The culinary world favors those with vast and adventurous appetites. Hot spots are constantly emerging, making last year’s destinations for gastronomic enlightenment seem, well, so last year. We would never turn our backs on the game-changing chefs and defining movements that rocked places like Copenhagen, Barcelona or Northern California; but we are casting eyes towards bright new points on the horizon.
Ever since Rene Redzepi made tree moss sexy at Noma, Stockholm has played Jan Brady to Copenhagen’s Marcia. Now, however, Sweden’s restaurant scene is coming into its own. Taste 50 species of wild berries – cloudberry scone, anyone? – at Rosendals Tradgard in Stockholm, or sample the tasting menu at Matsalen, chef Mathias Dahlgreen’s two-Michelin-star restaurant in the renovated Grand Hotel Stockholm. Still hungry? Indulge in local sausages at Taylor & Jones in Stockholm's trendy Sodermalm, or grab boozy milkshakes and sandwiches on house-made bread at Kak. If you’re visiting during summer, go further north to Magnus Nilsson's award-winning Faviken restaurant 200 miles from the Arctic Circle.
Charleston who? In Kentucky’s budding metropolis, Victorian architecture meets craft beer, cocktails and cooking of the New Southern persuasion. Start with a local brew at the aptly named Louisville Beer Store, then try the southern fried chicken confit sandwich at the James Beard-nominated Harvest. Or head to 610 Magnolia for standout French-Southern fusion dishes (we love the pork belly with grilled Radicchio). There’s also rising star Annie Pettry’s, Decca, a restaurant-slash-bar with a fire pit and staff-curated book and record shop upstairs. Finally, satisfy your sweet tooth with a slice of organic flourless chocolate cake at Cake Flour bakery.
In the last decade, Spain’s most celebrated cooking has taken place in molecular gastro-labs around Barcelona and Basque Country. Culinary prowess recently recalibrated to Madrid, where gutsy chefs are reinventing traditional Spanish fine dining. Tasting menus at Dstage, a newly Michelin-starred restaurant in the Salesas district, nod to heritage ingredients with avant-garde preparation and plating, as in a mackerel starter cured with Madeira-scented smoke. At Table By, a pop-up restaurant in Hotel Urso, a different chef from a different region of the country commands the kitchen every month.
Move over, Napa. In addition to 150 wineries producing Shiraz, Australia’s oldest wine region is flush with young farmers, fromageries and chefs. The picnicking power lunch set stocks up on pheasant terrine at Maggie’s Farm Shop, which is owned by local television personality Maggie Beer. Lachlan Colwill, a Barossa native and award-winning chef, celebrates obscure local ingredients (when is mushroom floss in season?) on his tasting menus at Hentley Farm restaurant.
After decades of decline, Providence finally has a food scene to match its expansive immigrant and academic populations. At North restaurant, a tiny, no-reservations spot in Federal Hill, Momofuku alum James Mark serves inventive fare like green “chow mein,” redolent with toasted almonds and fresh herbs. A few blocks away, at North Bakery, the skinny jean set cure hangovers with goat dan dan breakfast pastries. Benjamin Sukle, a Johnson & Wales grad and Rhode Island native, does his home state proud at the 18-seat Birch restaurant, which celebrates local bounty in remarkably seasonal fashion—try the Raw Rhode Island Lamb.
The Colombian capital is flush with newfound stability and homegrown creativity. Local chef Leonor Espinosa leads the up-and-coming food scene with an all-organic, farm-to-table restaurant Mercado in northern Bogota, while Jean-Georges-trained Silvana Villegas has a stellar bakery and café, Masa, in the Rosales district. Her neighbors include Grazia, a casual spot operated by a husband-wife duo who previously worked for Daniel Boulud in Manhattan.
An elBulli acolyte and close friend of Albert Adria, José Avillez operates five restaurants across Portugal’s picturesque city. His latest, the Mini Bar, inspired by the Barcelona-based tapas restaurant Tickets, serves creative small plates like avocado tempura with kimchi in a buzzy, 1940s-style space within the Sao Luiz Municipal Theater. Last year, the food hall in the historic Mercado da Ribeira received a makeover, and now has 35 stalls that showcase local producers.
For years, the bold and the bearded poured into Portland, Ore., embracing craft spirits, farm-to-table fare and all things artisanal. Is Cleveland next? Local chefs like Michael Symon say yes, taking advantage of low rents and the Midwestern bounty like Iowa prosciutto at casually brilliant restaurants and urban breweries, including Great Lakes Brewing Company and Buckeye Brewing. At Lola Bistro, owner Michael Symon celebrates butcher cuts like calves hearts with preserved lemon. Jonathon Sawyer, whose Greenhouse Tavern is one of Symon’s favorite haunts, recently opened an opulent Italian spot called Trentina, where the bread course includes an edible beef candle (not a typo) made from aged beef tallow.
Spicy street food. Mouthwatering sandwiches. The kind of iced coffee you could sip all day. No, it’s not Bangkok⎯ it’s Hanoi that’s captured our hearts. Start with the sticky rice at Xoi Yen, a vendor on Nguyen Huu Huan Street, which serves a superlative version topped with chicken, pork or fried shallots. Then make your way to the no-frills Ming Thuy, run by Master Chef Vietnam contestant Nguyen Minh Thuy, for local beers and peanut chicken. For dinner, head to the roof-deck at Little Black Duck—the perfect spot for banh xeo pancakes with tender foul.
As another tech boom changes tastes and quadruples rents across San Francisco, Northern California’s up-and-coming culinary talent have moved 20 minutes west to Oakland. Join the inevitable line out the door for early adopter Charlie Hallowell’s Pizzaiolo, a decade-old spot in the trendy Temescal neighborhood, or slurp ramen like Alice Waters at Ramen Shop, an organic counter opened by three Chez Panisse ex-pats. Bocanova serves tasting menus in Jack London Square, and A16, a Neopolitan restaurant in San Francisco’s Marina district, recently opened an Oakland outpost called A16 Rockridge.