15 local cuisines to try on your next trip

Part of our series on how to elevate your travel experience

Pickled herring
(Image credit: iStock)

While business trips don't always leave time for sightseeing, one efficient way to enjoy a new city is through its cuisine. Not only can a taste of foreign delicacies delight your palate, knowledge of the authentic meals and snacks of your host country might just make you look all the more worldly in front of colleagues and business associates. Here are a few new treats to try next time you're out of town on company time.

1. Pickled herring in Stockholm

Sweden's clean and progressive capital emerged as something of a pint-sized corporate and creative hotbed during the 2010s, attracting many a new business venture in realms from technology to fashion. A trip to the waterside city necessitates a taste of its omnipresent dish: pickled herring, served best in a smörgåsbord with cheeses and crackers.

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2. Harees in Dubai

Any meal that warrants overnight preparation is bound to taste all the better for it. The wheat- and chicken-based porridge harees, a staple of dinner tables throughout the United Arab Emirates, takes a full night to properly soak and simmer; this wait time will allow you to get some work done in one of the world's fastest growing business hubs.

3. Pelmeni in Moscow

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While your ill-prepared colleagues might be inclined to order borscht during an outing to Russia's premier city, you might try a more creative means to sate the appetite: the dumpling dish pelmeni, which wraps a mixture of minced meats within packages of thin, unleavened dough.

4. Hokkien mee in Singapore

The corporate sector of the nation of Singapore's municipal namesake has a reputation for smooth operations, allowing for ample time to enjoy a bite of the culture's signature prawn noodle dish. Singapore's iteration on the meal differs from those found throughout Malaysia; the version in question takes form as a stir-fried egg and rice noodle plate (rather than a soup) dominated by prawn, with optional traces of chicken, pork, and squid as well.

5. Fried catfish in Tulsa

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Oklahoma's second largest city is still navigating its way through the commercial and culinary schemata, but shouldn't be discounted as a commodity to watch in either realm. Sitting pretty right alongside the Arkansas River, Tulsa is a haven for fresh catfish, which is customarily served fried in the region.

6. Damper in Sydney

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Your attention might be tuned into the main courses of your host country's menu, but don't forget about your sides. Damper, a soda bread-like treat popular in Australia, is baked in the hot coals of a campfire. Just make sure that you're getting the real deal — some Aussie establishments only offer a "modernized" version of the snack, to less satisfying ends.

7. Midye dolma in Instanbul

Istanbul's busy streets are packed with food vendors peddling authentic Turkish chow like midye dolma, a rich serving of orange mussels stuffed with herbed rice, pine nuts, and currants.

8. An empanada de pino in Santiago

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One highlight of a visit to Santiago, Chile, is the city's flavorful empanada of choice, which boasts a swath of savory and sweet ingredients including ground beef, onions, raisins, black olives, and hardboiled egg. Like the Arabian harees, the empanada de pino is best served a day after preparation.

9. Bobotjie in Johannesburg

The largest city in South Africa is a blossoming stock exchange, continuously attracting new business prospects. A trip to Jo'burg wouldn't be complete without a taste of bobotjie, a particularly hearty offering of spiced minced meat topped with an egg-based layer.

10. Chili con carne in Houston

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You won't be hard-pressed to find an establishment serving a hot bowl of chili con carne in Texas's bustling city of Houston, as the Tex-Mex favorite is effectively synonymous with its home state. Just don't gobble down too much at lunch if you have a long afternoon meeting you're expected to stay awake through.

11. Bhelpuri in Mumbai

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Though considered only a snack or chaat in Indian culture, the puffed rice dish bhelpuri (sometimes spelled bhel puri) will no doubt tide you over through a day of hard work in the thriving city. Bhelpuri is especially gratifying when mixed with potato, onion, pepper, tomato, chutney, and masala.

12. A Mission Burrito in San Francisco

The 1960s brought the dawn of San Francisco's most formidable treat: the Mission Burrito, which added extra vegetables and other interesting ingredients to the extant burrito formula of rice, beans, and meat.

13. Gamjatang in Seoul

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The South Korean capital's technological ascension knows few rivals, something that can likewise be said about its pork and potato soup. The wintertime dish gamjatang sports a broth enlivened with garlic, onion, and ground perilla seeds, with large pieces of meat and potatoes boiling therein.

14. Königsberger klopse in Berlin

Berlin's technological progress and ecological consciousness suggests a focus on the future, but the city's gastronomical preferences have you traveling all the way back to the days of Prussia. Tracing its roots back to the height of the kingdom, the meatball platter Königsberger Klopse — minced veal, onion, egg, and spice soaking among capers in a strong white sauce — has more than stood the test of time. While it's gotten harder to find in restaurants, it is still a massively popular home cooked dish.

15. A peameal bacon sandwich in Toronto

The beautiful cultural and economic heart of Ontario, Canada might come off sleek and refined, but one of its signature plates suggests an old fashioned soul. A simple enough recipe finds slices of wet cured peameal bacon (probably the inspiration for the American "Canadian bacon") prepared rare and slapped inside a Kaiser roll with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise.

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