Does the phrase "will travel for food" apply to you? Well, hungry traveler, here's good news: You won't have to fly far for delicious international eats. Many of the world's best travel destinations for foodies are in the Caribbean, while many others are located nearby in the Northeast United States and Canada. Really, the only bad news is that you'll have to wait at least until you finish this article to sink your teeth into tender Maine lobster or spicy Jamaican jerk chicken. You might want to grab a snack before going any further.
The best way to experience all the Caribbean has to offer is to eat your way through this tropical paradise. You'll find succulent seafood, crave-worthy curries and many more indulgent dishes. Best of all, you'll be able to dine with your toes in the sand and sunny skies overhead. From the citrus-forward cuisine of Mexico's pyramid-dotted Yucatan peninsula to the French-inspired flavors of St. Maarten, these are the Caribbean queens of cuisine.
Mexico's beaches are a feast for the eyes, but a culinary journey through the Yucatan Peninsula is another path to paradise. Finish a day spent exploring the Mayan pyramids of Tulum with an evening tearing into tacos filled with tangy cochinita pibil, pork braised for hours in citrus and fragrant, bright-red achiote spice paste. Or use tostadas to scoop fresh ceviche — raw white fish or shellfish "cooked" with lime juice — after an afternoon jet skiing off the coast of Cancun. If you happen to find yourself in Merida, a medium-sized city slightly inland from the main ports of the peninsula, grab a reservation at Kuuk, a Michelin-starred establishment that serves up innovative, "molecular" takes on more traditional Mexican fare like fried pumpkin, coconut taro and tamales.
When it comes to Caribbean cuisine, Jamaica's delicacies are among the most famous, with the iconic jerk chicken — and other dishes that include the kick of jerk spice, made from thyme, allspice and searing-hot Scotch bonnet pepper — achieving mainstream status in North America in recent years. Even if you're already used to jerk seasoning, you're sure to find other unique treats in Jamaica, like the fried "Jamaican patty" dumpling, with curry-spiced beef and onions wrapped in a crunchy, golden brown exterior. In Negril, enjoy a mixture of classic Jamaican dishes and fresh-caught seafood right on the beach at Blue Mahoe. In Ocho Rios, a visit to Mom's lives up to the promise of homestyle cooking as the restaurant's name suggests.
Travelers heading to Puerto Rico will quickly find the island — especially its capital, San Juan — is one of the best travel destinations for foodies. This is due first and foremost to Puerto Rico's own rich culinary heritage, which is built upon staple foods like tostones — fried plantains that are mashed and then fried again, often served as a side to a whole fried fish or another protein — and papas rellenas, potato croquettes stuffed with paprika-spiced ground beef. Puerto Rico is also a hotbed of culinary innovation. Head to the capital's San Juan Smokehouse to peruse a meaty menu that fuses the grilling styles of this island paradise with the smokey flavors of Tennessee barbecue.
Anguilla's culinary traditions — from jerk-style barbecued meats commonly associated with Jamaica to seafood soups you find everywhere from Barbuda to Belize — are a collection of everything that's best about Caribbean food. But Anguilla's approach to "typical" regional food is synonymous to the way its fantastic beaches — Rendezvous Bay, for example — stand head and shoulders above others on nearby islands. Restaurants like the homestyle Tasty's in South Hill and the upscale Falcon Nest in Island Harbour serve up amazing takes on Caribbean seafood and comfort food, presenting them with an elegance that matches the landscape: Try grilled local lobster served with lemon and garlic or Caribbean seafood stew.
Like Anguilla, Grand Cayman offers the opportunity for you to enjoy classic Caribbean cuisine with a view of pristine beaches. It also happens to be one of the closest islands to the North American mainland. Sit down at any beach cafe and order a basket of cracked conch, piping-hot fritters made with a shellfish that's a staple food through the Caribbean region. If you're looking for an indulgent treat, head just about anywhere to grab a slice of heavy cake, named such because it's made with the flour of cassava, a root vegetable. For an upscale meal, stop at restaurants like Veranda or Morgan's Seafood Restaurant, which allow you to dine al fresco on iconic Seven Mile Beach and to feel the Cayman sea breeze as you feast.
Sint Maarten (in Dutch — it's known in French as Saint Martin) is an island where a Caribbean soul fuses with both Dutch- and French-colonial influence, a pedigree that's reflected in the Caribbean food you find here. For example, St. Maarten spare ribs draw on the Dutch's penchant for hearty, meaty meals but use island-raised proteins. On the French side, meanwhile, enjoy fresh-caught seafood prepared a la Francaise, with continental glazes such as luxuriant brown-butter meuniere. Craving a wholly European dining experience? Head to Le Cottage in Grand Case to enjoy classic French escargot. Or enjoy a homemade Caribbean approach to cooking at the no-frills Yvette's in Quartier d'Orleans.
Caribbean cuisine is only the beginning of the deliciousness on St. Barts, which, in spite of its tiny footprint, has more than 70 restaurants. Crack open fresh-caught grilled lobster with zesty Creole spices like paprika, thyme and cayenne for lunch. Then, head to Le Tamarin for a French-fusion dinner, with dishes like duck foie gras served with peppers and a rum sauce. St. Barts' beaches are the sorts that make your mouth hang wide open with their beauty, from the semi-circular hideaway at Grand Cul-de-Sac to the castaway Ile Fourchue. Likewise, every meal you eat on this French-speaking island, even the simple meals on offer at spots like the open-air La Cantina, will have you singing praises.
Chances are you still haven't decided which Caribbean country has the best food — and that's OK. Just as Bermuda's pink sand beaches are so unique that they will leave you speechless, the delicious food you find on the island speaks for itself. It's up to you to decide whether Bermuda specialties like grilled rockfish (black grouper) or fish chowder, with herbs and spices in a bright tomato-based stock, are the best of the best in a sea full of top-tier dishes. But whether you splurge on a dinner at Tempest Bistro in St. George or tuck into fried fish at Woody's in Somerset Village, every meal you eat in Bermuda will be more spectacular and satisfying than the last.
Too hungry to make it to the Caribbean? Not to worry! Many of the best travel destinations for foodies are right in the U.S. and Canada. From cosmopolitan cities like Boston and Quebec City to scenic coastal towns like Bar Harbor, Maine, you'll find delicious treats all throughout the northeast United States and its nearby Canadian neighbors. Here are some of the best places in the region to chow down.
Boston is the hub of New England and one of the birthplaces of the United States itself, so it probably won't shock you to learn that you can find some of the best food in the Northeast here. Taste classic New England clam chowder — a creamy soup made with fresh, meaty chunks of clam and potato — at local favorite Boston Chowda Co. Boston's high-end dining scene offers meals as timeless as the historical landmarks of the Freedom Trail: Dishes like the pan-roasted cod with piquillo peppers, chorizo and clams at French bistro Mistral combine the city's European heritage with the local bounty. Head to the Italian North End for cannoli pastries, fried dough shells filled with sweetened ricotta cheese filling: Compare the offerings at long-time rivals Mike's and Modern Pastry.
Newport is the place to go if you like seafood — especially lobster. Lobster ravioli, a delicacy of which the city often claims ownership — though no one knows, officially, if it originated here — is a meal that never goes out of style, just like the city's late-19th century mansions. It's a perfect dish to warm you during the chilly winter months or to wash down with a glass of crisp white wine in the summer. For a dining experience that blends a coastal-casual ambiance with cuisine that can only be described as upscale, waterside Fluke strikes the perfect balance. Or go off the beaten path to Anthony's in neighborhood Middletown for the regional favorite stuffed quahogs, a hearty shellfish — it's basically a huge clam — mixed with onions, peppers and spicy Portuguese sausage.
When searching for the best foodie vacation spots, it's tempting to get distracted by the newest hot spots and ignore the classic culinary cities like Baltimore. Thanks to bountiful waters from Baltimore Harbor to Chesapeake Bay, Baltimore is one of American's seafood powerhouses. Much of the fanfare here focuses on Maryland soft-shell crabs, either served in sandwich form or as part of the best crab cakes you'll ever eat. Baltimore is a city of legends, from the award-winning National Aquarium to the perpetually victorious Orioles baseball team, and its restaurants follow suit. You might not find local-favorite spots like Faidley and Nick's Fish House in guidebooks, but they're definitely winners.
It's as difficult to count the reasons why Quebec City is one of the best travel destinations for food lovers as it is to narrow down which French-colonial structure in the city is its most charming. Quebec City is ground zero for Canadian and Quebecois specialties like poutine — french fries with decadent gravy and cheese curds, a.k.a. the ultimate Canadian comfort food — and tourtiere meat pie, with spices, ground pork and potatoes inside a flaky pastry crust. Head to Aux Anciens Canadiens to enjoy local food in a low-key but opulent setting, or try Chez Muffy for a menu that's more French than French-Canadian but still magnifique in any dialect.
The self-proclaimed "center of the universe," New York City is not only the pre-eminent destination for cuisine in the northeast United States, but a global culinary hub if there ever was one. A trip to New York practically guarantees a great meal, whether you sample local staples like bagels and New York-style pizza, eat your way through ethnic neighborhoods like Little Italy and Chinatown or rub elbows with the global elite at upscale spots along Wall Street and Fifth Avenue. Want something simple and satisfying on your next trip to the Big Apple? Head to Katz's Deli on East Houston Street and order a pastrami and corned beef on rye — but be prepared to wait in line!
The largest city in Maine, Portland is one of those cities that's gorgeous — and a great time — no matter what time of year you decide to visit. Whether you dine amid the blazing colors of autumn or under the warm, blue skies of summer, you'll quickly see why Portland's ascension to one of the best travel destinations for food lovers is well-earned. With iconic Maine lobster as its foundation, Portland's restaurant scene has something for every sort of foodie. Check out Eventide for local-caught oysters and their famous brown butter lobster roll. Or make a reservation at the upscale Vinland, where fresh-caught Maine lobsters become a canvas for dishes so beautiful they're practically art.
While Halifax may not be on your radar as a stop on the ultimate foodie vacation, this historic port city isn't just colonial structures like the Old Town Clock and Halifax City Hall. As the city's tourism numbers have steadily crept up in recent years, Halifax has become a hot spot for easy-eating seafood dishes, such as the world-famous lobster roll. Just as the city itself is more diverse and cosmopolitan than you'd imagine at first glance, Halifax's dining scene is surprisingly eclectic. Slurp fresh local oysters at The Press Gang, or gorge yourself on shish kebabs at Efendy Turkish & Mediterranean Grill.
A hidden foodie gem in the Northeast, Bar Harbor's culinary scene is at least as satisfying as the scenery that rises around it, which includes towering Cadillac Mountain, among other impressive landscapes in Acadia National Park. It's the stuff of legends (or at least, postcards), and the cuisine more than lives up to the bar the landscape sets. Savor New England comfort food like a sumptuous clambake in casual establishments like The Travelin Lobster and Side Street Cafe. Or get a taste of the Maine brand of luxury with dinner at Mache Bistro, with simple, elegant dishes like seared local scallops and duck leg confit.