The Best Places to NOT Eat Local
Will travel for food. That's our motto. And the more local the better. But sometimes the most authentically local joints are the ones with seriously foreign fare. From tacos in Prague to pizza in Portugal, Kristy Alpert serves up the most foreign local eats
Mexican in Prague
Eating Mexican food in Europe can be a gamble—think neon orange cheese sauce and stale taco shells. But Prague’s large Californian expat crowd created a serious demand for South of the Border eats. Enter Las Adelitas. There are two locations, but you should make like a local and head to the Vinohrady spot. Owned by a Mexican family, the dishes are legit. Think tacos of tangy nopales or smoky-sweet al pastor. Wash them down with sweet horchata or choose from their vast selection of tequilas and mezcal.
Pizza in Thailand
The Italian owner of La Luna Pizzeria came on vacation to backpack and rockclimb years ago and never left. You’ll find him shirtless, kneading pizza dough and chatting up the mix of fellow rockclimbers, hotel staffers, artists and backpackers that pack the restaurant nightly. The setting is pure Thailand—think an open-air pavilion surrounded by lush palms and a bar with barefoot beach goers reclining against silk pillows. But the food is legit thanks to quality ingredients—think pastas made fresh daily and ham flown in from Parma—and to the wood-fired oven that lightly chars each pizza crust. “The wood oven baked pizza definitely rates in the top three in my personal pizza ranking index,” says Norman Zweyer, experience director at the Six Senses Yao Noi next door.
American in Paris
Reclaimed wood. Bearded and bespectacled bartenders. Exposed brick. These days, the hippest spots in Paris have more in common with Brooklyn than traditional bistros. The hottest of these hotspots? Le Mary Celeste. Located in the Marais, this petite bar was named after a nineteenth century ship that sailed from New York only to be found abandoned with the crew’s belongings and alcohol barrels left onboard. The booze here has also crossed an ocean (think pints of Brooklyn lager) while the menu tips its hat to American fare with housemade beef jerky, oysters on the half shell and Chef Haan Palcu-Chang’s take on a lobster roll (topped with cheddar on a brioche).
French in Tokyo
Traditional Japanese desserts tend to go light on sweetness and incorporate savory elements. Think red bean yokan or rice flour dango dumplings. But Tokyo has also had a long love affair with Paris. So it should come as no surprise that the line of local business men and women stretches out the door at the Andaz Toranomon Hills Pastry Shop each morning. The shop specializes in dainty eclairs, which are exquisitely arrayed along a large marble counter. In addition to traditional chocolate eclairs, you’ll find seasonal flavors like raspberry and rose along with Japanese-French mash-ups like matcha tea eclairs and yuzu madeleines.
Greek in Ecuador
Quito’s food scene is slowly but surely following in the footsteps of Andean neighbor and culinary darling Peru. One of its most popular eateries? Sophia, a little Greek taverna that ditches quinoa and cuy in favor of Mediterranean flavors. The ambiance is always lively, with the owner, Nikos, setting the scene for his friends and guests with Greek music, dancing, and authentic dishes like his legendary moussaka. It’s not uncommon to see neighborhood residents and expats breaking plates and ordering extra rounds of his rose water scented baklava well into the night.
French in Wiesbaden
Who would have thought one of the world’s best macarons would be found in a German spa town? The head bakers at L’Art Sucre studied the art of macaron making in France and brought their craft home to the Rheingau wine region. They make these dainty little gems along with other pastries daily and sell them by the box for the hoards of Germans hungry for sweets. To confuse matters more, they pair their pastries with Italian coffee and handcrafted chocolates created with South American cacao.
Indian in Glasgow
Indian food has become so omnipresent in the UK since the opening of the first curry house two centuries ago that some think it should be the national dish. Eating local means eating Indian, from London to Glasgow. We dig the North Indian fare at The Dhabba (the Punjabi term for a roadside diner). It was one of the first restaurants in Scotland to recruit professional chefs from India. And its spicy fare goes surprisingly well with island’s most famous export—scotch. Local (and Dewars brand ambassador) Gabriel Cardarella pairs his takeout curry with a lightly peated dram of Craigellachie single malt. That’s our kind of fusion.
Jamaican in Toronto
Toronto is one of the most diverse cities in the world. So local food here is often synonymous with ethnic food. In Kensington Market, you can find a UN of flavors from French to Venezuelan to Ethiopian. But when the temperatures drop, locals love to dip into Caribbean Bistro for a mini-island vacation. Lawn chairs dot the lime green restaurant where groups of friends chill to steel drum soundtracks while tucking into a range of East Indian and Jamaican fare. Think stewed goat and oxtail with eggplant fritters, roti with curried veggies and homemade cassava pone and tamarind balls for dessert.
British in Buenos Aires
In a city famous for its beef, it makes sense that Argentinians would crave a bite from the sea every so often. At Chipper Traditional Fish & Chips, blue and white checkered placemats set the backdrop for generous portions of hand-battered abadejo (cod) with crispy papas fritas and mushy-peas. Owner Susan Kennedy moved to Buenos Aires from Ireland to practice interior design and, although she fell in love with the local culture, she desperately craved good fish and chips. With the help of Argentine Marcelo Liska, the duo opened the always-packed shop in hip Palermo. And don’t worry, you can still get a taste of that famous Argentine beef—here it’s baked into a hearty steak and Guinness pie.
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