From Butter Boards to Fantastic Fungi: Booking.com’s Must-try Destinations for the Top Food Trends
The ever-shifting patterns of what people love to eat around the world make exploring food trends while traveling an exciting prospect. Thanks to imaginative culinary learning and a sense of food-based fun, there’s no shortage of tempting tastes to try. With nearly half (47%) of travelers reporting they would be keen to adopt eccentric eating and try rare delicacies on vacation next year,* 2023 is the perfect time to delve into a destination’s gastronomic scene, eat like the locals and learn about the flavor combinations that make a region’s food distinctive. From the clash of sweet and spicy flavors in South Korea to funky fungi in Belgium and decorative butter boards in Denmark, we have selected seven must-try destinations for travelers to taste the global food trends, as seen on social media news feeds around the world.
Retro Flavors – Philadelphia, United States
In 2023, nostalgia will be leading taste buds and influencing food choices as the food and beverage industry forecasts that consumers will seek out throwback products and dishes next year. Amid global instability and the desire for the trusty familiar, people will be craving familiar childhood favorites. With 88% of travelers open to visiting sentimental destinations from childhood in 2023,* expect people to seek out old comforts when it comes to food on vacation, too. The home of root beer, soft pretzels and, of course, world-famous cream cheese, Philadelphia is a top destination for retro flavors with pleasant reminders of childhood foodie treats peppering the city. The largest city in the state of Pennsylvania, Philly is now considered a world-famous culinary destination bursting with flavor which visitors can easily immerse themselves in firsthand. Embark on a Flavors of Philly Food Tour which takes travelers to some of the best independently owned businesses including a mom-and-pop pizzeria, a soft pretzel bakery and the famous Reading Terminal Market to taste all those retro bites.
Where to stay: The ROOST East Market is a gorgeous, modern aparthotel just a short walk away from Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell, an iconic symbol of American independence. An oasis of calm in the heart of a lively city, this polished accommodation features floor-to-ceiling windows and provides a BBQ grill so guests can whip up some of their favorite meals with local produce. The Booking.com Travel Sustainable property also serves organic food at its onsite restaurant and offers bike rental so travelers can cycle around the city to explore the retro food scene.
Swicy Food – Seoul, South Korea
Unfamiliar with the term ‘swicy’? It means the flavorsome fusion of sweet and spicy hot food to create an unusually delicious taste. Swicy elements can be present in any dish whether an entree, main or dessert – think honey chili chicken or the popular dark chocolate and chili combo. The South Korean capital of Seoul has an incredible cuisine with plenty of swicy options which is becoming more prominent in local dishes and cooking, such as hot sauce mixed with strawberry jam drizzled over succulent fried chicken. These unusual combinations are fitting in Seoul, a city where ancient tradition meets innovative technology and where historical temples exist in contrast to urban hotspots blasting out K-pop music. To explore the cuisine firsthand, travelers can book a Han-jeongsik Cooking Class, a hands-on traditional Korean cooking class which includes a visit to the amazing Mangwon Market to shop for ingredients and a delicious well-earned meal served with rice wine.
Where to stay: Signiel Seoul is a luxurious five-star hotel in a stunning skyscraper with an incredible indoor pool and panoramic views of the city and the mighty Han River from most rooms. The hotel also boasts a Michelin-starred restaurant, BICENA, which serves exquisite Korean-style dishes such as succulent pine needle pork and stuffed abalone. The hotel holds a Booking.com Travel Sustainable badge, thanks to its commitment to providing guests with a more sustainable stay, from reducing food waste to offering tours organized by local guides.
Funky Fungi – Brussels, Belgium
Belgium is full of famous food staples from chocolate to waffles, but an upcoming food trend is also a popular ingredient – the mighty mushroom. Home to a wide variety of everyday and decadent mushrooms from shiitake and portobello to crimini and oyster mushrooms, Belgium’s vast forests provide excellent conditions for fungi. The spectrum of fungi is incredibly nutritious and the sustainable ingredients that are taking the restaurant scene by storm can often be sourced locally. Mushrooms are also a fantastic meat substitute for those trying to reduce their meat intake and uptake nourishing plant-based options instead, an important effort for the 50% of global travelers who reported that recent news about climate change has influenced them to make more sustainable choices.** Belgium’s capital Brussels is a fantastic base for fungi fans, with popular restaurant, Cafe des Spores, where visitors will find mushrooms in every dish – even innovative desserts such as porcini mushroom cheesecake. To explore the wider food scene, travelers can enjoy a Brussels Culinary Evening Tour to taste the city’s specialties from mussels and beef stew to waterzooi and shrimp croquettes.
Where to stay: For a stylish and cozy stay, Savoie offers chic apartments flooded with natural light and located in the cool neighborhood of Saint-Gilles. The accommodation is ideally situated just a short walk away from Cafe des Spores, so visitors can easily wander back after a delicious mushroom-fused meal. Featuring a charming terrace and a balcony, the apartments also welcome pets – perfect for the 60% of travelers who want to plan 2023 travel with their pet’s needs in mind.*
Butter Boards – Lemvig, Denmark
A food trend that’s going to continue rising in popularity in 2023 is delicious butter boards. Since going viral on TikTok this year, butter boards have firmly pushed charcuterie boards out of the way as the cool new appetizer that everyone can stick a piece of bread into. Created on large wooden serving boards, a thick coating of rich butter is spread into beautiful shapes and decorated with a variety of toppings. From fragrant herbs to exotic spices and colorful edible flowers, the flavor combinations are endless and can inspire creativity. The traditional and seaside town of Lemvig on the west coast of Denmark is close to one of the most famous butter producers in the world. Butter plays such a huge role in Danish culture and cuisine and their open-top sandwiches, ‘Smørrebrød,’ are not complete without a thick layer of it. The Danes even have a special word in their vocabulary, ‘tandsmør,’ for when there is so much butter on their bread that their teeth leave bite marks – and Denmark is definitely the top destination for butter-loving travelers to sink their teeth into.
Where to stay: Make the most of your stay and bed down in the town of Edslev at Skovlide Beautiful Farmhouse, a charming and homely stay surrounded by beautiful nature. Located on a working farm, guests can visit the chickens, horses and neighboring fields for an authentic stay. The Aarhus Botanical Gardens are just a short drive away where guests will find inspiration amongst the stunning flowers and wild herbs for the sprinklings on top of their butter boards.
Dates – Zagora, Morocco
These scrumptious dehydrated fruits, commonly referred to as nature’s candy, are currently enjoying an awesome comeback. Popular in recipes on social media, dates are increasingly being used as an ingredient to create healthy and homemade versions of the world’s favorite chocolate and candy bars. Dates are an important part of Morocco’s culture and hospitality, commonly used as a welcome greeting into the homes of locals. With 80% of travelers saying they are open to finding out about local communities, cultures and traditions on vacation*, indulging in dates is a great way to immerse in Moroccan history. The country grows over a hundred different types of dates but, arguably, the most famous is the ‘Medjool’ known as the ‘King of dates’ and historically only reserved for lucky members of the royal nobility. The mountainous and picturesque Zagora, a Moroccan village located in the Draa Valley, grows over 30 varieties of dates thanks to its dry and hot climate. Visitors can enjoy a Private Tour of Zagora and Agdz with a Camel Ride which includes a visit to Zagora’s twice-weekly market.
Where to stay: For an authentic travel experience in Morocco, the Riad Dar Sofian is a vibrant and colorful stay surrounded by trees in the heart of the Zagora Palmgrove. The riad offers a wonderful outdoor pool for guests to cool off in and a fantastic terrace perfect for a drink at sunset. The stay serves delicious Moroccan cuisine such as ‘pastilla,’ a rustic, sweet-and-savory North African pie made of tender shredded chicken, shaved almonds, dates and seasoned with warm spices. With a Booking.com Travel Sustainable badge, the property makes a concerted effort to reduce food waste and uses locally sourced organic produce.
Avocado Oil – Michoacán, Mexico
Avocado toast has been a popular food trend enjoyed globally for some time now. But avocado oil is the new product on the block, and is likely to become even more mainstream in kitchens around the world due to its delicious taste and health benefits such as supporting cardiovascular and eye health. Michoacán, located in western Mexico and with a stretch of coastline on the Pacific Ocean, is a big producer of avocado oil and a fantastic destination known as the soul of Mexico. This state has preserved its indigenous history and is widely famous for its traditional festivals and cultural events from the Day of the Dead celebration in Patzcuaro to the vibrant and colonial historic center of Morelia which are both recognised as world heritage by UNESCO – and two of Mexico’s coolest under-the-radar cities. Avocados are an immensely popular staple of Mexican cuisine, used to garnish tacos and ‘huevos motuleño,’ a delectable breakfast dish of a tortilla topped with black beans, cheese and a fried egg. Travelers can explore this beautiful country and all the mighty avocado has to offer.
Where to stay: The Maja Hotel Boutique is a charming stay located in Morelia featuring authentically traditional interiors in a beautiful stone building. This upscale boutique hotel comes with a fantastic bar and restaurant serving cooling cocktails and delicious local food such as steaks and tacos. Guests can take a dip in the pretty outdoor pool or relax on the terrace and in the spa for a rejuvenating stay.
Reducing food waste – Seville, Spain
With almost half (48%) of global travelers reporting that climate change will impact their vacations in 2023, cutting back on food waste will be top of mind for many travelers in their effort to be kinder to the planet. Today, global food scenes are becoming more and more inventive, utilizing leftover pulp in recipes and upcycling food in products. Spain, in particular, is notably fighting food waste, introducing legislation in 2023 to encourage locals to take home leftover food from restaurants and discounting soon-to-expire stock in grocery stores. Travelers can experience this positive and sustainable movement first hand by visiting the sunny city of Seville in southern Spain. One of its many eco-conscious pit-stops is Veganitessen, a welcoming eatery located in the charming Mercado del Arenal food market. From burgers and ‘hot dogs’ to freshly baked flaky pastries and mouth watering cakes, this vegan restaurant is a firm advocate of limiting food waste. Visitors to Seville can explore the city’s sustainable food scene by renting an Electric Kick Scooter for a fun and green way of transport to cruise around with friends and family.
Where to stay: The Hotel Kivir is just a short walk from Veganitessen and overlooks the famous Triana Bridge, which guests can enjoy magnificent views of from the hotel’s delightful balconies. This boutique hotel shares a building with some delicious eateries and has a rooftop terrace featuring a bar and an outdoor pool overlooking the city. A certified Booking.com Travel Sustainable stay, Hotel Kivir makes a huge effort to reduce food waste, perfect for the 64% of travelers who want to be more conscious about their food consumption when traveling** while still being able to enjoy the daily buffet breakfast.
*Travel Predictions 2023 research commissioned by Booking.com and conducted among a sample of adults who plan to travel for business or leisure in the next 12-24 months. In total 24,179 respondents across 32 countries and territories were polled (including 1014 from Argentina, 1006 from Australia, 505 from Austria, 504 from Belgium, 1009 from Brazil, 503 from Canada, 1009 from China, 1010 from Colombia, 505 from Croatia, 505 from Denmark, 1010 from France, 1001 from Germany, 500 from Hong Kong, 1005 from India, 504 from Ireland, 504 from Israel, 1008 from Italy, 1003 from Japan, 504 from Mexico, 502 from The Netherlands, 1007 from New Zealand, 1009 from Portugal, 507 from Singapore, 1008 from South Korea, 1001 from Spain, 505 from Sweden, 508 from Switzerland, 500 from Taiwan, 504 from Thailand, 1006 from the UK, 1009 from the US and 504 from Vietnam). Respondents completed an online survey in August 2022.
**Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of 30,314 respondents across 32 countries and territories (1,000 from USA, 958 from Canada, 1,009 from Mexico, 1,001 from Colombia, 1,003 from Brazil, 1,017 from Argentina, 1,000 from Australia, 486 from New Zealand, 998 from Spain, 1,003 from Italy, 996 from France, 495 from Switzerland, 980 from the UK, 998 from Germany, 1,014 from the Netherlands, 991 from Belgium, 985 from Denmark, 984 from Sweden, 964 from Croatia, 976 from Russia, 1,008 from Israel, 1,002 from India, 1,004 from China, 925 from Hong Kong, 1,006 from Thailand, 988 from Singapore, 1,002 from Taiwan, 1,004 from Vietnam, 1,004 from South Korea, 1,003 from Japan, 1,006 from South Africa and 504 from Kenya ). In order to participate in this survey, respondents had to be 18 years of age or older, had to have traveled at least once in the past 12 months and must be planning to travel in 2022, and be either the primary decision maker or involved in the decision making of their travel. The survey was taken online and took place in February 2022.