I’ve been very fortunate to live in and visit many countries around the world. One of the perks of living in different countries is getting to try the local delicacies and visiting restaurants and bars that aren’t normally known to tourists. I’m a big foodie and I love going out to bars and restaurants no matter what the cuisine or the culture. Today, I’d like to share with you some of my top culinary experiences from around the world.
Vinitus, Barcelona, Spain
Vinitus is a tapas bar found in the city centre of Barcelona. I only came across it by chance when walking past with my mum. It was packed, so we wanted to see what all the fuss was about. My first experience at Vinitus was a quick lunch and I was so surprised, not only by the amazing quality of food, but the really cheap prices too! We even had to double-check the bill because we didn’t think it was right!
A couple of weeks later my partner arrived in Spain and we decided to revisit, this time for dinner. We quickly realised that peak hour on Saturday night was not a great time to turn up spontaneously, with a wait time of just over an hour. But when we finally ordered a rather large selection of tapas we were very happy! We learnt our lesson about not arriving at peak dining time in Spain, but I absolutely love this place.
As I’m sure many of you know, tapas is a traditional way of eating in Spain- similar to finger food in the UK. I admire Spaniards for being able to lightly snack on food throughout a social gathering at a restaurant because every time I go to a tapas bar, I devour the food in the first few minutes and eat it as a whole meal instead!
In Vinitus, there is so much variety on the menu, but being a creature of habit I always ended up ordering the same thing every time and, let me tell you, it was a lot of times! One of my favourites was patatas bravas (chipped potatoes with a spicy sauce) but I also loved pan con tomate (toasted bread rubbed in tomatoes), croquettes and jamón serrano (dry-cured ham).
If you’re wandering around city centre Barcelona, I definitely recommend it! The prices are great, the house wine on offer is good and I‘ve never had bad food there. Every time we had visitors in Barcelona, we always used to take them to Vinitus and it was our final meal before we left Spain to live in the UK.
El Nacional, Barcelona, Spain
El Nacional is also centrally located in Barcelona and was one of my favourite restaurants to visit. It’s essentially a big open food court with tapas bars, a Catalan restaurant, a steakhouse, an Oyster bar and many other restaurants too. They are all open plan in this beautifully decorated building, which originally used to be a car park- you can see pictures of this transformation in the loos here!
The atmosphere at El Nacional is great, especially at the weekends and Friday evenings. I’ve never seen it empty and there’s so much choice on offer. You may find you have to wait for a table, but with a communal bar that runs right through the centre of the court, you can get lost in conversation and drink whilst waiting.
I spent many a night at the steakhouse in El Nacional, where you can pick out your own steak and watch it being grilled in the open kitchen. They have an extensive wine list with a huge range of prices, so there’s something for everyone. And I can’t write this blog without mentioning their amazing lemon meringue pie for dessert- highly recommend!
Lorenzillo's, Cancún, Mexico
I visited Lorenzillo’s with my boyfriend’s family on a Christmas/ New Year trip to Mexico in 2016. Located in Cancún on a lake, the scenery is beautiful. You can walk across a small bridge out to a platform on the lake, which is gorgeous when lit up at night. It’s the perfect place for taking pictures!
The interior of Lorenzillo’s is ship-themed with a huge steering wheel in the centre of the restaurant, fish tanks built into the walls and sea accessories splayed across the ceiling and the walls.
If you’re a seafood lover, then this is the place for you! They have fresh lobster, crab and many other creatures of the sea. Sadly, I’m allergic to seafood, but there was still plenty on offer for the non-fish eaters like myself. But I’ll take the word of my partner’s family that the seafood is “to die for”.
Lorenzillo’s was a bitter sweet evening for me, celebrating my first Christmas Eve with my partner’s family, but also my first Christmas Eve away from my own family. As a Brit, we traditionally celebrate on 25th December but my partner’s family (from South America) celebrate on 24th instead, so it really was a whole new experience for me. With such beautiful scenery and lovely food it was an unforgettable evening and everybody around was in Christmas spirit.
Restaurante Balcon al Mundo, Quito, Ecuador
Restaurante Balcon al Mundo is one of the many restaurants at the centre of the world, just outside Quito in Ecuador. My partner, who is Ecuadorian, took me to see the centre of the world on my first day after landing in Ecuador and it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited. Not only are you at the point that is most central in the world, which is impressive in itself, but the views of the Andes are spectacular and at restaurante balcon al mundo you get to watch these views in the background whilst dining.
The restaurant offers a traditional Ecuadorian menu with the likes of “cuy” (roasted guinea pig), “fritada con mote” (crispy pork with corn) and “plátano maduro frito” (fried plantain). I tried the fritada con mote, but couldn’t bring myself to try the guinea pig, given my family at home have pet guinea pigs. The centre of the world is probably one of the most touristic areas in Quito, but if you ever visit I definitely recommend stopping by. I learnt so much about the history of Quito, managed to get the classic centre-of-the-world photos and we tried to get the egg to stand upright given the longitude and latitude- safe to say we failed at this!
Dalloway Terrace, London, United Kingdom
I couldn’t write this blog without something from the UK, so my selection from home is Dalloway Terrace in London. This is a very small French restaurant tucked away in London, part of the Bloomsbury Hotel. I only recently visited here in January 2020, before the pandemic closed every restaurant in the country. If you’re looking for a romantic meal for two, then this is definitely the place to go in London. All of the tables around us were tables of two and with mood lighting and calm atmosphere, it was definitely not the ambience for a full family get-together. The cuisine is French and it was cooked to perfection and the selection of wines was extensive.
Dalloway terrace is known for its decorations all year round. In summer, they have beautiful floral arrangements all over the walls and in winter, the area is decorated with holly, Christmas baubles and snow-covered trees. It really is a beautiful place to sit and spend the evening. When the restaurant closes, you can always head inside to the bar with fun music in the background and with lots more people, the atmosphere is more upbeat. A great way to finish off the night.
I’m sad that I can only write about a few of my favourite culinary experiences, but it was better to cut it down to five, otherwise you’d be reading this blog all year!
Let us know in the comments below what your favourite restaurant experiences have been.