Eat Like A Local (In The World's Top Food Cities)

Lonely Planet Magazine India|May 2020

Eat Like A Local (In The World's Top Food Cities)
From local produce markets to the finest gastronomic experiences, eating a city’s food is guaranteed to get you straight to its heart

CAPE TOWN, South Africa

A coming-together of cultures, cuisines and landscapes, there’s nowhere quite like Cape Town. It’s a wonder that Capetonians look so svelte on the beach, because this is a tasty city to dine in – possibly the best in Africa. There’s a wide range of cuisines to sample, including local African and Cape Malay concoctions, superb seafood, and chefs at the top of their game.

,If you want new African cuisine…

Abigail Mbalo, a self-taught cook and former contestant on SA’s MasterChef TV show, will produce it for you at her restaurant 4Roomed eKasi Culture (above). Expect African food with a twist: delicious wedges of pap (maize porridge) mixed with butternut squash and nutmeg, a rich lamb curry and a red velvet cake made with beetroot. The whitewashed courtyard is delightful, with one wall lined with bathtubs turned into planters for vegetables and herbs used in the cooking (

If you want the freshest sustainable seafood…

You won’t find it on the beach. Fish from Kalk Bay Harbour is served at seafood café and fishmonger Ocean Jewels, which supports the South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI). It does a mean tuna burger with wedge fries, and, despite being in the industrial-styled Woodstock Exchange, the vibe is as relaxed as the seaside, with painted wooden tables and food served on rustic enamel plates (

If you want a braai

You couldn’t find it in a more obscure spot, within a business park in an industrial part of town – but barbecue restaurant Hog House Brewing Co is always busy. The creations of chef PJ Vadas include smoked meats so tender you could cut them with a spoon. The veggie side dishes are just as impressive – you’ve never eaten cauliflower and aubergine this good (

If you’re after something casual…

The Kitchen will fit the bill. Of all the swanky restaurants in town, it was this little charmer that Michelle Obama chose for lunch, proving the ex-First Lady has excellent taste. Tuck into superb salads, sandwiches made with love, and sweet options with tea served from china teapots. Although it has recently expanded its space, The Kitchen is still as popular as ever, so come before 11.30am or after 2pm if you don’t want to wait for a table for lunch (

If you want to escape the city for a bit…

Head out to the wineries in the southern suburbs.

Buitenverwachting means ‘beyond expectation’, which is certainly the feeling one gets on visiting this Cape Dutch estate (above). It’s a lovely winery with an unusual late 18th-century manor house overlooking verdant lawns, as well as the Quaffee coffee roastery, Coffee Bloc café, a restaurant and gift shop (

If you want to push the boat out…

Greenhouse is a fine place to do it. Chef Farrel Hirsch’s culinary imagination runs riot in this elegant restaurant, one of the Cape’s top dining venues. The finest local produce, from octopus to springbok, features on the 12-course tasting menu. Desserts are served on petrified wood to remind diners of the circle of life and death (www.


Consider permission to be outlandish granted permanently: other towns may surprise you, but, in San Francisco, you will surprise yourself. Good times and social revolutions tend to start here, and that applies to food in the city, too. San Francisco has the most restaurants and farmers’ markets per capita in North America, all supplied by pioneering local organic farms. Other US cities might have bigger monuments, but San Francisco packs more flavour.

If you want to be surprised…

Outstanding in the Field (left) will deliver. Dinners with this Bay Area–based crew and guest star chefs like Alice Waters pop up in the unlikeliest places – strawberry fields, sea caves, sand bars, Coachella desert oases – to bring diners to the source of their food. Sign up online when dinners are announced (usually) in March; California feasts are usually held in May, June, October and November, with sites out of town over the summer (

If you don’t want to be surprised…

Wing it at Hot Sauce and Panko, an eccentric hilltop corner store stocking hundreds of versions of its two namesake items, plus 30 variations on chicken wings. House hot sauce gives a slow burn and lime-chilli fish sauce is a flavour bomb – but housemade gojujang (Korean fermented-chilli sauce) will have you licking your lips for hours (www.hotsauceand

If you want some of the city’s best Mexican food…

Follow the applause to La Palma Mexicatessen, and the sound of tortilla-making in progress. You’ve found the Mission District’s mother lode of tamales, pupusas (tortilla pockets) with potato and chicharones (pork crackling), carnitas (slow-roasted pork), cotija (Oaxacan cheese) and La Palma’s own tomatillo sauce. Get takeout or eat at sunny sidewalk tables (

If oysters make you happy…

You’ll find heaven at the Swan Oyster Depot, which delivers superior flavour without the superior attitude of too many seafood restaurants. Justifiably famous since 1912 for signature oysters and crab salads, there’s almost always people waiting for the few stools at its vintage lunch counter – but the upside of the high turnover is incredibly fresh seafood. Arrive before noon for a spot inside or order takeout to enjoy on sunny days in George Sterling Park (1517, Polk St). BIN


Beneath Copenhagen’s galaxy of Michelin stars is a number of places serving innovative contemporary Danish food at affordable prices. Keeping them company are venerable city institutions producing classic Danish dishes. Tucking into classics such as frikadeller (meatballs), sild (pickled herring) and smørrebrød (open sandwiches) is a key part of the Copenhagen eating experience.

If you can’t get a table at world-famous Noma…

Don’t worry – Copenhagen is not short of world-class restaurants serving New Nordic food. AOC and Kadeau have two Michelin stars and are firmly established in Scandinavia. Fermentation, smoking and pickling feature on menus, and dishes combine many flavours, smells and textures. Geranium is the only restaurant in town sporting three Michelin stars. Its tasting menu of edible artworks comprises around 17 dishes (, www.kadeau. dk,

If you’d like to eat at a Danish institution…


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May 2020