West African leaves, and beef or fish. Some variations include bananas or goat meat. Though the nation is not particularly well-known for restaurants and dining out, visitors can still have exceptional ndloe at the markets at Nlongkak.
Originally from Quebec, poutine has infiltrated Canadian cuisine, and has crept into the U.S. as well. It traditionally consists of fries, cheese curds, and gravy, though it also comes topped with anything from Bolognese sauce to foie gras and truffles. In Montreal, two of the best versions can be found at Au Pied de Cochon and Maamm Bolduc.
Cape Verde: Cachupa
Cachupa is a Cape Verdean version of the French cassoulet, and can be made with beans, corn, cassava, sweet potato, pork, chorizo, and tuna. It is considered the national or signature dish of Cape Verde. Although cachupa is always a slow-cooked dish, each island on Cape Verde has a different variation of the meal, and ingredients can often depend on the success of the harvest that year. Restaurant Relax in Santa Maria serves an authentic version of the dish in a family friendly location.
The empanada is the national food of Chile, although it is cooked and served throughout Latin America. They are often filled with beef, fish, or beans and cheese, although there are a variety of preparations. Just outside Santiago, visit Las Hermanas for great Chilean empanadas.
Chile: Pastel de Choclo
Pastel de Choclo is essentially a meat pie made with puréed corn, ground beef or chicken, and a variety of other fillings like onions, garlic, olives, and raisins. It is seen on menus throughout Chile, but the famous Galindo Restaurant in Santiago is home to one of the best versions.
China: Hong Kong: Char Siu
Originally Cantonese, char siu is flavored barbecued pork that has become a specialty in Hong Kong, and throughout other parts of Asia. Many of the char siu restaurants in Hong Kong hang their meat specialties in the window to show off for passersby. Hong Kong's Joy Hing's Roasted Meat arguably serves the most famous plates of it.
China: Pekin Duck
This Chinese specialty is known all over the world, but it is still appreciated in its homeland. Peking duck, a crispy duck served with pancakes and spring onions, was invented in Beijing and locals still argue over where you can find the best version. One of the better options can be found at Quanjude in Beijing.
Jiaozi is a traditional Chinese dumpling that's popularity has spread into Nepal, Japan, and other parts of Asia. It is made using ground meat and vegetables that are wrapped in a thin piece of dough. The dough is then crimped closed and it's then steamed, boiled, or fried. Sample jiaozi at Baoyuan Jiaozi Wu in Beijing.
Tofu can be found all over the world and comes in many different varieties. It is said that King Liu An created Tofu in China about 2,000 years ago. Tofu is low in calories but high in protein and can be used in sweet and savory dishes, depending on the variety used. Try the fried tofu at Huguosi Snack Restaurant near the Huguosi Hotel in Beijing.
China (Macau): Minchee
Minchee, also spelled minchi, is a fusion of Portuguese and Macanese flavors. It is made of stir-fried ground pork with soy sauce and onions, topped with a fried egg. Macau's O Porto Interior is the ideal place to try a well-done local classic such as minchee.
Colombia: Bandeja Paisa
There is debate about who originally created this popular dish (many say the Andean people), but today's controversy centers on which town serves the best today: Medellín or Bogota. The dish consists of beans, rice, pork skin, meat or chorizo, plantains, avocado, and fried egg. For one of the best renditions of the meal in Bogota, check outEl Portal de la Antigua.
Costa Rica: Gallo Pinto
This dish is popular in the northern Adriatic region, specifically Croatia. The comfort food is a stew made of beans, sauerkraut, potatoes, bacon, and pork spare ribs.
Cuba: Ropa Vieja
Many of Cuba’s best restaurants are paladares, or eateries in private homes. So it’s fitting that one of Cuba's most iconic dishes is ropa vieja (flank steak cooked in a tomato sauce), many a home cook’s specialty. Paladar la Guarida is one of the most famous paladares in Havana, and serves authentic ropa vieja.
Currywurst is enjoyed by all classes in Berlin and can be considered a guilty fast-food pleasure. The savory dish is hot pork sausage chopped into slices and seasoned with curry ketchup. The dish was created by Herta Heuwer, a German housewife, in 1949. She made the ketchup and curry powder mixture and served it over sausage to construction workers on the streets. In Berlin, many indulge in the dish at Curry 36.
Czech Republic: Roast Pork with Dumplings
Popular in Prague, this traditional dish combines three staples in the country: cabbage, pork, and dumplings. It is typically served with sauerkraut and enjoyed throughout the Czech Republic. Some of the best classic Czech food can be found at Olympia in Prague.
Czech Republic: Svickova
Made of beef sirloin that's boiled in cream, this classic Czech meal is served with bread dumplings. The meat is herbed and spiced, and the dish is often served with a side of cranberry sauce for a sweet flavor. This is one of the most popular Czech meals, and an iconic example is served in Prague at Café Imperial.
These popular meatballs are served in Denmark for both lunch and dinner. The meat is mixed with onions, eggs, breadcrumbs, and seasonings and then pan-fried in pork fat or butter. The meatballs are often served with boiled potatoes, cabbage, and gravy. Frikadeller are served in many Danish restaurants, and many consider some of the best to be at Copenhagen’s Restaurant Kronborg.
Dominican Republic: Sancocho
Sancocho is a traditional soup made with chicken or beef, lemon, herbs, potatoes, yucca, rice, and occasionally plantains. It’s typically (and probably at its best) when it’s home-cooked, but one of the best restaurants in Santo Domingo to try it at is Adrian Tropical.
This Middle Eastern favorite is found in abundance in Egypt. Made with ground chickpeas and typically served in a pita, it is one of the nation’s most popular dishes. Variations of falafel can include ground fava beans, and vegetables or different sauces such as tahini can often accompany it. Try popular favorites like Kazaz and Al Sharouk in Cairo for this iconic dish.
Egypt: Ful Medames
Comprised of stewed fava beans, olive oil, herbs, spices, and lemons, this Egyptian dish was long considered to be a peasant food. Today, Egyptians of every economic standing eat what is considered to be the country’s national dish. Ful medames are typically cooked over a long period of time by street vendors or in restaurants where the dish is served as a snack or meze. Some versions come with hard-boiled eggs, tahini, tomato sauce, or cream sauce, and are often served with Egyptian pocket bread. For a fancier option, visit Abu El Sid in Cairo.
El Salvador: Pupusas
The streets of El Salvador are teeming with vendors selling mouthwatering pupusas, which are tortillas filled with cheese, ground pork, beans, and other meats. They are staples on most restaurant menus, but try the ones the locals love on the streets in Olocuilta.
Eritrea: Lamb Zigini with Injera
Injera is a type of spongy bread that also functions as a utensil for many cuisines throughout the Middle East and Africa. In Eritrea, injera is eaten with a stew called zigini, often made with lamb. For an authentic version of this dish, visit Blue Nile in Asmara.
This hearty stew from Estonia is made with sauerkraut and potatoes cooked with traditional sausages, bay leaves, mustard, cream, chives, and caraway seeds. The dish is made by restaurant chefs and locals alike, and the best place to find it is at a traditional restaurant in Tallinn, like Vanaema Juures.
Kitfo, or Ethiopian steak tartare, is a typical Ethiopian dish that is made up of beef, butter, and mitmita (a spicy pepper powder made up of chile peppers, cardamom, cloves, and sea salt). Kitfo is prepared completely raw, and served with an Ethiopian butter called niter kibe. Eating this raw meat dish can sometimes be considered a male bonding activity and it was historically eaten by the elite or upper-middle-class. For some of the best kitfo in town, travel to Teshomech Kitfo in Addis Ababa.
Whether sweet or savory, crêpes are the quintessential French street food. Originating in Brittany, but widely available throughout the whole country, crêpes are very thin flour pancakes made with a generous portion of butter. You’re likely to find a crêperie in nearly every French city, but one of the most authentic brick-and-mortar establishments is Crêperie Bretonne in the Montparnasse neighborhood of Paris.
Pot-au-feu is a ubiquitous national dish with any number of variations, from meat selection to vegetables and seasonings, but its core remains the same — it's a hearty meat stew with oxtail or beef, sausage, carrots and leeks, salt, cloves, and pepper. In essence, it’s what many Americans identify as a "pot roast." Prepared in many homes and traditional eateries, it's served with Dijon mustard on the side. Find one of the best versions at L'Assiette in Paris' 14th arrondissement.
France: Choucroute garnie
Choucroute is sauerkraut in the Alsatian style, almost always served garnie (garnished) with various sausages and inexpensive, often fatty, cuts of pork. It is a substantial dish that’s typically eaten during the winter since it’s so hearty. Although it’s native to Alsace, it can be found in restaurants around France, where it is traditionally accompanied with riesling from Alsace and Dijon mustard. Maison Kammerzell in Strasbourg offers an authentic version of the dish.
France: Boeuf Bourguignon
As the name reveals, this quintessential French stew hails from the region of Burgundy. The dish evolved over many years, but was first written down by the great Escoffier in 1903. Since then, the hearty beef stew has become a worldwide symbol of French country cuisine. A traditional preparation of this dish involves braising beef cuts in Burgundy (what else?) wine before stewing the meat with potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic and a bouquet garni (a small bundle of thyme, parsley, and bay leaves). Boeuf bourguignon can be found at traditional restaurants across France, but you’ll find some of the best at Au Clos Napoléon in Fixin, France.
France: Pate de Foie Gras
Pâté de foie gras is from the Aquitaine region in the southwest of France. The indulgent delicacy is made of fattened duck or goose liver, and it's one of the country’s most beloved (if not most controversial) dishes. While foie gras can be served in a number of ways (and especially at Christmas with a sauterne wine) the pâté form, which is spreadable and formed into a terrine, is the most famous and widespread version. La Tupina in Bordeaux serves one of France's most mouthwatering examples.
Meaning "a thousand leaves," mille-feuille pastry is ultra-thin sheets of puff pastry layered with various ingredients to create either a sugary or savory dish. Of the two, the sugary dessert, also called a Napoléon, is filled with light pastry cream, and may come with whipped cream, chocolate, nuts, or powdered sugar. Try ones from Pain de Sucre or Boulangerie Julien, both in Paris.
Gabon: Poulet Nyembwe
Poulet nyembwe is a traditional chicken dish that is cooked with sauce made with African palm nuts. Considered the national dish of Gabon, the spicy poulet nyembwe is often accompanied by white rice, plantains, pounded yam, or cassava. Though some might argue the dish is best when it's homemade, visitors can still go to L'Odika to sample a taste.
This indulgent dish is like a blank canvas for different flavors. From Georgia, khachapuri is cheese-filled bread often topped with egg and butter. Because of its simplicity, there are many variations, and cooks often add potatoes, various cheeses, and sauces to the dish. Some say it is best at the Green Palm restaurant in Batumi.
These Georgian dumplings are filled with mixtures of raw, spiced meats and various vegetables. The dumplings are prepared by being stuffed and then boiled, trapping the meat’s juice inside as the filling cooks. The result is a delicious, precious liquid that customers try not to spill as they eat the dumpling. A good place to go for the traditional food is Zakara in Batumi.
This popular dish is found on street corners, home kitchens, and upscale German restaurants alike. The German pot roast is marinated in vinegar and spices before cooking, and often served with red cabbage, potato dumplings, or spaetzle, a type of egg noodle. Authentic sauerbraten is available at the upscale Lutter & Wegner in Berlin.
Moussaka is comforting, hearty, and popular dish made by home cooks and chefs throughout Greece. The dish is comprised of eggplant and tomatoes cooked with minced meat, topped with cheesy, creamy sauce. The entire dish is then baked, and although its original origins are unknown, it is widely accepted that is dates back to the 1200s. A popular small tavern in Athens known to serve the classic version of the dish is Vlassis.
Grenada: Oil Down
This communal meal is a soup made of salted meat, chicken, coconut milk, turmeric, taro leaves, dumplings, curry powder, and breadfruit. Often served at parties, family and friends gather to share the traditional dish. If you’re looking to get the soup at a restaurant, try Boots Cuisine in St. George.
Guyana: Guyana Pepperpot
Guyana Pepperpot is a traditional stew that is often used for special occasions because it takes a long time to prepare. The stew is blood-red and filled with meat, cinnamon, cassava juice, and peppers. One of the best places to try it is Coal Pot Restaurant in Georgetown.
Known by Americans as goulash, this Hungarian dish is served in traditional and modern restaurants throughout Hungary. It is not a stew, but instead a rich soup made with meat (typically veal, pork, or beef) noodles, and vegetables. There are many variations, but the dish always contains potatoes and plenty of paprika. One of the most sought-after versions is available at Dió in Budapest.
This traditional dish from Iceland is for those who are adventurous. It is made of shark that is buried in sand and gravel to ferment, and then hung to dry for four to five months before it is cubed and served cold. The dish is notorious for being an acquired taste, but it is found at street stalls and supermarkets around the country as well as places like Saegreifinn.
Idli is one of the most popular and iconic vegetarian items to order off an Indian food menu. It is a Southern Indian lentil and rice pancake that is eaten for breakfast or as a snack paired with chutney and spices. Try them at Bangalore's Om Murugan Idli Shop.
India: Tandoori Chicken
Tandoori chicken comes from northern India, but it is really a national specialty. A tandoori is a type of oven that is used to cook flatbreads and meat dishes. Naan and tandoori chicken, which is marinated in yogurt and spices prior to being put in the oven, are the most common dishes made with this kind of oven. Various menu items made with the tandoori oven can be sampled at Bukhara in Delhi.
Indonesia: Nasi Goreng
It isn’t clear whether or not Indonesians customized classic Chinese fried rice to make their famous dish nasi goring, but it's a local favorite. It is usually enjoyed as a flavorful street food topped with sweet soy sauce, tamarind, chile peppers, egg, chicken, and shrimp. Try nasi goreng for yourself at the famous seaside La Lucciola in Seminyak.
Satay is reportedly inspired by Arabic shawarma and Indian kebabs. It is made from meats such as beef, mutton, lamb, chicken, and for non-Muslims, pork. Some say that the best versions of this dish come from street vendors, but you can try some of Bali's finest at Denpasar Badung Traditional Market in Bali's capital.
Iran: Chelow Kebab
This traditional Iranian meal consists of grilled meat on a stick served over spiced and buttered rice and often accompanied by grilled tomatoes or even a raw egg yolk. Many consider the dish to be one of the most famous and most popular dishes in Iran, with its origins in Tehran. There is always an option to try this dish on the street, but you can also visit Bistango in Tehran for a more upscale spot.
This popular Irish dish has a tradition that goes way back. Colcannon is primarily made of mashed potatoes, kale, butter, and cream, and on special occasions small prizes or coins are sometimes hidden in the dish for good luck. Other ingredients are also occasionally used in the dish, like cabbage, scallions, leeks, or onions, but this rendition is sometimes called champ. Dublin’s Oliver St. John Gogarty has a popular version that is served with farmhouse sausage.
Ireland: Irish Stew
Dating back to the early 1800s, this comfort food is usually made of lamb or mutton with potatoes, carrots, onions, and parsley. Some traditionalists argue that the true version of the stew should only be made with mutton and should exclude carrots, although there are many accepted versions. For an authentic and traditional version, try it at Ireland’s oldest public house, The Brazen Head.
Hummus (with a little pita) can sometimes be considered a full meal in Israel, as opposed to its role as a side dish in many other parts of the world. Hummus is made with cooked and mashed chickpeas, olive oil, lemon, garlic, and, often, tahini. The exact origins of hummus are contested, but it largely considered to be one of the oldest prepared foods in the Middle East. Head to Jaffa to try hummus Abu Hassan (also called Ali Caravan) or to Hummus Ashkara in Tel Aviv for some of the best in town.
Italy: Spaghetti al Pomodoro
A culinary achievement thanks to its delicious simplicity — a sauce made of fresh tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and garlic —salsa al pomodoro, made correctly and with the best raw materials, is one of the nation's finest offerings. The basic recipe can be dressed up, but shines in its purest form. When in Rome, try it at Felice a Testaccio.
Italy: Pizza Margherita
This classic was invented in 1889 by a Neapolitan pizzaiolo, who topped a pizza with red tomato sauce, white mozzarella, and green basil. The presentation was eventually said to mimic the colors of the Italian flag and honor a visit to Naples by Queen Margherita. The pizza is so iconic to the country that in 2009, an STG (Specialità Tradizionali Garantite, or Traditional Guaranteed Specialty) EU label, which recognizes authentic preparation of traditional ingredients. Excellent versions are made at Pizzeria Starita, Da Michele, and Pizzeria Salvo; try them all and choose a favorite.
Jamaica: Ackee and Saltfish
The sometimes deadly (if you eat the seeds and rind) ackee fruit is traditionally used in Jamaica almost like a vegetable and is mixed with saltfish (salted cod that’s boiled with the ackee) for a typical breakfast dish. Jakes on Treasure Beach serves one of the island's best examples.
Japan: Japanese Curry
Japanese curry is not the same as Indian curry. It is made from a thick vegetable-based sauce and meats such as beef or deep-fried pork. It is typically served with rice, udon noodles, or bread. The Japanese eat it for any meal of the day and it is found in almost every home and restaurant. A good place to try it at is Manten in Tokyo.
Japan: Ramen noodles
Ramen noodle soup is usually made of ramen noodles served in beef or fish broth and also includes toppings like sliced pork and spring onions. One popular ramen shop in Tokyo is Ippudo. However, deciding which ramen shop can truly be named the best is a hot debate among locals.
Sushi can be found all over the world, but its home is Japan and it can be found everywhere in the country, from Michelin-starred restaurants to street markets and everywhere in between. One of the most famous sushi restaurants in Tokyo, which opened in 1936, is Ginza Kyubey. A three-Michelin-starred option is Sukiyabashi Jiro.
A holiday meal and the national dish of Jordan, mansaf is a staple at every special celebration. It is served on a communal plate and is reminiscent of early Bedouin culinary practices. Mansaf is comprised of lamb cooked in fermented dried yogurt and is served with rice and, often, pine nuts, almonds, or other nuts. The fermented yogurt, called jameed, is made from goat’s milk that is placed in a container to ferment. While mansaf is traditionally a social and celebratory dish, it can also be served as a sign of appreciation. Try it at Tawaheen al-Hawa in Amman.
This iconic dish dates back to nomadic tribes in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The word translates into "five fingers," which is appropriate because the dish is meant to be eaten by hand. Beshbarmak is made up of boiled meat (sometimes horse meat) that's seasoned with parsley and coriander and served with noodles. Some variations might include chicken, camel meat, or fish. In some regions there is a special ceremony to go along with eating beshbarmak, in which a sheep’s head is placed before an honorable guest. Try it at Zheti Qazyna in Almaty.
This simple dish is popular among Kuwaiti citizens despite the availability of many different cuisines throughout Kuwait City. Made up of spices, saffron, basmati rice, and rosewater, this national dish is served alongside beef, lamb, chicken, or fish. Try some of the best machboos at Freej Swaileh in Salmiya.
Laos: Larb with Sticky Rice
Larb is a term for a traditionally Laotian-style meat salad served with a special ground toasted rice and sticky rice. It is usually made with pork, chicken, beef, or duck and mixed with mint, chiles, and vegetables. Try it at Makphet, a traditional restaurant in Vientiane.
Though this traditional dish tends to vary, its roots are always the same. Comprised of bulgur or rice and ground meat mixed together in different forms, kibbeh can be fried, place in soup, baked in a pie, or served raw, depending on the region. No matter how it is prepared, it is typically cooked with olive oil and served with a lemon garnish. Locals recommend Zawat in southern Lebanon for the best version of this dish.
Found in many Arabic countries, tabbouleh varies slightly depending on the region. With its origins in Lebanon, the dish is made of bulgur, tomatoes, and finely chopped vegetables and herbs (often parsley). It is often served as a side to other traditional dishes such as falafel. Some of the best tabbouleh can be found at popular Lebanese restaurant Manuella.
Popular in Lithuania, these potato dumplings are filled with minced meat or cheese and mushrooms, and are commonly served with a side of sour cream and pork rinds. The light and savory dish is a national dish of Lithuania, and one local favorite spot to try them is Zemaiciai in Vilnius.
Luxembourg: Judd mat Gaardebounen
This bold dish is the national dish of the small country of Luxembourg. Simply put, the dish is smoked pork collar with fava beans. The pork is cooked with leeks, carrots, and celery for many hours before being served with bacon and the beans. Although many restaurants in Luxembourg are French and Italian, you can find this unique dish in Luxembourg City at Mousel’s Cantine.
Macedonia: Tavče Gravče
This traditional Macedonian dish is not quick to make. The spicy dish is made of beans and peppers, and traditionally the beans are soaked for three hours and then baked long and slow in earthenware along with the peppers, onions, and other seasonings. Considered a national dish of the country, it can be found almost anywhere in Macedonia, and restaurants like Beerhouse An in Skopje serve it along with other traditional foods.
Romazava is a stew of meats and green vegetables that is a staple dish of Madagascar. It was first served at feasts in the 1800s before the French colonization of the country, and although most dishes from this time period are starting to fall by the wayside and are much less prevalent, romazava remains a part of the current diet. Romazava can be sampled the Hôtel du Louvre's restaurant in Antananarivo.
Malaysia: Nasi Lemak
Nasi lemak is considered the national dish of Malaysia and can be eaten with any meal. It is a rice dish that is cooked with coconut cream and topped with meat or fish. The most important ingredient is the pandan leaf because it infuses the rice with a unique flavor. Madam Kwan's Restaurant is known for its nasi lemak, and is one of Kuala Lumpur's best-known restaurants.
Malta: Stuffat Tal-Fenek
On the small island nation of Malta, the Maltese eat this traditional dish with spaghetti. The tomato-based rabbit stew is traditionally eaten at home, and it is often used for entertaining. The hearty dish can be found at United Bar and Restaurant on Mgarr’s Main Street.
Mexico: Mole Poblano
Mole variations are unique to different regions in Mexico, but the most widely known is the Mole Poblano from Puebla. Made of chiles, warm spices, and a little chocolate, along with a host of other ingredients, the sauce can be served on a variety of things (commonly with chicken and rice) and can be eaten for any meal of the day. Try it over eggs at Los Manteles in Puebla.
The tamale is so popular in Mexico it has its own variety of parades. The Mesoamerican dish is made of masa stuffed with a protein (like chicken or cheese) that is then wrapped in cornhusks and steamed. Locals swear that the best tamales are sold by street vendors, but you can find the popular dish at many restaurants.
Buzz is a very important part of Mongolian history and is traditionally eaten at home during Tsagaan Sar, the Mongolian New Year. Buuz are steamed dumplings filled with meat such as beef or mutton and flavored with salt, garlic, onions, fennel, and herbs. During Tsagaan Sar, restaurants such as Hishig Mongol 2 in Ulaanbaatar will also serve the dish.
Pastilla, salty and sweet at the same time, is a flaky pastry filled with meat, usually squab or shredded chicken, to create a salty and savory filling that contrasts with the sweet phyllo dough, cinnamon, and sugar. One of the best can be found at Al Jawda pastry shop in Marrakech.
This Moroccan dish is named after the earthenware pot that it is cooked in. The tagine pot is made of heavy clay and has two parts: a base unit and a cover. The dish cooked in this pottery is usually a rich, slow-cooked stew made of meat, chicken, or fish mixed in with vegetables and fruit. Because of the design of the pot, a minimal amount of liquid is required to cook the dish and the pot is usually placed over hot coals to cook the stew. The dish is a national pride of Morocco and can be found in almost any restaurant or street vendor. For a high-end version of the dish, try it at Les Trois Saveurs in Marrakech.
Nepal: Dal Bhat
Dal bhat is a typical Nepalese dish. Lentils (dal) and rice (bhat) create the base of the dish and are combined with potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, green beans, tomatoes, spinach, and other vegetables to complete the meal. It is served with a crispy cracker. Sample it at Kathmandu's Third Eye Restaurant.
This traditional Dutch dish is like an indulgent version of mashed potatoes. The potatoes are loaded with herbs, vegetables, and even sprinkled with bacon. The vegetables included can range from sauerkraut and endive to kale, spinach, and turnips. Often served with sausage or stewed meat, the dish is available around Amsterdam. Try it at De Blauwe Hollander, a restaurant known for their traditional fare.
New Zealand: Pavlova
Pavlova was officially declared to originate from New Zealand in 2010. Before that, there was much debate about whether it belonged to New Zealand or neighbor Australia. The dish, a light meringue dessert topped with fresh fruit and cream, is named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. Many locals enjoy it at Euro in Auckland.
New Zealand: Bacon and Egg Pie
Bacon and egg pie can be found at many locations throughout New Zealand, but Little & Friday is a favorite among Auckland locals. This savory pie is made of a flaky crust that's filled with bacon, egg, and sometimes onions, peas, tomatoes, and cheese.
This classic Norwegian dish takes several hours to cook and is prepared similarly to a casserole. It has very few ingredients — mutton, cabbage, pepper, and wheat flour — but has a ton of flavor. The dish is so popular, it even has a "feast day" dedicated to it on the last Thursday in September. Find it at Kroa in Longyearbyen for an authentic Norwegian experience.
Even though there are many, many versions of biryani, the favorite in Pakistan is sindhi biryani. It has chicken, basmati rice, vegetables, chiles, and yogurt. Student Biryani is known for serving some of the city's favorite biryani. The spot is so good that it went from a street stand to a brick-and-mortar chain.
Nihari is a guilty pleasure food, according to locals, that originated in the 18th century in Old Delhi. It is made with meat, chiles, herbs, spices, and vegetables. Bones are left in so guests can enjoy the taste of the rich marrow. Stop into Javed Nihari in Karachi for an authentic taste.
Paraguay: Sopa Paraguaya
Although the name is deceiving (it literally means Paraguayan soup) this dish is actually more like a cornbread made with cheese. It is served at a special feast called an asado, along with meats. A great place to try it is Lido Bar in Asunción.
Ceviche is served at restaurants all around Peru, even ones that are not traditionally Peruvian. The dish is made of raw fish that is "cooked" in a marinade of lime and lemon juice and chile. It is often served with corn and avocado. For one of the most acclaimed versions of the dish, visit La Mar in Lima.
Filipino adobo, not to be confused with Spanish adobo, is a popular long-cooking dish made with meat, fish, or vegetables that are marinated in vinegar, garlic, oil, and other spices. Some consider it the unofficial dish of the Philippines. Adobo To' in Pasig City or The Aristocrat in Manila make excellent versions of this dish.
Lechón is a whole suckling pig roasted over charcoal, and while it is served all over the world, it is a Filipino specialty. Anthony Bourdain even featured it on an episode of No Reservations filmed in Manila, where he claimed the lechón he tried there was the best he'd ever had. Because lechón is time-consuming and requires an enormous amount of effort, it is usually seen at festivals or special occasions. However, Manila's General's Lechón serves it year-round.
A pierogi is perhaps the most famous Polish dish. It can come in a variety of forms — baked or fried, filled with meat or potatoes — and is the quintessential Polish comfort food. While it was initially thought of as peasant food, pierogies are now one of the most popular dishes in Poland. If you’re visiting Krakow, visit Zapiecek Polskie Pierogarnie to taste this iconic dish.
Once you’ve tried a pierogi, try bigos, another iconic Polish dish. A take on sauerkraut stew, this dish's ingredients might include bacon, sausage, beef, veal, or venison along with fermented cabbage. Bigos can also be referred to as Hunter’s Stew because it was served at the start of hunting season. Visitors to Poland should head over to Restauracja Pod Baranem in Krakow for a classic bowl of bigos.
Portugal: Bacalhau com Natas
Bacalhau, or salted cod, is representative of the prevalence of seafood in Portuguese cuisine. One of the most common preparations of bacalhau is "com natas," made with potatoes, onions, and cream. Served during the holiday season, bacalhau com natas is sometimes called the "fiel amigo," or faithful friend, of Portuguese cooking. Find this dish at Tulhas Bar & Restaurante in the UNESCO-protected Sintra, outside of Lisbon.
Portugal: Pastel de Nata
One of the most popular sweet dishes among Portuguese citizens, pastel de nata is eggy, creamy, and rich. It is believed that Catholic monks at the Jerónimos Monastery created them in the 18th century. They are made up of just egg, flour, butter, vanilla, and milk, and are small enough to eat in one bite. For some of the best around, visit Pastéis de Belém in Lisbon.
Mamaliga is a cornmeal porridge similar to polenta, which often contains sheep’s cheese and bacon. The original recipe was intended as a cheaper alternative to bread made from wheat flour. This traditional Romanian dish is making a comeback, especially at Caru' cu Bere in Bucharest.
These dumplings can be eaten as a snack or a light meal, and are sold everywhere from street stands to high-end restaurants. Though it is unclear exactly when these dumplings entered Russian cuisine, it is posited that they were brought to Russia by the Mongols. Moscow’s Café Pushkin serves these small bites in their nicer dining room and the casual dining area.
This Russian soup can sometimes be a bit sour due to the cabbage and sauerkraut that it’s made with. Whether you use cabbage or sauerkraut indicates if it is green shchi or sour shchi, respectively. Though the dish dates back to the ninth century, visit Chekhov in St. Petersburg for this classic dish in a modern setting.
Similar in consistency to oatmeal, this Russian buckwheat porridge has been around for almost 1,000 years. It tends to be paired with savory dishes like salads or with meat and vegetables. You can find it at one of Moscow’s milk bars, like the chain Moo Moo.
Saudi Arabia: Kabsa
The lists of spices, meats, and vegetables that go into Saudi Arabian kabsa is exhaustive; cinnamon, cloves, saffron, nutmeg, chicken, lamb, goat, beef, and fish are just a few of the ingredients the recipe calls for. But, to simplify things, think of it as a spiced rice dish with meat and vegetables. Al Taboon, in Riyadh, specializes in kabsa and is a local favorite.
Thieboudienne, which locals call "thieb," breaks down barriers — people of all backgrounds love this dish and will be seen together at local hole-in-the-walls, like Chez Loutcha in Dakar. Thieb is made with fish, rice, and tomato sauce with onions and its creation is reportedly attributed to one clever woman in Saint-Louis, Senegal.
These grilled kebabs are made with minced, seasoned meats and are traditionally served with pita-like flatbread, onions, and sour cream, clotted cream, or cottage cheese. The dish tends to be an affordable option for a hearty meal; if you're in Belgrade, try cevapcici at Frans.
Singapore: Chilli Crab
Chilli crab is sold on almost every street corner and café in Singapore. The dish is made using mud crabs, which are stir-fried in a thick tomato and chile sauce. However, the dish is not all spice; the sauce is actually rather sweet. Try it at Long Beach Seafood.
Singapore: Hainanese Chicken Rice
This dish is originally from China, but it was adapted and is now prepared in a specific way in Singapore. In the Singapore adaption, the whole chicken is boiled in a pork stock with garlic and ginger. The rice is cooked in coconut milk and everything is topped with a spicy chile sauce. It can be sampled at Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice.
Slovakia: Bryndzové Halušky
Considered one of the national dishes of Slovakia, these potato dumplings can be viewed a Slovakian counterpart to an Italian favorite, gnocchi. They're usually served with bacon and cheese on top, and Slovaks are also known to enjoy this dish with a glass of sour milk. Try it from a local favorite restaurant in Bratislava called Prašna Bašta.
South Africa: Bobotie
Native dishes in South Africa showcase the many culinary influences found throughout the country. In the case of bobotie, the influence is mainly Dutch. It is a rich dish made with minced meat and an egg topping that dates all the way back to the 17th century. Try it at Café de la Vie in Johannesburg.
South Korea: Kimchi
Kimchi is a traditional fermented Korean side dish made with various vegetables and seasonings. It is the national dish of Korea and there are many different variations. The vegetables are usually used in stews, fried rice, and soups. Gwanghwamun Jip in Seoul is a good place to try it.
South Korea: Bulgogi
Bulgogi is a Korean dish that is made of marinated, grilled lean beef and served with rice and mixed vegetables. The name literally translates to "fire meat" in English. the dish has a long history that reportedly dates back to 37 B.C., but you can sample it today in Seoul at Bulgogi Brothers restaurant.
Although most people think of tomatoes when they hear gazpacho, the origins of this traditional cold Spanish soup predate the arrival of tomatoes in Spain and the dish was originally made with stale bread, almonds, grapes, and garlic. Nowadays tomato gazpacho is prevalent throughout Spain, made with puréed tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, and garlic. Served cold, it was meant to beat hot weather, and can be made in a traditional large wooden bowl called a dornillo. Viuda de Vacas in Madrid is an Old World restaurant that serves some of the city’s best.
Paella has its roots in mid-19th century Valencia, and contrary to popular belief, it is not traditionally made with seafood. It started as a dish of the countryside, and the main ingredients included rabbit, chicken, beans, and snails. But seafood eventually began to find its way into paella, and today, seafood paella is considered the most globally popular form of the dish. For authentic paella, try Restaurante Levante in Benisanó, just northwest of Valencia.
Sri Lanka: Rice and Curry
Rice and curry is one of the most popular combinations in Sri Lankan cuisine. It can be accompanied by meat, vegetables, or pickles, and the type of rice varies, as there are more than 15 different types on the island. Sambols, a version of an Indian pickle, is commonly served with rice and curry and can be flavored with chili powder. Head to the Nor Lanka Hotel for an upscale rice and curry experience.
Köttbullar, or "meatballs," have long been associated with Swedish cuisine. While traditionally served on Christmas Eve, köttbullar have become a staple of Swedish cooking. A blend of beef, pork, and veal, these meatballs contain finely chopped onions and are soaked in milk until they are cooked and served with potatoes, gravy, lingonberry jam, and a pickled cucumber. Become a part of the Stockholm-based debate over the best in town and choose between the chic Bakfickan inside the opera house, and Pelikan.
August in Sweden is the time for Kräftskiva, or "crayfish parties." These eating and drinking extravaganzas are in celebration of the crayfish, for it was once illegal to fish for the small crustacean in every month of the year except for August. The act of eating crayfish tends to be tedious, so Swedes consume a lot of alcohol to help make the occasion more enjoyable. These “"crayfish parties" are found all over Sweden in August, but you can try Ulriksdals Wärdshus just outside of Stockholm.
A cross between a potato latke and hash browns, rösti has evolved from a simple farmer’s breakfast to a Swiss delicacy enhanced with ingredients such as cheese, bacon, onions, fresh herbs, and apples. Interestingly, although the dish seems straightforward, it is difficult to find a concrete, authentic, recipe for this Alpine favorite. Grab a stein and a few of these at Rheinfelder Bierhalle in Zurich.
Magnus Manske/Wikimedia Commons
From the French verb "to melt," fondue is the ultimate après-ski meal. Perfect for a romantic meal for two or for a group, fondue requires long-stemmed forks to dip accoutrements like bread cubes into gooey, melted cheese. Some of Switzerland’s top pots can be found at Au Vieux Carouge.
Taiwan: Beef Noodle Soup
Beef noodle soup is one of the most commonly served dishes in Taiwan. Depending on where you get your soup, the broth varies from darker to clearer, and everyone in Taiwan has an opinion about which version is the best. Commonly made with stewed beef, broth, vegetables, and noodles, the soup is often served alongside other dishes like braised tofu and seaweed. There many variations available, such as Sichuan-style, which is spicy, and Northern-style, which has a clear broth. Try this dish at the famed Yong Kang Beef Noodle Soup Restaurant in Taipei.
Thailand: Pad Thai
This ubiquitous Thai dish is meant to be sweet, salty, and sour all at once with ingredients like radishes, peanuts, egg, and dried shrimp adding to its flavor. Although pad thai dates back to ancient Siam, it truly gained popularity after World War II. The dish can be easily found throughout the country, but for an authentic Thai experience, try it at We’s Restaurant in Chiang Mai.
Thailand: Tom Yum Soup
Tom yum soup is hot and spicy dish made with vegetables, shrimp, and mushrooms. Flavors like lemongrass, Kaffir lime, galangal (Thai ginger), chile peppers, and fish sauce are also used to give the soup its restorative quality. For a good version of the soup, try Bo.lan in Bangkok.
Thailand: Khao Soi
This traditional soup originally belonged to the Chinese and was introduced to Thailand by immigrants. Since then, the Thai people have made the dish their own. Khao Soi is a salty noodle soup made with fried noodles and spicy coconut curry, served with slices of lime and chile paste. Although it is available almost everywhere, one highly recommended spot is Kao Soy Nimman in Chiang Mai.
Trinidad and Tobago: Doubles
This popular dish is made of curried chickpeas sandwiches between two pieces of spongy fried roti-like breads. The dish is often topped with chutneys and cucumbers and served hot. Locals are so fanatic about doubles that asking for a favorite place to eat them at could launch into a long and passionate discussion.
Couscous is a daily staple for many people in Tunisia, as well as in Morocco and Algeria. Locals and visitors can try the long-loved dish at Dar Chakra in Monastir.
Turkey: Doner Kebab
Though there is much debate over who makes the best doner kebab in Istanbul, everyone agrees that it is delicious. Meat (often lamb) is stacked onto a spit and roasted before being vertically sliced onto pita. From there the meat is topped with tomatoes, onions, lettuce, pickles, cabbage, and cucumber, and sauces like tahini or tzatziki are poured on top. Ciya Kebab and Dönerci Sahin Usta make some of the most beloved kebabs in the city.
Palaw is essentially a rice pilaf; it's made from strewed rice, meat, and vegetables, and is sometimes sprinkled with raisins or currants. A favorite place to try it is at Ankara restaurant in Ashgabat.
Matoke is made from steamed plantains and is Uganda’s national dish. Kampala's Ekitoobero Restaurant serves matoke just the way the locals love it, and has been open for more than 10 years.
With origins in Eastern Europe, this red or purple soup is made up of beetroot and tomatoes and is often topped with a dollop of sour cream. Borscht is served in a variety of different ways — some versions are hot, some are cold, some are clear and light, while others are thick and hearty. Ukraine is frequently listed as borscht’s country of origin, and Puzata Hata in Kiev has some of the best in the city.
U.K.: Chicken tikka masala
While it might seem like it's a long way from its Indian roots, chicken tikka masala is everywhere in the United Kingdom, and in fact, is a British creation. The fact that chicken tikka masala has even been called "Britain’s national dish," is indicative of the enormous effect the Indian population in the U.K. has had on the region’s cuisine. Many citizens of the U.K. have given up their fish and chips in favor of this spiced, tomato-based curry, served over rice and with sides like naan bread and raita. Try it at London’s Babur Brasserie.
U.K.: Sunday Roast
Sunday roast represents a less grand version of Christmas dinner. One plate consists of roasted meat (typically beef, sometimes lamb), roasted or mashed potatoes, stuffing, vegetables, and Yorkshire pudding, all topped with gravy. Some Sunday roast destinations in London include Bull & Last, The Duke of Wellington, and Harwood Arms.
U.K.: England: Fish and Chips
Said to be more symbolic of England than even the queen or The Beatles, classic fish and chips are a favorite London comfort food. Fish and chips can be served in a number of ways, from wrapped in newspaper to presented on fine china. It is often accompanied with lemon juice or vinegar. The fish, usually haddock or cob, is beer-battered and the chips tend to be thick fried potatoes. Try award-winning versions at Hanbury's in Torquay and Quayside in Whitby.
U.K.: Northern Ireland: Ulster Fry
Ulster fry is a version of an Irish breakfast that includes egg, bacon, sausage, white or black pudding, fried tomatoes and a slice of soda bread. It can sometimes come with mushrooms, pancakes, or beans, and is typically served on weekends. Visit the The Other Place in Belfast to try one of the best Ulster Fry dishes.
U.K.: Scotland: Haggis
Haggis is a Scottish delicacy that is made with minced sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs, cooked with onions, oats, spices, and mutton fat within a sheep’s bladder for at least three hours. Considered the national dish of Scotland, haggis is served with what Scots call mashed tatties and neeps, otherwise known as potatoes and turnips. Head over to Macsween of Edinburgh to try a version of Haggis created by the self-proclaimed "Guardians of the National Dish."
This dish is known throughout Uruguay as a way to bring people together. It means, essentially, barbecue, and the meats can be grilled and prepared a number of ways. It is often cooked at gatherings or feasts, but Asado y Milonga in Punta del Este is a good place to go and sample it.
U.S.: Philly Cheesesteak
A simple comfort food, the cheesesteak has become a must-try when traveling to Philadelphia. It's a hoagie (long roll) heaped with thinly sliced meat, American cheese, and cooked onions, and can be found all over town — and the debates about who makes the best are heated. Head over to Ninth Street and choose your favorite between Geno’s and Pat’s. There’s no turning back.
U.S: South: Barbecue
Barbecue is an age-old idea that is the basis of many summertime gatherings, sporting events, and some really good home-cooked meals. Throughout the South of the U.S., it’s even a lifestyle. The country’s best is found in this region and just about everybody has his or her favorite, with most options ranging from cuts of beef or pork garnished (or not) in a variety of rubs and/or sauces. Check out our Ultimate BBQ Road Trip for 2013 to see our restaurant picks (there are 60!) across the region.
U.S.: Texas: Chicken-Fried Steak
Texas stands apart from the rest of the South — people from Texas are Texans first, Americans second. With that comes iconic Texan cuisine, of which the chicken-fried steak is the epitome. One of Houston’s best is found at Hickory Hollow Restaurant, where they give you four size options: the Large Rancher, Medium Hired Hand, Small Plowman, and Small Cowgirl.
U.S.: Apple Pie
Apple pie is considered the classic American dessert, so much so that the expression "as American as apple pie" has been popularized. For a delicious version of the popular dessert, check out The Elegant Farmer in Wisconsin.
U.S.: Chicago: Hot Dog
Hot dogs are popular around the country, but the city known for being home to the best dogs is Chicago. Typical Chicago hot dogs are all beef and served on a poppy seed bun with mustard, onions, sweet relish, a pickle, sport peppers, celery salt, and tomatoes. Three of the best hot dogs in the city can be found at Fat Johnnie’s, Hot Doug’s, and Superdawg, all of which were mentioned on our Chicago's 29 Best Hot Dogs list, as well as America’s 35 Best Hot Dogs.
Venezuela: Pabellón Criollo
A spin on a simple rice and beans dish, pabellón criollo consists of shredded beef, stewed black beans, and rice. Popular toppings on the dish include plantains and fried eggs. La Cocina de Francy in Caracas has a great version of the traditional Venezuelan dish.
This dish is the quintessential noodle soup. The soup consists of rice noodles, seasoned with lime and mint, and sliced beef or chicken. Eat some of the best pho at Pho Hung in Ho Chi Minh City.
Saltah is relatively hearty for a lunch dish. It is made with a base of lamb, chicken, or beef and more closely resembles a stew rather than a soup. Many people eat it with flatbread and locals head over to Houmald Salta in San'a, which is said to have the best in town.