The world is a vast, wide place, but it’s never felt smaller. Thanks to technology, it’s now easier to travel around the globe and experience parts of new cultures no matter where you are. It’s now possible to see, experience, and enjoy parts of different cultures in your own backyard and also step outside of your comfort zone to travel somewhere new. So, why not start a food and drink bucket list?
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Bucket List Food From Africa
- Bucket List Food From Asia
- Bucket List Food From Europe
- Bucket List Food From North America
- Bucket List Food From South America
If you have a travel bucket list, you probably focus on things to do and places to see. However, as all travelers know, this is only the tip of the iceberg. One of the most exciting parts of visiting somewhere new is tasting the cuisine. If you’re looking to make a tasty bucket list of food and drinks to try, here are our top picks from around the globe.
Bucket List Food From Africa
Because so many people were brought to other parts of the world from Africa throughout history, African cuisine has been influential in different cultures around the world.
From soul food to local BBQ, all of these favorites stem from Africa’s rich history of crafty cooking. Here are some of our favorites if you ever find yourself in this part of the world or at an African restaurant near you.
1. Piri piri chicken from Mozambique
Piri piri chicken isn’t just fun to say—it’s also delicious to eat. This popular Mozambique dish has been adapted in many ways around the globe, and it’s easy to find at most African restaurants.
Including flavors from around the world, piri piri chicken is a blend of African, Portuguese, Asian, and Arab influence. Though this is a simple chicken dish cooked with lime, garlic, coconut milk, and piri piri sauce, you won’t want to miss this favorite.
2. Bunny chow from South Africa
Don’t be alarmed! Bunny chow’s name doesn’t relate to its key ingredients. This recipe is thought to have come from Indian laborers who came to work in South Africa in the 19th century. Today, this meat and vegetable curry is one of South Africa’s best-loved street foods.
3. Chambo from Malawi
The best-known fish in Lake Malawi is “chambo,” a local favorite. It’s then grilled along the shore for fresh flavor. However, all locals know it’s not the fish that makes this dish such a hit. It has to be served with ndiwo (a special relish) and nsima (porridge) for it to meet local standards. This hearty meal is the best thing to fill you up on a hot day.
4. Jollof rice and egusi soup from Nigeria
Nigeria has some of the most diverse regional cuisines, but you’ll still have no trouble finding jollof rice and egusi soup. This favorite is thought to be the dish from wish Cajun jambalaya developed from, so it’s sure to be a favorite.
Created with rice, tomatoes, onions, and peppers, you’ll find this at just about every Nigeria gathering. Served alongside egusi soup made with ground melon seed and leaves, this is the perfect simple introduction to African flavors.
5. Muamba de Galinha from Angola
Though this dish might be difficult to pronounce, it’s definitely worth a try. As a former Portuguese colony, Angola has a lot of Portuguese influence in its cuisine, and this is no exception. This spicy stew is made with butter, garlic, chilis, and okra. Every local town puts its own spin on this favorite, so it’s something to try again and again.
6. Biryanis and pilaus from Zanzibar
Rice is a staple throughout Africa, and you’ll find variations of this rice dish everywhere you go in Zanzibar. From veggie mixtures to meat and seafood, this is a one-pot dish spiced generously. Choose your favorite protein (or vegetable) and eat up!
Bucket List Food From Asia
Asian food is some of the most well-known in the world. If you get the opportunity to try authentic Asian cuisine, whether through a local restaurant or your travels, jump on it with these popular dishes.
7. Sushi from Japan
When people think of Asian food, they probably think of sushi. This dish is thought to have come from China between the 5th and 3rd centuries BC. It was originally a way to preserve fish in salt, and it’s now become an exciting cuisine of its own.
8. Xiaolongbao from China
If you’ve looking for something bursting in flavor, you need to try xiaolongbao. These soup dumplings are common across Asian countries, but China does them best. You can find them with all different fillings, and they’re the perfect introduction to Asian cuisine.
9. Korean BBQ from Korea
This next one is more of a cooking style than a specific dish, but you’ll need to seek out a Korean BBQ restaurant to make the most of this experience.
At most places, the menu is very minimalistic. Choose your meat (pork is the most traditional) and start grilling. Yes, you’ll need to grill the meat yourself on either a charcoal grill or a gas hotplate. Add a side of veggies, and you’ve got quite the plate!
10. Jawain butter parantha, India
There is a whole world of Indian food to discover, but this unique dish is especially memorable. When in India, seek out buttery parantha (bread). It’s crisp and smooth all at once, and it’s perfect for dipping into a curry of your choice. It might sound simple, but it’s extraordinary.
11. Egg tarts from China
We go back to China for this next find. Egg tarts originate from Portugal, but you’ll find a unique twist on this sweet in Hong Kong and other parts of China. Made, as the name implies, with egg and a flaky pastry crust, these are perfect for breakfast (or any time of day).
12. Glass noodle salad from Thailand
Though the name might sound unappetizing, this dish is anything but. Also called “Yum Woon Sen,” this dish is not for the faint of heart.
Unlike other Thai food that’s toned down for foreigners, glass noodle salad gives you the same heat as the locals. Made with fresh veggies, peanuts, and cilantro, this is a delicious (and hot) way to explore local flavors.
Bucket List Food From Europe
Europe is often looked to as the home of fine cooking and gourmet cuisine. While this is true, you’ll also find a variety of other cuisines represented, some of which might surprise you.
13. Wine from Italy
You don’t have to be a wino to appreciate the vast array of vineyards in Italy. Known as one of the wine capitals of the world, there’s so much to explore here. If you’re looking for the best things to do in retirement, vineyard hopping is the way to go.
14. Stroopwafel from the Netherlands
These aren’t regular waffles. Unlike in the U.S., where waffles are a breakfast option, Stroopwafels are thin waffles stuck together with gooey caramel. They’re more of a dessert than a morning pick-me-up, but they’re still just as delicious.
15. Paella from Spain
In Spain, skip the tapas and order paella. This traditional rice dish is usually served with veggies, seafood, or another type of meat. You can also try a version made with noodles instead of rice. Both are equally tasty local favorites!
16. Waffles from Belgium
Yep, there’s another waffle on this list. Again, this one is a dessert, not a breakfast. They’re called Belgian waffles for a reason! While in Belgium, try this crispy, light treat that’s usually covered in fruit, Nutella, chocolate, or sugar. Yum!
17. Goulash from Hungary
Though the name might not be that appetizing, this beef and vegetable stew is a Hungarian staple. Seasoned with paprika, Budapest’s famous spice, this is a hearty dish that’s sure to warm you up on a chilly day.
18. Irish coffee in Ireland
Finally, no trip to Ireland (or any of the Irish pubs around the world) would be complete without sampling some Irish coffee. Made with pure coffee, whiskey, and cream, the Irish are definitely onto something with this one. It’s warmth in a cup, and it’ll put that pet in your step!
Bucket List Food From North America
Though we might not think about it, North America is a foodie paradise. Have you given these a try?
21. Cheeseburger from the U.S.A.
Is there anything more American than a cheeseburger? Perhaps apple pie, but burgers still have a special place in American hearts. Best paired with fries and a soda, it’s hard to beat this classic.
22. Beignets from the U.S.A.
You’ll have to travel to the jazz city for these delicious treats. Down south, it’s all about the beignets. Created with french flavors, these little pockets of powdered sugar are a gift from the foodie gods.
While you can find beignets across the country, they’re best served at the famous Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. Serve them up with a cup of coffee for the perfect anytime treat.
23. Deep dish pizza from the U.S.A.
Everyone around the globe has their own twist on pizza, and the U.S. is no exception. Deep dish pizza is a staple of Chicago, and anyone from the area will tell you it’s the “only” way pizza should be served. You’ll just have to try for yourself!
24. Tacos from Mexico
Nobody does tacos quite like Mexico. From street vendors to high-end eateries, everyone has their own special take on how to make the “best” tacos. With handmade corn tortillas, fresh meat, and all the fixings, it’s hard to deny this tasty classic.
25. Poutine from Canada
Though the term “cheese curds” is often offputting, don’t knock it till you try it. Poutine is a hearty dose of french fries covered in gravy and cheese curds. It’s as fatty and delicious as it sounds, and it’s a Canadian classic.
26. Lobster rolls from Canada
Canada is also known for its flavorful seafood like lobster. With so many miles of coastline, this is no surprise.
The best way to try Canadian lobster is with a lobster roll. Most commonly found in Nova Scotia, this simple dish is seafood at its finest.
Bucket List Food From South America
South American food is popular around the world. Known for its strong flavors, spices, and fresh ingredients, there’s a reason all of these dishes below earned a place on this list.
28. Arepas from Venezuela
Arepas are like a flatbread sandwich made from ground corn dough or flour. They’re filled with just about anything you can think of, from meat to cheese.
These could be either a main course or side dish depending on the specific meal and the fillings. This versatile dish is a great introduction to South American favorites!
29. Empanadas from Argentina
While you’ll find empanadas across this continent, few places have so many local options as Argentina. An empanada is a crispy, moon-shaped pastry with savory filling.
Tasty treats come in small packages. Each province has its own flavor to share with guests, so you’ll have to try these again and again.
30. Ceviche from Peru
If you like seafood, you need to try ceviche from Peru. It’s made with raw fish (usually a white fish) that’s cursed with citrus juice. Then, it’s spiked with chili peppers and garnished per the chef’s taste. It’s quite the delicacy!
31. Yerba Maté from Argentina
If you visit Argentina, it’s likely you’ll notice people carrying around a metal cup with their own straw to sip away at a special beverage. What are they drinking? Probably yerba maté.
This drink is a caffeinated tea made from the leaves of the holly tree. Found in local rainforests, this drink is hugely popular in South America.
32. Dulce de leche from Colombia
Found in many South American countries, you can’t leave the continent without trying dulce de leche yourself. This milky caramel dessert is made with milk, sugar, and often vanilla. It’s overwhelmingly sweet, so don’t be surprised if you’re craving it later.
33. Platanos fritos from South America
You’ll find platanos (or fried plantains) anywhere in South America. They’re quintessential to the cuisine. These soft plantains melt in your mouth, and they’re the perfect snack for any occasion at all.
Eat Your Way Around the World
Whether you’re a self-proclaimed foodie or just starting your tasty adventure into new cuisines, let this list be your guide. Bucket lists don’t have to be limited to destinations. When it comes to how to make a travel bucket list of your own, feel free to include any experience that suits your interests.
How many of these foods have you tried? The world is a vast—and delicious—place. Food brings communities together, so let’s start eating.
- Hobbs, Jane-Anne. “15 of Africa’s Favorite Dishes.” CNN Travel: Inside Africa. 12 July 2017. CNN.com.
- “Sushi History.” Eat Japan. Eat-Japan.com.