- 1 Smorgasbord in Sweden Grand Hotel, Stockholm
- 2 Asado in Argentina The Vines, Mendoza
- 3 All-You-Can-Eat in Singapore Marina Bay Sands
- 4 Pit Barbecue in Texas The Salt Lick, Driftwood
- 5 Indonesian Rijstaffel in the Netherlands Tempo Doeloe, Amsterdam
- 6 Christmas Reveillon in Louisiana Commander’s Palace, New Orleans
- 7 Big, Bad Southern Breakfast in Tennessee Monell’s, Nashville
- 8 Ochsenbraterei in Germany Oktoberfest, Munich
- 9 KFC Chicken Dinner in Japan Shimokitazawa KFC, Tokyo
The World’s Most Deliciously Gluttonous Places
Thanksgiving ain't nothing but a warm-up round. From an old-school Swedish smorgasbord to a mind-blowing buffet in Singapore to a big, bad Southern-style breakfast, these feast-lovers' destinations have dish for days. Siobhan Adcock pulls up a chair and pigs out
Smorgasbord in Sweden Grand Hotel, Stockholm
The five-star stomping grounds of pretty much every Nobel Prize winner ever might seem an unlikely venue for a pig-out. But for a weekend of culinary excess under one roof, Stockholm’s Grand Hotel is hard to top. Settle in for an afternoon of traditional Swedish smorgasbord at the Veranda, the grand dame of Stockholm’s hotel restaurants. Briny herring dishes (baked, smoked, and in salad) served with crisp potatoes, beer, and cheese make up the first course, followed by a cold-dish course of salt-cured salmon (gravlax) in dill-mustard sauce, charcuterie, and an assortment of tart and creamy dressed salads. Then come the hot dishes: meatballs with lingonberry, sausages, matchstick potatoes… Basically, you’re going to need a nap. But your feasting’s not over yet. Hit the late night see-and-be-seen scene at the hotel’s Cadier Bar for cocktails and bites, and roll out of bed the next day into a long, luxurious Sunday brunch at celeb chef Mathias Dahlgren’s Matbaren.
Asado in Argentina The Vines, Mendoza
Asado refers to the Argentinian art of socializing and meat-grilling, the day-long backyard barbecue taken to its ultimate extreme, with multiple rounds of meats—sausage, offal, goat, ribs, flank steak, and more—coming off a religiously-maintained outdoor fire over the course of an afternoon (and into the evening). It's an endless flow of wine, chat and meat. Francis Mallman, the James Beard Award-winning chef, author, restaurateur, and all-around Patagonian Grand Poobah, is the undisputed high priest of asado, and also its cousin, the parilla, or indoor grill. Mallman’s newest restaurant, Siete Fuegos Asado, is the centerpiece of The Vines, a gorgeous vineyard resort in the Uco Valley outside of Mendoza, where you can book one of Mallmann’s legendary never-ending meals.
All-You-Can-Eat in Singapore Marina Bay Sands
When it comes to all-you-can-eat, Vegas hotels have nothing on the mega-buffets of Asia. The most gluttonous of them all? Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands. Go back for thirds at not just one but three all-you-can-eat buffet restaurants: Rise, where the mind-boggling variety runs the gamut from tandoori to tiramisu; Todai, specializing in seafood, sushi, and jaw-dropping towers of Alaskan king crab legs; and the rooftop-level Cheese and Chocolate Bar, which is exactly as insane as it sounds. The same gleaming complex, located across the bay from “old” downtown Singapore, also houses restaurants from some of the world’s name-brandiest chefs, including Daniel Boulud, Wolfgang Puck and Mario Batali, plus, at current count, 8 Chinese restaurants, 7 places serving Modern Asian cuisine, an additional half-dozen or so other international joints (Japanese, Indian, Italian, etc.), and 16 more casual options ranging from burgers to dumplings to, um, toast.
Pit Barbecue in Texas The Salt Lick, Driftwood
Ask anyone in Austin—hell, ask anyone in Texas—where the barbecue is good, and they’re likely to send you to The Salt Lick, a family owned and operated pit barbecue in the hills outside Austin. It’s Bobby Flay’s favorite Texas barbecue, and pretty much everyone else’s, too. Follow the scent of wood smoke into the Hill Country, pull into the packed dirt parking lot, and make your way toward the limestone and timber main building, where the first thing you’ll see is the meat-laden grill, standing over the same fire pit the Roberts family has been cooking around since the 1960s. You’ll probably be offered a piece of melt-in-your-mouth brisket right off the grill, and shown to a table while your head is still spinning. Get the family-style dinner—all-you-can-eat sausage, beef brisket, and pork ribs, plus sides—and a slice of Texas pecan pie. Like everything else in Texas, the portions are huge—a decidedly good thing when you’re talking about brisket this legendary.
Indonesian Rijstaffel in the Netherlands Tempo Doeloe, Amsterdam
The most insane, 40-course postcolonial Asian feast of all time can only be found in the Netherlands. (Where else?) Rijstaffel, or “rice table,” which originated in Indonesia way back in the Dutch Colonial days, has long since migrated out of Asia to take up full-time residence in Holland, where it still can be found in all its lush, complex, spicy glory. Amsterdam’s bustling high temple of rijstaffel, the 30-year-old Tempo Doeloe, serves a marathon of small plates that change with the seasons. Each dish is carefully orchestrated to complement each other in flavor and texture: vinegary pickled vegetables alongside creamy spiced chicken, bitter curried collards served with savory lamb sate and spicy peanut sauce. If you’re headed back out to the canals from here, you’re gonna need a bigger boat.
Christmas Reveillon in Louisiana Commander’s Palace, New Orleans
Reveillon is a luxurious, boozy, multi-course French meal traditionally served in the wee hours of Christmas Day, and offered prix-fixe at a handful of NOLA restaurants during the holiday season. If you’re in New Orleans for the holidays, your opinion of Reveillon (best thing ever, or most restaurant-mobbing tourist-driven mess ever) will depend on whether or not you managed to book a table at Commander’s…in September. Commander’s Palace, that venerable award-winning eminence of the New Orleans restaurant world, has the priciest and fancy-pantsiest of the Crescent City’s Reveillon menus, combining some extravagant options—lobster, caviar, foie gras, bisque, linzertorte—into one unimaginably heavy meal. The restaurant also has a dress code, so good luck sneaking in with that elastic waistband.
Big, Bad Southern Breakfast in Tennessee Monell’s, Nashville
Biscuits, ham, gravy, fried chicken…The South just does breakfast better. And no one may do a good old fashioned Southern breakfast better than Monell’s in Nashville (there are four locations in the area, but the Germantown spot is the coziest). This is no-fuss, no-muss, rib-sticking fare. They seat you at a big, long table with strangers who are about to become friends. And then it starts, plate after heaping plate of food, passed family style. For the breakfast menu that means fried apples, skillet-fried chicken, country ham cut thick, cheesy grits, biscuits with sausage-studded gravy, and sweet-and-salty cornbread pudding, among other specials. They’ll keep bringing out seconds and thirds till you beg them to stop. Put it this way: Hangovers don’t stand an ever-loving chance.
Ochsenbraterei in Germany Oktoberfest, Munich
Puny supermarket rotisserie chicken, bow down to your brawny Germanic forbear: the rotisserie ox. The Ochsenbraterei, or roast ox on a spit, has been one of the most popular feasting options at Munich’s Oktoberfest since the 1890s. Even in the midst of Oktoberfest insanity, it’s fairly easy to find the Ochsenbraterei: Just look for the place that’s as big as an airplane hangar, booming with the sounds of a brass band, with a giant fake ox on a spit out front, and that indescribably amazing roast-meat smell that’s not quite like any barbecue you’ve ever been to. Inside, the picnic tables seem to go on for miles, and so do the lines—so it can a good idea to hit the tent for lunch during the week, when things are a bit less cray. Load up your plate with the Ox Platter, a gorgeous pile of ox tenderloin and roast topped with mushroom sauce and veggies, and if you can carry more (sure you can!), get a Bavarian cheese plate with crisp radishes and hearty brown bread, potato dumplings and spaetzle.
KFC Chicken Dinner in Japan Shimokitazawa KFC, Tokyo
In Japan, Christmas is decidedly not a traditional holiday. But in a cheerfully redonk tradition that dates back to some canny marketing in the mid 1970s (catch phrase: “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” or, roughly, “Christmas = Kentucky!”), Christmas in Japan means a big bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken with all the trimmings ordered months in advance and enjoyed with only-slightly-ironic gusto. The three-story KFC at the south entrance of Shimokitazawa station in Tokyo, which also sports a Midwestern-themed whiskey bar on the third floor, is the best place to participate in the annual gleeful gluttony that is Kentucky Christmas Chicken. Just don’t forget to put your order in early.