Updated: Aug 9
I was born a foodie...full stop, #period! I remember being a bit shy around the fact that I loved unusual foods as a little girl- think sushi, patè, and authentic Asian noodle soups from the deepest part of China Town USA
as a young black girl in the late 80’s/early 90’s. I purposely didn’t eat these types of “exotic“ foods around anyone except my immediate family in order to avoid the ever so annoying “eww, what is that?”- a question that sends me into a full on rage to this very day. I mean… how rude?!?!
As it relates to expanding our minds and palettes to cuisines of cultures near and far... luckily for me- as I grew up, so did the rest of the world.
Below you'll find some of my all time favorite restaurants from around the globe. Food is serious business for me, and I do not take this list lightly! What you’ll find here is surely legit because I am not easily impressed! The details are sure to be delicious, and the restaurants are all linked- so I hope you enjoy! The list will be an active one, so check back every so often for updates.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments if you’ve visited any of the restaurants mentioned below, or would like to put your girl on to something new- Cheers!
Get the bucatini all'amatriciana (pictured) and thank me later. I mean… the pasta is flambe`d in a pecorino romano cheese wheel for crying out loud! It was so good that I actually hugged our server on the way out (pre-covid). This dish changed the way I thought about pasta forever- especially as it relates to what "al dente" truly is. Vecchia Roma has been around for 100 years... you can bet your bottom euro everything is delicious and made as it should be!
Charlotte, North Carolina
Situated near Bank of America stadium, this place serves up some majorly upscale tapas style bar food with a fantastic beer tap selection to boot. Can't decide on beer...grab a $12 flight of 4, explore and enjoy with some apps. The prosciutto crostinis were a personal favorite.
Atlanta, Georgia (and surrounding areas)
**SIDE NOTE** I live here, so you'll see plenty of ATL establishments on this list. I may consider breaking this one out on it's own in the future, so check back frequently for updates.
Now more exclusive than ever, we were lucky to have discovered this traditional Japanese Sushiya in it's early years. Long are the days where you can walk in and get a table...reservations are now required (released weekly on Sunday's at noon) and seats book up pretty fast! If you're swift and lucky enough to snag a rezi, you'll have the pleasure of being served Omakase by Chef Atsushi Hayakawa (affectionately known as "Art") which is an experience all on its own. Part comedian and part master chef- Art seamlessly weaves in and out of telling a joke, to telling you exactly where your food came from globally- all while creating beautifully thoughtful dishes. Did I also mention he's a James Beard Award Semifinalist?? Whatever he serves will be top notch...so if you're ever there, just sit back and enjoy the experience.
An Atlanta staple for almost 20 years, Nam Phuong has the best pho and noodle soups in the area, hands down! If pho is not your thing, you’re still in good hands- as their other dishes are just as good (some would venture to say even better). I’m not a fried rice kinda girl…but I am at Nam Phuong cuz it SLAPS!! And from Bun Bo Hue to spring rolls… you can go as authentic or as mainstream as you want here- Nam Phuong has it all! ((honorable mentions- shaking beef and avocado smoothie. You'll not only NOT be disappointed... but you'll be patting yourself on the back for ordering these!))
An Italian food desert no moreee!!! Now don’t get me wrong…Atlanta has plenty of Italian restaurants…most of them just miss the mark ((especially the high end ones I.M.O.))! Atlanta has struggled for years to produce authentic and tasty Italian food, and this place gets it right. It saddens me a little that I let my prior experience with Italian food in ATL prevent me from going to this restaurant for almost 10 years. Better late than never... the dishes here can only be described as elevated Southern Italian and Italian American classics. The prosciutto is freshly shaved to order and you can't go wrong with a classic spaghetti and meatball. The agnolotti formagi al limone is a sleeper and should at the very least be shared, but definitely not missed!
If consistency were a restaurant, it would be The General Muir. We've been going here ever since they opened their doors almost 10 years ago, and my feelings have never waivered. There is soooo much tradition and care put into this food. Everything is good... but if I have to call out something it's gonna be the cheese danish, the chopped liver and the baked salmon salad that comes on the Maven platter! Literally chefs kiss... all of it!
Montaditos (AKA open faced tapas style sandwiches) are the name of the game in Spain (#bars) and none were fresher than the ones at Cerveceria Catalana! We came back to this establishment three times during our week-long stay. If you ever find yourself in the Eixample District of Barcelona- you have to check this place out!
This James Beard Award recipient has been open since 1946. Not much has changed and for good reason, as this place serves up many of the most quintessential Hawaiian dishes known to man. Worth waiting for a table (and you will wait, as seating is first come-first served with no reservations) are the Pipikaula Style Short Ribs! Served plainly with sliced onions and Hawaiian sea salt, the short ribs are leeeeegendary!!! I enjoyed mine with a side of mac salad, which somehow is both ubiquitous and absolutely necessary all at the same time- it's mind boggling, really!
A burger and a vibe often imitated but never duplicated! The first thought that came to my head after my first bite (topped with a fried egg and bacon of course) was " you are a perfect verse over a tight beat". I don't know why that came to mind, but it did (lol). Juicy and flavorful in all the right places....MMM!!! The music was also super dope (real hip hop) and the staff were likely some of the nicest people I've ever encountered. Also first come-first served… there are no reservations and wait times can be extremely long. But unlike Helena's (mentioned above), there are a ton of other good restaurants around where you can grab some drinks and a snack while you wait. Trust me...it's worth it!
Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
Don't walk...RUN!!! Best shrimp ceviche of your life, period! That's it.... that's the post!
You are both #blessed and a blessing if you've made it this far down the list :). As I mentioned up top, check back in for updates and let me know your thoughts or any recommendations in the comments.