Food worth traveling for: memorable dishes around the world

Three pictures of food: pierogis, ssiat hotteok, and khinkali

Sometimes we wish we were food bloggers. We love to eat and especially love trying new things when we travel. Food definitely plays a huge role in our travel planning. We consider a destination’s culinary options when deciding on a trip, and have spent countless hours researching what and where to eat in a new place. And we remember with great fondness and specificity certain foods and meals we’ve eaten around the world. Honestly, we have had some of our most fun conversations reminiscing about these things.

So we decided to put some of that joy into a post. Here we’ve written about ten of our most memorable dishes from all corners of the globe that we’d get on a plane or a train or a boat to eat again.

It should be noted that we did not include any of our favorite dishes or meals from our three favorite food countries: Italy, Japan, and Germany. We would gladly visit these countries again any time to enjoy any number of their incredible culinary specialties and are working on a separate post all about them.

Khinkali in Lviv, Ukraine

What was it

Khinkali (or chinkali) are Georgian soup dumplings. They are large purses of dough filled with meat (or cheese!) and broth. They typically have a handle that you use to hold them while slurping out the broth and eating the filling.

Where did we eat it

Khinkal’nya in Lviv, Ukraine.

Why it was special

We first tasted them during our week in Krakow, but absolutely fell in love with them at this specific restaurant in Lviv. This is where we were introduced to cheese khinkali. They were utterly surprising and delicious. The cheese became gooey combined with the soupy broth.

Khinkali are always made fresh, so you might have to wait a bit for your order. But they are absolutely worth it.

When we started writing this post, we were talking about what to cook for dinner and we honestly thought about getting on a plane to fly back to Lviv for these dumplings instead. Khinkali have become one of our favorite foods in the world.

Banitsa in Sofia, Bulgaria

What was it

Banitsa is a savory pastry made with filo dough and cheese or meat. Bulgarian banitsa is pretty much the same as burek found in other parts of Eastern Europe.

Where did we eat it

A small bakery in an underpass in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Why it was special

This was our first taste of anything in the burek family. Burek has since become one of our favorite foods (which has not been good for our waistlines). We were taken to this tiny shop on a free food tour in Sofia. We never ever would have found it otherwise. A lone woman served us cheese banitsa piping hot having just been cooked. It was so delicious! We we would have bought enormous pieces for ourselves had we not been on a food tour. We regret not having gone back and have no idea what the place is called.

But now that we know the best bakeries in places like Sofia or Skopje are often in unassuming, highly trafficked spots, we just recommend popping into one if you see one to give their specialties a try.

<< Read more about our winter weekend in Sofia >>

Ssiat hotteok in Busan, South Korea

What was it

Hotteok is a Korean street snack of fried dough. Ssiat hotteok is a specialty of Busan, and comes topped with seeds in addition to the standard cinnamon and sugar. It is served in a paper cup because you eat them right out of the fryer and they are super hot and greasy. The cup also catches the seeds!

Where did we eat it

A small stall behind the Lotte shopping mall near the Seomyeon metro stop in Busan, South Korea.

Why it was special

The entire experience of eating this delectable delicacy was unique. We were rapt watching men quickly form the dough and fry it up. The fully cooked, still fluffy dough is then elegantly shoved into a small paper cup and seasoned with the perfect amount of cinnamon and seeds. It makes for one delicious and addictive package.

We would most definitely get on a plane or a ferry from Fukuoka to Busan to taste it again.

Lamb in Torshavn, the Faroe Islands

Plate with lamb shank, root veg, and gravy in the Faroe Islands

What was it

Braised Faroese lamb shoulder.

Where did we eat it

Aarstova in Torshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands.

Why it was special

Most of the food we ate in Torshavn left much to be desired. But our meal at Aarstova did not disappoint. It was a splurge, but so is visiting the Faroe Islands in general. They have two prix fixe menu options. We chose the smaller three-course meal, starting with a good lobster bisque and ending with dessert that honestly wasn’t that memorable (as in, we can’t remember it). What was memorable, and of course the star, was the slow braised shoulder of local Faroese lamb. It was a simple dish, but perfectly executed and truly delicious.

Pide in Istanbul, Turkey

Two Turkish pides and butter wrappers in Istanbul, Turkey

What was it

Turkish pide is similar to pizza. The dough is oval or boat shaped, with a thin crispy crust. It’s most often topped with meat or cheese.

Where did we eat it

Fatih Damak Pide in Istanbul.

Why it was special

We sought this particular pide spot out based on the many glowing reviews. It’s a little bit outside the city center but worth the trip. The pide is served with packets of butter that you can rub all over the crispy and fresh crust. We each got pide with meat on one side and cheese on the other. Sarah got hers with a raw egg that cooks a little after you crack it on top. It was an immensely satisfying lunch.

Pierogis in Wroclaw, Poland

What was it

Pierogis are Polish dumplings. They can be filled and prepared many different ways, but the most common are those filled with cheese and potatoes and boiled or pan-fried. They also come with different toppings and sauces.

Pierogis can also be baked, and we learned in Wroclaw that we find this preparation most delicious.

Where did we eat it

Pierogarnia Stary Młyn in Wroclaw, Poland.

Why it was special

We were a bit hesitant to go to Pierogarnia as it’s a chain located in the old town. The prices are higher than what you’d pay anywhere else for pierogis. And you’ll likely have to wait on a long line to get in. It is, for lack of better word, touristy. So to be honest, we sat down to dine with low expectations.

Pierogarnia has a dizzying array of menu options. They serve their pierogis two ways: boiled and baked. You can choose from many fillings (meat and vegetarian) and many toppings and sauces. We ordered one plate of baked pierogis and one plate of boiled pierogis and a selection of side salads (which are absolutely essential to any pierogi meal).

The boiled pierogis were good, but no better than those we’d eaten elsewhere (for less). The baked pierogis however were outstanding. Tender and moist and flavorful, they were delicious. We were very sad we didn’t have room for dessert because the sweet baked pierogis were quite tempting. Next time.

Curry in Glasgow, Scotland

Table of curry, fritters, naan, rice and side dishes in Glasgow, Scotland

What was it

A massive Indian curry dinner.

Where did we eat it

Desi Curry Palace in the Govanhill neighborhood of Glasgow.

Why it was special

We ordered three curry dinners with three different curries with different meats and bases. Each dinner came with naan or rice, papadams, fried onion fritters (bhajis), and chutneys. We feasted for two nights.

We’re not curry connoisseurs, but we have eaten it several times in NYC and the UK. This was without a doubt, the best curry meal we’ve ever eaten. By a lot. We loved having a variety of tastes and textures to enjoy. And take-out is our favorite way to enjoy a meal like this. We sat at our table on our first night in a new city and were in local food heaven.

Note, if you’re relative curry novices like us, we recommend this glossary of curries to help you make your selections.

Poutine in Montreal, Canada

Plate of a salad, burger, and poutine in Montreal, Canada

What was it

Poutine is a Canadian specialty of french fries topped with cheese curds and gravy.

Where did we eat it

Le Saint Bock in Montreal.

Why it was special

We ate a lot of poutine on our trip to Montreal. We chose this as the best because of how well balanced it was. The fries stood up well to the gravy and never became soggy. The cheese curds were perfectly salty and squeaky. And best of all, you could order your poutine as a side to their also tasty burgers. And wash it down with one of many, many craft beers on offer.

Halušky in Bratislava, Slovakia

Plate of halusky with lardons in Bratislava, Slovakia

What was it

Halusky is the Eastern European version of mac and cheese. Small dumplings (similar to, but larger than spaetzle) are smothered in a cheesy sauce and topped with lardons.

Where did we eat it

1. Slovak Pub in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Why it was special

Halusky is a simple dish, but extremely satisfying. We’ve had halusky many times since, but we’ll always remember that plate. The cheese sauce was sharp and rich, the dumplings were perfectly cooked, and the lardons did their job by adding even more saltiness, grease, and crunch.

Even though 1. Slovak Pub is in the middle of the touristy old town, it’s an unassuming, cozy spot. We only had halusky here, but our plates were delicious and extremely well-priced.

<< Read next about our trip to Devin Castle from Bratislava >>

Schnitzel Wiener Art in Vienna, Austria

What was it

Schnitzel is meat pounded extremely thin and deep fried. By food law, a “Wiener Schnitzel” must be made from veal. This particular Schintzel was pork, which we prefer.

Where did we eat it

Figlmüller in Vienna.

Why it was special

This is not an under-the-radar restaurant. If you Google “best Schnitzel in Vienna” you will find Figlmüller. But it lives up to the hype. The Schnitzel was pounded so thin and was perfectly cooked and not at all dry. It looks like an enormous piece of meat, too big for the plate it comes on. We ordered it as recommended, with a small mixed green salad and potato salad. It’s a simple meal, but every ingredient is of the highest quality and it was outstanding.

There are two locations at two addresses, but they are actually connected. Reservations are necessary.

We hope this post has sparked your culinary wanderlust. We are looking into booking flights back to some of these places right now ourselves!

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