Backpackers, your trip diet doesn’t need to consist only of questionable communal hostel meals, two-minute noodles or getting to know the slight differences in each country’s McDonald’s.
There are cities around the world where even the cheapest run-of-the-mill fare will satisfy your unreasonable foodie standards.
Here are TND’s top cities where backpackers can get good grub on the cheap!
San Sebastian, Spain
Situated in the incredible Basque Country of Spain, those native to the area are said to be direct descendants of Europe’s earliest hunter-gatherer people. Given that heritage, the Basque are fiercely proud of their culture and thus cuisine, preserving their ancient culinary custom to this day.
The old town area of San Sebastian is small but dense with outrageous food in numerous Pintxos bars. Here, you’ll literally walk into a bar counter brimming with little skewered morsels of serious goodness.
Pintxos is the Basque version of tapas – usually meat, fish, cheese, vegetables or a combination on pieces of crusty bread.
Fill up on as many as you like, while drinking cold beer or sangria and at the end use the honesty system to pay your bill. It is loud, packed and chaotic at dinner time but a brilliant place to settle in for an authentic and fun evening – especially if local soccer team Real Sociedad are playing on the TV.
Bulging burritos, cheesy nachos and paper dry tacos are not what Mexican food actually is.
That’s just the Anglicised version – Oaxaca (Wa-Ha-Ka) is the best place for food in Mexico because the people there do cuisine like it has been done for hundreds of years.
The food in the city is fresh, delicate in flavour, and packs a spicy punch without being overbearing. While the grilled meat, amazing tacos and addictive Tamales are spot on, you simply must try the mole, (mole-ay).
The complex mix of meat (pork, chicken or beef), smoked and dried chilli, vegetables, spices and dark chocolate is cooked for hours and is unlike any comfort food you’ll taste in your life.
Obviously, they love their Tequila too and beer is cheap and always cold. It is Mexico, after all.
Don’t listen to ‘Naples naysayers’ – yes it can be dangerous, yes it can be chaotic – but it’s worth the caution once you’re face deep in one of the city’s classic pizzas.
Pizza was created here, so for all those times you’ve enjoyed the Anglicised version at home, it’s only respectful that you make the pilgrimage to the place where it all began.
Again, stick to the town’s old quarter, a reliable hostel worker told this writer that any pizzeria in that area would be a winner and he wasn’t wrong.
Don’t get fancy either, order the O.G (Margherita) which is a fresh base smothered with crushed San Marzano tomatoes, leafy basil, supple buffalo mozzarella, salt, pepper and olive oil. It is all you need.
Japanese food is adored everywhere and it’s in Osaka where you’ll find your Nippon food utopia.
The city is also known for its rocket fuel alcohol Sake, which is probably why the eating is of such a high standard.
The food is so good that there’s a saying among Osakans bemoaning how they spend all their money on eating out.
There are many cheap and ubiquitous must-try dishes in Osaka but if you had to pick a couple you’d need to get the Negiyaki and Kitsune Udon.
The former is a delightful crispy pancake packed with spring onions, soy sauce, pickled ginger and dried shrimp, while the udon dish comprises a light broth filled with a sumptuous piece of deep fried tofu, topped with a sweet sauce amongst chewy and slippery fresh-made udon noodles.
New Orleans, USA
Whoever said food in America was only big BBQ or assorted interpretations of heart-attacks-on-a-plate? Head down to ‘The Big Easy’ and you’ll be greeted with a punchy, clever and delicate array of cuisine.
The city has incredible access to fresh and vibrant seafood which means you’ll experience some amazing dishes involving oysters, prawns and crayfish. If you’re lucky (and smart) you’ll sample a crawfish boil involving all of them, plus potatoes, Andouille sausage and corn.
Oh, and if you’ve over indulged on the New Orleans bar scene (which you will) there are Po Boys, Po Boys everywhere, to soak up all the alcohol in the morning.
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