Top 10 Food Vacations to Take in 2012 Slideshow
May 25, 2012
10. Windhoek, Namibia
Namibia has, quite simply, the best scenery in Africa. The towering sand dunes of Sossusvlei overlooking the otherworldly landscapes of Deadvlei will leave you pondering your mere existence. The adventure capital of Swakopmund was good enough for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to stay in for months and will leave your heart pounding and your senses satisfied.
Vistas and adrenaline aside, Namibia is home to my favorite restaurant in all of Africa, Joes Beerhouse. This iconic African restaurant features some of the best game you can get. The ostrich, kudu, oryx, crocodile, springbok, and, my favorite, zebra, are divine. If game isnt your thing, Joe's also offers burgers, pastas, and even vegetarian dishes to suit everyones tastes.
However, I insist that if youre going to Joes Beerhouse, you must at least try the zebra because its that good. Wash it down with some Windhoek lagers and check out the cool decorations, clothing, and curios all around the vast restaurant. You will leave Joes happy I promise!
9. Istanbul, Turkey
The only city that sits on two continents is one of the worlds great cities. From the iconic Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace to the dizzying but trendy neighborhoods of Sultanahmet and Beikta, Istanbul has it all. Whether you call it Istanbul or Constantinople, you can stay for weeks and get lost in the myriad little alleys and streets and find picturesque photo opportunities around every corner.
The main reason I go to Istanbul is to eat. Kebab is the best thing in Istanbul and you can find it pretty much on every corner and in many different forms. Any way you slice it, literally, kebab in Istanbul is delicious and very cost-efficient. My favorites are Ca Kebab or Kasap Osman. If you tire of kebab, try some kfte and definitely end the meal with some Turkish delight.
8. Koror, Palau
If you love diving or snorkeling, there is no better destination on the planet than Palau. The Rock Islands are as beautiful as anywhere on Earth. The underwater cities of coral and tropical fish are amazing to behold. Palau also boasts Jellyfish Lake, which is one of the worlds coolest places to snorkel amongst a million stingless and glowing jellyfish that look like human brains.
Sample some of the Pacifics best food in Koror. Poke is the specialty of Palau and you can get it everywhere in Koror and the outer islands. This tropical tuna delight will keep you satisfied for the duration of your time in Palau and make you dream about it once youve left. Add some soy sauce and other tropical sauces to maximize the flavor of the chunky tuna. Its different from sashimi and even better in my opinion. Its been two years since I was in Palau and I still find myself dreaming of their poke.
7. Monterrey, Mexico
Monterrey is off the regular tourist map when thinking of visiting Mexico. The Nuevo Leon capital boasts a world-class university and pumping nightlife, but maintains a small-town feel even though its a massive city. It is only a few hours drive from Texas, but a new world when it comes to food.
The famous dish in Monterrey might be baby goat but the real treat in Monterrey is their tacos. They are varied in taste and type, but any way you have them, theyre delicious. There is a spectacular place across from Tec de Monterrey called Tacos Manolo that has the best tacos Ive ever had. They're made from fresh ingredients and the best meats; the avocados and fresh tortillas are ridiculous but the trompo tacos are to die for. The prices are unbeatable and it has a cool college atmosphere as well.
6. Tokyo, Japan
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Tokyos crowds can be daunting. The only way to get around efficiently and cheaply is via subway and Tokyo has one of the worlds great subway systems. The common thread is that most major subway or train stations have amazing sushi stands, particularly Shibuya or Shinjuku.
While the notion of eating sushi in a train station may not sound appetizing, believe me, it is beyond appetizing in person.
There are no tables at these restaurants, and the menu is only in Japanese and up on a board behind the sushi chefs. The chefs will generally know the sushi basics in English, however, if youve eaten enough sushi at home, then youll probably recognize words like maguro, which means tuna. There may be a bit of a wait, as businessmen stop there for a quick bite before the long train ride home, but it is worth the wait. It is the freshest sushi Ive ever had and it is also very affordable in one of the most expensive cities on Earth.
5. Paris, France
The "City of Lights" is on many top 10 lists of cities, and the food is often lauded as some of the best on Earth. Paris has some of the worlds most iconic landmarks, museums, and churches, and strolling around the gorgeous city can lead you in a variety of directions. Following your nose will have you in patisseries, cafs, and cheese shops all over. The one place that you should not miss is Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote.
This Porte-Maillot staple is a no-frills favorite among locals and tourists alike that will leave you satisfied but wanting more. There is no menu. You sit down and get steak frites smothered in a delicious sauce that could only be concocted in Paris. A red wine accompaniment brings out the flavors of the amazing meat. Dont expect the friendliest service, but do expect the best steak frites you will ever have.
4. Naples, Italy
If tourists go to Italy at all, it is usually just to pass through to Pompeii, Positano, or Capri. But by completely bypassing Naples you are missing out on the worlds greatest pizza. Naples is the birthplace of pizza and Da Michele does it better than anyone.
The basic restaurant has no frills but the lines can be very long. Get there early and indulge in the greatest margarita pizza on the planet. I have been to every great place in the U.S. and all around Europe, but Da Michele is the end-all, be-all of pizza. Even if you are just passing through the hectic city of Naples, take some time for this pizza palace. Its not far from the train station and is well worth taking the next train south or the ferry to Capri.
3. Bangkok, Thailand
"One Night in Bangkok" may have been a hit in the 1980s, but Bangkok is certainly worth more than one night. Aside from being one of the worlds most notorious cities, it also features some of the worlds best hotels, nightlife, and more importantly, food. Street food is the name of the game in Bangkok and it is widely available.
The backpacker ghetto of Khaosan Road is the home of cheap eats in Bangkok and the streets stalls do the best pad thai I have ever had. For less than $1 (seriously), you can get a feast of pad thai with all the usual accompaniments, the spicier the better. If you want to go back for seconds, it clearly wont break the bank. Dont be worried about eating street food in Bangkok; it is clean, sanitary and just plain delicious.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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The city of samba may indeed be the most exciting city in the world. Its the home of Carnival, amazing nightlife, and the best urban beaches on Earth. Rio is also home to some of the worlds best food and drink. The best way to eat quick, delicious, and healthy in Rio is acai. This Brazilian "superfruit" is the real deal and it is available at street stalls all throughout Copacabana, Leblon, and Ipanema. Add bananas and granola and prepare to be satisfied, and energized.
At night, dont miss a Rio institution called Porco. This gorgeous restaurant with views of Guanabara Bay, Sugarloaf, and Corcovado mixed with the amazing taste of Rios top churrascaria make it a cant-miss. The waiters will bring around a variety of salted meats and slice them onto your plate until you tell them to stop. There are several varieties of all kinds of meat, all of which are amazing. For vegetarians, there is also a salad bar and roasted cheese, which may be Porcos most delicious item. Wash all the meat down with a caipirinha and you have yourself an amazing gastronomic feast fit for a king!
Buenos Aires, Argentina
The Argentine capital is the paradise for carnivores. If you love meat, there is no end to the heaven that awaits you in Buenos Aires. The grilled parrilla, an Argentine way of saying grilled meat, is to die for in the city of tango.
My favorite place to eat is called La Cabrera and it is located in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires. Get there early, as most Argentines dont eat dinner until midnight or later. The wait can be long at this local institution, but its worth it. Expect to sit close to your neighbors in a small restaurant and wash down your meat with your favorite malbec from the stocked wine list and bar. The best piece of advice is to come hungry because the portions are large and you will need some extra room because its just that good.