IT WOULD take a lifetime to visit every hunger-sating place on Earth.
Paris will always call for its pastries, just as will Bangkok for its exciting street fare.
But every year, some destinations seem to up the ante on sheer deliciousness, delivering more variety, greater originality and can’t-miss-it plates that have us booking tickets the-heck-out-of-here.
So for a tasty trip in 2019, here are the most delicious destinations in the world right now.
1. LISBON, PORTUGAL
With its glittering river, cobbled streets, palaces, churches, and tile-covered buildings, Lisbon has always been a glorious place to visit.
Food-wise, a plate of fresh, grilled sardines eaten in the sun outside a tasca (bar) is a rite of passage for travellers.
Or for that Portuguese classic, take a tram ride to Belem and bakery Pastéis de Belémfor the perfect custard tart.
For finer fare, head to one of six restaurants owned by the city’s celebrity chef, José Avillez, particularly the seafood at Páteo at Bairro Do Avillez.
The most important thing to eat in Lisbon, though, is bacalhau, that salted, dried codfish that is as much a staple now as it was during the 14th century when it fuelled the nation’s sailors.
It’s a popular pit-stop for European flights, but Singapore is worth exploring in its own right.
Amoy St in Chinatown is a great starting point for any culinary pilgrimage. More than a few Australians have set up shop, with smart, lively offerings including Cheek by Jowl, a cosy dining room with an open kitchen run by Rishi Naleendra, who formerly worked in Sydney’s Tetsuya’s and Yellow.
A popular corner coffee shop called Ocean Curry Fishhead does top home-style Chinese fare, but the star is a fish head curry made from turmeric-flavoured broth. The bar Employees Only plays ’80s rock anthems and serves modern American steakhouse classics. All this on just one street. And the rest of the city delivers the same gastronomic thrills.
3. TOKYO, JAPAN
Healing hot baths, world-class skiing, ancient temples, quaint seaside villages and sprawling cities; it’s no wonder Japan is such a popular destination.
And the nation’s capital is known as much for its top-notch cheap ramen as its world’s-best cosmopolitan cuisine.
Start the day early at the city’s Tsukiji fish market and join the queues for sushi; next, eat ramen at Kaia or Ippoh in the Ginza district; and after 5pm, head to Ebisu Yokocho, a lively alley packed with izakayas (pubs) and eateries that are cheap without compromising on quality.
The restaurants in Tokyo are well documented and plentiful — the only problem is choosing between all 160,000 of them.
4. KYOTO, JAPAN
Tokyo deserves much glory, but not all of it. Kyoto, a city of 2000 temples and shrines, an excellent food market and geishas shuffling around ancient streets, is becoming a go-to destination for foodies.
Few places this size pack as much of a punch, culinary speaking, as Kyoto. It has Michelin-starred restaurants and izakayas, cocktail bars and Melbourne-worthy coffee shops. Nishiki Market is known as Kyoto’s kitchen, and the kaiseki (traditional, multi-course dinner) is not to be missed.
5. CAIRO, EGYPT
Political unrest and safety fears have seen tourist numbers in Egypt drop over recent years.
But with a large security presence now, it may be a good time to beat all the other visitors before they remember why they must visit this ancient city.
Five-star hotels are still offering discount rates, and many took the dip in guests as an opportunity to renovate.
Go for the pyramids, but stay for the exciting food scene.
On your must-do list is a visit to the spice markets for a culinary taste of Egypt’s history including stuffed pigeon, a recipe from ancient times where whole pigeons are stuffed with rice and roasted.
6. MARRAKESH, MOROCCO
The tourist drawcard of Morocco is Instagram fodder with its storytellers and street dentists, monkey handlers and snake charmers, henna tattooists and dancers. It lures holiday-makers with its busy markets and back alleys, luxury hotels and its Yves Saint Laurent garden and museum.
Order kebabs on the street in the shade; sticks of beef kofta and liver, turkey and fat, cooked over charcoal eaten with flatbread.
The city is more tourist savvy than ever, and it’s not difficult to find excellent guides and expert tips on navigating the food, the shopping — and the best Insta-worthy shots.
7. SEVILLE, SPAIN
For a Spanish-style fiesta, head to Andalusia, where a mazelike city offers cobbled streets, moody bars and white gazpacho. Summer in Seville is all about the cold garlic and almond soup, though each restaurant adds its own spin.
Walk through the old Jewish quarter to Seville’s 15th-century gothic cathedral, then plunge into the laneways and see where they take you. A photogenic city filled with orange trees and peppery cocktails that beckon to be drunk in the sun, Seville is classic and modern, no longer the folksy, old-fashioned sister of Barcelona.
Hotels are undergoing updates and overhauls, and even tapas bar Taberna El Rinconcillo, after nearly 350 years in existence, has a cool freshness about it.
8. TULUM, MEXICO
Noma chef René Redzepi and his entourage have long packed up and left Mexico after a seven-week pop up in the Yucatán. But while the world’s top restaurant may have departed, it’s far from over in Tulum. The once sleepy town on Mexico’s Caribbean coast has become a kind of spiritual oasis for a fashionable crowd, and the local eateries are keeping up with visitors’ food expectations.
Binge on green juices and seawater-poached fish, excellent pasta and beach views at Posada Margherita, a hut by the ocean. La Popular and Macondo, both in Nomade Hotel, offer a fish-market-inspired menu as well as holistic food intended to heal the heart and nurture the soul.
Hartwood demands a wait for a table, but it’s arguably the best food in town. The menu features local seafood and produce, all cooking is done on open fire, and solar panels power everything. The restaurant breaks down waste with a zero-carbon footprint.
9. LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES
Anthony Bourdain once said his favourite restaurant in Los Angeles was the fast-food chain In-N-Out Burger, but it was not meant as a slight on the sprawling city. The place continues to raise the bar on delicious food, leading the way, along with a handful of other destinations, with an ethos of embracing wild ideas.
Now some of New York’s star chefs are opening in LA.
The Exchange is a must-hit spot with its silky hummus, Israeli dishes and warm decor, while the lively and cool Cassia does Vietnamese fare with cocktails to match. And, of course, make sure you do follow Bourdain’s advice and grab a burger at In-N-Out.
10. PUGLIA, ITALY
This once-overlooked Italian region is becoming the new Amalfi Coast thanks to its farm-to-table ethos, unfussy and rustic charm — and its oil-drizzled burrata.
Head to Alberobello for the mozzarella and burrata, and the Itria Bontà farm, where they make it from scratch and serve it in their homestead. Masseria Brancati in Ostuni is a B&B with an adjoining olive oil farm that has the oldest trees in Puglia. Taste and then pick up a bottle of the oil on site.
There’s Lecce for its Renaissance architecture and Matera for its cave dwellings and ancient centre, Monopoli for the clear waters of the Adriatic Sea — no wonder Puglia is on everyone’s hit list right now.