The Best Meals I Ate This Year From Canada to Cuba & Beyond

One of my favorite ways to explore the world is through eating! Food is an amazing way to experience everything from a memory to a new culture to new flavors. It is one of the reasons I travel but it is also one of the reasons I love cooking, eating with friends, and exploring those around my region as well.  It was hard to narrow down what my best meals I ate this year as they only scratched the surface.

On top of what the actual food brings, meals are one of my favorite times to share with others. Whether it’s getting to know someone new or relaxing with old friends or making memories with your family. Life happens around the table and it’s just as important to look back at the memories made as the food enjoyed.

I wanted to share a few of my favorite meals I enjoyed at home in Northern California and along my travels this year. I’ll also share some of my favorite recipes a little later but these are some of the best meals I ate on my travels.

Best Meals in Boston

Boston was one of my two favorite places to eat this year and it ranged from the cheap breakfast sandwich to the splurge on the lobster roll mentioned below. It’s hard to go wrong with a city filled with many best meals but here are my two favorites.

A Lobster Roll at the Saltie Girl

Lobster roll on plate with potato chips.

I read a few articles on the best places to get a Lobster Roll in Boston and Saltie Girl kept showing up. It was also described in a way that sounded so good with a luscious roll and the option to cover in melted butter.  I wait an hour and forty-five minutes to be seated on a Thursday night and it was $35 before my glass of wine. Even with that every minute and dollar was well worth it. Plus, I got to meet another lovely woman who was traveling on her own. 

Lobster Ravioli from Panza

Plate of ravioli in cream sauce with tomatoes.

Can you see the theme? Boston has amazing seafood and lobster is the star. I asked one of my waiters earlier in the day if we were to have dinner in the North End for homey Italian where should I go. Panza was on the top of the list and they were right! We each had a ravioli and they were both to die for. I enjoyed a lovely meal and bottle of wine all catching up with my brother. 

A Treat in Florida

Some Austin BBQ from Back Alley Bar

Plate of BBQ. Brisket, coleslaw, potato salad and corn bread.

I stopped in Fort Lauderdale on my way to Cuba and needed a good meal. I have good Mexican at home and I was heading to Cuba. So what else delicious can you get in Florida – BBQ! I was lucky enough to stumble on this spot where I could enjoy some great BBQ. Felt very much like I was back in Texas.

Favorite Spots in Vancouver

My other favorite city I enjoyed eating in this year was Vancouver. So many places could make my best meals but these two were the best of the bunch. One tip about how to eat in Vancouver is to follow the seafood. It’s some of the best I’ve had and never feel short.

Tapas at Hook Sea Bar

Sashimi in kale with lemon slices.

We loved everything we ate here! From the traditional sushi rolls to some tasty sashimi to a twist on some classics. On top of that if you get here in time for sunset you’ll have a breathtaking bill. 

Homemade Pasta at Ask For Luigi

Plate of spaghetti with just a few stands of pasta left and a little sauce red sauce and meat with fork on the plate.

There is nothing like spectacular freshly made pasta. This is one of the best I’ve had since I’ve left Italy and shockingly their gluten-free pasta was also inspiring. It’s a tiny place so try a weekday lunch. You won’t regret it. 

A Top Spot in Oceanside

Small Plates at 608

Plate of black ravioli.

I love small plates, especially when doing solo travel. It means I can try more than one thing in a meal. This is exactly what you get at 608. They’re upscale, yet affordable. You can order a few things yourself or if you are in a group order the majority of the menu. I got to enjoy an amazing ravioli and scallops and broth. They were both mouthwatering and I’ll definitely swing by next time I’m in the area. 

Winning Wine Country Burgers

My favorite meals in California’s wine country this year were both burgers. One in Napa and one in Sonoma. It’s such a California thing for a simple dish to be done so well in such a top culinary area.

With Brie & More at The Girl & The Fig in Sonoma

Plate of burger with brie and french fries.

The menu at The Girl & The Fig is extensive but you should start with their burger. It is filled with just enough insanely good quality ingredients. The meat is cooked perfectly and the lavish brie tops it off. A perfect way to enjoy a luxurious lunch without breaking the bank. 

Egg & No Bun at Farmstead in Napa

Plate of burger without a bun and an egg on top and a side of spinach salad.

When eating a strict keto diet (low carb/high fat) menus aren’t always your friend. But that wasn’t true at Farmstead. I had multiple options to choose from but I’m so glad I went for the burger. It was such great quality and the egg on top was cooked perfectly. It was a rich and delicious. Plus, they have an amazing wine list to enjoy. 

My Highlight in Cuba

To be honest, the food in Cuba as just okay. Normally, one of the main reasons I travel is to explore the cuisines. For Cuba, there were many other things I loved exploring but the food itself was simple. In many ways, it was great, if you ordered right. For me, ordering fish of the day became my go to. It was the best fish around and good simple vegetables and the most seasoning would be salt and pepper. The best meal I had was in Trinidad at La Ceiba where I had an absolutely delicious chicken up in the treetops.

Plate of chicken and sides on table with glass of wine and bread basket.

Best Meals in Maui

Pancakes, Fried Rice & More For Breakfast

Giant pancakes covered in lots of whipped cream and nuts.

As I was heading to Maui this year there were a few places that I was told I couldn’t miss by not one or a few, but many friends. This was the Gazebo and it happened to be just a few miles from wh3ere we were staying. We waiting a good long while to be seated but got to watch whales during the wait. And that wait was well worth it. The pancakes were a treat and I ate the fried rice for three mornings as leftovers just adding fresh eggs. 

My Favorite Fish & Chips

Plate of fish and chips with tarter sauce from Maui.

There is nothing like a good plate of fish & chips and the best ones you’ll find are made with the freshest fish around. That’s exactly what you’ll get at the Paia Fish Market. It’s a perfect top for a low-key mouthwatering meal.

Tuna at the Fish Market

Tuna fish sandwich with lots of toppings.

One of my favorite things in the world is a good tuna fish sandwich and this is one of the best ones I’ve had yet. It was freshly made and you could taste the complexity of the fish in this simple sandwich.

Exploring My Roots in Detroit

Plate of polish food in Detroit.

Both of my parents grew up in Detroit, Michigan and I’ve visited it almost every year of my life. This year I went with one of my grandmothers to a place the pulled at my roots, the Polish Village Cafe. It was as delicious as the food I remember and even more was told about growing up. As much as my roots are Polish it wasn’t something I grew up in the home and I love getting to know it better. 

My Home Town Hot Spots

Sacramento and nearby is filled with amazing foodie spots. I’m spoiled to have some great classics and constantly new spots to explore. I wanted to point out just a few of my best meals that went above and beyond this year.

Sashimi at Kru

Beautiful plate of sashimi on ice.

I finally made it Sacramento’s top sushi spot after five years. It was a great night with good friends, and at least as good sashimi. The fish was delicious and had just the simplest seasonings.

A Blogger Dinner at Bogle 

One of my favorite nights of the year was when Bogle Vineyard hosted a few dozen media folks and it was an amazing night from the first glass of sparkling to the dessert at the end. I had amazing food, great wine, and even better company. I had a chance to get to know the family that runs even one of my favorite wineries. I’ll be sure to head back to one of their dining events next year.

Sausage & Sprouts at Oakhaus

Plate of sausage, Brussels sprouts, and onions.

This summer I started eating Keto, meaning low carb and high fat, this is still one of the best I’ve had since. The sausages were delicious and OMG those Brussel Sprouts. It was an absolutely perfect meal with friends in my hometown. 

What Were Your Best Meals? 

Did you enjoy something special in your hometown? Or something new on a trip?

About Megan

Megan MacNee is the founder of Traveling Nine to Fiver. From nine to five she works in the non-profit world in California. She focuses on exploring the world from her own backyard to across the globe. You'll find her sharing about explorations through food, books, travel, and more.