5 Undiscovered Foodie Destinations
Over the past 10 years, the “foodie” culture has exploded. We now have more cooking shows than you can throw a spatula at, home cooks who have become famous on Youtube, and food tourism has become its own travel niche. Destinations we once wouldn’t have thought of as food-focused are finding a new appreciation for their own traditions, as foodies from all over the world want to know more. Here’s our list of the top 5 undiscovered foodie destinations you should consider for your next getaway!
1. Bologna, Italy
While Dipaways is known for our incredible getaways to Southern Italy’s iconic Amalfi Coast, Nothern Italy is a foodie paradise that travelers tend to overlook. Bologna is the passionate red beating heart of food culture in Italy. The salty perfume of prosciutto and pecorino fill the air, and at every corner, you’ll turn to meet a brightly colored display of vegetables, fresh seafood delivered daily from the Adriatic Sea, a plethora of cheese and handmade pasta shops, and most prevalently, meat. A short train journey from Bologna takes you to Modena, the birthplace of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena or authentic balsamic vinegar of Modena. These generations-old family-run businesses are dotted throughout the city, with many offering tours and tastings. Opt for the smaller ones for a more hands-on experience. Also in Modena, you’ll find Chef Mossimo Battura’s Osteria Francescana, named Best Restaurant in the World in 2018. While this restaurant is on the serious foodie’s itinerary, the rest of the region often gets missed.
2. San Juan Islands, Washington
This cluster of islands off the northern coast of Washington sits just below the Canadian border. Their remote location, fertile land, and temperate climate have enabled them to create a richly self-sufficient farming culture. It’s a region Washington foodies flock to but has largely managed to remain a secret to everyone else. San Juan island is the hub and has a more tourist feel, but when you get to the outer-lying islands, that’s really when the fun starts. Orcas Island has several incredible restaurants and a bustling farmers market that is really the heart of the community. Visit Buck Bay, where you can choose and shuck your fill of oysters in a casual, communal setting while overlooking the shellfish farm. You can also hit Open Mic Night at Doe Bay for great food, a chill atmosphere, and the best sunset of your life. Lopez Island is great for a meal at Ursa Minor too! Be sure to reserve that table well in advance. A week spent ferrying between islands will be an investment, but your palate will congratulate you.
3. Vilnius, Lithuania
The collapse of the Soviet Union rustled this hibernating culinary giant from its sleep. With influences of Jewish, Karaite, Polish, Ukrainian, Italian, and German cuisine, the intermingling of traditions has resulted in a creative hodgepodge of edible delights. Paired with a once underground micro-brew culture (the Soviets didn’t allow people to brew beer privately) and hip music & food market scene, you’ll be satiated for days. Start with a bagel & lox at Beigelių Krautuvėlė, take a beer flight at Špunka, and spend the evening sampling a variety of bites at Open Kitchen, where you can get a feel for the local music scene on their live music nights.
4. West Cork, Ireland
Ireland is not all meat and potatoes, but in order to keep this foodie hotspot a secret, people might prefer to let you keep believing that. Parts of the island nation still depend largely on imported food from mainland Europe, but due to its more rural location, West Cork has taken advantage of the vast farmland and more favorable weather down south to nurture a bustling food culture. There are good restaurants galore in West Cork, but the main attraction is the plentiful farmer’s markets taking turns hosting local farmers and makers on different days of the week. The market schedule can be found here, so plan your visit around those and you’ll get a delicious perspective on the importance of food and community in this tight-knit foodie locale.
5. Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Cambodia doesn’t rank high on the foodie radar of the masses…yet! Snugly nestled on the banks of the Mekong River, it might take you a while to get over the aesthetic of the city before you can even start thinking about food. Packed tightly with brightly colored buildings, the stately French architecture is commingled with Khmer-style buildings in tribute to ancient deities. Foodie culture in Phnom Penh is one of the most creative you’ll find in the region. The population is young, but they value the traditional, while simultaneously bending it in their own creative ways. Nesat Seafood House is as cheap as it is trendy, located in a hip art district called the Russian Market. Peruse local art and get to know local creatives at Factory Phnom Penh. For drinks, slip into the tiny alley at Bassac Lane, and revive yourself post-debauchery with an abundance of third-wave coffee shops in the Boeung Keng Kang neighborhood.
Satisfy your travel foodie desires on an upcoming group trip!
Erin Skahank, a writer for Dipaways, is a travel-obsessed food writer based in Dublin. You can find more of her musings and recommendations on her website The Rouxx.