7 of the world’s most underrated food hotspots

Try delicious local food like hummus and olives in Israel. Image credit:    subherwal   /   Creative Commons

Try delicious local food like hummus and olives in Israel. Image credit: subherwal/Creative Commons

London, Paris, Rome and Tokyo are all capital cities and destinations renowned for their fine cuisine, boasting over 500 Michelin stars between them. But while they and their counterparts may snatch the headlines, there are plenty of destinations across the globe that are just as delicious, and more affordable. If you’re looking for a tasty trip at a fraction of the price, try one of these fantastic foodie hotspots.

Tel Aviv, Israel

A stall selling fruit and vegetables in Tel Aviv. Image credit:    Evgenii   /   Creative Commons

A stall selling fruit and vegetables in Tel Aviv. Image credit: Evgenii/Creative Commons

Along Israel’s Mediterranean coast, Tel Aviv is quietly making a name for itself on the world food stage. Combining Middle Eastern, North African and Mediterranean-inspired flavours, expect vegetable-centric dishes that are bursting with spices, along with freshly-baked breaks served with creamy dips and spreads.

Bologna, Italy

Beautiful Bologna has a reputation for being ignored by tourists when compared to fellow Italian cities Rome and Venice.

Beautiful Bologna has a reputation for being ignored by tourists when compared to fellow Italian cities Rome and Venice.

While Bologna is certainly no secret, it rarely seems to get the credit it deserves as one of the world’s finest culinary cities. This is the place to go for elite-level cuisine without the crowds and is also the birthplace of Bolognese sauce and Bologna sausage. Many of its restaurants focus on using natural ingredients and the produce of nearby cities including Parma ham and parmesan cheese. Food lovers will find the city teeming with food stores, street markets and a variety of eating options – from fine dining to simple trattorias.

Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver caters for all tastes - even vegans.

Vancouver caters for all tastes - even vegans.

Thanks to its multicultural makeup, Vancouver is home to every cuisine imaginable. This bustling food enclave has everything from fantastic Asian fare at establishments such as Tojo’s – whose owner invented the California roll – to local treats including natural honey, speciality Canadian cheeses and salmon candy, all of which can be found at places like Granville Island Public Market.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon’s Time Out Market is a must for anyone visiting the Portuguese capital.

Lisbon’s Time Out Market is a must for anyone visiting the Portuguese capital.

Lisbon is a city steeped on a hill, so after roaming its inclined streets all day you’ll have an appetite to satisfy and, fortunately, there is plenty going on. Dining out is relatively inexpensive compared to other major European capitals, so going to fine steakhouses such as Atalho Real with its quality cuts of meat and high-class restaurants like Feitoria, which offers a flavour-filled taster menu, will only be a cushioned blow to the wallet.

The incredible Time Out Market is one of the city’s hottest tickets, where 24 restaurants, eight bars, a dozen shops and a high-end music venue occupy a single dining hall, leaving you spoilt for choice, while small custard tarts known as pastel de nata, a Portuguese institution, are a great sweet treat. You can also wash down all this tasty food with a caipirinha cocktail or a local Sagres beer.

Lima, Peru

Lima’s eclectic mix of Latin and American flavours makes it one of the world’s most intriguing places for a foodie holiday.

Lima’s eclectic mix of Latin and American flavours makes it one of the world’s most intriguing places for a foodie holiday.

The only city to have two of the world’s top 10 restaurants according to Condé Nast Traveller, Lima is in the midst of a culinary revolution. Perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this Peruvian city draws on its Latin flare and coastal proximity to specialise in sumptuous seafood and flavoursome fusion food, combining age-old Latin classics with Japanese flavours and modern presentation. Lunchtime-only eatery Chez Wong is one of the best places to try Asian-inspired Peruvian fare, while Surquillo Market is where you should go for cheap bites and to sample a bit of everything.

Tbilisi, Georgia

Georgia is certainly underrated when it comes to food, with delicious, homemade fare readily available across the country.

Georgia is certainly underrated when it comes to food, with delicious, homemade fare readily available across the country.

Much like in Israel, Georgian cuisine is inspired by various regions thanks to its transcontinental location in the Caucasus. Pulling together the best of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Eastern European Cuisine, Tbilisi's up-and-coming food scene flies under the radar, but it still has a premier offering. Whether you’re at a local eatery in Old Town or eating out on one of the city’s leafy squares, you’re in for a treat. Make sure to try the irresistible cheese-filled flatbread khachapuri as well as khinkali, boiled or steamed Georgian dumplings that are usually stuffed with meat and spices.

Athens, Greece

Tzatziki was a personal favourite of mine when we went to Athens.

Tzatziki was a personal favourite of mine when we went to Athens.

Whether you’re chowing down on gyros, Greek salad or hearty bowl of tzatziki, your taste buds are in for a treat if you’re visiting Athens. Packed with lively restaurants and charming tavernas, Athens is the perfect place for fantastic food with first-class hospitality. And if you head out late in the evening, you may even have the chance to try your hand at Greek pastime plate smashing.