When traveling abroad, grasping the essence of a foreign culture and experiencing life through the lens of the locals is best accomplished by sampling the regional fare. Food is an essential part of international travel, and sitting down at a local restaurant can lead to a wealth of exciting and eye-opening experiences and the development of lifelong friendships. Dining out will allow you to engage, first-hand, with a culture you may have never before experienced. Even those travelers without a penchant for experimental eating, or the intricacies of culinary fusion, can discover untapped cultural intrigue when sampling local cuisine. Below we have highlighted some of the highest-tiered restaurants in the United Kingdom, France, and Spain, all of which provide a unique twist on their respective country's traditional culinary offerings.
London: Dinner by Heston
66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA, United Kingdom, +44 20 7201 3833
Floor-to-ceiling glass walls provide restaurant patrons with not only unabashed views of the adjacent Hyde Park, but also the inner-workings of the kitchen, where staff can be seen expertly crafting each dish with the same precision and diligence that earned the restaurant 2 Michelin Stars. The menu at Dinner is heavily inspired by classic British recipes dating back to the 1500s, prepared with innovative culinary techniques, to create a fusion of old-world hearty soul-food, and modern gastronomic experimentation, evident through the offerings such as, meat fruit - mandarin jelly sculpted into an orange dumpling, filled with foie gras parfait, served on grilled bread. Though prices are fairly expensive, the exceptional food, extensive wine list, and opportunity to experience traditional British fare, easily justify the cost.
Paris: Le Perchoir
14 Rue Crespin du Gast, 75011 Paris, France, +33 1 48 06 18 48
Paris is known for its culinary expertise and influence, a quality that defines Parisian culture, and its propensity towards rich, intricate cooking. There is something incredibly artistic about the way French food is conceptualized and executed, chefs able to create a multi-sensory experience beyond the confines of just taste alone, into the realms of aroma, presentation, and texture. Le Perchoir, in Paris' 11th district, embodies the greatest qualities of French cooking, and takes it a step further with a locally focused wine list that pairs immaculately with the classic Parisian cuisine. Stand out menu offerings include seared tuna potato chips topped with spicy mayo and leeks, as well as pumpkin soup with seared foie gras. Aptly named, Le Perchoir (roughly translated as "the birds perch"), sits atop the 7th floor roof, providing a 360 degree view of the city. Pair the delicious view with its limited capacity of 100 guests and diners are rewarded with an overwhelming sense of tranquility. Sip cocktails, sample traditional French food, and bask in the light-speckled city skyline and you may never want to leave.
Passeig MarÝtim Barceloneta, 1, 08003 Barcelona, Spain, +34 932 24 12 53
Nestled up against the picturesque Barcelona waterfront, a number of seafood restaurants stake their claims, but none rival the exquisite Andulasian-fusion cuisine of Barraca, the newest restaurant by famed Spanish chef, Xavier Pellicer. Nearly every food offering at Barraca is sourced from sustainable fishing or organic farms, and the wine list has been carefully curated to include the finest selection of organic and naturally produced (without mechanical intervention or sulfur) wines from the region. Culinary offerings range from the more traditional, like seafood paella drizzled in garlic-parsley oil, to the more avant-garde, saffron garnished rockfish soup.
Regardless of where your next trip takes you - whether you are eager to cruise through Paris or prefer wandering about London - dazzling local restaurants await you. No travel experience is complete without a proper sampling of the local cuisine, so if you are on the hunt for a culturally distinct dining experience, check out one, or all, of these culinary wonders all easily accessible by car.