Special Report

The One Can't-Miss Restaurant in 32 Countries Around the World

Courtesy of Danfo Bistro & Dives via Facebook

One of the highlights of traveling is having the opportunity to eat in new places. Traditional local cuisine, exotic ingredients, and surprising flavor combinations can be the most memorable parts of a trip abroad. (Traveling soon? Make a pilgrimage to one of the best restaurants in the world right now.)

Most cultural hubs, from small towns to metropolitan cities, have a few restaurants that are known not only for their exemplary fare, but for their importance in the community. And most countries have at least one eating place that is so iconic, so identified with the country’s history or personality, that a meal there is considered practically essential for visitors.

To determine the one must-visit restaurant in each of 32 countries around the world, including locations on six continents, 24/7 Tempo exercised editorial discretion after reviewing listings and reviews from a variety of sources including Eater, Gayot, Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure, Insight Guides, The Culture Trip, Afar, Rough Guides, and Thrillist, as well as numerous country- and region-specific sites.

Some of the places on the list have been owned by the same family for generations, while others have been visited by countless artists and celebrities through the ages and retain a certain golden age appeal. Most have been around for at least a few decades, and sometimes far longer. (These are the world’s oldest bars and restaurants that are still open.)

A few of the restaurants here may be considered “tourist traps,” but draw tourists precisely because of their defining local identity.

Click here to see the one can’t-miss restaurant in 32 countries around the world

Most of these can’t-miss restaurants serve fare prepared in the local traditions, from Argentinian coal-fired steaks to Turkish mezze to Vietnamese noodle soups. Some are known for their beachside views, while others are owned by a beloved local chef who upholds traditions of hospitality. One doubles as an all-night dance club while another became world-famous after a visit by Barack Obama. Each one will, in its own way, give you a taste of its country’s flavors – and while some are pricier than others, none comes close to being one of the most expensive restaurants in the world.

Source: Courtesy of Jon P. via Yelp

Argentina: Cabaña las Lilas
> Location: Buenos Aires

In a country known for its incredible steaks and tradition of hardwood coal grilling, it’s no surprise that the place to be is perhaps Argentina’s best-known – and expensive – steakhouse. Cabaña las Lilas serves many cuts of beef raised on the owner’s ranch, enhanced by impeccable service and waterside views. With an extensive wine list and three sommeliers on staff, it would be wise to have a bottle or two of Argentina’s finest with your ribeye.

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Source: Courtesy of Jonny S. via Yelp

Australia: Sean’s
> Location: Sydney

Formerly known as Sean’s Panorama, this relaxed Bondi Beach kitchen has been a seaside farm-to-table favorite since 1993. The quaint farmhouse eatery serves colorful seasonal fare, now as a set menu, featuring vegetables from Sean’s own garden. Enjoy the ocean views and surfers right outside the windows, and eat with the locals.

Source: Courtesy of Oistins Bay Gardens Fish Fry via Facebook

Barbados: Oistins Bay Gardens Fish Fry
> Location: Oistins

This is a can’t-miss eating experience, but not exactly a restaurant: The town of Oistins on the southern coast of Barbados is home to a thriving fishing industry, and the Oistins Bay Gardens open air market transforms into a lively fish fry on Friday nights. A number of vendors and restaurants fry and grill fresh snapper, swordfish, mahi-mahi, tuna, and more. Attended by locals and tourists alike, with island music, games, crafts, and dancing, the fish fry is a quintessential Bajan experience.

Source: Courtesy of Rick R. via Yelp

Belgium: Fin de Siècle
> Location: Brussels

Beloved by locals and gaining popularity with visitors, this brasserie serves hearty portions of homestyle Belgian fare. We’re talking bone-in ham hocks with mustard sauce and baked potatoes, stuffed rabbit with kriek (cherry beer) sauce, and carbonnade (Flemish beef stew). With a small chalkboard menu, a large beer selection, and shockingly low prices, Fin de Siècle is as unpretentious as it gets.

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Brazil: Mocotó
> Location: São Paulo

Named after its signature dish, a Brazilian specialty of cow’s feet stewed with vegetables and beans, Mocotó is a family-run restaurant that serves the traditional fare of Northeastern Brazil. From the secret-recipe pork rinds, to the oxtail with corn grits, to the escondidinho (Brazilian shepherd’s pie) with manioc root gratin, not to mention mocotó itself, the cuisine is designed to be inclusive and welcoming to all.

China: Old Jesse
> Location: Shanghai

Serving classic Shanghainese fare, Old Jesse is a cornerstone establishment that has spawned a chain of newer restaurants all over Shanghai; however, the original remains the best. With fewer than a dozen tables, the tiny dining room gets packed, so be sure to make a reservation, then enjoy plate after plate of crab roe tofu, braised red pork, cod heads with scallions, and stuffed eight treasure duck.

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Source: Courtesy of Andrés Carne de Res via Facebook

Colombia: Andrés Carne de Res
> Location: Chia

The wildest eatery in Colombia since 1982, Andrés Carne de Res is not only a renowned restaurant that serves over 30 types of steak as well as ceviche, empanadas, and arepas; it’s also a lively bar and nightclub with excellent cocktails, five dance floors, and a museum’s worth of memorabilia and cultural decorations on the walls. Andrés even provides a doggie daycare and a booth where patrons can hire a designated driver after a night of drinking and dancing.

Source: Courtesy of Konoba Fetivi via Facebook

Croatia: Konoba Fetivi
> Location: Split

This authentic Dalmatian tavern is run by a family whose roots in the area go back more than 300 years. It’s known for its traditional coastal fare and heirloom recipes that are prepared simply, letting the freshness of the ingredients do the talking. Customers love the cuttlefish black risotto, octopus stew with chickpeas, grilled seafood platter, and apple strudel. Even the local house wines and olive oil are of the finest quality.

Czech Republic: Café Savoy
> Location: Prague

Stepping into this ornate estaboishment is a bit like traveling back to the turn of the century. Built in 1893, Café Savoy has a rich history and the architecture to prove it. A popular place to grab breakfast or a decadent pastry, the café also serves weekend brunch, but it’s best to reserve a spot for that. The coffee, wine, house-made breads, and desserts are all fabulous, but the ovocné knedlíky (fruit dumplings) are a must.

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Source: Courtesy of Mary C. via Yelp

Finland: Restaurant Savotta
> Location: Helsinki

Savotta means “logging camp,” and the traditional Finnish fare served at this Senate Square restaurant is duly hearty and unfussy. Game dishes of reindeer, elk, bear, and moose are accented with locally harvested porcini, parsnips, and cranberries. Arctic char and pike shine on beds of kohlrabi with horseradish cream. The beer is strong enough for a winter’s night and even the licorice salt ice cream packs a particularly Finnish punch.

France: Au Pied de Cochon
> Location: Paris

Open 24 hours a day since 1947, this whole-hog brasserie is rumored to have no light switches nor door locks, because it never closes. Since the beginning, Au Pied de Cochon has welcomed patrons from all walks of life, whether itinerants who came in to enjoy the best onion soup in Paris or celebrities who were after the various porcine specialties on offer, including the breaded pig trotters that are the eatery’s namesake.

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Source: Courtesy of Maggie Q. via Yelp

Ireland: Ballymaloe Restaurant
> Location: Shanagarry (County Cork)

The Ballymaloe House is a historic country estate and hotel run by the family of Myrtle Allen, the Michelin-starred chef who is often referred to as the matriarch of modern Irish cuisine. Although Allen passed in 2018, her renowned restaurant remains a culinary destination that serves breakfast, lunch, and lavish five-course dinners. Seasonal ingredients from the estate’s 300-acre farm and seafood landed a few miles away are prominent on the menu.

Israel: Itzik HaGadol
> Location: Jaffa (Tel Aviv)

This traditional Israeli restaurant in Jaffa offers the finest quality meats, and is especially known for its citrus charcoal-grilled beef and lamb chops. Over 20 types of salad, homemade bread and pita, hummus, shakshuka, falafel, fresh fish, and fine wines make up the menu. It’s the perfect place for a family-style feast, but be careful not to fill up on dozens of tantalizing mezze plates before the kebabs arrive.

Italy: Roscioli
> Location: Rome

Down a narrow alley from the Roscioli family’s famous 200-year-old Antico Forno bakery, is the Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina, an extravagant deli and specialty goods shop that houses the best eatery in Rome’s historical center. The shop is packed with olive oils, wines, pungent cheeses, and salumi, while diners casually take in a menu of ingredient-driven fare, featuring dishes like smoked swordfish carpaccio, prawns with burrata, buffalo mozzarella with anchovies, and carbonara with guanciale and pecorino.

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Source: Courtesy of Scotchies via Facebook

Jamaica: Scotchies
> Location: Montego Bay

The best jerk shop in Jamaica is the open-air barbecue joint Scotchies in Montego Bay. A thatched-roof tiki bar and keg barrel seats add to the island charm of this ultra-laid-back eatery. Chargrilled chicken, pork, and fish are tender and cooked to perfection along with traditional sides like breadfruit, festival (a sweet bread similar to hush puppies), rice and peas, and yams.

South Korea: Woo Lae Oak
> Location: Seoul

Serving Seoul since 1946, Woo Lae Oak (also spelled Wooraeok) is known as the premier purveyor of Pyongyang naengmyeon (buckwheat noodles in ice cold beef broth). Although this popular dish can be found just about anywhere, Woo Lae Oak’s meaty, flavorful broth is beyond comparison. Fans of the restaurant also come for the bulgogi, but nobody skips the noodles.

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Source: Courtesy of Restaurant al mounia via Facebook

Morocco: Al-Mounia
> Location: Casablanca

An authentic Moroccan restaurant with intricate tilework and a garden terrace, Al-Mounia evokes the atmosphere of a timeless oasis. Traditional dishes include tagines (stews cooked in clay vessels), couscous salads, pastillas (stuffed flaky pastries), and kefta (herbed meatball kebabs). The lamb is always on point, and the mint tea, fresh orange juice, and Moroccan wines are unparalleled.

Source: Courtesy of Shirley B. via Yelp

Netherlands: d’Vijff Vlieghen
> Location: Amsterdam

Equal parts museum and restaurant, d’Vijff Vlieghen is a rambling historic eatery spread throughout five conjoined 17th-century canal houses full of Dutch antiques, from Rembrandt etchings to suits of armor. The modern, seasonal fare is ingredient-driven. Various three to six course tasting menus are available, featuring dishes like smoked, beet-brined duck over pumpkin compote and haddock over Jerusalem artichoke cream with kale and celeriac.

Source: Courtesy of David E. via Yelp

New Zealand: Rātā
> Location: Queenstown (South Island)

Run by Michelin-star celebrity chef Josh Emett and restaurateur Fleur Caulton, the renowned duo behind some of New Zealand’s best restaurants, this tucked-away gem in Queenstown dazzles with modern dishes and Asian influences. The seasonal menu highlights local ingredients like Te Kouma Bay oysters, venison, and Fiordland crayfish (also known as rock lobsters), along with Otago region wines.

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Source: Courtesy of Danfo Bistro & Dives via Facebook

 

Nigeria: Danfo Bistro
> Location: Lagos

Danfos are privately-owned yellow buses that are the main means of commuter transport in Lagos and a cultural symbol of the city. The Danfo Bistro, a hip eatery that serves a fusion of global fare, is decorated with pieces of the iconic vehicles. While the menu relies heavily on Western elements like onion rings, mozzarella sticks, wings, and burgers, many of the flavors and ingredients are distinctly Nigerian.

Peru: Astrid y Gastón
> Location: Lima

From the godfather of modern Peruvian cuisine, Gastón Acurio, and his wife, pastry chef Astrid Gutsche, comes one of the best restaurants in Peru – and the world. Astrid y Gastón has pioneered an Andean cuisine that blends traditional ingredients like guinea pig, corn, and lucuma (a luscious golden-fleshed fruit) with modern techniques. The cocktails and desserts feature bold tropical fruits as well as earthy cacao and carob.

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Source: Courtesy of Amanda B. via Yelp

Portugal: Casa da Índia
> Location: Lisbon

With a name that refers to a 15th century spice importer, Casa da Índia is surprisingly not an Indian restaurant, but rather an affordable eatery serving Portuguese fare in a casual, diner-like setting. Choose from an extensive menu of grilled meats and seafood, soups like bacalhau (salt cod stew) and acorda alentejana (bread soup with cilantro and eggs) and a crowd-pleasing seafood rice.

Scotland: The Ubiquitous Chip
> Location: Glasgow

Family-run for over five decades, The Ubiquitous Chip has long been a champion of local produce and is one of Glasgow’s most celebrated eateries. It recently sold, but the hearty fare and hospitality remain unchanged, as do the walls covered in customer art. The bohemian vibe and modern classic cuisine continue to draw regulars and tourists alike.

Source: Courtesy of La Cabane du Pêcheur via Facebook

Sénégal: La Cabane du Pêcheur
> Location: Dakar

This oceanside hotel and seafood restaurant offers a relaxed atmosphere and a sunny, open-air dining room with sunset views. Simply-prepared grilled fish, shrimp, and lobster are the stars of the menu, and the oysters on the half-shell and ceviche are highly recommended. While the cocktail menu is small, the mixed drinks are strong and well-balanced. The service is known to be leisurely, so be prepared for a bit of a wait.

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Source: Courtesy of Nik T. via Yelp

Singapore: J.B. Ah Meng Kitchen
> Location: Singapore

What started as a tze char booth (serving Chinese-style dishes that resemble home-cooked meals) in a dark alley is now a raucous two-story late-night restaurant frequented by celebrity chefs both local and international, located in the city-state’s famed Geylang red light district. A Malaysian flair (thanks to owner Wang Feng who hails from Ipoh) adds spice to signature dishes including the famous white pepper crab, salted egg prawn rolls, and san lou bee hoon (vermicelli with dried shrimp, squid, and soy sauce, fried into a crispy pancake).

Spain: Botín
> Location: Madrid

Since 1725, the oven has been burning at Sobrino de Botín, said to be the oldest continually operating restaurant in the world. Take a guided tour of the historic building before dining on meats roasted in the original cast iron wood oven. Botín‘s suckling pig has been the star of the dining room for nearly 300 years, and the Castilian-style roast lamb is a close second. Recipes four generations old are still the mainstays of the kitchen, and the sopa de ajo (garlic soup with egg) is a local favorite.

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Source: Courtesy of Paula M. via Yelp

Sweden: Tennstopet
> Location: Stockholm

For classic Swedish cuisine in generous portions, head to Tennstopet, a 150-year-old restaurant with exquisite wood paneling and original decor. Alongside standards like wallenbergare (breaded veal burgers) and beef rydberg (tenderloin with fried onion, potatoes, dijon cream, and horseradish), a seasonal rotation of local game includes wild boar and hare.

Source: Courtesy of Mikhail S. via Yelp

Switzerland: Kronenhalle
> Location: Zurich

A Zurich institution, Kronenhalle is both a restaurant and an art gallery, and became a meeting place for artists, writers, and fashion designers soon after its opening in 1924. Expect upscale surroundings and traditional fare with relaxed and professional servers. The Zürcher Geschnetzeltes (sliced veal in gravy) is the premier dish and the rösti (crispy shredded potato cake) is another favorite.

Tanzania: The Rock
> Location: Pingwe (Zanzibar)

The most iconic restaurant in Zanzibar, the Rock is actually built onto a rock jutting out of the turquoise waters of Pingwe Beach. Accessible by foot during low tide and boat during high tide, the fantastical eatery excels at fresh seafood preparations, from stewed rock lobster with couscous to grilled catch of the day with carrots and ginger cream, as well as house-made pastas. The cocktails feature local spirits and botanicals, and the coconut tiramisu is worth saving room for.

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Thailand: Bo.Lan
> Location: Bangkok

For a decade Bo.Lan was regarded as one of the best restaurants in Bangkok; but during the pandemic, the chef-owners shut their doors and restructured into a sustainable food center with a market, café, and 12-seat dinner club that continues to serve the fare that the restaurant is famous for – all with a zero waste kitchen. Expect Royal Thai cuisine in its purest form, made with the freshest local ingredients.

Source: Courtesy of Claudia F. via Yelp

Turkey: Çiya Sofrası
> Location: Istanbul

Located on the Asian side of Istanbul, away from the touristy bustle of the city’s major attractions, is a culinary destination worth crossing the Bosphorus for. Çiya Sofrası offers a mind-boggling self-serve mezze bar, a huge array of kebabs, and rare regional dishes favored by chef-owner and culinary anthropologist Musa Dağdeviren, who collects and preserves unusual recipes from all over Turkey. Fruits with meat, such as lamb and quince or roast pork and apples, are a welcome combo, and the green walnut dessert is a surprise hit.

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Vietnam: Bún Chả Hương Liên
> Location: Hanoi

Known for its exceedingly delicious and affordable fare, Bún Chả Hương Liên is a popular but unassuming Hanoi eatery that hit the global stage when Anthony Bourdain and Barack Obama dined there together in 2016. Now, the most popular meal combo by far is a replica of Obama’s meal: a bowl of traditional bún chả (grilled pork and rice noodles with broth and fresh herbs), fried crab spring rolls, and a bottle of Hanoi beer.

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