Where to eat the most iconic foods in the world

Some foods are simply iconic.

They become so associated with a specific place – listed on every blackboard menu in town, recommended by every bartender, praised in every guidebook – that no visitor can leave without tasting it. Travelers can’t miss the gooey cheese of a pizza alla pala square in Rome; the satisfying sip of perfectly chewable noodles from the unctuous shoyu ramen in Tokyo; the adrenaline rush bursting from a spicy, spicy golgappa in New Delhi; or the sweet zing of a taco al pastor in Mexico City. These foods are woven into the fabric of a city, and while the word “destination” has been overused (applied thoughtlessly to Michelin-starred tasting menus and neighborhood brunch venues), it’s an apt term for meals that appeal to visitors just as much. as reference architecture or museum exhibits.

When tourists plan a trip around a cebicheria in Lima, a steakhouse in Kansas City or a patisserie in Paris, they are entering an ongoing conversation between chefs, bakers and local customers about enduring culinary practices. In these cities, a piece of fish dyed with lemon, a burnt tip or a delicate choux pastry is a totem used to establish, reinforce and challenge a shared identity – it is also an invitation.

For our summer trips, we look for food cities that are destinations in every sense of the word, from Cincinnati chili to Puerto Rican mofongo, highlighting the restaurants that serve the best versions of these iconic dishes. These places might be known for a signature item, but the expressions are endless – these are destinations worth returning to over and over again.

The 10 best pepper salons in

Ever since the Kiradjieff brothers started serving meat sauce over spaghetti a century ago, Cincinnati has been creative in serving their famous spiced chili. Salons pile it on spaghetti with increasingly wild toppings in three, four, five directions. They spread it on coneys and fries and chili cheese sandwiches. They layer it with lasagna, toss it in goetta, and pour it over corn chips. One thing that never changes: it’s always delicious.

The 19 best Taquerías in

Tacos are a full-day activity in bustling Mexico City. Wake up to live northern music and fire-roasted barbacoa overnight in brick ovens. Then, reach out to a bicycle canasta taco vendor for a steaming chicharron taco with salsa verde, or squeeze onto a standing counter for suadero or tripe from a bubbling cauldron. End the day with the late-night set packed around trompos for tacos al pastor, piled high with fiery salsas of overflowing molcajetes.

The 11 best places to eat poke in

Of all the misconceptions about poke (as it is spelled, that it should include kale), the biggest mistake is thinking the dish needs to be a flashy production. “That liquor store serves great poke” is not a phrase you hear on the mainland, but it is par for course in Honolulu, where excellent poke emerges from the humblest of environments: supermarkets, malls, piers. Choose the freshest option from the deli and enjoy your takeout on the beach.

The 14 best barbecue restaurants in

Be prepared to wait at Seoul’s best steakhouses, where wait times are calculated in hours, not minutes – remember that patience pays off. The city’s award-winning meat palaces light up grills to perfectly sear hanwoo beef or thinly sliced ​​frozen pork belly, among other exclusive, high-quality cuts. Finish with a classic siksa like cold buckwheat noodles or kimchi jjigae, or more inventive options like omurice or table-fried instant rice with leftover banchan.

The 14 best bakeries in

There’s a complex taxonomy of French pastries on display in Parisian patisseries: laminated viennoiserie like croissants and pain au chocolat, choux-based pastries like éclairs and religieuses, buttery sablés ganache sandwich or creamy cheesecake holder, bright fruit tarts and all types of cakes, cookies, brioches. You might need help keeping track of everything – but you won’t need help finishing your sweet feast.

The 16 best ramen shops in

Customers often eat ramen quickly and move on, but a 15-minute meal belies the number of years top ramen chefs spend developing their recipes. Dip into the broth, which can be flavored with pork bones, seafood, duck, miso, Parma ham or sardines. Or look at kodawari, specialty ingredients like artisanal soy sauce, rare breeds of chicken and noodles from complex flour blends. If you don’t get it all from one bowl, you’ll have to go back several times.

The 12 best chat sellers in

India takes your conversation very seriously. In the capital – where chaat was introduced hundreds of years ago as a medicine – the dilliwalas have favorite vendors for golgappas or aloo tikkis, fervent loyalties to chaat masalas and chutneys, and strong opinions about the tangy, spicy and crunchy snacks that supply the millions of locals. of the city. residents.

The 20 best pizzerias in

Rome tends to be overshadowed in the pizza world by Naples, but the Italian capital has unbelievable world-class pizza. The city is home to native styles such as pizza in teglia, pizza alla pala and pizza tonda; hybrid Romano-Neapolitan pizzas that are crunchy but chewy; eccentric creations became worldwide sensations like trapizzino; high concept pizza finished with tongs; and pies that celebrate Lazio’s regional bounty.

The 12 best cebicherias in

Cebiche had its star turn in the 1920s, when it invaded almost all haute cuisine restaurants in the world. But it is difficult to reproduce the experience of eating cebiche in Lima. Limenos don’t demand embellishment or luxurious extravaganzas – they just want their cebiche to strike the perfect balance of acid, temperature and spice on top of fresh, delicious fish. It’s not too much to ask, but It is a lot of flavor.

The 15 best spots for Mofongo in

In San Juan, mofongo is prepared in every imaginable way. You can get it stuffed with fixings or on the side with a prominent entrance. You can get ripe bananas, cassava or breadfruit mashed into standard green fried bananas. You can get it with camarones in salsa criolla, chuleta kan kan, fried chillo or barbecue encebollado. Whatever you do, don’t forget the mayonnaise ketchup.

The 14 best barbecue joints in

Kansas City knows its meat. Burnt ends, brisket, beef and pork ribs, sausages, ham – the city’s pitmasters can do it all, and the omnivorous locals devour it all without prejudice. Chefs are also free to get creative, showcasing their know-how by stuffing brisket and beans into locally made tortillas or infusing Thai flavors of lemongrass and lime makrut into pork sausages.


Editorial leader: Nicholas Mancall-Bitel
Creative Director: Nat Belkov
Publishers: Erin De JesusStephanie Wu
Contributors: Andy Brownfield, Martha Cheng, Liz Cook, Natalia de la Rosa, Sharanya Deepak, Dayna Evans, Gabriela Torres, Matty Yangwoo Kim, Liliana Lopez, Brian MacDuckston, Katie Parla
Photographers, in order of appearance: Hailey Bollinger, Andrew Reiner, Ryan Siphers, Robert Evans, Joann Pai, Ken Shimizu, Ajmal Jami, Andrea Di Lorenzo, Jimena Agois, Zuania Muñiz Melendez, Steve Puppe
Video editor: Michael Corcoran
Copy editors: Nadia Q. Ahmad, Rachel P. Kreiter
Engagement editors: Frances Dumlao, another mile
Special thanks to: Nicole Adlman, Missy Frederick, Damla Heard, Brenna Houck, Amanda Kludt, Ellie Krupnick, Lesley Suter

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