Reader Recs: Signature Dishes Around the World

I don’t know about you, but for me, indulging in authentic, local cuisine while traveling—and finding the most authentic establishment to patronize—is a must. Deep-dish pizza in Chicago, heaping bowls of paella in Barcelona, and steak and cheese (with Cheez Whiz, of course) in Philadelphia, are just a few delicious examples.

With warm-weather wanderlust upon us, we asked our Facebook fans to give us the inside scoop on their city’s signature dish, and where to go if you want to try it for yourself.

Grab a snack, and see what they had to say:

Head to “Canadian cattle country”–otherwise known as Calgary–to find what Cole G. describes as “the best steak houses north of Texas!” He suggests Charcut at Hôtel Le Germain in the downtown area for a “brilliant selection of the best cuts.”

In Istanbul, lamb meatballs are the must-try, says Gülderen Turgut, who praises Sultanahmet Köftecisi for its delicious offerings at value prices.

Stateside, Jeanette C. suggests a signature meal when visiting her hometown of Paris, Tennessee. “Fried catfish, hushpuppies, white beans, and coleslaw” are the main attraction at the World’s Biggest Fish Fry, which is held annually in the last full week of April.

Meenakshi C. and Suchita N. agreed on Mumbai‘s signature dish–vada pav— as well as the best place to try it: the vada pav food stall near Kirti College. Described by Suchita as “a common man’s burger but equally relished by people from all walks of life,” vada pav consists of spicy potato-based fritters served on a bun.

In Tereza K.’s home of Olomouc in the Czech Republic, a ripened soft cheese called olomoucké tvarůžky is the must-try food. “You can buy it almost anywhere, but only in the Czech Republic,” she says.

Faye W. raves about the steak in Houston. “You can’t come to Texas and not eat steak,” she says. Her recommendation for where to find A-one beef: Taste of Texas, where “you choose your juicy cut and have it cooked to perfection.”

Speaking of the Lone Star State, Austin may be vying for the title of the barbecue capital of Texas, “but the city’s true signature dish is the breakfast taco,” says George P., who recommends Mi Madres Restaurant to out-of-town visitors. Or, he says, “you could follow Adam [Richman] from Man v. Food and take on the monster taco at Juan In A Million.” The choice is yours, but you’ll win either way.

Hanoi, Vietnam, is well-known for its rice-noodle soup street food staple, pho (pronounced fa), says Anh P., who suggests seeking out the savory comfort food to warm up on cold-weather days.

Matea C., who calls Croatia’s fourth-largest metropolis, Osijek, home, recommends Slavonska Kuća to dish on her city’s signature grub: čobanac. If Slavonian-style beef stew isn’t your style, take Matea’s advice and try the fish dish, fiš. It’s “finger licking delicious,” she says.

Laysa K. insists travelers try balut if they ever find themselves in the Philippines. The dish, which consists of developing duck embryos boiled in their shell, is considered a delicacy, and is a popular street food that can be found all over the country.

In Minneapolis, Minnesota, tater tot hotdish is the “bee’s knees and a Minnesota original,” exclaims Brooks L. The best place to get it? “Mom’s house, of course.”

Made up of basmati rice, spices, and lamb, Hyderabadi biryani is a staple in Hyderabad, India, says Raghavi N. The best place in the city to try this “spicy and appetizing item” is Hyderabad House.

To round out our list, Mary K. suggests indulging in game meat the next time you visit Nairobi, Kenya. Carnivore Restaurant is a great choice, she says. “I can always go back for more.”

Megan Heltzel is an associate producer on National Geographic Travel’s digital team. Follow her on Twitter @MeganHeltzel.

What’s your city’s signature dish, and where’s the best place to try it? Tell us in the comments section for a chance to appear on the Intelligent Travel blog.


  1. Boba Tomanic
    January 18, 2015, 2:56 am

    Those are not lamb meet bals on the pictire, but cevapi, the best ones you can find in Bosnia.I would recmmend Travnik.

  2. Chai Mei
    January 17, 2015, 10:43 pm

    Pork chop rice from my place is delicious ,although it sound likes a western food ,but it really invented by the stall keeper 20 years ago and….. trust me ,it is not a eastern taste, is totally Malaysian Chinese food .If you want to have a try ,please go to UTC building which located in the town centre of Ipoh ,Perak ..

  3. nyyereh
    September 3, 2014, 12:00 pm

    cholokabab is the most delicious food in Iran.Try it.

  4. Shaivi
    Delhi, India
    August 31, 2014, 10:05 am

    Signature dish of my city… Has to b dilli kind chaat! And no place better than old Delhi to savour the wide variety of chaat!

  5. Janet Crick
    April 11, 2014, 1:42 pm

    Although Jamaica is mostly known for it’s delicious jerk pork, there’s a whole range of delightful food to sample on a visit to the island. After the jerk, next on your tasting list should be a plate of curry goat. Done the right way, the tender goat meat completely absorbs the flavor of the curry seasoning (to which a dash of our wicked Jamaican scotch bonnet pepper has been added!), and soaks right through to the bone. Curry goat is usually served with rice and peas and a fresh salad or steamed vegetables. Some people prefer it with white rice, others like to have it with boiled green bananas on the side – matters not as long as there is a healthy serving of the thick curry goat gravy ladled on top. Curry goat is a classic example of “good to the bone”, but don’t worry, – your fellow diners will excuse you if you completely forget your manners and suck the bones!

  6. Arup Chowdhary
    Phoenix, United States
    April 11, 2014, 9:04 am

    Hyderbad House is a chain that serves good but not the best biryani. Best place to have biryani in Hyderabad is to go to the iconic Paradise hotel in Secunderabad.

  7. Jeremy Lewer
    Canberra ACT Australia
    April 10, 2014, 8:42 pm

    Hong Kong roast duck at Kevins Place in Holt ACT. The flavors are amazing and the duck is cooked to perfection. It just melts in your mouth

  8. Nicola Hilditch-Short
    April 9, 2014, 10:53 am

    Just last year me and my husband became vegetarians and you realise the change more whilst travelling. But it is interesting that we seem to do much more research into food when we visit a new place now and love finding veggie alternatives such as vegan currywurst in Hamburg!

  9. Thang
    April 8, 2014, 9:35 am

    Hi Megan — the best pho is actually here in California.

  10. Yasmari Garay
    April 7, 2014, 4:52 pm

    There isn’t one thing I don’t like on here haha

  11. Maggie
    April 5, 2014, 6:21 pm

    Of course, tater tot hotdish is the fried, steamy face of Minneapolis’ cliche signature dish. Lets not forget that there is more to Minnesota than balls of smushy patatos.

  12. long
    viet nam
    April 5, 2014, 5:51 am

    good one

  13. Jan
    April 5, 2014, 12:08 am

    Rockhampton is known as the beef capitol of Australia.
    Where the best beef is grown, butchered and cooked.
    Try a rib fillet or rump at the Criterion sth Rocky, or stone grilled at the Ascot nth side.

  14. Thomas Wright
    South Carolina
    April 4, 2014, 5:50 pm

    All around amazing article! Cant wait to travel this summer to these tasty places

  15. Judith Siess
    United States
    April 4, 2014, 2:02 pm

    I agree with the comments about the Carnivore, but I liked the one in Johannesburg much better. A bit less touristy and more selection. My favorite was camel–very sweet.