For some travelers, sightseeing is something you do just to fill time between meals. And for those people, we've compiled a list of five international cities you absolutely must visit to get your food on. And it's way beyond Paris and Rome.
Vancouver has countless eateries with various Asian influences. Chefs pay particular attention to local fish and fowl. Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Market opened in the Shangri-La Hotel in 2009, and the scene as a whole is on its way up.
• Where to eat: Blue Water Café (1095 Hamilton St.) emphasizes dishes based on wild and sustainably harvested seafood. Its raw bar has a Japanese aesthetic. Entrees run about $30-$40.
Vij's (1480 W. 11th Ave.) is on many travelers' "must-eat" list. Indian-born chef Vikram Vij serves authentic Indian dishes that go beyond the everyday. Entrees average about $26.
Singapore also offers a variety of ethnic cuisines, but the one that is most identified with the South Asian city-state is Peranakan food, which mixes Malaysian and Chinese flavors. Popular dishes include chili crab, saytay and mee siam (rice flour noodles). There are dining experiences at every price point: Cheap, delicious meals can be had from street vendors for less than $5, and world-class chefs such as Mario Batali and Daniel Boulud have outposts here.
• Where to eat: If you're in the mood for French, Iggy's (581 Orchard Road, the Hilton Level 3) ranks among the best restaurants in the world. Lunch menu: $85, dinner menu: $250.
This Mediterranean jewel is bursting with funky art and experimental food options. Home to Ferran Adrià, a pioneer of molecular gastronomy and proprietor of the renowned El Bulli (set to close July 30), the city offers cuisine that is daring and adventurous. Seafood is big here, and you shouldn't leave without sampling the pa amb tomàquet (bread with garlic and tomato). It is Spain, so lunch is the big show, lasting from 2-4 p.m. Dinner usually begins after 9 p.m.
• Where to eat: Cinc Sentits (Carrer Aribau, 58) and Alkimia (Carrer Industria, 79) have emerged as superstars in a crowded playing field. Both follow in the footsteps of Adrià, and both are on the pricey side (a meal for two easily could run upwards of $200). Cinc Sentits is famed for its six- or eight-course tasting menu comprising locally sourced ingredients, while Alkimia is a little more rustic.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Despite its vast coastline, Argentina is all about the beef. Buenos Aires has a vibrant café culture, and patrons are expected to linger over meals for hours. Dinner here starts at 9 p.m., and the place to go is the parrilla - basically an Argentinean steak house.
• Where to eat: The word is out on La Cabrera (Cabrera 5099 & Cabrera 5127), but this parrilla is still worth a trip, even though there will be crowds. You'll be inundated with food - each entrée comes with a slew of sides - and leave stuffed no matter what you order. Entrees average $10.
Cabaña las Lilas (Alicia Moreau de Justo 516) is slightly pricer than La Cabrera, but it goes big: The restaurant raises its beef on its own ranch, and the wine list is immense. Entrees run from $10-$30.
This bustling Australian metropolis welcomes immigrants from around the world - and also their food. Sydney is known for its eclectic range of restaurants, from Japanese and Thai to Greek and Italian. Seafood is also big here. Modern Australian cooking mixes various ethnic influences, which results in dishes that are hard to find anywhere else.
• Where to eat: Tetsuya's (529 Kent St.) has snared international awards for its seasonal Japanese food. The 11-course tasting menu costs about $210 per person; wine will run you another $100.
For more than 20 years, Rockpool (109 George St.) has been the place to go for inventive seafood. The tasting menus start at approximately $145 per person.
Gastro Park (5-9 Roslyn St.) is a newcomer to the Sydney scene, but has garnered good buzz. Its menu applies high-tech techniques to seafood, poultry and beef. Entrees start at about $30.