As I look ahead to my 2018 itinerary, I can’t help but reflect on the year just past. It’s been a dream come true to share my stories as I eat my way across the world. I have enjoyed almost everything, but here are my Top 5 favorites from 2017.

1. Time Out Market, Lisbon, Portugal

Time Out Market is a swank, modern food hall located in Mercado da Ribeira at Cais do Sodre. It boasts 24 restaurants, a farmers market, a studio, a instructional gourmet kitchen, wine and craft beers. You could do a half-day, self-guided tour sampling regional foods in this one location. I sampled several varieties of pastel de nata from Manteigaria bakery. They ring a bell each time a new batch is coming out of the oven. I was successfully programmed after the first bell.

2. Buffalo Waffles, Santiago, Chile

Located in what we would call “the cut” of Santiago, this South American side-street restaurant has no inside seating but quite a large gathering of diners at its front doors. I had the Waffle Dulce Le Leche (bananas, strawberries, Nutella and whipped cream) wrapped in a homemade Belgian waffle. While not a Chilean food, I would call it delicious in any country.

3. Milktooth, Indianapolis, IN

I was drawn to this restaurant when doing a Google search for restaurants that served brunch. An old auto repair garage turned stylish café, it features community seating options for extroverted solo diners. Ingredients from local farms, gourmet coffee and creative cocktails really made this place worth the trip. I tried the cranberry walnut & geneva & raclette grilled cheese with black truffle honey with a locally produced sunny-side-up duck egg on top. Yep, I felt pretty fancy after that meal. Not only did I score a great brunch, but I made a friend at that community table which added to the positive experience.

4. Mercantile and Mash, Charleston, SC

I stumbled upon this restaurant while getting lost as I searched for another one. Located in what use to be Charleston’s old cigar factory, it features charcuterie, cheese, wine, baked goods, locally roasted coffee, grab-and-go items, gifts and cookware, and other gourmet food essentials, according to Translated, this space has everything! While I dined, some were using their laptops and sipping coffee while others were having wine and meals. I had the Croque Monsieur (grilled ham, gruyere cheese and béchamel on brioche bread). If I lived in Charleston, I’d be a regular.

5. In-N-Out Burger, Oceanside, CA.

This was No.1 on my “the next time I go to California I’m going to eat there” list. I liked the simple menu of hamburgers prepared three ways, fries, and the traditional strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate milkshakes. I had a double double burger with grilled onions, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and the iconic In-N-Out spread. The drive-thru line spilled out to the street, and after my first trip, I happily waited my turn.

I have enjoyed upscale restaurants, pop-up dinners, food trucks, food kiosks, and fast-food joints this year. I love food and those who so passionately prepare it. I am eager to begin eating my way through 2018, and I am equally excited about sharing the journey.

Happy New Year, and I hope your 2018 is delicious!

Read More

Desiree Rew is a freelance food and travel writer. She is a member of the Association of Food Journalist. Follow her blog