I always like to ask people what the best meal they’ve ever had is, which is really unfair of me because I hate it when the question is turned on me. How am I ever supposed to pick?!
The other day, I got to thinking about it properly and although I haven’t been able to stick to one particular meal, I did find that I have several restaurants that stick in my mind as being my very favourites and I decided to share them with you all. For the purposes of this post, I have focused on various fab places I’ve eaten while abroad (I say various, with the exception of one they’re all in the US). If you’re going to any of these destinations any time in the near or distant future, and I can highly recommend ALL of them, be sure to seek out these little gems – you’re in for a treat!
Julia’s: Vale do Garrao, Algarve, Portugal
I talked about Julia’s when I went to Portugal this summer, but it’s played such an important part in my life I can’t skip the opportunity to go on about it again. On paper, it’s a “beach bar,” but it’s so much more than that really. Fabulous food, free flowing vinho verde (not literally free, sadly) and the kind of staff that think it’s hilarious to put two 15 year old girls in charge of the wine ordering, testing, and finishing-off (speaking from experience, naturally). It has a very laidback vibe but a fairly well-heeled clientele, so you’ll be totally at home whether you’re in flip flops and a beach cover up or your best summery evening dress. And, one more time – THE VIEWS. The view is to DIE for.
Nick’s: Laguna Beach, CA, USA
This one gets a place on the list almost by sheer virtue of being the place we ate at on the best day of my life. We’d undertaken an epic road trip up the West Coast, San Diego to Laguna Beach and back again with various stops along the way. Since all four of us spent our formative years lapping up the antics of LC, Stephen and the rest, dinner in Laguna was an absolute no-brainer, and given its ridiculously gorgeous location, Nick’s is VERY reasonably priced. It’s set in the hills and is nicely small, with everything shiny and sleek inside. The menu is fairly standard US fare, but with some interesting sides, and we shared the butter cake dessert, which sounds gross but was seriously, seriously delicious. Also, bonus picture – in case you needed any persuading to go to Laguna.
Five Forks: Williamsburg, VA, USA
A student favourite at William and Mary, Five Forks remains my hangover destination of choice. If only it wasn’t several thousand miles away! It’s an American diner straight out of any movie, with an extensive and cheap breakfast menu, and it is ALWAYS busy – I think we had to wait outside every time we went there. Their blueberry pancakes are fantastic, and I regularly fantasise about the hash browns there. YUM.
Cafe Coyote: San Diego, CA, USA
This was a recommendation and another highlight of our Spring Break trip to Cali. It’s just outside of Old Town San Diego (a gem in itself) and is without a doubt the best Mexican food I’ve ever had, which is probably to be expected given its proximity to Mexico itself! There are ladies making fresh tortillas all along the front of the restaurant, so you can watch even if you’re not dining there, and the menu is enormous. US service is basically always more friendly than the UK, and here was no exception. We told our waiter that I don’t eat cheese (my bad) and he immediately recommended us several cheeseless dishes to share and brought us extra tortillas free of charge. Sadly most of my companions and I were underage at the time so we couldn’t order margaritas, but I have no doubt that they would be equally as good!
Serendipity: New York & Washington D.C, USA
If you’re ever in either of these two perfect cities, MAKE SURE you visit Serendipity. I believe there are two in New York, and the one in D.C. is in Georgetown, and they all have different menus so even if you’ve been to one, check the other out too. They’re famous for their frozen hot chocolates but my personal favourite dish is the Carrot Cake Sundae, which is possibly the most ridiculously large thing you’ll ever eat and so, so good.
Freddie’s Place: Austin, TX
This one is a true hidden gem. From the parking lot, it looks seriously sketchy – actually, it doesn’t look like much more than the parking lot at all. That’s because almost all the tables are outside the actual restaurant, hidden amongst the trees under strings of fairy lights. When we went there was live music and kids running around and we spent a very, very pleasant evening soaking up all the Austin-hipster goodness (seriously – visit) before wandering back through Sixth Street. Foodwise, the most memorable part was definitely dessert: deep-fried PBJ, anyone?
The Trellis: Williamsburg, VA
Williamsburg gets two entries on the list because it’s my third home and holds a very special place in my heart (nawwww). The Trellis was the parental-visit destination of choice for almost every student at WM and for good reason. Their pork osso bucco features in all my food fantasies, and I don’t think I’ve ever eaten anything as good as their pumpkin cheesecake, and I don’t even like cheesecake.
I could go on – but this is just a little sample of my favourites. I have VERY good memories associated with all of these restaurants and I think that’s probably what cements them on this list over the food, necessarily. I wish I could go back to all of them again!