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Los Angeles

General Travel

Need inspiration for Loco'l. Where is the best place in the world to eat?

This can be a restaurant, city, region, country--anywhere in the world. What's going on here that's different and why is the food unlike any other place?

Where should I plan my next trip for Loco'l food and recipe inspiration?


33 Answers

top answer by
Courtney from Los Angeles

You won't believe it, but the food in Tirana, Albania is amazing! Not quite Greek, not quite Italian but some amazing hybrid.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Tirana (city)
  2. Albania (country)
8 thanks


answered by
Gina from Minneapolis

It's so hard to narrow it down, and I can't, but I'll try to limit it. I'm leaving out Peru because it's been capably covered by a previous responder and Hong Kong because duh. Otherwise here goes, based on my travels and tastes:

Hanoi: This is no secret, at all, but it's just so good that it can't be overpraised. The heartbreaker for me is that the Vietnamese food that we typically get here in the U.S. is largely Southern. It's monstrously difficult to get honest Hanoi-style pho and bun cha, nevermind other, less famous specialties. 

Turkey: So much more than döner—and I like a good döner. I was blown away by the diversity and quality of the food throughout the country. Pistachio-studded kebabs, lahmacun, stews, cheeses, the epic breakfasts and more ways to make eggplant appetizing than I'd ever imagined possible. 

Ethiopia: The secret gateway to the best damn vegan food on the planet. I'm not vegan, I have no interest in going vegan, and I could eat Ethiopian vegan food every day for the rest of my life. Bayinetu, the combo platter of "fasting food" that's a popular option when people are observing religious dietary restrictions is full of subtle and sublime textures and flavors. Cool beets, gingery greens and shiro, made of powdered chickpea meal is better than it should conceivably be. And this is saying nothing of the meat stews that are just as readily available—goat, lamb, beef, chicken, whatever—they're rich and spicy and symphonic in flavor. Does the cuisine share spices and textures with Indian cuisine? Yes, but as in so many other things, Ethiopia is its own entity—utterly unique, self-contained and rightfully deserving of a bright spot on the world stage. 

Guizhou Province: Guizhou gets overshadowed because it has some pretty famous neighbors: Sichuan, Hunan and Yunnan. But this little province, where the population is mostly made up of minority peoples (Miao, Dong, Yao, Bouyei and many others), has its own spin on food. Pickles ev-er-y-where! All kinds of 'em—garlic, greens, tofu, ginger, chilies, beans, sprouts, you name it, they're pickling it. Paired with punch-in-the-mouth spiciness and the ma la of Sichuan peppercorns, it makes magic. Street food was glorious, particularly grilled, spice-rubbed chicken and the noodles, which were generally in a broth, and adorned with whichever goodies you chose from the vendor cart's wide array of options—pork belly bits, smoked tofu, peanuts, pickles x100 and fun things like zhe ergen, the root of a water plant that has a sharp, sort-of medicinal, but nonetheless addictive taste. 

Guatemala: Not a super high-profile culinary destination, but what on god's green earth do they do that makes their black beans so special? I have no idea, but they do it consistently. Also, chuchitos, little tamale-like packets that, to my mind, outstrip the average tamale because they have a tomato-based sauce, along with meat, in the middle. Ridiculously good. Pipian and other local meat stews can also be found in some great iterations, particularly in Antigua Guatemala at La Cuevita De Los Urquizo


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Hanoi (city)
  2. Turkey (country)
  3. Ethiopia (country)
  4. Guizhou Province (state)
  5. Guatemala (country)
  6. Antigua Guatemala (city)
  7. La Cuevita De Los Urquizo (restaurant)
7 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Alex from London

An impossible question!!!

If we are talking about Loco'l fast food though, it is hard not to mention Lima . The Peruvian capital is a melting pot of European, Qechuan, Chinese and Japanese influences and it has a rich tradition of food on the go, starting from the ingenious 'causa' potato cakes that soldiers would pack for the field during the war of independence.  The diverse working man suburbs are the heart of culinary innovation, a culture of market stall eating just fueling creativity of fusion cuisine that makes the most of the unique and varied produce of Peru. You would be hard pressed to taste the 'aeroporto' fast food of the neighborhoods around Jorge Chavez International and avoid falling in love, tummy-first!


If you are a spice enthusiast, then India scores highly too, famous for finger snacks that locals eat ALL day long.  I particularly like the battered potato-stuffed chilies of Rajasthan.

I hold a very soft spot for Singapore where diversity of cultures fuels the most delicious food markets in the world, arguably.  My personal favourite is in Maxwell Rd, I dream of the Hainan chicken rice, fresh sugar cane juice, garlic crab, curry and congee. Yum!

In Europe, my vote goes against the grain for London, the most underrated culinary haven in the world.  London has an incredibly rich street food scene, fueled by Brits who have perfected a local especialty -- the best pork belly sandwich in Leather Ln -- and by a rich community of expats promoting their own traditions -- Brazilian pao de queijo at Whitecross St Market, BOB Lobster rolls (and tuna tacos!) at Borough Market and Shanghai dumplings in Brixton Market.

As for my top restaurant choices today? Bentleys in London, Gambrinus in Lisbon, Willoughby's in Cape Town, Baccus in Matera and Mare in Lima. I am craving seafood...

It is so hard to pick just one! I think I should come along your culinary exploration, Chef ;)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Lima (attraction)
  2. India (country)
  3. Rajasthan (region)
  4. Singapore (country)
  5. Maxwell Rd (attraction)
  6. London (city)
  7. Leather Ln (attraction)
  8. Whitecross St (attraction)
  9. Borough Market (attraction)
  10. Brixton Market (attraction)
6 thanks


answered by
Spencer from Los Angeles

Such a TOUGH question.

Internationally, it has to be Spain. Whether walking through a market in Barcelona or eating at a cafe in Girona, it just feels so fresh and grassroots. Not to mention, it's largely much more reasonably priced than many of the world's "best" food destinations. The best meal I've had was El Celler de Can Roca, which was much more of a true dining experience. Everything I had there was so much better than anything remotely close I had ever had before.

The food destination that has surprised me the most is Hawaii. So much of it simple, like a plate lunch from Rainbow Drive-In in Waikiki, but it's so flavorful. Some of the best raw fish I've had has been in Hawaii, such as the poke at Eskimo Candy Inc on Maui.  And don't get me started on the malasadas. I could eat a dozen by myself. 

While I'm bias, I'd be remiss not to mention Los Angeles. You do a foodie tour around the world without ever leaving the county. If there's something you want, you can find it in L.A.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Barcelona (city)
  2. Girona (city)
  3. El Celler de Can Roca (restaurant)
  4. Rainbow Drive-In (restaurant)
  5. Waikiki (neighborhood)
  6. Eskimo Candy Inc (restaurant)
  7. Maui (island)
  8. Los Angeles (city)
6 thanks


answered by
AJ from United States

You want inspiration for Loco'l?  Then first, start by living at least a week in the Tenderloin, then a week in the The Panhandle, then the Bayview/Hunters Point. Because if you don't get to know the people you'll be serving and how they're different from what you know in LA, you're only setting yourself up to fail.  It's all well and good to look for culinary inspiration from far off lands, but, to me, nothing is more inspiring than knowing the faces and the souls you'll be cooking for.

It's just like when you know an old friend, a fellow cook, or family is coming in to eat, you can't but help to make sure that everything's on point just for them.


If you do want to look outside of SF proper, I'd suggest checking out South San Francisco.  This is a community of folks who are very humble, yet are able to support a diverse culinary community that can go toe-to-toe with any food neighborhood in the city itself.  There's this tremendous mix of old and new and an incredible diversity of cultures in such a small area.  It's also got a unique vibe and culture over there, and I think it would be a good inspiration for what Loco'l is trying to build in multiple places. 


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Tenderloin (neighborhood)
  2. The Panhandle (attraction)
  3. Bayview (neighborhood)
  4. Hunters Point (neighborhood)
  5. South San Francisco (city)
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answered by
Vicky from Los Angeles

Indonesia! I may be biased, but the cuisines of Indonesia are so complex and underrated (and the best, like the fiery cuisines of Padang and Manado, are just too spicy for most people!) Only the bravest can stand the chillies of Manado, and we who do get addicted - but tone the spices down in dishes like chicken rica-rica (available in a toned-down version occasionally at LA's Simpang Asia, where you can also get popular Padang specialties like beef rendang and egg balado), and you get really delicious taste that's still fiery and bold minus the trips to the bathroom (pardon me, but it's a fair warning as those chilli seeds must go somewhere).

Jakarta is your best bet in safely trying both cuisines and other regional dishes, where Padang food is widely available (popular restaurants include: Sederhana, Sari Ratu, Garuda). It's an experience to visit a Padang restaurant: all the dishes available will be spread on your table, but you'll only be charged for what you eat. For Manado cuisine, try Restoran Beautika - Tanah Abang. For a molecular gastronomy experience / fun dining twist on Indonesian dishes, try Namaaz Dining.

Of course, if you're a fan of diving, Manado is a must visit for its breathtaking Bunaken Island National Marine Park, home to more fish species than the Great Barrier Reef.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Simpang Asia (restaurant)
  2. Jakarta (city)
  3. Restoran Beautika - Tanah Abang (restaurant)
  4. Namaaz Dining (restaurant)
  5. Bunaken (attraction)
5 thanks


answered by
Erica from Honolulu, Hawaii

Hawaii- plate lunches is what it is all about here.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Hawaii (state)
5 thanks


answered by
Karl from Copenhagen

Have you thought about Copenhagen. There is so much going on, on the culinary scene. There is of course Noma, and all their alumni-restaurants like Restaurant Relæ, Restaurant BRORAmassetc., and they are all very very good.

In terms of fast food, great open faced sandwiches (smørrebrød) at places like Restaurant Schønnemann, Aamanns smørrebrødsdeli, but also more humble hole-in-the-wall kind of places, where you can pick up simple and cheap versions (håndmadder). Both versions is basically a slice of dark rye bread topped with fish e.g. pickled heering or fried fish fillet, pork e.g. liver paté, meatballs or slices of roasted pork roast. There are hundreds of different versions... 

Then there is the Danish version of the hotdog, the classic version is served with a grilled pork sausage with different sauces, including the Danish classic remolade, pickled cucumber slices, raw and deep fried onions. Places like Harrys Place in Nordvest, Molles Pølsevogn v/Morten Bossen on Frederiksberg and the newer more modern versions at Pølsekompagniet, by Restaurant Torvehallerne ApS, which is Copenhagen's very nice food halls, all come highly recommended. Please do not hesitate to get back to me if you need more info.       


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Copenhagen (city)
  2. Noma (restaurant)
  3. Restaurant Relæ (restaurant)
  4. Restaurant BROR (restaurant)
  5. Amass (restaurant)
  6. Restaurant Schønnemann (restaurant)
  7. Aamanns smørrebrødsdeli (attraction)
  8. Harrys Place (restaurant)
  9. Molles Pølsevogn v/Morten Bossen (attraction)
  10. Restaurant Torvehallerne ApS (restaurant)
5 thanks


answered by
Michael from San Jose

Bay Area (San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose)...here in Northern California. Because of our diverse ethnic backgrounds we have tremendous choices of international, local, and infusion of delicacies. We have Chinese Muslim cuisine (Ma's in Milpitas), Ethiopian dishes, Filipino (Barrio Fiesta), Thai, Vietnamese, Greek, Persian, Cuban (Havanas Restaurant) Assyrian.etc. If you can dream it, the Bay Area can serve it.

We also have the freshest seafood food enclaves- Bodega, Sausalito, Monterey, Santa Cruz, and Half Moon Bay. There are countless of restaurants and venues that you may be interested in.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. San Francisco (city)
  2. Oakland (city)
  3. San Jose (city)
  4. Bodega (city)
  5. Sausalito (city)
  6. Monterey (city)
  7. Santa Cruz (city)
  8. Half Moon Bay (city)
4 thanks


answered by
Ruth from Lynwood, California

I haven't traveled the world so I cant necessarily say what the best place "in the world" is to eat however, if your looking for fresh seafood inspirations I recommend you try Melaque, Mexico. There is a palapa on the shore, a sort of makeshift restaurant, where the locals catch and prepare the food u order. And to drink? One of the local kids will climb a palm tree for you and give you fresh coconut milk for pennies.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Melaque (city)
3 thanks


answered by
Keith from Los Angeles, California

Man, you already know about the Philippines. You made chicken adobo bowl an item at Chego! The culinary culture of my parents' motherland is an enigma. We know there's good food that originates there, but can't seem to catch a break in making itself the next best thing in America.

With the mix of Chinese and Spanish influences, and the diverse styles of cooking within the country - from the bitter/sour flavors of Pampanga to the sweeter, coconut milk-cooked dishes of Bacolod - it's definitely difficult to establish an identity of its own. The biggest problem is how Americanized the Filipino community is. We continually try to adapt and almost lose our true identity in the process.

There are too many damn flavors that America has yet to try. Kare Kare - that peanut butter oxtail stew paired with fermented shrimp paste, sizzling sisig for beer food, lechon in many incarnations from chopping up that crispy skin from a whole roasted pig, to using that leftover pig for paksiw na lechon. And can't forget the crowd favorite of fried lumpia dipped in sweet and sour sauce.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Philippines (country)
  2. Chego (restaurant)
  3. Pampanga (metro area)
  4. Bacolod (city)
3 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Jason from West Hollywood, California

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. San Sebastian (city)
3 thanks


answered by
Lisa from New City, New York

Denmark! It seems they are the people to look at to teach how to cultivate their surroundings to produce beautiful, delicious and nutritious food! I would love to experience their food culture here in the states.

Thanks for the Q&A! It was very fun. I look forward to macking on vegetables & fruits like spliffs & candy!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Denmark (country)
3 thanks


answered by
Ashley from El Paso, Texas

Puerto Rico! Arroz con gandules is easy to make, and the flavors are unmatched. Homemade sofrito with sazon bring the flavor, the gandules (pigeon peas) add volume, and together they're just the best.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Puerto Rico (country)
3 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Evan from Virginia

Most of the other trippy users are much more well-traveled than I am, so I'll defer to them for specific locations around the world. In a general sense, I think being outdoors (city/country/beach/etc) is one of the best places to gather inspiration for a fast food restaurant. With fast food, the way in which people eat it can be as important as what they're eating.

If I can't eat a fast food meal while sitting on a park bench, walking down a city street, or driving a car, then it ain't fast food. I think loco'l has an opportunity to be a fast food restaurant that isn't just serving "fuel" but provides a meal that complements our busy lives.  


3 thanks


answered by
Ashley from Calgary

New York City is king for food! There is so much variety, so many influences.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. New York City (city)
3 thanks


answered by
Justin from Phoenix

My favorites are Portland, Reykjavik and Australia. Portland has a lot of diversity and innovation, plus some great ingredients that are locally grown; then there's the coffee and craft beer. It's so overlooked. I love the Scandinavian influence in Reykjavik, plus the fresh fish and excellent lamb.

As for Australia, that country produces some fine ingredients and fuses them to a variety of cuisine that's a very interesting collision of Asia and Europe. Australia flies under the radar and doesn't even have restaurant with a 5-star Michelin rating. That is down to the inherent "foodie" snobbery that's only impressed with the obvious and venerated destinations. Nobody talks about Australia as a food destination out of simple ignorance ... and I think Australia is OK with that. It'll keep its excellent food to its own shores and skip all the praise.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Portland (city)
  2. Reykjavik (city)
  3. Australia (country)
3 thankscomments (2)


answered first by
Valerie from Seattle

Three answers:

I would argue that the best region in which to eat is Tuscany. There are so many amazing ingredients in the area cultivated by the incredible natural environment... basically, if you made me pick one area in which to eat forever, I'd gladly sit down to dinners of Florentine steak, homemade pasta, and Tuscan wine any day.

I love London when it comes to food -- I think you can get anything you want in that city, if you know where to go and which locals to ask. It doesn't have the same quality of freshness (e.g. I won't order fish & chips there, because I've tasted the ones I describe below), but it's an awesome place to see really creative, artistic, innovative takes on classic dishes from around the world.

My favorite meal, or maybe just the most memorable, was at a place called Vaughans Anchor Inn in the west of Ireland. Again, what stood out to me was the incredible freshness of the food -- every ingredient almost tasted as though it had been made just for me: the fish caught because I ordered it, the potatoes dug up because I needed them chipped... I think it's hard to make a really diverse menu that can create that experience -- we all know "how far" food has to go from "farm to table." Sometimes though, the idea that it's just been caught or grown or harvested makes it taste all the better.


Hope this helps!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Tuscany (state)
  2. London (city)
  3. Vaughans Anchor Inn (hotel)
3 thanks


answered by
Amanda from Atlanta

Near Paestum, Italy there are many farms serving/selling Mozzarella di Bufalo.  We asked our driver to take us to one of the farms to eat lunch and he took us to Caseificio Barlotti.  We had so many wonderful dishes of fresh vegetables, cheeses and meat…all made with ingredients from their buffalo or their farm! I have never eaten such flavorful, fresh-tasting,
 tomato-heaped bruschetta.  And the Mozzarella di Bufalo, by it's nature, must be fresh; and this mozzarella was by far the best we've ever had!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Paestum (attraction)
  2. Caseificio Barlotti (restaurant)
2 thanks


answered by
Breanna from Los Angeles

The Chiang Mai food scene is so simple yet so incredibly flavorful and bold beyond belief. How they get so much flavor into something so seemingly clean and simple is beyond me. There is no hype, or pretentiousness, just real food. Whether that makes it the best, who knows, but it is food made from the heart by real people, and that always makes my soul and belly happy.



Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Chiang Mai (city)
2 thanks


answered by
Rhonda from Auckland

If you are a dessert lover like me, this is an easy question. It's in Wellington New Zealand, called Strawberry Fare.  It's well worth the trip.  I just posted a series of dessert photos along with my review here: http://www.albomadventures.com/strawberry-fare/


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Wellington (city)
2 thanks


answered by
Janice from San Francisco

Definitely Lima.  Hit the cebicherias and taste the black shellfish version (cebiche de conchas negras), then head south and eat pork belly sandwiches (served with sweet potatoes and pickled onions) along the highway, graze on anticuchos (beef heart skewers) and picarones (sweet potato fritters with piloncillo syrup), eat Chifa for a naturally ocurring fusion cuisine - Peruvian and Cantonese immigrants merged to make a taste of their own, go to the produce markets - or Mercado de Surgquillo, see the thousands of types of native potatoes and corn, taste the rainbow with all the fruits that come from the Amazon.  Inspiration is left, right, and center.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Lima (attraction)
2 thanks


answered by
Brenda from Long Beach

Can't the Adria brothers point you towards a small city somewhere in Spain? Beautiful, wonderful Spain. Everybody knows San Sebastian, but there has to be a small forgotten city that will meet your criteria. All the wonderful wine, cheese, jamon, some of the most beautiful seafood and little grannies making specialty dishes. Plus, the beauty and splendor of the people and the land itself. 

I would love for you to find that place before its trampled by tourists and document whatever you find. I know its a country that is no longer off the beaten path, but that doesn't diminish how great it is.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Spain (country)
  2. San Sebastian (city)
2 thanks


answered by
Maria from Dublin

The Lombardy region in Italy is pretty special. The local lake fish from Como is always good, as are the cheeses and the wonderful Risottos. Bergamo is especially good for great restaurants, e.g Trattoria Camozzi, a small family run place that uses the freshest local ingredients in very creative yet traditional cooking. The local wine Kalos is exceptionally good, it is produced in a small vineyard and none of it is exported! Puglia in Italy is really great too, especially for seafood and the freshest vegetables imaginable.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Lombardy (state)
  2. Trattoria Camozzi (restaurant)
  3. Puglia (state)
2 thanks


answered by
Danny from Staten Island, New York

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. New York City (city)
2 thanks


answered by
William from Honolulu

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Ho Chi Minh City (city)
  2. Hoi An (city)
2 thanks


answered by
Matias from Miami

I can recommend Argentina if you are looking for grilled and meaty flavors. The country side of Argentina will provide you with an amazing experience.  

Another favorite place is Chiva, Colombia. Love the people and food. Best places to eat are those little restaurants alone the highway between Medellin and the Coast. If you see a bunch of semi parked out... stop and eat there. Truckers know good food. 

A good place to sample lot of the Central and South American dishes would be Miami. This place is a melting pot of culture! 

Would gladly show you around if you come. 

Cant way to travel back west and try some food at the airport. Keep it up!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Argentina (country)
  2. Chiva (attraction)
  3. Colombia (country)
  4. Miami (city)
1 thanks


answered by
Jon from Alexandria (Virginia)

In terms of variety, I would say tapas in Madrid or the food stalls in Singapore and Chiang Mai.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Madrid (city)
  2. Singapore (country)
  3. Chiang Mai (city)
1 thanks


answered by
Quirine

Curacao, NetherlandsAntilles, the Old Market is the best place to eat local food and communicate with local people. There they are relaxed in their own environment and more then helpful explaining the food and things going around on the island.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Curacao (country)
  2. Netherlands (country)
  3. Antilles (attraction)
  4. Old Market (attraction)
1 thanks


answered by
Hazel from Port St. Lucie

The Signature Room at the 95th in Chicago at the John Hancock building.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. The Signature Room at the 95th (restaurant)
1 thanks


answered by
Janelle from Charleston

Oaxaca.  In my opinion it's the best regional cuisine on Earth.  The combinations of herbs and spices are the most complex of anywhere on earth.  It's a labour-intensive cuisine, but the ingredients aren't all that expensive. 


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Oaxaca (city)


answered by
Quirine

In New Orleans it is the Big Cheezy food truck and it has the best sandwiches and salads I ever tasted. You can usually find it on  422 1/2 S Broad St, New Orleans


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. New Orleans (city)


answered by
Jacqueline

Singapore, love eating at the Hawkers!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Singapore (country)




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