Most towns have their own varieties of noodles, entrees and beer. We spent a marvellous month sampling the local food and some great brews.
One food seller noticed our apprehension of the local dish and after her comments we couldn't refuse trying them: "Don't try, don't know".
All areas (not just Hanoi)
Fantastic little restaurant run by a family of deaf people. Go for the Banh Khoai - crepes with fish and/or veg - but make sure you leave with one of their trademark bottle openers - handmade from a piece of word with a bolt on it. The owner will make, sign and date one for you. Amazingly effective and a memorable souvenir.
The atmosphere is really good, the staff friendly, the food is great and very cheap - a meal for less than £2. Good for veggie food too. Beware the imitators, including the place next door!
Lac Thien: 6 Dinh Tien Hoang. West of the river, near the Citadel.
Simple restaurant with excellent food, friendly service and very reasonable prices.
The BoBo Cafes found in other Vietnamese cities have nothing to do with the orignal in Hoi An - they are owned and run by different people who have 'borrowed' (SE Asian-style) the name!
Also, for a decent and inexpensive Hoi An tailor's shop try 'Mr Xe' at the bottom of the same road.
Bo Bo Cafe: 18 Le Loi Street, Hoi An
Mr Xe: 71 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street, Hoi An
Such a great fun place. It isn't too mad, just nice and quiet, but if you look hard enough you'll find a wild and wonderful place.
For example, O'Dorians pub. They make great cocktails and they are also very cheap. For food, I recommend Santo Food (beside Full Moon) it's such a cheap friendly place.
However, unless you like snobs and stuck-up people who can't pour a pint, I'd stay away from the Full Moon bar.
Main Street Perissa
The Hard Rock Cafe in the centre of Barcelona is fab for food, if you like grills like steak etc then this place is for you, its decor is fab too, with all the artefacts from various rock stars, and the bar has a 1950s car on it. A must visit if you go to Barcelona.
The small town of Plataria is an excellent place to stop overnight if you are making your way by boat down from Corfu to the other islands in the Ionian sea.
Budos restaurant is one of the best fish restaurants I have ever been to - ask for a selection of everything they have. The covered veranda at the front has a great view over the bay.
Plataria is on mainland Greece, just south east of Corfu Town. Budos restaurant is located right at the entrance to the little marina.
It can be hard, on a student budget, to find a place where you can get a great Italian pizza for four euros or less.
This restaurant is tucked away down a side street (like many places in Salerno) and does a delicious margherita or pancetta pizza for three or four euros.
From research after I got back from my trip, I'm pretty sure this is the name of the restaurant; it's on Via Arechi, a two-minute walk from the HI hostel Ave Gratia Maria, which is on Via dei Canali. The restaurant is an unassuming building with a medieval style front with stained glass windows.
The harbourside in St Martin is crammed full of restaurants, but this was the best we found by a long chalk. It catches the evening sun longer than many others too!
Inventive food impeccably cooked, decent wine list with many charentais wines chosen. It's generally more considered and less frenetic than some of the other more classic tourist-traps on the waterfront.
15 quai Clémenceau
South of the river in Bristol is a bit of a nightlife black hole if you're not in Southville - but with the arrival of the S&D, the Windmill and the Bocabar, things are becoming slightly more exciting.
The S&D wins out over the other two though, because of its fantastic food, some of the best I've had in Bristol (better than many mediocre but far more expensive restaurants in town - Riverstation I'm looking at you).
It's not totally gastro though - downstairs is a more traditional pub, though wonky and trendy in that reclaimed-furniture style. And it's right by a big park. Lovely!
75-78 St Luke's Road, Totterdown
0117 300 3712
About 15 minutes' walk from the town centre.
Friendly restaurant near the old port with imaginative cooking. Three-course menu (27 euros in the evening) offers excellent value for money.
We like La Virgule so much we went there twice on a recent weekend break. Although located one street back from the waterfront it has a large outdoor seating area on a pedestrianised street with good views to Notre Dame de la Garde. Seems popular with locals. Open 7 days for lunch and dinner.
20, rue de la Loge, 2e arrondissement (Le Panier). Tel: +33 (0) 4 91 90 91 11
In Amsterdam, the former city glasshouse has been restored and turned into the light-filled, airy De Kas restaurant, with smaller glasshouses around the main room used to grow herbs and vegetables. Book for dinner in high summer and start with a glass of champagne flavoured with a basil leaf, followed by delicious, seasonal food like confit duck, grilled fish, fresh salads and tiny jellies made from fresh berries. They serve one daily, five course menu so all you need to do is book a table, turn up and relax - neatly avoiding both menu dilemmas and dinner envy.
Kamerlingh Onneslaan 3
Though part of the Apamea Cham Hotel, it is located on the other side of the road, with spectacular views of four of the noria water wheels which moan as they turn, and its independent access means that most diners at night come from outside the hotel.
The menu is varied (the only non-expensive place in Syria where I found fish available) and prices are very reasonable for excellent cooking. Beer and spirits are served. The only downside is that you are sitting on one of the key sites of the dramatic suppression of the 1982 Hama uprising.
To the north of the centre of Hama, on the east side of the Orontes river and adjacent to Apamea Cham Hotel. Open for dinner, but not necessarily for lunch.
Of the listed restaurants in the Christian quarter of Aleppo, this is the best value in terms of atmosphere and food. It has two entrances, one signed from the side of the Armenian cathedral and the other from Qastal Ibshir Pasha street. Beer and wine on offer.
See above for directions. tel 2224462.
It's a really nice university town with some great coffee places, like the Java House and the Prairie Lights Bookshop which also has a small Java House, perfect for working on your laptop. The centre has a funny fountain which keeps children sweet for hours. There are some decent Indian place (like always, they are run by Sri Lankans) where you can have a lunch or dinner. The university library is huge, and you can easily spend days in it. It's always open, I think. I spent many nights there. America being a very Christian country, there are a lot of churches. I went a few times to First Mennonite Church of Iowa City and experienced a very warm atmosphere. When a good friend of mine died, they helped me to go through it. They are great.
Iowa City's airport is the one from Cedars Rapids. You can also take a Greyhound to Iowa City, f.i. from Chicago.
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