‘The best noodle soup I ever had’: readers’ food travel tips

As part of Irish Times’ Food Month, we asked readers for their top food discoveries

Ko Pha Ngan food market in Thong Sala. Photograph: Ido Arbeit

Ko Pha Ngan food market in Thong Sala. Photograph: Ido Arbeit

 

La Cuisine restaurant, in the old town of Villefranche in the south of France is a very unassuming little restaurant that we stumbled upon for lunch. Best melon and serrano ham salad ever! Went back four times during our week there, something we have never done. Service was really good and we were treated every time to an aperitif. The food was the best we have had... hope it is still there whenever we are lucky enough to go back. Liz O’Donnell

November is Food Month in The Irish Times. You will find food-related content in all of our sections, plus reader events, competitions and lots of exclusive content at irishtimes.com/food
November is Food Month in The Irish Times. You will find food-related content in all of our sections, plus reader events, competitions and lots of exclusive content at irishtimes.com/food

When in NYC skip Manhattan’s overpriced and overrated Little Italy. Take a trip to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx for a real taste of Italian life. Great restaurants, food stores, craft beer and watch the hand rolling of cigars. Worth a trip and so easy to tie in with a trip to New York Botanical Gardens. Michael Richardson

The best foodie place I have been to is Il Capo market in Palermo. There are wonderful displays of local produce: buckets of shellfish along side incredibly long beans and sweet mini pears. The perfect snack as you wander the market after a few glasses of “vino locale” the night before is a panino with croquette and panella. It’s usually served with a pink sauce and a squeeze of lemon juice. It may not be high-end dining, but it can certainly be appreciated by all food lovers. Emma Weir

I highly recommend the Chillax Cafe in Quarteira, Algarve in Portugal. It’s on the promenade in front of the beach and is one of the few places where you can get light bites and healthy food. They do a selection of creative salads, sandwiches, juices, cocktails with or without the alcohol and excellent Columbian coffee. Natasha Alekseeva

Tapas and a beer at Bar Santurce are great way to start off a walking tour of old Madrid. Place is bustling with local customers

I stopped in Bar Santurce (on the advice of some Spanish friends) in the El Rastro area of Madrid for some excellent grilled fresh sardines and grilled green peppers washed down with some beer. A great way to start off a walking tour of old Madrid! Place is bustling with local customers. Plaza del Gral. Vara de Rey, 14, 28005 Madrid, barsanturce.com Aodhan Fitzgerald

If you are a fan of Indian food and are wondering where to eat in London then try dinner in Chutney Mary. The food is innovative and faultless, and the service is charmingly friendly while efficient. The experience feels very special. If you also happen to be a fan of chicken wings then you are in for a particular treat. chutneymary.com Doon Fergusson-Howlett

Frittenwerk is a Canadian poutine inspired restaurant where you can have dinner and a drink for less than €10. Photograph: Aoife Ryan
Frittenwerk is a Canadian poutine inspired restaurant where you can have dinner and a drink for less than €10. Photograph: Aoife Ryan

I’d recommend Cha Com Agua Salgada, in Manta Rota, Portugal. Four-star food and service, gorgeous location overlooking the boardwalk and beach, full view of sunset and unbelievably priced in comparison to Dublin. (Myself and partner had starters, two mains, dessert and bottle of wine for €57.) Catherine Casey

Ko Pha Ngan food market in Thong Sala is a must. The best noodle soup I ever had from the soup stall – it’s easy to miss, as it’s in the back of the market in the alley. Bowls of soup for around for 60 baht which is €1.50. Ido Arbeit

My best foodie find to date is a local fish restaurant called Chamico’s just outside of Tulum, Mexico. It’s located at the end of a small beach called Soliman’s bay. You really have to have a car to get to it but worth the trek! Basically just some plastic tables and chairs on the beach but all fresh fish and very good cocktails. Perfect way to spend a relaxing afternoon. Ciara Cleary

I have two favourites from my travels: Zeller Bistro Budapest, an unassuming family run bistro serving a fresh take on Hungarian classics. They source most produce from their family farm in the Lake District and bottle their own beers to team with dishes. Il Porticciolo Manorola, Cinque Terre, Italy is a small trattoria near the central street. Serving fresh fish caught daily and high quality homemade pasta. Well presented and the best pesto I’ve ever eaten. Ilporticciolo5terre. com zellerbistro.hu Niamh Creed

Off the beaten track, Bodega in Puerto del Carmen in Lanzarote was a great find. In a town full of cheap eats and pictures on menus this was an exquisite restaurant, with steak and fresh fish to die for. Located in the old town the food, service and wine were all first class. But the tapas menu, which only comes in Spanish, is an authentic experience in a resort overrun by restaurants aimed at tourists. La Cascada Puerto Restaurante Bodega Calle Roque Nublo, 5, 35510 Puerto del Carmen, Las Palmas, Spain. Keith Brennan

To get ourselves in the Christmas mood last year my husband, who was in remission from cancer treatment, booked us a weekend in Rudesheim , Germany. We went to visit the Christmas markets. After a few hours of shopping we had a slice of delicious freshly made German gingerbread and a warming coffee at a Christmas stall (which had a reviving shot of locally distilled Asbach brandy and a large dollop of whipped cream). We had dinner at our hotel, Brewers Rudesheimer Schloss, where the building is part of a Unesco World Heritage site. We had crispy guinea fowl and their famous schnitzel with cream and mushroom sauce and apple strudel. We tasted some of the best Grand Cru Rieslings from their own winery with our meal. Berni Flood

Lagos, Portugal was a massive foodie surprise for me. I expected it to be a tourist trap – and in many ways it was – but some of the food we ate was exceptionally good. Ol’ Bastards was a highlight. This is fish and chips done right. Super fresh fish in a light crispy batter served with chips seasoned to your liking and a choice of sides. Local craft beer completes the laid back but delicious experience. The photo shows fish, cajun chips and minty peas. Jane Dodd

Emotional Hotel, near Fatima in Portugal, serves a different set menu each night, which we loved – no agonising over which dish to choose

We happened across this hidden gem when looking for somewhere a bit different for our honeymoon. Cooking and Nature: Emotional Hotel is located in a national park close to Fatima in Portugal. This 10-room boutique hotel serves a different set menu each night which we loved – no agonising over which dish to choose! We loved trying the specialities of the region such as squid, octopus and salads paired beautifully with local Portuguese wines. You can also take part in the cooking of your own dinner with guidance from the chef. My husband and I had fun cooking up a pumpkin soup with egg for starters, duck a l’orange for main and a custard based dessert. This hotel was a culinary delight. We look forward to returning. Janine Merry

Chamico fish restaurant outside Tulum, Mexico. Photograph: Ciara Cleary
Chamico fish restaurant outside Tulum, Mexico. Photograph: Ciara Cleary

I have visited the Wicklow Heather in Laragh, Co Wicklow on three of four occasions. It’s a lovely gastro pub/restaurant which is popular with tourists. Every time I visit I have the mixed berry crumble with custard and fresh cream and it is always gorgeous. I would highly recommend. Anita Finlay

The historic food market in Ortigia, Syracusa has an amazing sandwich shop called Caseificio Borderi. The giant sandwich roll is made in front of you by the owner with lots of theatrical flourishes and consists of many layers of ingredients and tastes divine. One roll is more than enough for two people. You can sit outside the shop on a rustic bench to enjoy this gourmet sandwich with a very reasonably priced Nero d’Avola to accompany it. Best lunch I have ever had in Italy. Fionnghuaile Griffin

I have been going to Lagos Portugal for several years now and always make sure my husband and I visit the Casa Do Pintor restaurant at least once. The inside eating area is small with the food cooked almost beside you. It is run by a lovely man with a passion for French food and wine, who is helped by his wife. Their son works front of house and that’s about it! The taste, quality and presentation of the food is amazing and an experience to savour. It is a little out of the way but well worth the effort. Largo Santa Maria do Graca, Lagos. contact 00351 917 334 398 Philippa Granleese

Taverna A Mina in Vigo, Spain, serves some of the freshest mussels I have ever tasted. Simply steamed with a squeeze of lemon and washed down with a glass of Albarino. This little gem of a bar, in the old town, serves a few simple dishes during the day and turns into a great lively bar in the evening. Jack Moore

Pick your favourite seafood from one of the many small boats moored by the pier at the Sai Kung fishing village. Photograph: Pat Craven
Pick your favourite seafood from one of the many small boats moored by the pier at the Sai Kung fishing village. Photograph: Pat Craven

The Clinton Street Bakery Company, at 4 Clinton Street (btw East Houston & Stanton), New York, NY 10002 , is the only place to go for the most amazing American style pancakes. Expect a bit of a wait. You can get a coffee next door to help the time pass in their take away bakery but don’t be tempted to grab a doughnut and split. It’s worth the wait. Served with a generous pot of maple butter. There are no words. Elaine Coleman

Casa da India (Rua do Loreto 45) in Lisbon serves freshly cooked food very reasonably. Locals flock for the seafood and grilled food. Be prepared to share a table with strangers who become friends. Refreshingly, the menu is in Portuguese only – take a chance and order, or cheat with a translation app! Daithí Kelleher

We spent a rainy day in Bellagio at a cookery school run by an Italian mother and daughter. (Gusto Italiano, gustoitalianobellagio.com) The class started with a shopping trip around the narrow cobbled streets of Bellagio. We made bruschetta, tagliatelle ragu and finished off with a glorious tiramisu. We brewed fresh coffee for our tiramisu and sipped on espressos as we traded food stories with our host, Elizabetta. All our hard work paid off as we sat down to a long lunch of meats, breads and cheeses, followed by the fruits of our labour. We drank a delicious local prosecco and some red wine while the rain poured down outside. The class was a highlight of our trip to Lake Como. Eimear McManus

Fresh mussels at Taverna A Mina in Vigo, Spain. Photograph: Jack Moore
Fresh mussels at Taverna A Mina in Vigo, Spain. Photograph: Jack Moore

I recommend a restaurant in Sienna called La Taverna di San Giuseppe (tavernasangiuseppe.it). I was dropping our daughter off to start her Erasmus year when I found it. Fantastic place with the most brilliant staff and food. Stumbled on it by accident, but best meal we ever had. Brian Dolan

Mercat Central, Valencia is the home of paella and Agua de Valencia but there are a lot more gastronomic delights on offer. There are almost 1,000 stalls selling everything you could possibly dream of: fresh fruit and vegetables, cured meats, seafood, cheeses, baked goods and thousands of delicious wines. If you need a break from shopping, try “horchata”, a popular local drink made from tiger nuts. For lunch, the Central Bar is well worth the queue. Drink wine and linger over tapas or try one of their amazing bocadillas. Food is served sitting at the counter and we had a birds’ eye view of the chefs preparing their incredible desserts. We also got chatting to two old ladies who lived nearby who spent time filling us in on the best places to visit in Valencia. The meatballs with red curry is a dish we won’t forget. Eimear McManus

We had a fantastic meal at the Beech Hill House Hotel, Derry, enhanced by a discussion with the gardener who grew the gorgeous vegetables which accompanied our meal

We had a fantastic meal at the Beech Hill House Hotel, Derry, in a beautiful setting, and all enhanced after a discussion with the gardener who produced the gorgeous vegetables which accompanied our meal. Marian Quinn

Obidos is 80km north of Lisbon and is a super place to visit. A Novo Casa da Ramiro is a fantastic restaurant. The black pig in orange sauce for two is stunning served with salad and potato shavings, with a port sauce on the side. A stunning example of Portuguese food and local Gaerias wines go great with it. Madge Crowley

On a miserable wet Thursday lunch time, we checked into our country house hotel for a one night break where, due to the damage and power outages caused by Ophelia , they couldn’t even offer us a cup of tea. We headed out in search of a sandwich and finding most hostelries closed we drove past the Hollow Bar and Seafood Restaurant in Ramsgrange, New Ross. We got a warm welcome, open fire lighting, and a great recommendation ... utterly delicious garlic prawns and brown bread, served with warmth and appreciation of our business. We couldn’t recommend the place enough, it was the highlight of our night away. Margaret Lyons

On our first camino, staying in a very basic hostel in Casar de Caceres in Extramedura, Spain we went in search of a light lunch and shared a plate of arroz melloso (risotto) flavoured with a local cheese Torta del Casar. We ordered a plate on its own next day: creamy, tangy, salty, a cheese lover’s dream, the two of us polished off what should have served four. tortadelcasar.eu M Rabbitt

After hiking in the Country Park of the New Territories in Hong Kong, it was nice to pick your favourite seafood from one of the many small boats moored by the pier at the Sai Kung fishing village. Everything is alive and fresh, displayed in colourful plastic containers: lobsters, prawns, scallops, fish of all kinds, clams. Competition is fierce between fishermen on different boats. Buyers shout down from the pier and bargain. Transaction is completed and money/goods change hands via a pulley system as cash is lowered on to the boat in a wicker basket and your live fish is sent up to you. You can take it home or go to one of the local eateries where they will prepare the seafood and provide side dishes like vegetables or fried rice. Pat Craven

Every summer we round off our holiday in Nerja with a two-night stay in Malaga. This year we wandered off the beaten track and happened on a tiny, unassuming restaurant in Calle Santa Maria called La Medusa. It had a few plastic chairs and tables outside that didn’t auger well but my husband said it could be a hidden gem – and he was spot on. We had two chilled glasses of local rosé and we were given some unexpected tapas – discs of lightly grilled bread with homemade curry mayonnaise and topped with curls of smoked salmon. Later, the chef appeared in her whites with two more – this time bread topped with almond cream and anchovy. We were hooked. Two more glasses of wine and a menu later we were eating their duck terrine, and during the whole experience we were entertained by a local singer a few streets away belting out magnificent flamenco. Marie Morrin

Chefs pile a variety of delicious toppings and salads onto hot, crispy fries, from standard poutine to Thai meatball

I travel a lot for work and always want to find something a little different for dinner in the evening. Last month in Cologne, I found Frittenwerk, a Canadian poutine inspired restaurant where you can have dinner and a drink for less than €10. Their philosophy is “Fresh. Food. Fast” and that’s exactly what they deliver to a long queue of hungry customers of all ages. It’s very hipster in style but the most important aspect is the food. Piles of chips await the fryer while chefs pile a variety of delicious toppings and salads onto hot, crispy fries. From standard poutine to Thai meatball, the menu is dizzyingly attractive but my soy honey pulled chicken was a star. Deeply dark and umami rich, it brought a burst of flavour to comforting fries while a sharp zingy Asian slaw added texture and freshness to balance the bowl. Just add a bottle of local Gaffel Kölsch beer and you have a memorable meal. frittenwerk.com/koeln.php Aoife Ryan

For a city break; walk the promenade of Portobello just outside Edinburgh and you’ll find a small green coffee van which does the best coffees and hot chocolates. If you’re peckish, pick up an empanada to nibble on as you walk along. Emer Owens

WINNING TIP

I’d the opportunity to travel in Iran last year and when staying in the wonderful Dibai house guesthouse in Isfahan I had their homemade Persian carrot jam for breakfast each morning with thick yogurt and a drop of honey. It was so delicious I asked the owner for the recipe and have been making it at home ever since. Finely grated carrots gently steamed in a sugar syrup infused with green cardamom and orange zest. Add fresh orange and lime juice and perfume with a splash of rose water for the final two minutes of cooking. I eat it for breakfast every morning with greek yogurt, some mixed seeds and a drop of honey. Light, fresh and delicious it is a great start to the day. Aoife Kane

Aoife wins a luxury weekend for two in Harvey's Point hotel, on the shores of Lough Eske in Donegal. See harveyspoint.com

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