When talking about food, it doesn’t take long for the words vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and more to come up.
But what about the forgotten meat eaters? The lovers of a good steak, a juicy roast and the age-old classic of bangers and mash…
For those carnivores on the hunt for their next meat-filled dish and their next adventure, this one’s for you. And whether you like your meat well done, medium rare or grilled to perfection, our ultimate list of destinations for meat lovers is bound to make you drool. It details why you should add the country to your list ASAP, as well as the best dishes and restaurants to try when there.
Get ready for a tasty ride.
Years ago I lived in the United States for 12 months, and not only do Americans love their sweet treats, they really love their meat. Meat is a staple in many American diets, and if you want to see how seriously it’s taken, go to Texas. Texas is the largest producer of beef in the US and home to chili con carne, the official state dish!
But don’t forget other important dishes, too. Philly cheese steak, hot dogs, burgers, BBQ ribs, buffalo wings, and, of course, the traditional turkey on Thanksgiving. All that not your cup of tea? Rest assured travellers to the US will be sure to find meat of all shapes and sizes during their visit.
American restaurant recommendations:
- Mighty Quinn’s – A New York barbecue empire.
- Snow’s BBQ – a Lexington, Texas haunt that boasts the title of the number one barbecue spot in the state. The one-day-a-week-only barbecue opens on Saturday mornings beginning at 8am, where locals queue up for brisket, ribs, turkey, and other smoked meats. It closes when the meat’s sold out.
- Mudville 9 – A rustic sports bar located in New York’s financial district has some of the best wings in town.
- Micklethwait Craft Meats – Located in Austin, Texas, this establishment is one of the top places to get the best meat in Texas. Oh, and Jimmy Kimmel dropped in here for a bite of late night BBQ while visiting.
Eat your way from New Orleans to Las Vegas on this epic 10-day Southern USA road trip. You’ll camp by the Grand Canyon, visit lesser-known national park and experience Santa Fe, the oldest capital city in the US.
Does Spain have the most famous meat in the world? Quite possibly. Especially when it comes to the cured ham known as Jamon Iberico (pair it with a glass of Spanish Grenache and you’ll be in heaven). Not only is Spain famous for ham, it also does a pretty fine job with chorizo (made in a different way in every region), morcilla (blood) sausages, and Valencian paella (which is loaded with chicken and rabbit, as opposed to seafood).
On the northwest of Spain, veal is also eaten regularly. The animals live their life outside, they feed on quiet, green fields, and their meat it is one of the best in the world. One of the most prestigious restaurants to taste the veal and ox meat at is in the province of León, in a small town called Jiménez de Jamuz and a restaurant called El Capricho.
Spanish food and restaurant recommendations:
- Salmorejo – This is a purée consisting of tomato and bread, often with chopped hard-boiled egg and bits of ham on top. One of the best places for it is El churrasco in Córdoba.
- Ham Croquettes – Restaurante Solana in Cantabria won an award last year for the best ham croquette in the world. It’s also well worth trying the ham croquettes at La posada Regia in León.
- Huevos rotos – These are fried eggs with potatoes and ham. One of the most famous bars in Spain is La taberna de los Huevos de Lucio, in Madrid, and you can enjoy the dish there.
- Cocido – This consists of a stew made in a pot in which pork meat (ribs, fat, the stomach, ears, tongue, bacon…), sausages, vegetables and legumes are cooked. Each region has their own version of Cocido. One of the best places for the Cantabria version of it is the restaurant in the Hotel Cosgaya, where the mother of the owner, a 85-year-old-woman cooks the traditional recipe.
Intrepid’s Spanish local leader Laura’s favourite meat dish is a pork cheek stew. Slow-cooked for many hours, the tender meat is then mixed with a good wine sauce. What more could you want from a meal?
Northern Spain is where it’s at, and this 10-day Real Food Adventure from Barcelona to Santiago de Compostela shows off the best of it. You’ll get to grips with the cuisine on a tapas crawl, partake in a Basque Cooking Class in San Sebastian and have a wine tasting too!
The first thing to know about Argentina is that its national dish is asado (barbecue). Usually grilled on a parillo (large grill), it’s a way of life as much as it is an extremely delicious party in your mouth. How to enjoy asado like a local? Well, try get yourself an invite to a local’s home. It’ll often be consumed on a Sunday in backyards all over the country. Enjoy the barbecue with a glass of Malbec. You’re in Argentina, after all.
Aside from the almost-obvious steak that you need to try in capital Buenos Aires (guide here), it’s also worth tasting mollejas (sweetbread), chinchulines (chitterlings) and morcilla (blood sausage) too. And when you visit the beautiful Patagonia region, ensure you indulge in Cordero Patagonico (Patagonian lamb). It’s smoked and hung over charcoal in such a way that the lamb (nearly) literally falls off the bone.
Argentinian restaurant recommendations:
- Parrilla Mi Viejo – in El Calafate, Santa Cruz is a great spot to find asado and Cordero Patagonico.
- El Pobre Luis – in Buenos Aires is packed with locals enjoying the parrilla (mixed grill). Don’t be put off by the football jerseys on the wall, this place is a must.
- Chori – serves one of the best popular choripán sandwiches in the country. “Chori” for short, it consists of chorizo sausage, bread and chimichurri sauce.
Bordered by Greece, Serbia, Kosovo, Bulgaria and Albania, Macedonian cuisine reflects its Middle East and Mediterranean influences. Macedonians and the other Balkan nations are known as great lovers of grilled meat. But it’s also worth mentioning why else this underrated cuisine is worth a try: hot mekici (Macedonian doughnuts), “gjomleze” pie (a southwestern specialty), up-and-coming wine, and more.
Macedonians are very proud of their country’s culture and this is apparent in their unique, mouthwatering cuisine. Which is why it was a tricky feat to narrow down the list of the best Macedonian meat dishes, but here goes nothing…
Macedonian food recommendations (and where to find them):
- Kebapche – A minced meat moulded into the shape of sausage. The best can be found at “Volchko” in the village of Rostushe. Also known as Kebapi or Ćevapi, it’s normally served with freshly baked flatbread and kajmak (similar to sour cream).
- Liver – Great grilled veal liver can be found in Skopje (the capital) at Gostilnica Chardak.
- Kukurek – Knitted lamb chitterlings and tripe cut into strips; one of the best is available in Skopje at Kamin Chamo.
- Trout – The best grilled trout is served at Restaurant Ribar in the village of Trpejca.
- Podvarok – Pork and cabbage stew.
- Pastrmajlija – Meat pie with spiced pork on top; try it at Aleksandrija in the town of Kratovo.
This 12-day Balkans food tour lets you experience the cuisine of 4 countries (yes 4!): Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo and, of course, Macedonia. Inclusions are countless but range from local farm visits to wine tastings to cooking classes.
Growing up on farm in rural Australia, we ate a lot of lamb, and I mean A LOT. We had a separate freezer dedicated to meat and it was normal for neighbouring farmers to drop off a leg of lamb or a bag of steaks. So, it goes without saying that not only did we grow barley, wheat, peas and rice, we also farmed sheep. And even those not from a farming background often take part in the typical Aussie family dinner of lamb or beef, served with potatoes and green vegetables.
And of course, the Aussie barbie is an age-old tradition in Australia and a regular occurrence on a Saturday or Sunday in backyards, patios and balconies across the nation. Most public parks in the country have barbecue facilities so there’s no excuse – especially in summer months – for not getting in on the act.
Australian food recommendations:
- Aussie meat pie – Served with a side dish of AFL Football. The pie is pastry with beef and is served with tomato sauce.
- Lamb, beef or a pork roast – Typically a Sunday tradition.
- Corned beef – A salt-cured beef product.
- Sausage rolls – Homemade are best, but can be found in any good bakery.
Australian restaurant recommendations:
- Pastuso – For Peruvian street food and smoked meats in Melbourne’s CBD.
- Le Bon Ton – Brings New Orleans vibes to Collingwood, Melbourne. Their Texan BBQ smoked offerings are not to be missed!
- Miznon – Newly open on Melbourne’s Hardware Lane, this restaurant uses fresh and seasonally-inspired ingredients to create gourmet Israeli street food. Don’t leave without demolishing the wagyu burger.
- Butter – For fried chicken, burgers and champagne (!) head to this gem in Surry Hills, Sydney.
Take on a real adventure with this 22-day Perth to Darwin Overland trip. The Outback delights of Western and Northern Australia are simply unparalleled, and not only will you dive into the cuisine, you’ll hike to gorges, swim in swimming holes, stay in bush camps and visit the biggest manmade lake in Australia!
When I booked my trip to China I was excited to try some authentic Chinese dishes. To say I was blown away by the food would be an understatement; the ingredients are fresh and simple yet so delicious (the traditional Chinese diet features lots of vegetables, rice, noodles, dumplings, meat and fish). I was with locals for most of my trip which is fortunate as I never would have found the best places to eat without them. We would wander off the main streets and down the narrow alleyways, walk towards a door (that had no signs and nothing indicating it was a restaurant), and it would be jam-packed with local Chinese tucking into a feast accompanied by steaming green tea. And then it began: the ordering of dishes, so many dishes.
The country is so diverse that it’s hard to make any generalisations about the cuisine but Sichuan really is a must-visit for its spicy hot pot and liberal use of garlic and chili peppers. Ensure you also go to Shanghai for xiaolongbao (soup dumplings), Beijing for roast duck and Xi’an for all the culinary delights of the Muslim Quarter.
Chinese food and restaurant recommendations:
- Beijing Peking Duck – Think crispy skin and tender duck meat. There are multiple ways to try the duck, such as duck bone soup and deep fried duck bone. For a cheap(ish) option, Beijing’s Four Seasons restaurant is a very good one and costs about 100 CNY per person. Beijing Da Dong Roasted Duck restaurant is also great and costs about 200 CNY per person.
- Dongpo Rou (Dongpo Pork) – Dong Po is the name of a poet from Song Dynasty and the dish is named after him as it’s said he invented it over 900 years ago. It’s pork belly cut into cubes and is steamed with various ingredients so that when you eat it, it’s rich in flavour (on the sweet and savory side) and the pork is juicy and melts in your mouth. Hangzhou is the best place to go for this dish and the restaurant called Lou Wai Lou is very famous for it.
- Sichuan/Chongqing Huoguo (hot pot) – Sichuan or Chongqing hot pot is famous for its red chili and adventurous ingredients, like duck intestines, pig brain, cow stomach etc. But it’s the spicy beef (yes, beef covered with chili powder and then cooked in the chili hot pot broth) that’s especially food heaven for those who can take the heat! In Sichuan or Chongqing, every hot pot restaurant is a good one. Da Long Yi or Xiao Long Kan particularly so!
- Guo Bao Rou (sweet and sour pork) – A very popular dish and one that every region in China does slightly differently. Guo Bao Rou is the version from northeast part of China and the pork is thinly sliced and fried. It’s crispier than the Sichuan version (Tang Cu Li Ji) and the Canton version (Gu Lao Rou, pork cooked with pineapple). A good place to try Guo Bao Rou in Beijing is Cu Liang Ren Jia.
It’s hard to imagine anything more delicious that this 12-day China Real Food Adventure from Chengdu to Shanghai. Think dumpling cooking classes, noodle cooking demonstrations, tea farm visits and, of course, the Great Wall.
If you love food and you love travel, you’ll absolutely love our food tours. We have a whole range of them; check them out!
(All images c/o Intrepid Travel.)