Travel Writers share foodie experiences to inspire your travels
If you’re looking for foodie travel inspiration around the USA, check out what tops my list as well as the list of some of my favorite foodies and travel writers. This is part two of my Epic Foodie Travel Bucket List series. Did you check out my Epic foodie travel bucket list experiences in Central Florida?
My foodie travel bucket list – i.e. “someday list” – is never ending. It grows every time I scroll through Instagram. Are you ready to add to your list? It’s time to plan, put in on the calendar and go Make Someday Happen one delicious bite, sip and trip at a time!
Experiences are not listed in any particular order. Let me know in the comments, which ones you’ll add to your list or if there are any I should add to mine.
1. Fast Food With A Great Message in Rohnert Park, California
Chauniqua Major, or “Major”, is a publicist extraordinaire and foodie entrepreneur behind Eat Project Pop a line of gourmet popcorn that’s a Must Eat! I was a bit perplexed when she told me about the foodie experience at the top of her list: Amy’s Drive Thru.Knowing how much she advocates for great causes including founding GoodThroughFood.com, her choice made complete sense.
“You’re thinking “you’ve gotta be kidding me– a fast food joint?” Don’t get me wrong, sopping up chana masala in India with a warm piece of naan is on the list, but I’m obsessed with Amy’s. I saw it on RestaurantBusiness.com, and thought it was genius. I love the idea of quick, organic food that’s accessible to the masses. A restaurant like this all over America could help alleviate many problems. Oftentimes, the average American won’t purchase anything organic or something like quinoa, but they might give it a whirl in an approachable drive-thru. Cool, right? I’ll have a large fry, for sure.”Chauniqua Major
How many times have you read about a restaurant or seen it on TV and said, “I need to go there someday”? I do it all the time. That was one of the reasons my “Make Someday Happen” mission came to life.
Major says “I have no idea when I’ll go, but now that I’ve been asked, let’s say I’ll go by 2019. Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to record the experience and share it with you!” Sometimes all you need is to set a date in the calendar and go! Follow Major’s Eat Project Pop adventures on Instagram and learn more here.
2. Explore “The Land of The Sky” in Asheville, North Carolina
Did you know Asheville is a foodie town? I didn’t know much about this charming North Carolina destination and learned more about it from Kimberly Button of KimandCarrie.com. I now have reason to take a trip there and I may have to take Kim as my guide. Follow her for travel inspiration.
“Asheville, NC is known as Foodtopia, so during a recent visit I was thrilled to cross off just a couple restaurants from my someday list, with about 100 left to try! Tupelo Honey Café was amazing! Also crossed off Cucina 24 and sinful desserts at French Broad Chocolates. Now I’m looking forward to enjoying even more of Asheville’s amazing restaurants. Especially Katie Button’s Curate, because, you know, anyone with a last name like that has got to be someone fun and know great food.”Kimberly Button
3. Check out the Top 40 Restaurants in Portland, Oregon
Unique and bucket list worthy dining experiences abound in my hometown of Portland, Oregon. Many longtime favorites as well as a plethora of newcomers jazz up local taste buds on the regular so each year, as I make my annual summer pilgrimage back home, I take a look at The Oregonian’s “Portland’s 40 Best Restaurant List” for inspiration, and to help me narrow down where to go.
In 2017, I dined for the first time at Coquine, voted number one restaurant in Portland in 2016 and again in 2018. Located in the Mt. Tabor neighborhood, we surprisingly stumbled upon it before knowing of all its accolades. The dynamite chef/owner Katy Millard has also been nominated for a James Beard Foundation award multiple years. The restaurant is tiny, the decor unassuming, but the superb multi-course tasting menu and wine pairing experience is one of the best I’ve ever had.
Her husband, Ksandek Podbielski , was our sommelier / server and his wine geek introductions of each wine pairing was truly just as fantastic as the food. Devoid of any pretentiousness and full of excitement about each off-the-beaten-path wine he’d discovered and was happy to share with us. The chocolate chip cookie at the end of the meal was just as good as the hype it’s earned. Check out more info on Coquine, make reservations and go!
Another restaurant which has been gracing the Portland Top 40 list for the better part of 11 years is Toro Bravo. The Spanish Tapas bar had been on my list since 2008 and it seemed every time I attempted a visit something got in the way. We finally made it in for an impromptu late night stop that was every bit as exciting as if we had been planning it all along. The cocktails, an elevated smoky gin and tonic and a vermut blanco concoction brought us back to our days in Spain’s Basque region. The food even more so.
Don’t expect traditional Spanish. Do expect to feel like you’ve somehow stumbled into a hipster Spanish Tapas Bar. (We actually did go to a Tapas Bar in San Sebastian which oddly had the same Pacific Northwest hipster vibe.) Chef / Owner John Gorham has built a fantastic restaurant empire which also includes another favorite on Must Eat List: Tasty N Sons for a fantastic brunch. Learn more about Toro Bravo here.
Next to cross off my Portland list are Castagna, Revelry, and Le Pigeon. They’ve been on there far too long. It’s overdue!
4. Dine in the Chef’s Home in Portland, Oregon
Have you ever dined at an award-winning chef’s house? In Portland, you can do just that! After reading about Peter Cho in 2017 Food & Wine Best New Chef issue, I immediately added Han Oak to my list! Since then he’s been nominated for multiple James Beard Awards and Han Oak named best restaurant in Portland Top 40 List.
The restaurant is named after Korea’s traditional homes, however his home is most definitely not. The casual Korean-American restaurant is actually in the chef’s house. We were seated on rustic wood tables in the backyard, surrounded by kid’s toys and assorted knick knacks that look cool in this setting but would probably just look like clutter in my own backyard.
We dined on a prix-fixe tasting menu of eleven dishes, each more flavorful and surprising than the next. My knowledge of Korean food was limited to kimchi and BBQ, which were both present but in much fresher and inspired variations. “Innovative and talented” are just some of the words to describe Cho, a native Oregonian. This is a restaurant I look forward to returning again and again but I am so glad to say I checked it off my someday list!
5. Build an Appetite for Burgers and Tacos in Salt Lake City, Utah
A.D. Thompson’s articles on USA Today Travel / 10Best are often my first stop when researching a destination. A freelance journalist based in Orlando whose diverse background includes being an editor for Playgirl Magazine, her writing style is full of good natured humor but her palate is no joke. Her choice of an epic burger and her reasoning behind adding it to her foodie bucket list is one of the many reasons I love chatting with her in real life as much as I enjoy reading whatever has her name on the byline. Follow A.D. Thompson on her website and Instagram for more foodie travel inspiration.
Hiking Utah’s National Parks will definitely build up an appetite which can best be satisfied by a big juicy burger and a messy taco! (Isn’t that the reason why any of us exercise?) I’m ready to go hiking in Utah!
“Moab, Utah – and specifically, the Delicate Arch – has been on my travel Bucket List for 20+ years, since the day a couple of friends got back from Spring Break with pics of their hiking trip to Arches National Park. This year was the National Parks’ Centennial and I was lucky enough to make two trips to Utah, hiking extensively in both Arches (read about it here!), as well as Bryce Canyon. Along with that came ample time spent in Salt Lake City, where not unlike my native NYC, the diners evolved from largely Greek roots and the pastrami burger emigrated from what was likely Southern California. I call it the Crown Burger (because it was at this chain where I had my first). It’s simple, really. A quarter-pound of pastrami, sliced thin, and piled onto a cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, onion and a sort of Thousand Island-like dressing. Once I had one, I put it on my Bucket List, just so I could scratch it off! On my next trip to SLC, you’ll see a Navajo taco on my Instagram for sure – and I’ll be getting it at Navajo Hogan! Happy eating everyone!”A.D. Thompson
6. Chase Michelin Stars with Thomas Keller!
Dining at one of Thomas Keller’s famed restaurants is a must for any foodie’s bucket list. I “met” chef Keller at a charity event many years ago and was struck by simply how nice he was. He’s an icon, the only American-born chef to have two three-starred Michelin restaurants simultaneously (The French Laundry in Yountville, Napa, California and Per Se in New York City). He could’ve simply stood for obligatory photo ops all night but instead he walked through the crowded event space with a tray of whimsical miniature cones filled with the most superb tuna tartare. I came face to face with the towering chef (he must be well over 6 ft) and was inches away when he gave me an apologetic smile and said he noticed the lines at his station were long and he wanted everyone to enjoy. I stood there, jaw to the floor, barely muttering a “thank you so much” as I quickly grabbed a few cones. Wish I took a few more. I later realized those were his famous cornets! (see the cover photo above!)
After hearing Lauren Yochum of Spork Orlando experience at The French Laundry, I knew it belonged on my list. Another foodie friend shared their Keller encounter and concurred on how humble he is. Rare in the chef world!
The French Laundry and Per Se have received three Michelin stars annually since 2006 and are only two of a few restaurants in the country with three stars. The multi-course dinner is a splurge but one I aspire to someday. I hope to try the famed oysters and pearls amuse bouche of pearl tapioca with beau soleil oysters and white sturgeon caviar.
The Surf Club Restaurant in Miami, his newest venture, has not received Michelin stars yet (it opened August 2018), but give it time. This may be my first Thomas Keller dining experience, if I can get reservations!
7. Instagram All The Sweets in New York City!
New York City may be called the Big Apple but it should actually be called the “Big Sweets Town”! Simply scroll through Instagram and you’ll be drooling over New York City’s “Instagrammable” food. From Dominique Ansel’s famous Cronut, to Christina Tosi’s addictive compost cookies and cereal milk soft serve at Milk Bar. From the most colorful ice cream at Big Gay Ice Cream, to cupcakes and donuts. You can drink your sweets too! From crazy milkshakes to hot chocolate, Frozen (at Serendipity) or Hot (at Dominique Ansel’s). A sugar induced coma is bound to happen.
My friends Lisa Wilk of Taste Cook Sip, Rachelle Lucas of The Travel Bite and I explored some of NYC sweets during a recent trip and crossed off so many treats from our foodie bucket list! Follow them for plenty of drool-worthy treats and inspiration to travel around Orlando and the world.
“What a treat it was to visit the OG Milk Bar with @thetravelbite & @goepicurista on my last trip to NYC! And, even in the dead of winter, we ate every chilly bite of our Cereal Milk ice cream and also brought many cookies home!”Lisa Wilk
“My friends @goepicurista and @tastecooksip and I hustled there early one morning to beat the wait, and were pleasantly surprised to be one of the first ones there. We ordered Cronuts and these beautiful blooming hot chocolates. They’re not only pretty, but they taste velvety as well. I added a shot of espresso too, you know, to make it more acceptable for breakfast.”Rachelle Lucas
8. Edible Helium Balloons in Chicago, Illinois!
Chef Grant Achatz is another icon of the culinary world and dinner at his Alinea Restaurant in Chicago is a bonafide show. The four hour experience will have you dining off the table or sucking helium filled sugar balloons. Oohs, Aaaahs, Laughter, and Joy, all guaranteed. I’ve followed my friend Julius Mayo, Jr. culinary explorations from Orlando to Atlanta and everywhere in between on @Droolius and when he shared Alinea was on his bucket list, I knew it needed to be on mine.
“The first time I’ve booked the dining reservation before a flight. We traveled here to specifically celebrate my birthday and experience this bucket list meal. 17 amazing courses. Each course was an experience of multiple senses. It was one of the best meals in my life, if not the best to date.”Julius “Droolius” Mayo, Jr.
9. Joes’ Stone Crab in Miami, Florida!
One restaurant that has been on my foodie bucket list for years, since my college days in Miami, is Joe’s Stone Crab. Delighting everyone from presidents to Hollywood celebs since 1913, this old-school classic seafood restaurant is legendary. A symbol of Miami as recognizable as Art Deco, neon lights and Miami Beach itself.
What did you think? Are you drooling and dreaming? Which experiences will you add to your list? Is a unique restaurant concept or food experience around the USA on your foodie bucket list? Please share in the comments as this list will keep growing!
Take a look at my Epic Foodie Bucket List in Central Florida for more foodie travel inspiration in and around Orlando.
I hope you’re inspired to go #MakeSomedayHappen one delicious bite, sip and trip at a time!