Do you let your taste buds decide when selecting the perfect city for an escape? Us too. We reckon you always need to feel you have experienced the real essence of city life and what better way than seeking out the flavours and smells through the eateries integral to that particular community. Here’s our brief on the best foodie cities to placate your desire to eat locally sourced, good quality produce, be it sit down or street scene.
Best for… what it says on the tin, Nordic cuisine.
Hailed as the “happy city” and we can easily see why, with such a good foodie scene making sure your palette is equally satisfied.
Where to eat
Start your day in Copenhagen at Bowl Market where, as the name suggests, breakfast is served in a bowl. From ‘WTF’ (What The Fruit) acai bowls to Lemon Blueberry Explosion to Build-Your-Own porridge, your Insta-feed will certainly thank you later with a feature of one of these beautifully presented bowls. Also worth checking out are Union Kitchen and Social if hunger strikes early.
Head to wine bar Manfreds where there’s a strong focus on raw meats and organic boutique wines. Unpretentious with no frills - just fantastic food.
Get suitably acquainted with the Nordic style of cooking by booking into the likes of Noma (the most pricey), Geist or Relae. These three frontrunners are leading the way in their field and if you can dine at least at one of these, you’re unlikely to feel underwhelmed by the City’s food scene when leaving Copenhagen. Book early though.
And, if the organic wines from the night before have taken their toll and you’re craving a burger, head to Gasoline Grill - it currently holds the title as the best burger joint in Northern Europe!
Call beer o’clock at Copenhagen-born microbrewery, Mikkeller and get your caffeine hit at Cub Coffee Bar.
When in… Copenhagen
Explore the meat packing district (Vesterbro) and Nørrebro where you’ll find the trendy hipster areas , fantastic for exploring - from quirky boutiques to indie stores, late night bars to coffee shops, you’ll find it all here.
Be sure to hire bikes in Copenhagen as it’s the best form of transport; taxis are super expensive and Uber no longer exists.
2. San Sebastián, Spain
Best for… variety - from Pintxos bars to 3 Michelin star delights, this Spanish city has it all.
Fun fact - apart from Kyoto in Japan, San Seb is home to more Michelin stars than any other city in the world.
Where to eat
Spend a leisurely morning looking out to sea at Cafe de la Concha eating brekkie before mustering up the energy for an afternoon surf.
Lunch & dinner
What makes the food scene so vibrant here is that you can enjoy authentic tapas delights for dinner for less than 5 euros or an exquisite meal from Michelin star chefs in a stunning restaurant.
For Michelin fare, book into Mugaritz or Akelare - be prepared to leave feeling bamboozled, it’s a real experience. A Pintxos crawl in the old town is a must and you’ll find the bars are split into both traditional and experimental, with a diverse crowd found in each. Hunt out Borda Berri for pig’s ear - de-e-elish!
Just outside of the city centre, you’ll find the cider house, Petritegil; a fun evening activity that serves up sharing style boards of steak to enjoy while you taste their house cider.
When in… San Sebastián
Take a walk to the summit of Urgull Hill and catch sunset from above. This hike is enough to get the heart rate up but and you’ll be treated to magnificent views of the city and beyond.
3. London, UK
Best for… street food markets and experiencing emerging global food trends.
Keeping it close to home, our capital offers a haven of culinary experiences with pop-up food vendors claiming every street corner.
Where to eat
Don’t waste your money on breakfast in the hotel – get yourself out to sample London’s early morning brunches. So, it goes without saying that Social Pantry Cafe in Battersea is a firm favourite for our Avo on toast fix. Or, why not trip along to Sea Containers, centrally located near Waterloo and Blackfriars station. Great for all things British and American – there is plenty of choice for a leisurely start to the day. Brother Marcus in Balham has a no-nonsense brunch menu and you can check out some of their supper clubs to really get to know the locals.
Try one of London’s many food markets for grub on the go (whilst sightseeing) and take your pick from an eclectic mix of food vendors celebrating different cuisines from around the world:
North - Kerb, Primrose Hill | King’s Cross
South - Flat Iron Square, Southwark
East - Dinerama, Shoreditch
West - Pergola, Paddington
Carbs are making their way firmly back into people’s diets these days and there’s an array of pasta focused eateries to choose from in London. Padella, Pastaio (make sure you try one of their Prosecco Slushies!) & Luca have all hit headlines recently and rightly so - you’ll soon find out why.
When in… London
So much to choose from – it’s hard to make inroads. Settle on one aspect that makes London such a huge attraction, be it art at the Tate, National or Saatchi galleries, architecture, a guided walking tour, or booze-fuelled gin tours.
4. Lisbon, Portugal
Portugal’s first city and exploding in popularity. According to the recent Telegraph Travel Awards, it rose 10 places to become 16th on the World’s Best Cities list. Apart from the food, there is a fine banquet of historical “must sees”. It’s a historical capital with a bustling cosmo lifestyle and the food culture is second to none.
Where to eat
Enter a suspended garden and visit SUD for a brunch with spectacular river view of the 25 de Abril Bridge. The menu takes inspiration from ‘world experiences’ and so as you can expect is varied, but there’s something for everyone. Take a long leisurely breakfast here and book into the pool for the day to take full advantage of stunning views whilst sipping on a cocktail.
A visit to Lisbon would be incomplete without venturing to the infamous Mercado de Ribeira - otherwise known as the Time Out food market which is adorned with food stalls and bars, the perfect afternoon setting. Or choose something a little more down the traditional route and Dine al fresco at A Travessa Do Fado enjoying bite-size wonders of petiscos (small plates) whilst set to a background of traditional Portuguese music.
If you’re a fish lover, a visit to A Cevicheria is a must. Be prepared to queue (with a Pisco Sour in hand) as the place is fairly miniature with just 4 tables and bar seating but the menu of octopus, tuna and scallops is worth the wait. For something a little off the beaten track and harder to find, hunt out the Food Temple for delicious veggie/vegan eatables with a tapas style menu that changes frequently and is coupled with a wonderful atmosphere.
When in …. Lisbon
Get a quick snapshot of this fantastic capital by jumping on the Hop on Hop Off Tram tours. Visit all the key attractions at your own pace and these tickets are valid for 24 hours. Stop off en route for a cheeky pastel de nata (Portugal’s legendary custard tart) and head around the historic high points – Torre de Belem, Marquesdo Pombal Square, Tower Vasco da Gama, Oceanarium.
5. Cape Town
Best for… experiencing top notch quality food on a budget.
Fly the extra mile to the Western Cape of South Africa and dine in world class restaurants that won’t break the bank.
Where to eat
Camouflaged in millennial pinks and decorated throughout in marble tones, book in to Mulberry & Prince for an indulgent Sunday brunch here that will be nicely washed down with mimosa or three. You’re unlikely to find a kale salad or activated charcoal shot featured on their menu but the Chicken & Waffles is a wine-tasting hangover cure that you won’t regret.
Catch an Uber out of town to Stellenbosch to the winelands for the day and enjoy lunch at Rust en Vrede vineyard. Set in the stunning surroundings of the estate, enjoy a leisurely lunch outside on the terrace where the menu comprises either the Chalmar Sirloin Steak (our hands down winner every time) perfectly paired with Rust En Vrede Syrah or Norwegian Salmon paired with a white from a neighbouring vineyard. Simplicity at its best. Then go on to enjoy their full wine tasting experience and roll on home…
You’re truly spoilt for choice with dinner options in Cape Town so it would be impossible to recommend just one to visit - add these to your list:
Test Kitchen - brought to you by renowned (might we add British born) chef Luke Dale Roberts (mastermind behind Short Market Club & Pot Luck Club - both worth a visit too), is the crème de la crème of Cape Townian eateries. A six course tasting menu will be nothing short of sublime set in an immersive environment accommodating a maximum of just forty diners at a time. If you’d like to reserve a table here, it’ll need some forward planning as tables get booked up some 6 months in advance.
Thali - from the creators behind the popular Chef’s Warehouse, Thali recently opened just a stone’s throw from buzzing Kloof Street. Try the Indian Tapas for two - eight delicious sharing style dishes. Get down there early as they don’t take reservations.
Cheynes - perhaps a little off the beaten track and just outside the city centre, you’ll find this restaurant in Hout Bay which is definitely worth the drive. An inspiringly inventive menu of Asian pan Pacific Rim small plates with an impressive wine list. Be sure to order the “Deep Fried Milk”!