Read Caption
A Vietnamese street food staple that's popping up all over the world, pho can be simple or as complex as you make it. (Photograph by avbpix, Alamy)

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‘sMumbai‘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.