It seems to us that the stuff of good guidebooks is no longer which landmarks to hit first – it’s which locals-only cafe serves the best Flat-Whites or Reuben sandwiches that we put on our ‘must-visit’ list when travelling to a new destination. We asked Danielle Wilton, Co-Founder & Managing Director of Smudge Eats to take us on a gastronomical degustation of some of the world’s most palate-pleasing establishments – from Tokyo to Naples, your tastebuds won’t be disappointed.
1. Breakfast – Fish Markets in Tokyo
To some, the thought of eating raw fish in the heart of Tokyo at 4am is a shiver-inducing thought. However, this experience definitely falls under the ‘don’t mock it until you’ve tried it’ category. Fish comes straight off the boats, is expertly prepared and then delivered straight to you. It’s some of the best sashimi you’ll ever have.
TIP: Sitting at the bar at one of the shops while watching the chefs cut the fish is the best way to eat here.
2. Breakfast – Ottolenghi, Islington, London
Breakfast with Yotam is a must-do. My favourite part about the Islington deli and restaurant is that it features communal tables, so having a chat to the person next to you is so much easier – you never know the local tips and tricks you could pick up. Oh, and make sure you leave room for something sweet, the pastries and cakes are to die for.
TIP: Grab a seat – and a new friend – at one of the lovely communal tables.
3. Coffee – Bluestone Lane in NYC (Midtown)
The guys from Bluestone Lane are disrupting the coffee scene in New York City with their specialty coffee and loyal following. Nick, the founder, is from Melbourne and saw a need for good coffee in the biggest city in the world. My favourite outpost of theirs is Midtown, but they have also just opened one in Brooklyn.
TIP: Say G’day to the friendly baristas.
4. Coffee – Proud Mary’s in Melbourne, soon to open in Portland, Oregon.
I travelled to the coffee plantations in Peru with Nolan Hirte, the owner of Proud Mary’s, so I know how much he loves his coffee. Melbourne’s Proud Mary’s is a really cool cafe, where coffee nerds can sip and sample their way through all the different brewing methods. Nolan is also spreading his love to the US Market, opening a cafe in Portland, Oregon.
TIP: Make sure you try their single origin coffee of the day.
5. Lunch – Donovans in St. Kilda
Gail and Kevin Donovan are some of the most passionate and friendly people and are very dear to my heart. The amazingly talented and successful couple have been big supporters of Smudge since our early days. Donovans Restaurant is situated right on the beach in St Kilda, overlooking the most beautiful setting the city has to offer. The food is home cooked, but taken to the next level. If I could, I would eat here every night of the week.
TIP: Make sure you get there in time to see the sun set on the deck with a glass of champagne in hand.
6. Lunch – L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele, Naples
You may have to line up for Da Michele, but it will be so worth it. Known as the ‘sacred temple of pizza’, it’s a family-run business that’s been kneading dough since 1870. There are just two types on offer – margherita and marinara – but I think it’s some of the best pizzas I’ve ever eaten.
TIP: Queue up early; the line only gets bigger.
7. Dinner – Restaurant Locavore, Bali
Eelke Plasmeijer and Ray Adriansyah have made Ubud a culinary travel wonderland. At Restaurant Locavore, they turn local ingredients into masterpieces, creating some of the best dishes in the entire Australasian region. It’s such a pretty part of the world, and is made even better by delicious, local produce.
TIP: Let Eelke do the ordering for you and don’t be scared of the bread alternative – a tempura leaf – it is amazing.
8. Dinner – M on the Bund, Shanghai
M on the Bund is owned by Melburnian, Michelle Garnaut, and it is situated right in the heart of Shanghai on one of the most famous riverside strips in the world, The Bund. It is a beautiful place to end a busy day of shopping and exploring in Shanghai and if you’re lucky enough to get a seat right at the window overlooking the Bund, you won’t want to leave.
TIP: Booking is a must – tables fill up quickly.
9. Bar – La Esquina, New York
There’s hard to find, and then there’s La Esquina. The Nolita-based restaurant and bar has the street frontage of a Mexican taco joint. However, once you make it to the back, past the bouncer and through the kitchen, you’ll find a huge restaurant and bar, where drinks are free-flowing. You can order at the bar or take a seat – either way, you’ll be treated to a night out, New York style.
TIP: Make a reservation to ensure you eat downstairs
10. Bar – Baxter Inn, Sydney
One of the leaders of the small-bar movement in Sydney, The Baxter Inn exploded onto the scene in 2011, and has stayed at the top of every list since. In typical New York or Melbourne fashion, it’s hard to find. But once you do, you’re rewarded with a wall of whisky, well-dressed bartenders and jazz music that will leave you bopping in your seat.
TIP: You’ll need Google maps to find this one – head down an alleyway and keep your eye out for someone manning a nondescript door.