I love food. I love it so much that whether or not I choose a destination can hinge on food. For instance, there’s a lot of reasons to visit Portland. Mine began when I saw a story about Voodoo Doughnut. I heard there’s a Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream in Nashville, and suddenly I wanted to go to Nashville a little more than I did before. My advice: don’t travel anywhere without a list of the best places for food, coffee, and chocolate.
Forget exotic beaches, snowcapped mountains, and cultured cities. Here are a handful of eateries we’ve visited that are so good, I’d get on a plane right now just for them.
During six days on the beautiful island of Kauai, we visited Tropical Dreams three times. It would have been daily if it weren’t for the 45-minute ride to get there. I love this ice cream so much I might pour my life savings into a franchise just so I can eat it all the time. I have no photos to share because I temporarily lost my mind while there.
The ice cream is all natural, all local. The cream comes from dairies on the Big Island, and the fruits come from local Hawaiian farms. With 18 percent butterfat, it coats your mouth with creamy, dreamy deliciousness. And the flavor! Remember the lickable wallpaper from Willy Wonka? “The strawberry tastes like strawberry! The snozberry tastes like snozberry!” It’s just like that—the flavors are completely authentic. No artificial flavor, no dehydrated and reconstituted fruit.
My flavor of choice for the week was Banana Split: a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream filled with chunks of Hawaiian bananas, fresh strawberries, and chocolate cookie bits. On our way to the airport, we made a tearful last stop. I set in my mind to try a new flavor, and I did—by getting a scoop of Banana Split and a scoop of Coconut Pineapple.
Gotta go out with a bang.
The good news is you don’t have to travel all the way to Hawaii to try it, because the owners have brought this creamy wonder to a handful of mainland locations. And, oh, they also ship, in case you wanted to get me a Christmas gift.
San Antonio is basically two things: the Alamo and the Riverwalk. And the Riverwalk is basically all restaurants. If you want to eat, you go to the Riverwalk. Our first day in town, though, we were lucky enough to have a local steer us to Zinc, just off the Riverwalk on a quiet corner. “Get the crack burger,” he insisted. Then smiled and got a faraway look in his eyes. So we went to Zinc the next day, and then the next, and then considered extending our trip so we could go a third time.
Formally called the Zinc Burger, its addictive quality lies in the parmesan tuiles. (A tuile is a thin, crisp wafer.) To that cheesy crunch, add some gooey smoked cheddar and a spicy tomato aioli, and you can forget every other burger you’ve ever eaten.
It’s just not fair to have two “this is the best _____ I’ve ever had” items on your menu. So if you leave the restaurant without shaking your fist in anger and crying out, “Why, Zinc!? WHY!?”, then you’ve left without ordering the pizza, with mozzarella so fresh and a crust so perfectly crisped that you can barely chew because your mouth hangs open in awe. What did we do to deserve this torture?
And I haven’t even mentioned the roasted lamb sandwich with its devilish peach chutney.
So what’s that one place from a vacation you took that you can’t stop thinking about? Let me know so I can start making travel plans.