There are only so many vacation days in a year, so where to travel right now to maximize them is a hard enough question to answer. But when food enters the equation—as it does in the minds of all of the SAVEUR staff—the pressure mounts.
That said, we’re the types that skip the food tours on vacation but have just as much fun scouting local pantry staples, breaking bread with locals, hanging at the town roastery, or tracking down the best bakeries in Paris as we do trying the top dining experiences in big cities from New York and Tokyo to Rome.
Here are the cities, countries, and off-the-beaten-track excursions—largely based around food—that our staffers can’t wait to head (or return) to.
Since I’m lucky to have already done the classic first-timer’s trip to Japan—spending a week each in Tokyo and Kyoto—I’m ready to branch out to other parts of the country on my next trip. A place I’ve been researching a lot is Nagano, home of the Japanese Alps and a handful of spectacular national parks. Few people I know have been to the region, but I’m itching for the hearty meals and mountainous ingredients I’ve seen—like wild game, miso, and mushrooms—after a long day’s hike. —Stacy Adimando, Executive Editor
In 2018, I made lots of food-loving friends from fantastic places near and far—I like to think there are now sofas with my name on them in Gascony, Mendoza, Seattle, DC, Baja, and Catalunya—all of which I visited last year and all of which I would love to return to. I’ve also met a slew of cool food industry folks from London—a city so easily accessible to New Yorkers that it is starting to feel a little silly that I’ve never made it over for a visit. For better or worse, the Brexit dust-up has improved the exchange rate for travelers visiting from the US and I’ve got a heck of a list of food to eat and places to visit in the works. —Kat Craddock, Test Kitchen Manager
Israel is calling me this year—the culture, the landscape and, of course, the food. The ancient walls and pathways of Jerusalem, the Western Wall, the beaches of Tel Aviv … and I hear sipping wine at a table with an overflowing mezze platter at the wineries and vineyards of Galilee is divine. I’ve been obsessed with eggs of late, so an authentic shakshouka dish will be what I search for first. Authentic hummus and pita with plenty of toppings like olive oil, pine nuts, paprika, za’atar and tahini will be aplenty, I know. Soups are a thing for me lately, so I’m going to hunt for a kibbeh dumpling soup—and, of course, plenty of fresh fish from the Mediterranean, Red Sea, or the Sea of Galilee simply prepared with lemon and olive oil. —Beth Hetrick, Executive Director of Brand Marketing
New Orleans, Louisiana
This year won’t be my first trip to New Orleans (or second, or third), but it’s been a while since I’ve kicked back for a bit in the Big Easy. My first stop is always Loretta’s in the Marigny for her irresistible beignets, and I’ll follow it up with an endless fried chicken lunch buffet at Leah Chase’s inestimable Dooky Chase restaurant. And as if that weren’t enough, I also plan to hit up Casamento’s (celebrating their hundredth anniversary this year) for an oyster loaf the size of my head. —Alex Testere, Senior Associate Editor
I’ve never been much of a beach person, but I have lately been on an intense jerk chicken kick. I have also been working on a story on Carribean rum—Jamaican rum tends to be ultra funky (it’s sometimes fermented almost like sourdough bread) and I want to see the stuck-in-time distilleries where that happens. And then hopefully eat jerk chicken in view of the ocean. —Chris Cohen, Senior Editor
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
We are looking to take our first international trip as a family of four. I’m not mentally ready for an overnight flight with a toddler, but I like the idea of traveling somewhere warm with a different culture and damn good food. There are plenty of kid-friendly hotels that cater to us grownups where I can sit happily by the pool sipping a margarita. —Stefanie McNamara, Director of Communications
Dundee Hills and McMinnville, Oregon
If you’re a lover of great wine and food, this area of Oregon wine country is the place to go in Willamette Valley, which is about 30 miles outside of Portland. There are a ton of special spots to check out food-, wine-, and local spirit-wise, which is why I continue to go every summer. But I’m biased about the Stoller Family Estate winery—where my sister Kate Payne-Brown is the associate winemaker. I never get tired of their pinot noirs and chardonnays, just to name a few. I can’t wait to make it back to one of my favorite restaurants, Thistle, and stay at the Atticus Hotel. —Thom Payne, Photo Director
I know, I know. I’ve never been to Paris, and I’ll never stop hearing about it until I go. And while visiting the dozens of excellent bistros and patisseries is high on my list (there’s a double-chocolate cookie with my name on it at Mokonuts), I’m most looking forward to sipping a gently chilled beaujolais on the sunny banks of the Seine, maybe with a hunk of the city’s best baguette.
A friend just got back from a trip to Japan, and she has me convinced that Tokyo makes a few things better than anywhere else: better French wine than you’ll find in Paris, better pizza than Naples, and the best sushi in the entire galaxy. —Chris Cohen, Senior Editor
Both Scotland and London were spots on my late mother’s travel list before she passed, and this year I plan to head to both to honor her plans. We both have always loved the culture there—and of course the food—and I can’t wait to see more of the U.K. —Thom Payne, Photo Director