Have you ever had a meal that was so delightful you thought about it for years to come? If so, you know that it’s always a good idea to plan a vacation around decadent, delicious meals. After all, the best way to experience a culture is through its cuisine. These three European food destinations all are home to leading restaurants that are more than worth the trip. Here are three things to expect as a culinary traveler:
- Michelin-Star meals: Dine at Michelin-starred restaurants, where you can savor the creative genius of Europe’s most celebrated chefs and sommeliers.
- Local delicacies: “Eat as the locals do” is a motto that will never steer you wrong. From afternoon tea to Italian gelato, you’ll learn about the best spots to try local fare.
- Top-notch room service: When you’re traveling as a foodie, it’s important that you stay in a hotel that serves up spectacular dishes in the comfort of your own room.
London is home to 66 Michelin-starred restaurants that lure travelers from around the world. Four Michelin-star winning chef Jason Atherton opened Café Biltmore inside The Biltmore Mayfair, LXR Hotels & Resorts, in Grosvenor Square. You’ll love dining alfresco where the menu and space are inspired by the chef’s favorite European vacation destinations. Memorable meals are made from the freshest ingredients, like farm-grown tomatoes to freshly caught crab from Devon that’ll transport you to the English coast. The chef’s favorite item on the menu? The chicken burger!
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The newly expanded terrace, set amid resplendent foliage, offers a serene space for socializing in the heart of Mayfair.
During the summer, delight in afternoon tea with a glass of Champagne at The Tea Lounge. Atherton serves up tea sandwiches, including one with Hereford beef sirloin, horseradish and white bread, paired with his signature scones and four desserts. Savor each bite alongside exceptional loose-leaf tea from Rare Tea Company, which sources only the most remarkable teas from small-scale farmers around the globe.
If you opt for dinner at Café Biltmore instead, make sure to talk to the sommelier about pairing a bottle from the extraordinary wine list with a Mediterranean-inspired meal. Choose from a diverse menu of dishes, like grilled Cornish plaice, capers, lemon and parsley, topped with citrus hollandaise, or vegetable-forward fare, like a delightful summer garden salad with grilled courgettes (zucchini), peaches, wild rocket (arugula) and broad beans.
For a lovely lunch nearby, walk 10 minutes down the road to Tamarind, the first Indian restaurant in London to receive a Michelin star. Here, you’ll experience diverse dishes that capture the breadth and depth of Indian cuisine, served in a two-floor dining room surrounded by flowers. Begin your meal with grilled scallops before digging into green asparagus Biryani and mango kulfi for dessert.
All roads lead to Rome when you’re dreaming of an excellent meal. This city is bursting with history and flavor, and it’s impossible to go wrong with so many options at your fingertips. La Pergola, which is perched on top of Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, stands tall as Rome’s only restaurant with three Michelin stars.
Both locals and international visitors alike come here for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Here, chef Heinz Beck pushes the boundaries of Mediterranean food with avant-garde dishes like duck foie gras with figs, deep-fried zucchini flowers and caviar served on shellfish and saffron consommé, and pigeon with cream of corn and black elderberries.
The dining room itself is just as artistic as each dish. You’ll dine among rare artifacts and priceless masterpieces set against wide windows that yield breathtaking views of the Eternal City.
If you decide to make a pilgrimage to this awe-inspiring restaurant during the summer, consider dining alfresco under the stars. Either way, after waking up in Rome Cavalieri, indulge in the 15-course Imperial Breakfast in the comfort of your room, including spoon canapés with quail eggs, bottarga, black truffles and pineapple carpaccio.
When you’re ready to explore the city, head to Trastevere for an authentic experience with fewer crowds. Wander down the cobblestone lanes and through the medieval piazzas until you get to the Orto Botanico (the botanical gardens) before stopping for more culinary delights.
Fiordiluna is a local favorite for authentic gelato, and Rome’s only female Michelin-starred chef, Cristina Bowerman, serves ultra-modern dishes in the equally enthralling restaurant, Glass Hostaria.
The Algarve, Portugal
If you ask the world’s most serious culinary travelers where they’re headed on their next trip, you would be likely to hear the word “Algarve.” This region in Portugal sits on the southern coast of the country. Rent a car and you’ll explore countless beaches, white-washed fishing villages and high cliffs above the Mediterranean.
The town of Amancil is an ideal base, given that it’s within reach of many of the region’s many Michelin-starred restaurants. The Conrad Algarve’s restaurant Gusto has won a Michelin star. Here, you savor dishes designed by three-Michelin-starred chef Heinz Beck offered with a wine pairing created by sommelier Emília Craveiro.
The resident chef Liborio Buonocore collaborates with Beck and Craveiro to serve guests in a lively, open kitchen where you can watch the experts in action. Select the amberjack ceviche with radish cream and peach to begin, followed by turbot accompanied with bell peppers and green gazpacho.
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Fused with Scandinavian interior design, this sleek and contemporary Mediterranean restaurant offers innovative cuisine in a bustling atmosphere, with an open display kitchen that adds to the lively feel of the restaurant.
When you’re looking for a more casual meal, head to Gigi Praia for an authentically local experience. You’ll cross the Ria Formosa natural park over one of Europe’s longest wooden footbridges to a restaurant perched between the lagoon and the beach.
The owner serves the freshest local fish, vegetables sourced from local farms and wines from nearby vineyards against the sounds of local opera on the radio. Opt for the daily catch listed on his blackboard before taking in the sun on the beach.
Make Your Next Foodie Memory
Next time you’re booking a trip to Europe, consider the kinds of meals you want to savor on your trip. When you plan your route according to your appetite, you won’t be disappointed. Most importantly, choose a hotel that gives you access to the city’s best chefs.
Elizabeth Wellington is a travel writer and brand copywriter whose work has appeared in Vogue, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure and BBC. When not writing in her Vermont farmhouse, she's usually en route to a new destination with a notebook in hand.
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