The best foodie traveller destinations: A feast from west to east

AFFORDABLE: LISBON, PORTUGAL

This is surely Europe's most underrated foodie destination, a city that would never place itself up there with Paris or Rome, but which has such an appealingly unpretentious and affordable gastronomic scene that any food lover will fall in love instantly. It doesn't matter whether you're feasting on pasteis de nata – Portuguese tarts – at the bakery that invented them, or dining on petiscos, the Portuguese version of tapas at a friendly "taberna", or eating fresh seafood washed down with extremely good local wine in a bustling restaurant – everything in Lisbon is served with maximum care, and minimum fuss. And it's delicious. See visitlisboa.com

STREET FOOD: DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Thought it's known mostly for its celebrity-chef-run hotel restaurants, Dubai has an amazing street food scene, with vendors drawing influence from their countries of origin: Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, and more. Stroll the chaotic lanes of Deira or Al Karama of an evening and you'll find places selling amazingly good hummus and falafel, sweet shops dishing out Levantine kanafeh, kebab joints doing roaring trades, Indian and Pakistani restaurants serving up curries and breads to the grateful masses. Most of this food costs less than $5 a plate, and it's an experience that can't be matched by a fancy hotel. See visitdubai.com

NEIGHBOURHOODS: MILE END AND PLATEAU, MONTREAL, QUEBEC, CANADA

Although Montreal's Jewish population has always been a tiny minority, the influence of their cuisine on one of Canada's oldest cities has, for at least the last century, been immense. What probably arrived as Romanian-style cured beef brisket is now known as Montreal smoked meat, or viande fumée, and is typically layered between mustard-smothered slices of rye bread. Classic Jewish delis are still all over the city especially in the neighbourhoods of Mile End and the Plateau. Schwartz is super popular but don't limit yourself, especially if there's a line; Justin Trudeau went across the road to Main Deli and was equally fulfilled. See tourisme-montreal.org

Delicious gourmet grilled hot dogs.

Delicious gourmet grilled hot dogs. Photo: Shutterstock

RESTAURANTS: CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, US

Chicago has left New York and LA in its dust and is now regarded as America's top restaurant city. Prestigious food and travel magazines, such as Bon Apetit and Conde Nast Traveller, awarded Chicago the honours in 2017. Over 40 Chicago chefs and restaurants received America's most prestigious culinary awards from the James Beard Foundation this year alone. Once famous for its steakhouses, deep dish pizzas and Chicago hot dogs, the city is now also the fine dining capital of the USA. Though it's not just about five-star eats, Chicago is also home to the country's best burger, best gastropubs and best food courts. See choosechicago.com

FUSION: MELAKA, MALAYSIA

In a historic port town where cultures collide, you can expect interesting food. Melaka's multi-ethnic dishes are a fabulous fusion of Malay, Chinese and Indian overlaid with the influences of the colonial British, Dutch and especially Portuguese. Of the many variations, the Portuguese-Malay combination Kristang cuisine is characterised by light vegetable dishes, stews, fish soup, coconut curries and the spicy flavours of sambal. Tuck in at Melba at the Mansion, where the signature fish is baked crab stuffed with minced chicken and prawn. Afternoon tea at The Majestic Malacca combines British and Malay snacks. See malaysia.travel, majesticmalacca.com

Kai cafe and restaurant, Galway, Ireland.

Kai cafe and restaurant, Galway, Ireland.

NEIGHBOURHOOD: GALWAY, IRELAND

Galway's West End is a hardly touristy, off-the-beaten track part of the city, a hip local enclave of great restaurants, bars, boutiques, galleries and The Crane, known as the city's best pubs for traditional Irish folk music. It's also home to Kai, an award-winning restaurant run by New Zealander chef Jess Murphy and Irish husband David. Kai being the Maori word for food, the approach is equally as straightforward with a change-up; Murphy loves to take Irish classics and do something surprising. Fresh, organic-where-possible ingredients, a fine wine list and a fairytale display of cakes and desserts in a cosy rustic room behind a traditional row shopfront – the simplicity of it defies the incredible finesse here. See kaicaferestaurant.com

FINE DINING: WASHINGTON DC, US

Washington last year became only the fourth US city to earn a dedicated Michelin Guide, confirming its place as a centre for gourmet excellence. This year's edition features 108 restaurants with 14 earning stars and 22 receiving a Bib Gourmand for "exceptional good food at moderate prices". Notable Bib Gourmand recipients include Kyirisan, a French-Asian fusion restaurant in the trendy Shaw neighbourhood, and Bidwell, a local produce specialist inside Union Market. Want to splash out? Sign up for the Tour de Jose, an innovative progressive dining program that visits Jose Andres's four Bib Gourmand eateries downtown. See kyirisandc.com, bidwelldc.com, josesway.com

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TRENDS: QUITO, ECUADOR

While Lima and Buenos Aires receive all the culinary kudos for South America, Quito is emerging as a front-running contender. The city's restaurants combine millennia-and-more-old indigenous cooking styles with futuristic methods, (try one of Latin America's top restaurants, Zazu, where science plays a part in signature specials like langoustine with passionfruit vinegar). There's an old-world style to dining here that harks back a century or more (bring a tie), this being the most elegant city in all of South America, after all. See ecuador.travel

REGION: EMILIA-ROMAGNA, ITALY

The Emilia-Romagna region has over 40 Protected Designation of Origin (DOP) food products such as cured pork, parmesan and grana padano cheeses, and balsamic vinegar, with dozens of great farm and factory doors and museums highlighting its production. It also has a constellation of Michelin-starred restaurants and a fine wine (most notably Lambrusco) heritage. Even its flatbread-based piadina street food is renowned. You can always eat well in Italy, but Emilia-Romagna steps the food experience up several notches and, as an added bonus, has delightful historic towns without the tourist crush that beleaguers adjacent Tuscany. See emiliaromagnaturismo.it

WINE: BORDEAUX, FRANCE

In 2016 an architecturally striking wine museum, La Cite du Vin, opened on the banks of the Garonne in Bordeaux. Entry includes a glass of wine up in the Belvedere, the eighth-storey bar. The good news for time-poor wine lovers, though, is that the museum houses a ground-floor bottle shop – handy if you want to source a few drops from the surrounding appellations without traipsing around various chateaux. Tell the staff your budget and – voila – they'll pick out something that's just right. See laciteduvin.com

STREET FOOD: GEORGE TOWN, PENANG, MALAYSIA

Forget restaurants, you need never go beyond hawker centres and food courts in Malaysia's culinary capital to eat what's regarded as Asia's best street food. It's so good that travel bibles such as Lonely Planet rank Penang the best food city on Earth – for its street food alone. You'll find the best street food in its capital, George Town, where Malay, Chinese and Indian dishes are fused. The best thing about George Town is you simply can't go wrong; every hawker stall and food court serves Asia's best dishes. See tourismpenang.net.my

FINE DINING: MONTE CARLO, MONACO

Monte Carlo isn't a place you go for street food, but if you care for a wild splurge on some of Europe's most outstanding top-end dining then settle in for a couple of days of gourmet extravagance coupled with sun-drenched sea views. Among superb restaurants in this mini-town of Belle Époque glamour are Café de Paris for champagne, nibbles and people-watching; and Michelin-starred Restaurant Joël Robuchon for divine Mediterranean degustations. If you want to go 'informal' then the Rose Salon at the casino dishes up burgers – topped with foie gras, of course.

See visitmonaco.com, hotelhermitagemontecarlo.com, metropole.com

REGIONAL: CENTRAL WEST, NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA

With their corrugated-iron exteriors, bucolic vineyard settings, relaxed service and fine fare, Racine in Orange and The Zin House in Mudgee rejuvenate jaded big-city gourmands. At Racine, look for the menu apple symbol that denotes a fiercely local dish such as pressed duck with almond, fennel and orange. The Zin House is all about keeping things simple: no foams, smears, deconstruction or tweezer work on display here. Instead, menus might meander from beetroot tartare and asparagus two ways to a roast chook with chat potatoes and meringue with poached rhubarb and honey ice-cream to finish. See racinerestaurant.com.au, zinhouse.com.au

NEIGHBOURHOOD: CERRO BELLAVISTA, VALPARAISO, CHILE

Eat on historic sun-drenched roof top terraces looking down over an ocean that doesn't stop till Sydney. Catch a century-old funicular up one of 45 drastic-sloping hills to Cerro Bellavista – where the best eats in this UNESCO-World-Heritage-listed city can be found. It's frequented by the likes of Francis Ford Coppola and Al Pacino. You'll walk through cobbled laneways, past 500 year-old churches and under colourful murals to restaurants serving Chile's best seafood – the grilled octopus at coastal Chile's best eatery, Espiritu Santo, can't be missed. See chile.travel/en/

STREET FOOD: HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM

There are the foodie highlights you would expect in Ho Chi Minh City: the street stalls selling pho; the hole-in-the-wall restaurants grilling beef wrapped in betel leaves on hot coals; the cafes with their amazingly good coffee; the markets with their fresh produce. But the real gastronomic delights of Saigon are the dishes you've probably never heard of before: bun rieu, a crab, tomato and noodle soup; banh canh cua, a rich crab broth laced with slippery, udon-like noodles; and "oc", sea snails fried in lemongrass and chilli. This is an eternally hungry city that rewards exploration, and adventure.

See vietnamtourism.com

Truffle hunting, in Manjimup, Western Australia.

Truffle hunting, in Manjimup, Western Australia. Photo: Tourism Western Australia

FESTIVAL: TRUFFLE KERFUFFLE, MANJIMUP, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Not content with producing some of the world's best truffles in the world, which are shipped to restaurants around the globe, Manjimup has turned its annual truffle-fest into an indulgent celebration where any time is truffle time. You can even start the day with a breakfast feast that includes a truffled croque monsieur and bubble and squeak served with slow-cooked egg, walnut fed prosciutto and truffle veloute. Add in cooking demonstrations and talks, wine tastings, degustation dinners and meetings with foodie artisans and you have a true feast for the senses. See trufflekerfuffle.com.au

NEIGHBOURHOOD: BOCANARIZ, SANTIAGO, CHILE

Chile makes some seriously good wines, so of course you are going to want to try some local drops while you are there. This bar, in Santiago's hip Lastarria neighbourhood, is a great place to start your explorations. The blackboard wine list, which takes up most of one wall, may seem overwhelming; with 300 wines to choose from – including more than 30 by the glass - where do you start? Fortunately the English-speaking staff are immensely knowledgeable and will explain how a carmenere differs from a cabernet sauvignon. See bocanariz.cl/en/home

OUTDOORS: BLUE DERBY PODS RIDE, NORTH-EAST TASMANIA, AUSTRALIA

This new three-day mountain biking experience cuts no corners especially when it comes to feeding you. Meals are curated by Daniel Alps of Launceston's Alps & Amici deli. Depending on the season, lunches are anything from a riverside picnic to a fancy sandwich by the indoor fire at their bush-based hub. Riding snacks are Tasmanian products such as KOOEE! beef jerky. Dinners look something like organic pork belly, potatoes and micro-greens sourced from various farms in the region followed by lemon tart, locally made honeycomb and candied quince decorated with sassafras leaves and flowers. Tasmanian-only wine, beer and single malt whisky are served. See bluederbypodsride.com.au

BARBECUE: WADI RUM BEDOUIN CAMP, WADI RUM, JORDAN

There's not an abundance of variety in Jordanian cuisine, but what they do, they do well. Case in point: the traditional zarb Bedouin barbecue, which is more ceremony than meal, and done particularly well at the Wadi Rum Bedouin Camp. You'll watch the Bedouin place a cylindrical metal cage filled with layers of lamb, chicken and vegetables into a fire pit, which they seal with wet clay. Hours later, you'll watch them smash said clay, dramatically exhume the cage, and serve the smoky, melt-in-your-mouth dishes straight onto your plate. An experience only bettered by the sweet sage tea and dates served under the stars afterwards. See wadirumbedouincamp.com

CONTRIBUTORS: Andrew Bain, Elspeth Callender, Ben Groundwater, Julietta Jameson, Brian Johnston, Ute Junker, Nina Karnikowski, Katrina Lobley, Rob McFarland, Craig Tansley, Larissa Dubecki, Belinda Jackson, Keith Austin. 

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