Even the foodiest cities in the world like New York and San Francisco can’t recreate the things you try in passing when you travel. I have a growing list of things I crave from the places I’ve visited. They’re cravings that I know I’ll never satisfy until I return. This is my ode to those foods I miss most.
Rotisserie chicken from Munich, Germany
I know this seems absolutely generic. How could rotisserie chicken be that good? Isn’t it the same everywhere? It’s not. And in the Oktoberfest tents, the rotisserie chicken is the juiciest, most tender chicken you could ever imagine. It’s possible the multiple liters of beer adds to the taste, but I think about it all the time.
Chargrilled oysters from New Orleans
Everyone thinks they don’t love oysters until they have flame-grilled buttery, cheesy oysters from Acme Oyster House. I could eat two dozen of these in one sitting. And no oyster, no matter how fresh comes close to how amazing these taste.
Thai tea from Chiang Mai, Thailand
This is one of those things that seems so simple that you could make it at home. But nothing ever compares to fresh piping hot tea poured on sweet syrup and condensed milk over ice. The best one I had was from a cart in the middle of the Yi Peng festival. I liked it so much, I had two.
Mango and sticky rice from Thailand
I kind of thought the combination of mango and rice would be weird, so it took me far too long to actually try this when I was in Thailand. But the marriage of the two is perfect and it’s held together with creamy coconut milk.
Chocolate-covered key lime pie from Key Largo
There’s a lot of food I love in the Keys. But probably nothing quite as much as a slice of chocolate covered key lime pie. There are a ton of brands that make the frozen treat, but my favorite is from Key Largo Chocolates.
Carbonara pasta from Greece
Carbonara has become my go-to vacation food, because several years ago, my friends and I realized that all the carbonara pasta in Greece is incredible. Everywhere. Even at dive bars. I always try to recreate that decadent creamy magic, with very limited success. There’s just nothing like that Greek pasta.
Yogurt and honey from Greece
There’s a lot of yummy food in Greece. And the de facto dessert there is Greek yogurt and honey. I try to make this at home all the time. But the yogurt never seems to be the right creamy consistency. And the honey isn’t as dark or thick.
Pork sandwiches from Porto, Portugal
Last Thanksgiving, after having a super lazy morning, my girlfriend and I got out of bed around 2 or 3 pm, and feeling starved, went straight to Casa Guedes for the best Thanksgiving meal you could ever imagine that you can grab in 5 minutes. The giant crispy pork roasts at Guedes are cut up into chunks and served on small bread rolls with cheese. So simple. So delicious.
Philly cheesesteak from Philadelphia
I do hate Philadelphia, but their street food is worth raving about. They have their gooey cheesy cheesesteaks down to a science. It’s the perfect snack to pick up from an aluminum cart after having a few beers.
“Pastilla” from Morocco
I’m not sure if I was just excited to have something that wasn’t a tagine, but when we got our hands on a fresh meat pie, I was in heaven. Known as Moroccan pizza, this is usually filled with squab, chicken, or fish. I’ve never tasted anything like it again.
Burek from Bulgaria
I actually first had burek in Prague at the Christmas markets. And I tried it because it looks very similar to Moroccan pizza. The dough is flaky and the pastry is full of meat, though they also have burek made with cheese. The burek in Bulgaria was even better than the one I had in Prague.
In-N-Out Burger from the West coast
My favorite thing about visiting California is having In-N-Out. It’s simple, it’s cheap, and it’s perfect. There’s nothing like the buttery bread and the special In-N-Out sauce on a tiny burger patty. I have almost booked flights to the West coast just to have a burger and a milkshake.
My favorite burger from Washington, DC
When I lived in Washington, DC, I discovered the perfect grown-up version of In-N-Out, the burger at Founding Farmers. This farm to table restaurant serves up a mean burger on a giant bun with their special sauce and homemade ketchup.
Margaritas from Prague
I know, this one sounds weird. But I’m kind of a margarita snob, and one of the best margaritas ever is from Las Adelitas in Prague. Made by real Mexican expats, they don’t skimp on the authenticity that makes this drink perfect. My favorite is the chili mango margarita, made with tequila that’s been infused with peppers, on a chili-rimmed glass with a giant slice of mango. I used to think frozen margaritas were a travesty until I tried this one.
Cuban bread and croquetas from Miami
There’s a lot of great food in Miami, but when I’m away, there’s nothing I miss more than buttery toasted Cuban bread with two or three ham croquettes. And no croquetas in the city compare to the ones from Islas Canarias. I would know. I’ve tried all of them.