/ Food & Drink, Travel & Leisure

Taste the world – what are your favourite foodie destinations?

Our expert panel rated San Sebastiàn the best food destination in the world for its fabulous all-budget eating experiences and its incredible culinary culture. But where have your favourite food experiences been?

It was no surprise to me that our experts ranked San Sebastiàn so highly during a recent panel day for Which? Travel.

The food there is fiercely distinct, passionately produced and on the gastronomic cutting edge.

But it’s not just fancy restaurants that impress. The locals are so food obsessed that you can walk into the most ordinary-looking eatery and be served something quite extraordinary, from intricate local tapas to the freshest seafood from the Bay of Biscay. San Sebastiàn is so special precisely because great food is not just confined to expensive eateries – it’s everywhere.

My personal favourite food experience in San Sebastiàn actually took place in a cider house, eating chorizo, salt-cod and char-grilled T-bone steaks with the locals. Drinking unlimited cider fired into the glass from enormous oak barrels was an unforgettable experience – or at least it was up until the third glass of cider…

Food for thought

It got me thinking about the different kind of food experiences you can have on holiday and how the simplest ones are often most memorable, like eating freshly shucked oysters on the beach, or sampling delicious-smelling street food from an exotic market.

Don’t get me wrong – the restaurant experience can be fantastic. And you don’t necessarily have to venture far to find the best foodie experiences. The 2013 edition of The Good Food Guide features some extraordinary restaurants throughout the UK from Nathan Outlaw’s Rock in Cornwall up to Simon Rogan’s L’enclume in Cartmel, Cumbria.

But today’s culinary tourists expect a range of foodie experiences on their travels. Paris, the once unrivalled culinary capital of the world, had to settle for joint fourth place in our report. It may offer some of the world’s finest formal dining, but it lacks the variety of other destinations and the street food scene is practically non-existent.

A taste of travel

Many of my favourite travelling memories involve food, from diving for and then cooking green-lip mussels in New Zealand, to sharing spit roasted guinea pig in Ecuador. And recently I had a superb meal in a converted convent in Lisbon. It’s these experiences that make holidays so deliciously memorable – the tastes and smells you experience, and the people that you share them with.

Where have your favourite foodie experiences been? Do you agree with our experts, or have you discovered a more exciting food mecca than San Sebastiàn?


My last holiday was to Cuba – which is categorically, absolutely, definitely not the foodie capital of the world…

So to make it up to my tastbuds I’m treating them to Italy next. Heading to Naples, the Amafli coast, Florence, Bologna, Levanto and Turin so am looking forward to lots of delicious food experiences – will report back on where we find the best meal!

(Any recommendations much appreciated…)

Favourite food experiences to date include eating termites and lemon ants in the Amazon jungle, tackling an epic platter of seafood on the Scottish coast, and watching freshly picked coffee beans turned to hot steamy coffee in the hills of Chiang Rai… magic.

You’l love Florence, though eating out in Italy is pretty expensive if you do the Antipasta, Primo, Secondo / Contorni & Dolce. Their Pizzas are fantastic though. So is their ice cream (gelato). In fact I haven’t eaten ice cream here since – it would just taste rubbish. I can never understand how the bog standard ‘gelato’ is so much better than our ‘Cart Dior’. There isn’t really any comparison. Go for the chocolato. We once ate so much that both my wife and I had brain freeze.

Be warned…If your on a budget then it’s either Pizza or McDonalds.

Turin was OK but didn’t seem very ‘Italian’ to me.

It’s nice to be pampered but as we sometimes get a flat in Italy I love buying the food and cooking whilst I’m there.

I think the food in Italy gets more exciting the further south you go… mind, I do like chilli :-). My wife said in Naples they eat these tiny crabs at eh fish market…. raw. BTW I think Naples may be the graffiti capital of the world.

Best food I had in Italy was in Venice. Venice isn’t suppose to be that good for food but we found this Osteria (A place selling wine and simple food plus their version of Tapas). We had a Lasagne made out of Aubergine strips instead of pasta and a seafood pasta which just tasted of the sea mmmmmmmmmm!

A good tip is to ask at your hotel any recommendations for food as you may get some place off the tourist map where the Italians eat.

So not Crouch End then?

Crouch End has it’s highlights – we’ve enjoyed plenty of delicious meals at the Queens…

Have to agree Hazel! When I worked in Crouch End [London N8] some years ago I sampled almost every refreshment establishment in the district with great pleasure and delight in most of them. There used to be some excellent family-run Italian restaurants but I think they have gone now but I think there is still a fabulous choice of oriental, continental and exotic cuisine from the haut to the bas.

I get fed up with the pretentiousness of the foodie brigade – they can’t even be bothered to tell us where San Sebastiàn is. They excite our taste buds but keep it to themselves! Not much good for a night out, obviously, And I bet the place doesn’t have a grand establishment like the Queen’s in all its ornamental glory [I think there’s also a very good tapas bar further down Tottenham Lane where Hernandez works wonders with his langoustines].

Ha ha I thought I might be the only one who had to Google where San Sebastiàn is! (Northern Spain apparently) Agree that we’ve got tonnes to appreciate here in the UK – I’ve been loving exploring my local eateries in Brixton and I’m genuinely not sure if any pizza in Italy will beat the incredible sourdough pizza from Franco Manca…. although I’m looking forward to finding out.

Probably one of my best foodie experiences is when we stay in Carradale on the Mull of Kintyre. This might not seem like foodie heaven, but we watch for the fishing boats to arrive into the harbour and then dash down to collect a large bag-full of fresh langoustine (some still moving!) before preparing them as a delicious starter to our evening meal…you don’t get fresher than that. And, they’re absolutely delicious.

Yum! Potential destination for the next Which? Walkers holiday?

Caroline says:
10 September 2012

Malaysia for the seafood dishes, otherwise Nepal for those wonderful vegetarian meals, as the vegetation and growth is great for the freshness and tastes soooo good. I had never tasted aubergine as good there, it tastes naturally smoked like on a bbq when hand picked. New York for Mexican meals, U.K the worse. Italy dia for not enough garlic in the food, how did they get that title? India best for the ice-cream because it is made with buffalo milk. Canada is the only place where Sushi actually fills me up and tastes very good. U.K. for our good roast dinners.