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Five foodie stays you won’t want to miss

From Washington’s stately eateries to Lisbon’s fresh seafood and Denver’s trendy lunch offerings, these global culinary destinations are sure to satisfy even the most discerning palate.

By Alina Dizik | December 21, 2023

If you’re traveling to a food-centric destination, you better arrive hungry. Many of the world’s most alluring cities are best explored through their diverse culinary offerings. Find everything from chic multicourse meals to tiny snack-filled alleys that will thrill even the most adventurous eaters. Read on for our top picks – and don’t forget the reservations.


Whether you’re in the mood for comfort food or an extensive tasting menu, Washington’s dining scene attracts the most discerning foodie traveler. Start with lunch at Estuary, a culinary hot spot that combines Filipino influences with modern American cuisine at Conrad Washington, DC. Ingredients are sourced from the Chesapeake Bay region, and you can’t go wrong with shared plates like smoked fish dip and crispy pig ears. For dinner, head to Le Diplomate, a French-style bistro offering the country’s classics, including their famous trout amandine. As you explore, be sure to stop for some Lao or Thai offerings. With one of the country’s largest Southeast Asian populations, many local chefs offer a diverse mix of quality dishes otherwise difficult to find in this part of the globe.

Lisbon, Portugal

Exploring this hilly capital by foot — or via its charming trams — is sure to leave you hungry, and that’s a good thing. Many of Lisbon’s trendy eateries use fresh regional ingredients that attract and fuel both locals and visitors. Start your day with pastel de nata, Lisbon’s iconic custard tart, at Confeitaria Nacional, an award-winning, nearly 200-year-old patisserie that once served as the official confectioner of the royal family. For heartier fare, explore some of the traditional Portuguese restaurants known as tascas. One top spot is Tasca da Esquina, which offers shareable Portuguese tapas in Lisbon’s historic Campo de Ourique district. Like others in the city, this laidback tavern can be found away from the more touristy areas and closes between dinner and lunch.

Punta de Mita, Mexico

Just north of Mexico’s lively Puerta Vallarta is the laid-back Punta de Mita, a 1,500-acre (607 hectares) private peninsula and the perfect palm-lined escape. With a growing list of restaurants overlooking its white-sand beaches, the perfect meal is never far away. For dinner under the stars, head to Mezquite. At this beachfront restaurant located in Conrad Punta de Mita, you can eat the catch of the day while keeping your toes in the sand. Meanwhile, those looking for a swanky dining experience can reserve a table at Codex. The resort’s award-winning restaurant offers expertly curated dishes like smoked oysters and crispy softshell crab, all with top-notch service. For something more casual with a taste of traditional Mexican flavors, head to Arbol for breakfast or dinner.


With a host of new eateries cropping up in the Mile High City, the food scene is raking up an impressive list of awards. One favorite? Misfit Snack Bar. With a name that says it all, the uber-popular spot offers dishes that are a perfectly executed mishmash of ideas like fried chicken potpie pierogies and butternut squash tamales. Afterward, head downtown to another aptly named spot – The Corner Office – located just off the lobby at the Curtis Denver - a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, for handcrafted martinis and regional tapas. For breakfast, don’t miss the city’s popular Bakery Four, which regularly sells out of their freshly baked pastries including croissants, monkey bread and cardamom buns in its expansive Tennyson Street space.

New York

With some of the most acclaimed restaurants in the world, a food-focused itinerary in the Big Apple will not disappoint. Start your day with a guided food tour of the Lower East Side or Greenwich Village, exploring traditional pizzerias, old-school diners and newer sit-down spots. For a classic seafood experience, head to the Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant, an underground haunt in Grand Central Station that opened in 1913. The landmark eatery is the oldest restaurant in the iconic train station and serves some of the city’s freshest oysters. For a menu that's inspired by French, Mediterranean and Moroccan cuisine, head to Cafe Gitane and enjoy some of the city’s best people-watching while treating your taste buds to flavorful dishes.

Whether you stay local or head out of the country, exploring a city through food can turn a quick getaway into a favorite vacation memory. Take time to visit restaurants outside of the city center for unforgettable bites and don’t be afraid to try something new.

Alina Dizik is a veteran lifestyle journalist, covering travel, real estate, family, work trends and dining. Her work appears in The Wall Street Journal, BBC, The Cut, The Guardian and other top publications. She lives in Chicago and has spent time living in New York, Europe and the Middle East. She spends more than two months each year traveling internationally with her husband and two school-age children. She has visited more than 50 countries.

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