Updated: Jan 12
Food Guides are helpful if you are a Gastro-Tourist, a Food Explorer, Foodie or Bon Vivant that Travel for Food like us. Whether you want to eat tasty streetfood, visit uprising chef's and their restaurants - or even better; eat where chef's choose to eat; the best guide to those Foodie Spots can be to follow sites where devoted food enthusiast share their experiences; like Sticks & Spoons - or Food and Travel Guides! ;)
We love to experience Food while travelling. We usually explore the Culinary World through the gastronomic map we create from restaurant reviews, restaurant platforms, Food Bloggers, Food Vloggers, both non- and Professional Food Guides and mouth-to-mouth-recommendations.
But if you are looking for what's considered as the best of the best and the most rewarded fine dining restaurants around the world there's only two Restaurant Guides out there (in our opinion at Sticks & Spoons); Guide Michelin and The World's 50 Best Restaurants. And those are the two Food Guides you definitely should follow!
We like the later of the two better and have made this true modest Food Guide (in context) for all of you that travel for the fun dining kind of food combined with The World's 50 Best Restaurants Top 10 fine dining recommendation. This is for you Food Junkies wanting today's World Best Food and Travel Experiences! We think that's a great combination and looking at the result there's only 6 Food Destinations you should focus on in 2018 when counting countries.
Sticks & Spoons Top 6 Destinations to Travel for Fun and Fine Dining in 2018
MODENA in Italy | #1 OSTERIA FRANCESCANA | Chef: Massimo Bottura
Who would have known? Modena in Italy; an ancient little town on the south-side of Po is in the Top Position! Maybe most famous for their red Ferrari cars designed and developed by motor genius Enzo Ferrari but also for being the birth place of world famous tenor Luciano Pavarotti and now...the Chef on everyone's tounge; Chef Massimo Bottura!
Born and raised in Modena Chef Bottura started as an apprentice to Chef Georges Coigny but soon had a chance to work with Chef Alain Ducasse at Le Louis XV in Monte Carlo followed by a short period at Trattoria del Compazzo.
In 1995 he opened Osteria Francescana with the concept "juxtapose culinary tradition and innovation with contemporary art and design".
But it was when he did a summer season under brilliant, iconic and progressive Chef Ferran Adrià at infamous El Bulli that Chef Massimo blossomed to become truly innovative, pushing his culinary boundaries and re-defining his way of cooking - encouraged by Chef Adrià.
In 2012, just shortly after Osteria Francescana was rewarded their well deserved third Michelin star, Chef Massimo decided to close the restaurant during the summer for refurbishment and then opened with a significant updated insight into Chef Bottura's two biggest passions - contemporary art and avant garde cuisine!
The World's 50 Best Restaurants listed Osteria Francescana in the Top 5 as early as 2010 but it was with a 2nd place in 2015 a yo-yo time started! In 2016 Osteria Francescana was in 1st place just to be followed by a 2nd place in 2017...and but back again with a 1st place in 2018!
Chef Massimo Bottura is a super creative mind and have among several projects written five cookbooks, Aceto Balsamico (2005), Parmigiano Reggiano (2006), PRO. Attraverso tradizione e innovazione (2006), Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef (2014) and Bread is Gold (2017).
The region of Modena - Emilia Romagna - is a strong slowfood region with great ingredients like Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano, Balsamic Vinegar or Aceto Balsamico, Parma ham or Prosciutto di Parma and of course Pasta and Wine so for a Foodie this is heaven on earth!
Taking a Food Tour visiting Wine Makers, Food Producers and exploring the genuine, hearthy Italian Cuisine of this region can successfully be combined with driving fast Ferrari's, listening to Opera and soaking up the History, Culture and Landscape.
GIRONA Spain | #2 EL CELLER de CAN ROCA | Chefs: The Roca Brothers
The Roca Brothers; Chef Joan Roca, Pastry Chef Jordi Roca and Sommelier Joseph Roca have been in the Restaurant Business for a long time and the Restaurant El Celler de Can Roca have been considered a high-end establishment since opening in 1986!
In the Restaurant you find a centerpiece made with three rocks; each represent the brothers which surname translates as "Rock" from Spanish. And El Celler de Can Roca Rocks! With a 1st Place in the Magazine "Restaurant" category "Best Restaurants in the World" 2013 and 2015; and slipping down to a 2nd Place in 2011, 2012 and 2014 - they was rewarded the 1st Place again in 2018! Quiet impressive!
And with the World's 50 Best Restaurants the Brothers have been a favorite as well. In the 2018 list they took a 2nd Place!
Girona is a Catalan City and the Capitol of Province Girona. Cathedrals, old fortifications and buildings along the confluence of the rivers Ter, Onyar, Galligants, and Güell make the city view astonishing with both older and more colorful modern houses just riverside in a beautiful mix. The City of Girona definitely has a lot to offer when wanting to experience Culture and especially Food Culture! Just visit Girona Explores and you'll see what we mean!
MENTON in France | #3 MIRAZUR | Chefs: Mauro Colagreco & Antonio Buono
Just outside the Italian border on the French side is the City of Menton. A small, wonderful village with a palpable closeness to Azure Blue; The Mediterranean. The view with the Harbor and climbing villas and houses when you arrive from the sea is a magnificent sight.
Was it in this Historical Area of Menton the Art of Cooking was born? The region has been inhabited since the paleolithic era and is the site of the original "Grimaldi Man" which is the find of early modern humans and remains of Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons.
However so; in Menton you'll find the 3rd entry on World's 50 Best Restaurants; Mirazur. Chefs are Mauro Colagreco and Antonio Buono; both from Argentine and that is what you'll find on the plates; Progressive and highly executed European dishes inspired by the Mediterranean food and surroundings with influences of South American and Argentine. We think that sounds like an exiting combination!
While being in Menton - nicknamed "The Pearl of France" and also quiet famous for the many Gardens in the City - you must take the chance to explore the Riviera and Côte d'Azur! Monaco and Nice is nearby and also the North Western parts of Italy.
If coming to Menton in February you should visit The Lemon Festival! Each year a new theme; past themes include Viva España, Disney, Neverland, and India. The festival lasts many days with exhibitions of Lemon Patterns, Golden Fruit Parades, Night Parades, a lot of food (with lemons we guess?) and different bands passing through Menton's streets on foot or on truck trailers. Sound like a lot of fun!
NEW YORK in USA | #4 ELEVEN MADISON PARK | Chefs: Daniel Humm & Dmitri Magi
The City that never Sleeps and The Big Apple - both well known nickname's for New York. In this Mega City you can explore 24/7! There's so much to experience it's overwhelming and you probably will need much more then one visit to cover your Bucketlist.
Eleven Madison Park is the World's 50 Best Restaurants no 4 on the list of 2018. The New American Cuisine is more then ever present on Eleven Madison Park with an innovative approach. The Swiss-born restaurant co-owner Chef Daniel Humm have taken Eleven Madison Park to exceptional heights through the years but now rely a lot on Chef de Cuisine Dmitri Magi to run the Kitchen.
We can understand Chef Humm. His career started at age 14 and at the youngster age of 24 he was rewarded his first Michelin Star! Impressive!
BANGKOK in Thailand | #5 GAGGAN | Chef: Gaggan Anand
Chef Gaggan Anand's story, journey and career is amazing! From being born in a poor family back in India to owning his Michelin Starred Restaurant Gaggan in Bangkok is nothing less then mesmerizing. If you haven't seen Netflix Series "Chef's Table" - that's a tips from us!
RELATED POST: Where to eat in Bangkok
Gaggan Progressive Indian Cuisine is a fast-paced, fun, relaxed restaurant experience with an extremely well executed 25 dishes; on the with emoji's written menu! Food is mainly in snack sizes that you eat with your fingers! Chef Anand have an impressive record: 2014 Gaggan Progressive Indian Cuisine has won Thailand's Best Restaurant as well as Asia's 50 Best Restaurant 4 years in a raw from 2016 - 2018! And now we find him on the 5th Place on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list!
Bangkok is a real Foodie Spot! If you love food this is one of the best cities in the World to travel to and explore - from Streetfood to High-End Restaurants and Michelin Stars! Even Michelin Star Streetfood!
LIMA in Peru | #6 CENTRAL | Chefs: Virgilio Martínez and Pia León
LIMA in Peru | #7 MAIDO | Chefs: Mitsuharu 'Micha' Tsumura & Cesar Choy
Lima is a BIG City, the Capitol of Peru with 12 million+ in Metro and a 9 million++ Urban Population and is being seen as the Gastronomical Capital of Latin America - but it's nothing less the surprising having TWO Restaurants in Top 10 of the World's 50 Best!
Central has been a Top Restaurant for years and might be one of the reasons that Peruvian Food have had a rise as one of the Top Food Trends in the later years. With a strong focus on Ecosystems and Elevation in the diversity of the country's fauna and produces they make extraordinary food!
Chefs Virgilio Martínez and Pía León (husband and wife!) pushing boundaries with ingredients never used before in dishes like Waters of Nanay featuring piranha fish served in an entire, sharp-tooth-filled piranha head! The menu explores every altitude of Peru from 20 metres below sea level to 4,100 metres above it, in 17+ courses.
Maido has a brilliant concept in their Nikkei Experience menu which is a tasty journey through Peruvian-Japanese fusion cuisine, with an emphasis on seafood. In 2017 the Restaurant beat Central and it's coherent reign as no 1 for four years being voted The Best Latin America Restaurant! It's good with competition but unfortunately for Maido they had to see Central beat them back in the World's 50 Best!
Beside an interesting Food Scene with a Melting Pot between African, European, Chinese and Japanese Cuisines there's UNESCO Architecture, huge amounts of History and Inca Trails - like Macchu Picchu and Sacred Valley - to be explored!
PARIS in France | #8 ARPÈGE | Chef: Alain Passard
The Romantic City of Paris is on every Traveling Couple's Bucketlist (we guess?)! Some real iconic Restaurants and Chefs on the scene of course but the one everyone is talking about now is Apèrge and Alain Passard. With a highly driven French Cuisine Chef Passard also manage to change his menu to become contemporary with some fantastic Signature Dishes up his sleeve. Back in 2001 Chef Alain Passard announced that his Restaurant were going Vegetarian and even if meat have made a restrained return vegetables is still what make this French Restaurant stand out!
There's a massive amount of tourist attractions you can visit while in Paris but don't forget to just chill; buying a Croissant and Coffee, sitting on one of the many Café's watching Parisian Life pass by!
RELATED POST: Travel to Paris - a 3 day Travel Guide and Itinerary
SAN SEBASTIAN in Spain | #9 MUGARITZ | Chef: Andoni Luis Aduriz
Ohh...San Sebastian! Spoons have been in Donostia three times and long to take Sticks there on a longer weekend trip! Spoons also have eaten on Mugaritz which was a fantastic Restaurant Experience!
The 20 course menu is a seasonal, techno-emotional Spanish influenced journey built with the elements and unique ingredients typical for the region. Chef Aduriz and his team execute an impeccable Dining Experience that include many surprises.
And San Sebastian as a Food Scene is incredible and addictive! The Pintxos Culture and buzz in the Old Town especially in the evening is something every Foodie should experience at least once in a Lifetime! Take my word for it!
AXPE in Spain | #10 ASADOR ETXEBARRI | Chef: Victor Arguinzoniz
This Restaurant is also one that Spoons have visited twice! Axpe is located between San Sebastian and Bilbao and it's a strong recommendation to pay Chef Victor Arguinzoniz and Asador Etxebarri a visit while being in the "neighbourhood"!
The absolutely unique way Chef Arguinzoniz use his grills, the smoke and heat from selected coals combined with the natural flavors of top quality ingredients and own produce makes Etxebarri one of the most precious dining memories as a Chef for Spoons. It's surreal. The simplicity in the dishes yet impeccable craftsmanship and experience in the way dishes are executed by Chef Arguinzoniz is just marvelous! To have a simple buffalo mozzarella made fresh of the morning milk followed by a month aged dito from the Restaurants own Buffalo's is mindblowing. Two slices of own produced chorizo is beyond every chorizo I've eaten. All seafood dishes are flawless! The Goose Barnacles feels like they are picked and cooked directly. A simple green pea soup served in a shot glass is so complex, fully packed with flavor and levels of taste it takes 15 minutes to finish it enjoying and loving every second. A 12 year old milk cow in the Signature Beef Chop is mouthwatering and the best meat I ever eaten! And so on.
The list above with "WOW-moments" could go on forever! Nothing I have eaten at Etxebarri has flaws. The Oysters, the Palamós Prawns, Goose Barnacle's and all fish and seafood is utterly delicious and superfresh! And we're far away from the sea in the middle of a mountain pass in a village with a population of...what?...a hundred persons? Maybe. How is this even possible?!
The Seafood's explicit quality is later explained in the Kitchen Tour by the circulated basins filled with delicious ingredients and fresh sea water just outside the Kitchen!
I could write so much more; but instead - just go there and experience the woodfired Asador Etxebarri runned by the genius of Victor Arguinzoniz!
So that's it! There's 6 Destinations to Gastronomically Discover and Explore during 2018; Italy, Spain, France, USA, Thailand and Peru! Hopefully you have got some inspiration and Foodtips for your Foodie Bucketlist spiced up with some sights to watch on the way!
RELATED POST: The World's Best Food Destinations in 2019
(According to the Foodie Bucketlist from National Geographic)
And here's the complete list of 2018's World's 50 Best Restaurants!
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