Food Worth Traveling For: Travel Experts' Most Memorable Meals
During a last-minute jaunt to Miami, I swung by the SLS South Beach for an extraordinary meal at Jose Andres’s Bazaar. I grabbed a seat at the tapas bar, where I was able to watch the chefs at work, and made friends with another solo traveler who agreed to share plates so we could taste more of the menu. The circumstance was as fortuitous and surprising as the parade of deliciousness that followed: tuna ceviche in a hollowed-out dragon fruit topped with tart, airy foam; sea urchin “yogurt” presented with a tiny wooden spoon and foil lid; a margarita topped with salt air; fresh king crab and raspberries hiding out in a tin can. Refined and playful, every aspect of the experience was clearly considered, from the attentive service to the whimsical decor. -- Whitney Holmes
San Juan Islands, Washington
I had the most memorable meal of my life at Willows Inn on Lummi Island in the San Juans, off the coast of Washington State. Here, the food truly offers a sense of place, and all ingredients are local and seasonal: fished, foraged and farmed daily.
We had an eight-course tasting menu with wine pairings, each dish telling a story about the land. Standouts included the house-smoked salmon in a cedar box; black cod with house-made horseradish and dill on a crispy potato chip; scallops with frozen, shaved horseradish; grilled asparagus with minors lettuce and pressed pine shoots; spot prawns with pickled green seaweed and kohlrabi; an assortment of local peas with house-made havarti cheese; king salmon with turnips and nasturtium; and a colorful display of candied wildflowers for dessert. Most ingredients were sourced from the island, and many that day by the staff themselves on their walk to work. I learned more about the area with every bite.
In addition to the food, the kitchen is open, and diners watched chefs prep and plate from their seats. The staff was passionate and knowledgeable, and the only element that rivaled the cuisine, was perhaps the breathtaking view. Yes, there were whales. -- Erin Roth
Fried noodles and rice with veggies in Nepal’s Himalayas. It doesn’t look like much, but these stick-to-your-ribs meals – plus the chance to sit and rest our feet -- were heavenly after trekking for up to eight hours a day. Also, knowing that someone had to carry the food supplies on their back to get them to the remote mountain teahouses made us appreciate the meals that much more. -- Kelsey Rexroat
Café Matisse -- upscale dining in Nassau, Bahamas. I had a fantastic lobster salad. It was light but packed with flavor and done perfectly. Would rival any hot NYC restaurant. The restaurant is in an old colonial house (plantation?) and were seated on the balcony overlooking the courtyard. The restaurant is in Nassau in what would be a downtown area located pretty near the bridge to Paradise Island, so the buildings are close together. A cat was jumping roof to roof and visited us at our table before a waiter shooed him away. Magical evening. -- Lydia Smith
I traveled to New Orleans for Mardi Gras in March 2014, and my favorite memory was sitting on the steps on a warm, sunny afternoon overlooking Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral with a bag of beignets and a café au lait in hand from the world famous Café Du Monde. Absolute heaven. -- Jennie Drygulski
Mine was at Nobu in Las Vegas: it was by far the top three meals I’ve ever had. The service was impeccable and the food was outstanding. They paired the food with different wines and asked you what your budget was and then built a custom menu around that. I tried things I would never try before, like the roasted crossbreed peppers. One out of 10 is so hot you can’t eat it -- so it was like playing pepper roulette. -- Amy Wallace
Icelandic hot dogs -- it’s like their unofficial national food and they are GREAT. There are several hot dog stands around Reykjavik, “Baejarins beztu” being one of the most famous. I got hooked on the traditional Icelandic dog and probably stopped here every night on the way home from the bars. -- Chris Vassil
On a tip from friends, my travel buddy and I went to eat at a small, unassuming restaurant in Venice called Osteria alle Testiere. Upon arrival, we learned they were booked up with reservations for days. Luckily, Luca, the host and proprietor made it his mission to get us a table. The most delicious meal I had in Italy was made even better by his warmth and generosity, which lasted all evening. We ended up sharing stories, food and great wine with Luca for hours after all the other patrons and staff had gone home. It was an evening and dining experience that I’ll never forget. -- Caroline Eber
I couldn't tell you a thing about what we ate in our bento boxes at the Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku, only because we were being visually assaulted by a show of bikini-clad women mocking battles using enormous robots in a basement theater light show. -- Hilary Solan ***
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