If you’re reading this, you’re probably the type of person who feels that a vacation is only as good as the number of amazing meals consumed. (Museums? They pale in comparison to authentic street food!) Here, 21 things you have to eat in their place of origin in order to call yourself an honest-to-goodness foodie.
1. Fresh Sushi in Tokyo
Think about it: The absolute best stateside sushi chefs trained for years under the masters in Tokyo. So don’t you owe it to yourself to eat the creation of an actual artisan?
2. Beignets in New Orleans
When in NOLA, go for the trifecta: a fried oyster po’boy, spicy Cajun gumbo and, of course, the world’s greatest beignets at Café du Monde.
3. Ceviche in Peru
In Lima, fish is typically caught within an hour of being served, and the ceviche is made with hot chili peppers, onion and lime juice. Wash it down with a not-too-sweet, just a bit eggy, refreshing pisco sour.
4. Smoked Meat in Montreal
Whatever you do, don’t call it pastrami (although it’s pretty darn similar). Schwartz’s is the place to go for this iconic sandwich…trust, it’s worth the wait.
5. Lobster Rolls in Maine
Every local has a favorite seafood shack doling out fresh lobster meat on a toasted, buttery roll. Guess you’ll have to sample a few to determine a true winner.
6. Wine and Cheese in Paris
Grab a ripe, creamy wheel of Camembert from any fromagerie, a freshly-baked baguette from the local boulangerie and a bottle of aged Bordeaux from the supermarché. Then head to the banks of the Seine with a picnic blanket in tow.
7. Street Food in Bangkok
It’s well worth getting past any hang-ups to order from the many carts that dot the streets in Thailand. Most hawkers will serve up stuff like lemongrass soup and spicy drunken noodles--but you really can’t go wrong with just pointing at anything that looks good.
8. Truffles in Piedmont, Italy
White truffle season lasts for only three months in the small Piedmont town of Alba. Go on a rare truffle hunting tour, then feast on your findings--with a big glass of Barolo, of course.
9. Oysters in Seattle
West Coast oysters--typically Pacific and Kumamotos--are small, sweet and seriously coveted. Slurping down a dozen over happy hour is a local pastime as good as any.
10. Dim Sum in Hong Kong
We’re talking traditional teahouse dim sum--a bustling café full of pushcarts, steamed dumplings and bamboo towers as far as the eye can see.
11. Pierogi in Poland
The OG dumplings, these fried dough pockets are typically filled with potato, ground meat and sauerkraut. Pairs best with a bowl of borscht.
12. “Brekkie” in Sydney
Just about every trendy brunch order you know--from avocado toast to acai bowls--comes from the Aussies. But you haven’t lived until you’ve tried ricotta hotcakes and scrambled eggs from Bill’s Café in Bondi.
13. Tapas in San Sebastian, Spain
Bar crawl your way through the city, one tiny dish at a time. (Think salted cod bites, blistered Padrón peppers and open-faced montaditos sandwiches.)
14. Tacos in Mexico City
Ready for the best tacos of your life? Head to Mexico City for tacos al pastor--marinated pork sliced like Schawarma on a small corn tortilla.
15. Fresh Poke in Hawaii
This Hawaiian staple is the latest trendy dish on the mainland. But there’s nothing quite like Da Poke Shack in Kona, where fresh caught ahi and yellowfin are served on sushi rice, then marinated with anything from shoyu to spicy garlic sesame.
16. BBQ in Hill Country
When it comes to Hill Country, it's all about the meat: heaping portions of smoky ribs, brisket and sausage, often served with simple sides and sliced white bread. Sauces are secondary, but you won't notice.
17. BBQ in North Carolina
North Carolina's signature sauce is less sweet and more tangy than its Texas counterpart--but boy, oh boy, does it make for some tender pulled pork.
18. BBQ in Kansas City
The final leg of your BBQ pilgrimage should bring you to western Missouri, specifically to LC's Bar-B-Q, where a burnt-ends sandwich cooked low and slow will win your heart. Thick, molasses-based sauce and a focus on pork are what separates it from other regional styles.
19. Pho in Vietnam
These days, you can order pho in any U.S. city. But there’s really nothing quite like the version you’ll find in Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi--which is made with a powerful beef broth and a sweet and sour mix of fish sauce, lime juice, cinnamon, cloves and anise.
20. Steak in Argentina
One trip to famed Buenos Aires steakhouse La Cabrera Norte will prove that Argentinian beef is the best in the world. Get ready for the biggest, most tender steak you’ve ever tried, served gaucho-style with chimichurri.
21. Pizza in New York City
These thin, crispy pies are best ordered by the “slice” and folded in half to eat in 15 seconds flat. (While hailing a cab, of course.)