food-cities-underrated

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Instagram is saturated with images of bao buns in Soho, brunch hotspots in Brooklyn and la dolce vita-worthy plates of pasta in Rome. For travellers in search of something new, we’ve sought out five under-the-radar dining destinations so you can explore some of the world’s lesser-known gastronomic highlights.

Indulging in global cuisines will always leave us wanting to explore new destinations, and with The Platinum Card from American Express  an array of travel benefits are now at your fingertips. Embark on a journey of gastronomic discovery, knowing that you’re travelling on only the best recommendations.

In partnership with The Platinum Card from American Express.

Yerevan, Armenia

Like a glorious deli counter, Armenia’s food scene is full of variety, with soft leavened breads waiting to be torn apart and enjoyed with rich dips. This diverse cuisine is heavily influenced by the country’s history, combining flavours from around the world – and there’s no better place to sample it than the capital of Yerevan. National favourites include smoky aubergine casserole, meat-filled dumplings served with yoghurt known as “manta” and sticky baklava, while you’ll find meat skewers sizzling on many street corners. For the best local cafés, head to the area around the Cascade, a stunning stairway linking the city centre to the Monument neighbourhood.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

While many travellers flock to the sights and sounds of Bangkok or the sun-soaked Thai islands, Chiang Mai is undoubtedly the place to sample the country’s celebrated cuisine. From comforting pad thai and spicy som tum at the stylish stop-off Ginger & Kafe to artisan coffee at Ristr8to, Thailand’s second-largest city certainly gives the capital a run for its money when it comes to gastronomy. The fashionable neighbourhood of Nimman is home to an array of eateries, such as Rustic & Blue and Rod Yiam, known for the authenticity of their food. When it comes to pop-ups and street-food vendors, the options are endless. You can bike from one end of the city to the other in about 20 minutes, with an incredible variety of food markets waiting to be explored on foot along the way. The best time to go is at sunset when the vibrant streets fill up – Chang Pheuak by North Gate is where you’ll find in-the-know locals stocking up on supplies.

Portland, Oregon, US

Portland attracts trailblazing types from all over America, partly thanks to an innovative dining scene that has seen festivals such as Feast encouraging the culinary creativity that secures the city a place on any discerning food-lover’s map. Downtown Pine Street Market was the city’s first food hall and features nine of Portland’s best chefs and purveyors under one open-plan roof – look out for Brass Bar, one of the best coffee houses on the west coast. Elsewhere, galleries and concept stores rub shoulders with restaurants that have downsized to food carts. Spread across a variety of neighbourhoods, you’ll find everything from Middle Eastern delights at Wolf & Bears to imaginative burritos at La Rochita and delicious rice dishes at Nong’s Khao Man Gai. Portland is also said to have more breweries per capita than any other city in the world – for the ultimate in craft-beer tasting head to Widmer Brothers Brewing and Deschutes.

Santiago, Chile

Santiago is a city where rustic villas meet ultra-modern skyscrapers, a mix that is reflected in the regional cuisine and encouraged by a culture that places an enormous importance on eating well. The country’s extensive coastline means that seafood abounds (often in the form of Peruvian-influenced ceviche), while local specialities include charquican (beef and pumpkin stew) and terremoto (pineapple ice cream bathed in fermented wine). Browse the colourful mercado central for exotic fruits and empanadas galore or visit Barrio Italia, one of the city’s most vibrant neighbourhoods and the home of undoubtedly one of the best wine bars in town, Palacio del Vino.

Fez, Morocco

Fez is nothing like the hectic squares and souks of Marrakech, and is slowly emerging as Morocco’s new culinary capital. Once inside the world’s largest medina, food – from aubergine zelouk to fragrant orange cake – is everywhere, although finding the right address in the labyrinthine alleyways can be tricky. Luckily, candlelit courtyards in cool and calm riads such as Idrissy await, with oasis-like atmospheres in which to enjoy the very best North African cuisine. In Fez it’s still very much about tried-and-tested methods, with the locals still honouring a morning ritual of sliding their rich and complex tagines and cinnamon-flavoured pigeon pies into communal ovens in this famously spiritual city.

THE LOWDOWN

Reward Yourself

If these tips of what to do in Morocco and Thailand have got you thinking about where to visit next, The Platinum Card from American Express can help you get more out of your trip. The extensive portfolio of travel and lifestyle benefits include access to over 1,000 airport lounges in 120 countries and complimentary breakfast for two people, a guaranteed 4PM late checkout and a room upgrade upon arrival, when available at selected FINE HOTELS & RESORTS™ properties.

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Annual Fee £450. Terms and Conditions apply.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

If you’d prefer a Card without any rewards, other features or a Cardmembership fee, an alternative is available – the Basic Card. Applicants must be 18 or over. Approval is subject to status and Terms and Conditions apply.

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