Nov. 30, 2011 at 1:05 PM ET
If you're looking to eat your way through your next vacation, and eat well, Nilou Motamed has some recommended restaurants for you.
"Whether you're going just down the street or whether you're going to another country, people want to know where to eat and actually are planning their trips around their meals," said Motamed, features director for Travel + Leisure, who spoke with TODAY's Natalie Morales on Wednesday.
Chicago, while known for pizza and steak, has a new culinary movement afoot.
"Grant Achatz at Alinea is really making food that is as much about theater and as much about presentation and molecular gastronomy," Motamed said. She also mentioned Stephanie Izard of "Top Chef" fame — "She has Girl and the Goat and much more rustic food, but also equally with a sense of humor" — and the newly opened Public Hotel and its restaurant, Pump Room.
When you think Nashville, barbecue may come to mind. However, Music City is embracing some interesting food trends.
For example, The Catbird Seat — a 30-seat restaurant — features two chefs. "The chefs are actually cooking and serving you what they want for that day — there's no menu — and so you get to experience what they're feeling for that day, which is so much fun," Motamed said.
Food trucks are also hot in Nashville. Mas Tacos Por Favor, Motamed said, just found a permanent home in East Nashville, "and people swear by their tortilla soup — they say it's better than penicillin if you have a cold."
Beyond U.S. shores, Paris is a must-stop as a culinary destination. "In Paris ... the most important thing is to find someone who is an expert to take you around," Motamed advised.
Must-stop restaurants in France's capital include L'Avant Comptoir — "a little, tiny, 12-person standing space" — and Laduree, which has been making macaroons since 1856. "They make 4 million macaroons every year ... every single one of them decadent and delicious," Motamed said.
And what foodie destination discussion is complete without a mention of Italy?
Piedmont, located in northwest Italy, is "all about food," said Motamed, who highlighted La Traversina: "For under $120 a night, you can stay at an incredible agriturismo, you can take gardening classes, you can take cooking lessons, you can take yoga, and you can also just eat and relax and enjoy."
More stories you might like: