As professional food travelers, we tend to get a bit obsessive about where we eat when we travel.
We love eating like locals and finding hidden gems as part of our culinary travel, but we also thrive on discovering and participating in the world’s top food experiences. These experiences have elevated our trips into some of our best food vacations so far.
The most special food experiences are legendary in our minds. We carry memories of these experiences like badges of culinary honor as we traverse the globe and share stories and photos with fellow food travel enthusiasts along the way.
We’ve often talked about compiling a list of our best food experiences as well as those food destinations that we still need to visit. Since we eschew the ‘bucket list’ concept, we envisioned our list as more goal-oriented and less about our eventual demise.
As happens in life, we’ve been too busy traveling the world and documenting our culinary vacations to sit down and create this list. So, it has stayed on our agenda as a to-do item. Until now…
Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Eatlist
Lonely Planet clearly read our minds. They recently published a gorgeous book with their take on the top 500 most memorable eating experiences in the world.
Aptly titled Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Eatlist, this book doesn’t just list the best foods to eat. Instead, it takes gastronomic exploration to the next level by ranking the best food experiences travelers can have during a culinary vacation. These are meals that travelers can remember for the rest of their lives.
Some top food experiences are expected like eating Sushi in Tokyo and Margherita Pizza in Naples. Others are more obscure with lesser-known foods highlighted in remote, less-traveled countries. For example, the guide features Momos in Nepal and Lahoh in Yemen.
Regardless of the location, Lonely Planet has ensured that a common thread of authenticity exists among the destinations, foods and cultures.
What We Think about the Ultimate Eatlist
We were excited when Lonely Planet approached us about a collaboration.
We were thrilled at the opportunity to encourage people to take food trips and create their own special memories. Plus, Lonely Planet is a trusted resource that we often utilize when planning our own food vacations.
Honestly, we had concerns that the book would take shortcuts and solely focus on obvious culinary destinations. We’ve been disappointed before by alleged food travel experts.
But with contributions by respected members of the culinary world including chefs and writers, the book goes beyond the expected and challenges readers to explore the world with open minds and hungry stomachs. Food fans will easily recognize many of the contributors including Gail Simmons of Top Chef fame and celebrity chefs like José Andrés, Eric Ripert and Curtis Stone.
Editors present vetted food experiences with photos and stories that bring food travel to life both culinarily and culturally. This is a book that will drive food travelers like us to plan 500 food trips and book 500 plane tickets.
How We Rank with the Ultimate Eatlist
Checking off travel and leisure destinations should never be a contest, but we’re pleased to report that we’ve already completed 136 or 27% of the 500 Ultimate Eatlist experiences. Beyond motivating us with new food travel ideas, reading the Ultimate Eatlist has flooded our memory banks with recollections of amazing food experiences we’ve shared over the past twelve years.
We have fond memories of eating Portuguese pastries like Pastéis de Nata in Lisbon (Experience #12) during our honeymoon, road tripping to Lockhart to eat Texas BBQ (Experience #4), enjoying Donuts at three different shops in Portland (Experience #52) and devouring Tagliatelle al Ragu in Bologna (Experience #34) over three separate visits so far.
Eating Gelato in Italy (Experience #24) is always at the top of our list of things to do when we visit cities like Bologna and Venice in Europe’s boot, not just one year but every year. After visiting NOLA on three separate food trips together, we can confidently say that we adore all of the food in New Orleans including Beignets (Experience #45), Po Boys (Experience #89) and Muffulettas (Experience #114).
When it comes to iconic foods, we’ll never tire of Margherita Pizza in Naples (Experience #9), Souvlaki in Greece (Experience #21) and Dim Sum in Hong Kong (Experience #10). And how could we forget cheesesteaks in our home city of Philadelphia (Experience #365)? That would just be wrong.
We could go on and on with 120+ more memories but you get the gist.
How We’re Using the Ultimate Eatlist
Reading Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Eatlist makes us excited for future food travel experiences.
Though we’re currently in Vietnam, we’ve been taking the book with us to local coffee shops while we plan our next culinary trip. We’re not gonna lie – the book is a bit heavy to carry around. However, we’re willing to suffer a bit of discomfort in exchange for food travel inspiration.
Though the eatlist is available as an ebook, the hardcover copy is engaging enough to sit on a coffee table. Plus, it doubles as a conversation starter among fellow food travelers.
Thailand is our next destination, and we’re already scouring the book’s nine Thai food experiences for insight and ideas. If we play our cards right, we should be able to fit a couple of these experiences into our Thailand itinerary.
We already have reservations for a meal at the Ministry of Crab (Experience #333) when we fly to Colombo after Thailand. Thanks to the Ultimate Eatlist, we’re now aware of two additional Sri Lanka food experiences that we may try as well.
Beyond next month, we look forward to using the book to garner food travel ideas for future trips. Our only question is how long it will take for us to complete all 500 food experiences.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.