World's best restaurants and cafes: Bucket list food destinations

We've feasted our way around the world to find the 32 restaurant and cafes that are worth crossing the globe for.

CAFE: THE GOOD EGG, STOKE NEWINGTON (LONDON), BRITAIN

On first impression, this is just another north-west London hipster cafe you're pretty sure will make an excellent coffee and have Wi-Fi. Then you see the menu, notice chefs working quietly in the kitchen, bite into some food and realise the place is special. The daily changing menu is heavily infused with Tel Aviv, California and the Jewish delis of Montreal. House smoked meats are their speciality but you can just as easily lose yourself in a pita with fried eggplant and a spiced tahini-based sauce and perfectly oozy soft-boiled eggs that, almost inconceivably, sets you back less than a tenner. See thegoodeggn16.com

INNOVATION: IN SITU SAN FRANCISCO

Arguably San Francisco's most eagerly awaited restaurant opening last year was In Situ, on the ground floor of the newly expanded San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Headed by three Michelin-starred chef Corey Lee, the restaurant upends the traditional fine dining experience by "curating" benchmark dishes by more than 80 notable chefs, including culinary superstars Rene Redzepi of Noma, Alice Waters of Chez Panisse and Thomas Keller of The French Laundry. The result? A daring gourmet globetrot from some of the most exciting chefs on the planet. See insitu.sfmoma.org

MARKET-TO-TABLE: MACHNEYUDA RESTAURANT, JERUSALEM, ISRAEL

Israel is now looming large on the world's food map, and that has much to do with the presence of this market-to-table hotspot. Set on the outskirts of the city's famous Machne Yehuda Market, the three Jerusalem chefs heading up Machneyuda use the best seasonal produce the market has to offer in their deliciously rustic, ever-changing menu. The atrium-style space it is set in looks fantastic, there's a bustling, party-like atmosphere (have Shazam at the ready to discover the hottest Israeli tunes), plus some of the best service in the country. See machneyuda.co.il

BISTRO: CLOWN BAR, PARIS, FRANCE

Anyone who finds themselves alone in the world's most romantic city, fear not: Clown Bar is here. Not only is this one of Paris's hottest eateries du jour, it's also one of the world's best solo dining experiences. Set in a historic building next to the Cirque d'Hiver, Clown Bar is elegantly kitsch, decorated with 1920s circus-themed tiles, festive string lighting and antique mirrors. Pull up a seat at the polished zinc bar and get stuck into the French bistro fare from Japanese chef Sota Atsumi (don't miss the beef carpaccio with anchovy vinaigrette and silky brocciu cheese) paired with a glass from their wonderfully obscure, completely natural and organic wine list. See clown-bar-paris.com

REGIONAL: TAVERNA, KINGSCLIFF, NSW, AUSTRALIA

The best new Greek restaurant in regional Australia couldn't look more Australian – corellas feeding in an enormous Moreton Bay fig tree across the road; behind it surfers thread the waves breaking on Kingscliff's main beach – until the saganaki (Byron Bay haloumi, lightly fried and drizzled with bush honey) arrives washed down with Australia's first assyrtiko. Now the refurbished fishing cottage Taverna becomes Santorini, and the dazzling Pacific, the Aegean. In the tiny hamlet of Kingscliff, 15 minutes drive south of Coolangatta, Taverna is the latest creation of the brains behind the region's best Italian restaurant, Osteria. See taverna.net.au

FINE DINING: LE VISTAMAR, MONTE CARLO, MONACO

How often do you come across a Michelin-starred restaurant that offers light dishes without fuss which rely on simple flavours and fresh local ingredients rather than on the sleight-of-hand of foam and heavy sauces? This chic dining spot is just the place, offering superb Mediterranean seafood, expertly prepared, without showing off: John Dory with ratatouille, pasta with baby squid and brocoletti, satisfying bouillabaisse. Even more remarkable, a two-course business lunch with glass of wine is €59 euros ($89); not bad for one of Monaco's most glamorous dining spots with tantalising waterfront views. See hotelhermitagemontecarlo.com

RESORT: ZERMATT, SWITZERLAND

Chez Vrony, Zermatt,Switzerland.

The tiny ski village of Zermatt is home to 17 restaurants which earn Gault-Millau points, but the best of them sits on the high peaks above town, and has been run by the same family for a century. Head to Findeln – a rustic scattering of centuries-old buildings on a blue ski run – and sit on the big terrace outside. Zermatt may well earn its reputation as one of the ski world's culinary capitals, but it's the simple things about Chez Vrony that make dining here unique: like its hay soup and its home-made sausage. See chezvrony.ch/en/

STEAKHOUSE: PARRILLA PENA, BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

There are many examples of Argentina's traditional grill steakhouse, the parrilla, in Buenos Aires, running the gamut from a cheap, neon-lit joint with the football on a TV in the corner, to the upmarket, contemporary takes that charge like the bulls they barbecue. There are surprisingly few tourist traps (that is, outside the tourist trap areas) but finding a parrilla par excellence can be tricky. Parrilla Pena is a place the locals go, when taking grandma out, for dinner with friends, or even to dine solo. It's inexpensive, brimming with atmosphere (but not kitsch) and the food is very, very good. As is the house wine. See parrillapena.url.ph

FINE DINING: BAYERNSTUBE TEGERNSEE, GERMANY

While there's nothing wrong with hearty, simple Bavarian food in a local beerhall, this restaurant moves classic Bavarian dishes such as veal sausage and pork knuckle into the fine-dining realm, even if still accompanied by the same local Tegernsee lager. Tuck into the likes of baked duck with red cabbage, or liver dumplings in beef broth, not forgetting to leave room for some regional cheese with fig mustard. Prices seem reasonable by Australian standards, even though this restaurant is part of the glamorous lakeshore Seehotel Uberfahrt, a member of Leading Hotels of the World. See lhw.com

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WINERY: MIKI'S OPEN KITCHEN, MARGARET RIVER, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Like most wine regions, Margaret River is blessed with a surfeit of excellent winery restaurants. However, the area's most memorable eatery has a very different setting. Tucked away at the back of a suburban shopping mall, Miki's Open Kitchen is a compact space where you can watch Miki and his assistants conjuring up course after course of Japanese-inspired delights. The six-course degustation draws heavily on local seafood, and might include anything from a more-ish fish and egg congee to a perfect pink snapper tempura. See facebook.com/mikisopenkitchen/

FINE-DINING: FRIDHEIMAR, REYKHOLT, ICELAND

Let's be clear: although Fridheimar is Iceland's most memorable dining experience, it doesn't exactly have a wide-ranging menu. In fact, there are just three dishes on offer, and all of them feature tomatoes. But then, that is precisely the point. Fridheimar takes the idea of dining local to the extreme, serving up food inside the geothermally powered greenhouse in which it is grown. Take your seat at a table amid the tomato plants and savour your dish of choice (we recommend the soup) to discover what zero food miles really tastes like. See fridheimar.is/en

COOKING SCHOOL: BASQUE CULINARY CENTRE, SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN

Understand this. The Basque Culinary Centre is more than just a cooking school. It is an activist organisation that aims to bring about social change through gastronomy, and it has some heavyweight fire power behind it, with superchefs including Joan Arzak, Ferran Adria, Rene Redzepi, Massimo Botura and Heston Blumenthal sitting on its board. It is true, however, that the Basque Culinary Centre includes professional training as part of its offering, and its inhouse restaurant, where students practise their skills, has become a dining hotspot: quite an achievement in a city blessed with a battalion of internationally renowned restaurants. See bculinary.com/en

FINE DINING: DE MONDION, MDINA, MALTA

Foie gras entree at De Mondion restaurant in Mdina, Malta.

Foie gras entree at De Mondion restaurant in Mdina, Malta.

Malta's top restaurant serves Mediterranean cuisine but is especially worthy for its upmarket versions of classic, rustic Maltese dishes (chef Kevin Bonello admits to the influences of his grandmother) such as duck breast with fig chutney, snail ragout, fish with white beans and asparagus, and perennial Maltese favourite, rabbit. The Relais & Chateaux restaurant sits on top of Mdina's bastions, allowing you to squint over half the island of Malta as you dine. It's attached to the Xara Palace, a boutique hotel lodged in a 17th-century palazzo of honeyed stone and studded with antique furnishings. See relaischateaux.com

ASIAN: FERMENTASIAN, TANUNDA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Here are some things that the Barossa Valley is known for: wonderful wine, quality cheese, and charming townships. Here is something the Barossa is not known for: superb Asian cuisine. Which is odd, since Fermentasian restaurant in Tanunda offers some of the most sophisticated Vietnamese around. Chef Tuoi Do showcases the food of northern Vietnam with dishes such as grilled squid with sorrel and coriander pesto and local pork belly with ginger and orange sauce. Added bonus: Fermentasian also boasts a world-class wine list. See fermentasian.com.au

TAPAS: TABERNA DA RUA DAS FLORES, LISBON

Taberna da Rua das Flores is the epitome of Lisbon's laidback food scene, a bar specialising in petiscos, Portuguese-style tapas, and doing them with an inventive twist. The menu at Andre Magalhaes's charming, romantic little space changes daily, though the food is always distinctly local, utilising the ingredients – the seafood, the meat, the vegetables – that Lisbon is known for. Keep an eye out for the crunchy baby mackerels, fried whole, or the salmon tartare. The prices are low, the staff friendly, and the wine is great. You can't go wrong. See visitlisboa.com

FINE DINING: GUSTU, LA PAZ, BOLIVIA

When your last gig was launching the world's most famous restaurant, what do you do for a follow-up? Noma co-founder Klaus Meyer opted to launch a fine dining restaurant in one of South America's poorest countries. The restaurant's success has surprised sceptics, but international visitors and, increasingly, local diners are clearly intrigued by the premise as food as a force for social change. Gustu's training program offers a lifeline to young people from impoverished backgrounds, while its sophisticated menus showcase Bolivia's remarkable natural ingredients in dishes such as cured Lake Titicaca trout served with achoccha, an Andean vegetable similar to a cucumber. See facebook.com/RestaurantGUSTU/

REGIONAL: SEED KITCHEN, CLARE VALLEY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Seed Winehouse Kitchen Region Clare Valley, South Australia.

Photo: Tourism SA

If Seed Kitchen was anywhere else – in the Barossa, say, or in Surry Hills – this excellent restaurant would be famous country-wide. That it's not – that it's tucked away in South Australia's Clare Valley, on the quiet main street just down from a country pub and a second-hand clothing store – only adds to its appeal. Seed is well worth the two-hour drive from Adelaide alone. Chef Guy Parkinson's mod-Oz menu is perfectly pitched and delivered, and even if you're not hungry, it's worth stopping in for a drink at the restaurant's gin bar. See seed.kitchen

CAFE: GRAND CAFE & BEACH, CAPE TOWN

satnov4coverhotfood-restaurants satnov4coverhotfood - Craig Tansley Grand Africa Beach & Cafe, Cape Town

Set on a private beach in Cape Town's finest precinct, Grand Cafe & Beach isn't the place for a quick cappuccino in your tracksuit. There's views across to the Indian Ocean, and back to Table Mountain, and waiters wear three-piece suits and call you sir or madam. Built within an historic restored warehouse, nowhere in South Africa captures Africa's colonial period quite so well. See grandafrica.com

FINE DINING: LA VILLA, HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM

Lobster, foie gras, morels, truffles – these are not the ingredients you expect to be eating in Ho Chi Minh City, in the south of Vietnam. And yet that's what chef Thierry Mounon is utilising at La Villa, a high-end French restaurant in the Saigon suburbs, where diners can feast on some of the most affordable haute cuisine this side of Lyon. Mounon's dishes include the likes of crab ravioli with foie gras sauce; codfish brandade with French black truffle; whole Brittany blue lobster with anis butter. Pair the dishes with French wine, and you have yourself a feast that will likely come in at under $100 a head. See lavilla-restaurant.com.vn

TAVERN: THE MERCHANT TAVERN, ST JOHN'S, NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR, CANADA

An open kitchen, high ceiling, cosmopolitan buzz and lack of soft furnishings give the space far more of a wine bar than a tavern feel. But the seafaring name and casual style of dining fit the province's old capital like a knitted mitt. Even on weekday evenings locals and those who've "come from away" vie for stools at the 40-seater central bar. The Merchant pays homage to hard-working people through its "fresh wild local sustainable" menu heavy with seafood and heartily portioned. It also supports the city's craft breweries and distilleries. Raymonds, up the road, is the Merchant's even more sophisticated yet similarly unforgettable older sister. See themerchanttavern.ca

TREND: MICRO-RESTAURANTS, PORTLAND, OREGON, US

Move over food trucks, there's a new culinary craze in town. Micro-restaurants are a halfway house between food trucks and full-service eateries and when housed under one roof provide the ultimate upmarket food court. Some of Portland's best examples include The Ocean, a converted Dodge car dealership that's home to award-winning burger joint Slowburger and Indian vegan specialist The Sudra. Round the corner is The Zipper, which has everything from a fried chicken specialist to a falafel maker. Head downtown and you'll find similarly tempting options inside Pine Street Market and Portland Food Hall. See guerrilladev.co, pinestreetpdx.com, portlandfoodhall.com

RUSTIC: CONN, FLIMS, GRAUBUNDEN, SWITZERLAND

This Swiss restaurant isn't on an alp but you still need to work for your handmade ricotta ravioli and twists on traditional cuisine – try the chard-wrapped capuns – by arriving on foot, on cross country skis or by bicycle (or horse-drawn carriage if you must). In the warmer months it takes about an hour to walk from Flims to Conn for an open-air meal under a tree on the lawn. However, it's a far more satisfying arrival to take the scenic route by mountain bike – either guided or independently – through the forest and past swimmable lakes. Close to the restaurant is a raised lookout high over the Rhine. See conn.ch; myswitzerland.com

PIZZA: PIZZERIA GUERRIN, BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

The portenos (people of Buenos Aires) love pizza and with their Italian roots and European flair, they also love good pizza. Pizza Guerrin ticks that box. This cash-only eatery has been going since 1932 and is a budget-saving treat. The decor is traditional enticing, waiters are dressed in old-fashioned uniforms and the pies are done the traditional Argentine way, thick crust, lots of toppings and a bucketload of cheese. Here, you can also snack on another porteno tradition, empanadas.

Eat a slice standing up at the bar like the locals, filling up with a snack to stave off hunger before they head out late – oh so late – for dinner. See pizzeriaguerrin.com

CAFE: TUORO CAFE, RAROTONGA, COOK ISLANDS

There are whales breaching out front and the smell of Kuki Fried Chicken (KFC) cooking (which sure sets the locals off); though you can't beat Finding Nemo sliders (grilled local fish served on a kumara cake with local taro spinach topped with a pawpaw salsa). This is the place to be seen come Sunday in Rarotonga, on a garden terrace overlooking the lagoon. The best local acts play from 11am, and local lager gets patrons dancing later. See blackrockvillas.com

ALTERNATIVE: INN OF THE SEVENTH RAY, TOPANGA CANYON, CALIFORNIA

Turn off Highway One just south of Malibu, just beyond the crowds of Santa Monica and you'll find Los Angeles's best kept secret, Topanga Canyon. It's hippie heaven – and has been since Neil Young, Jim Morrison and friends set up homes here in the late '60s. Not long after (1973), Inn Of The Seventh Ray opened promoting "angelic vibrations" to its alternative clientele. These days it's still a secret, little wonder it's a favourite haunt for the likes of Leo DiCaprio. Book a table overlooking America's largest urban park and feel the vibes … maaan. See innoftheseventhray.com

SEAFOOD: CERVEJARIA RAMIRO, LISBON, PORTUGAL

This no-frills restaurant in suburban Lisbon does pretty much one thing – shellfish – and it does it so well that there is usually a queue of hungry diners around the block. They come for huge, fresh prawns, for langoustines, for clams, scallops, crabs and goose barnacles, all served with the minimum of interference, merely grilled and sprinkled with salt, or boiled and served whole, or fried in garlic and paired with crusty bread. You eat all of this seafood, and then you settle in for the traditional Ramiro dessert: a steak sandwich. It's that kind of restaurant. See cervejariaramiro.pt

RUSTIC: PACHAPAPA, CUSCO, PERU

Yes, there's a Gaston Acurio restaurant in Cusco, but it can be argued that Pachapapa, in the San Blas neighbourhood, is a more memorable dining experience. Set in a rustic cobbled courtyard modelling a typical Peruvian open-air quinta country house, surrounded by cherry trees, candlelit at night and accompanied by live Andean harp music on weekends, this is the place to get your fill of traditional wood-fired Peruvian dishes like roast cuy (that's guinea pig to you and me), spiced tender alpaca meat skewers and quinoa soup. They also do a mean pisco sour. See cuscorestaurants.com/pachapapa/

COMFORT FOOD: SOUTHERN COMFORT FOOD, TENNESSEE

Join a gracious southern hostess and a bunch of strangers over lunch at Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Fans of Jack Daniel's will recognise the town's name – it's the home of the distillery and its products permeate the menu. Expect the lazy susan in the table's centre to be crammed with comfort food such as fried chicken and okra, pork roast with gravy, baby red potatoes, cabbage casserole, cornbread, Jack Daniel's apples, salad and chess tart topped with Jack Daniel's whipped cream. See jackdaniels.com

TRENDS: SINGLE PRODUCT RESTAURANTS LONDON

The latest craze sweeping London's dining scene is restaurants specialising in a single product. Don't confuse customers with a bewildering range of options – just do one thing and do it really, really well. Craving turkey? Head to Strut & Cluck in Shoreditch. How about a burger? Check out one of Dirty Burger's 11 London outposts. Need eggs? Eggbreak in Notting Hill has your back. Aussies are getting in on the act too with Australian MasterChef finalist Bonny Porter opening Balls & Company in Soho. All it sells are – you guessed it – meatballs. See strutandcluck.com, eatdirtyburger.com, eggbreak.com, ballsandcompany.london

ORGANIC: HARVEST NEWRYBAR, BYRON BAY HINTERLAND

Harvest Cafe, restaurant, Newrybar, NSW.

Harvest Cafe, restaurant, Newrybar, NSW.

Set in the lush hinterland above Byron Bay's string of idyllic beaches, you'll find Harvest in a 1900s weatherboard cottage hugged by wide verandahs with its own kitchen gardens, bakery and deli attached. It's all about the fresh, organic produce here, particularly on Wednesday nights when they do a four-course Wild Harvest menu where their dedicated forager Peter Hardwick heads out into the hills to find the best native ingredients (think dooja limes, Davidson's plum and wattle seed) from around the area. Their carefully selected, natural Australian wine list is fantastic, too. See harvestnewrybar.com.au

BARGAINS: KYOTO WINTER SPECIAL, KYOTO, JAPAN

Kyoto, inundated with visitors each spring (for cherry blossoms) and autumn (for leaves), is trying to even out tourism peaks and troughs. Visit during February to take advantage of the Kyoto Restaurant Winter Special. This year, 198 city restaurants offered special menus at special prices. One of those eateries was Pound, a steakhouse serving tender matured black beef from Kagoshima Prefecture at the tail end of the country. Tiny flags indicate which part of the beast the cut hails from; salads feature cute miniature cows stamped out of carrots. See krws.jp

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.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story featured Si Sun in Kowloon, Hong Kong. The restaurant is no longer operating. 

See also: The countries that serve the worst food to tourists

See also: 12 drinks around the world every traveller should try

Podcast - Where to find the world's greatest street food, with guest chef Dan Hong

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