5 Unexpected Eats Around the World

Doing as the locals do is one of the best parts of traveling. Thing is, the locals might not be doing what you think they're doing.

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My husband and I love to travel (and eat), and we arrive at our destinations with open minds and empty stomachs: We’ll ask anyone (and everyone) for food recommendations. That approach has led us to pitch-perfect pasta in Italy, heart-stopping tapas in Spain and high tea fit for royalty in London ... you know, the national musts. It’s also landed us in eateries that surprised the hell out of me — and those meals have been some of my favorites. Give one a try the next time you’re in town, eh?

Austur-Indiafjelagid / Reykjavik, Iceland

Check out this spectacular view of Reykjavik's colorful houses and sea port.

Billed for many years as the “northernmost Indian restaurant in the world,” Reykjavik’s Austur-Indiafjelagid is indisputably one of the tastiest: Since 1994, Chandrika and Gunnar Gunnarsson have combined imported sub-continental spices with fresh Icelandic ingredients to dazzling effect. I’ve heard that Austur-Indiafjelagid is Yoko Ono’s favorite Indian restaurant and that Harrison Ford has been spotted there (he supposedly had the salmon); I can say with absolute certainty that filling yourself with the Gunnarssons’ curries and tandoori-roasted delicacies is the very best way to prepare for an evening under the Aurora Borealis.

Taqueria / London, England

104782687

104782687

Photo by: fazon1

fazon1

Mexican restaurants in England were few and far between a few decades ago, and the long-gone one I visited in a fit of desperation after six months without salsa — I was spending a few semesters abroad after a lifetime of abundance in California — was a terrible mistake. (I dug into a plate of enchiladas and discovered a pile of boiled green beans.) Notting Hill’s Taqueria has been righting that wrong (and bringing the heat) since 2005, when it morphed from a fiery stall on Portobello Road to a brick-and-mortar bastion of all that is properly spicy.

Koie Ramen / Oslo, Norway

Oslo, Norway

Oslo, Norway

Photo by: ©iStockphoto.com/e_rasmus

©iStockphoto.com/e_rasmus

Evening bites can a tricky business in Oslo — particularly on weekdays, when casual eateries and food halls have a tendency to close up shop long before night owls’ bellies start rumbling. A notable and glorious exception: Koie Ramen, the Norwegian capital’s first ramen restaurant to make its noodles in-house. Chilly locals flock to trendy Torggata for Koie’s shio, shoyu, miso and tonkotsu broths, then spill out into the night to enjoy Oslo’s after-hours entertainments. (Stop by Bla, a music and arts venue a short stroll away, for the latest.)

Gude Falafel & Schawarma / Berlin, Germany

Aerial view of Berlin skyline with Spree river in summer, German

Aerial view of Berlin skyline with Spree river in summer, German

Aerial view of Berlin skyline with famous TV tower and Spree river in beautiful evening light at sunset, Germany

Photo by: © iStockphoto

© iStockphoto

Germany’s largest city is an international metropolis — its residents hail from more than 190 countries — and it’s long had a reputation for diverse and delicious (not to mention budget-friendly) food. To my surprise, after dabbling in neighborhoods and eateries all over town, I found myself returning to the same spot each night: Gude, a Lebanese storefront in Kreuzberg known, for good reason, as a local favorite. Their massive, veggie-friendly wraps just might be the best takeaway on Earth.

Dieu du Ciel! / Montreal, Canada

Place d'Armes in Front of Notre Dame Basilica

Place d'Armes in Front of Notre Dame Basilica

Montreal's Place d'Armes near the Notre-Dame Basilica was once a military staging area.

Photo by: Holger Mette, Getty Images

Holger Mette, Getty Images

The brewers behind Dieu du Ciel! have, in their own words, “never been [huge fans] of beer competitions,” which hasn’t prevented them and their quaffs from winning a slew of national and international awards. It should go without saying that you’ll want a few plates beside your glasses at their Montreal brewpub, but it’s worth noting that those plates are excellent: The kitchen dishes up eclectic international fare like Armenian pizza and nachos with the same cool confidence you’ll see behind the bar.

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