Spring Travel: 7 Great Foodie Destinations

It's that time of year: We all can sense that springtime is just around the corner, which makes us start imagining extravagant getaways. For those of us who love to travel to exotic and intriguing destinations to experience the local cuisine, this means finding places that even seasoned gastro-tourists like Anthony Bourdain would find enticing. Places like Madrid, which has recently supplanted Barcelona as Spain's culinary center, with exciting new restaurants like the five listed below.

But don't stop there! Young, inventive chefs and artfully designed restaurants and bars are dotting the landscapes of cities from San Diego to Singapore. Book a flight, start that diet, then let loose and explore some of the most exciting food and drink scenes in the world!

Related: All travel coverage on Food Republic »

Madrid, Spain

Barcelona and the Costa Brava dominated Spain's food scene for a decade, thanks to Ferran Adria and elBulli, among other hotspots. But the action has moved inland to Madrid and buzzing restaurants like these 5 top spots.

1. Le Cabrera Among the hippest of Spain's new-generation tapas bars, this two-story lounge and gastro bar was opened in 2010 by Sergi Arola and Diego Cabrera, two young tastemakers formerly of Hotel Arts in Barcelona. Calle Bárbara de Braganza, 2 +34 913 199 457

2. Ramón Freixa Madrid After making a name for himself in Barcelona at the height of that city's culinary dominance, chef Ramón Freixa moved his restaurant to Madrid in 2009 and instantly became one of the most important chefs in town. Calle Claudio Coello, 67 +34 917 818 262

3. El Club Allard The turn-of-the-century mansion feels like a private sanctuary of the ultra-elite. Chef Diego Guerrero is easily one of Spain's most talented chefs, with desserts, especially, that transcend the extraordinary. Calle Ferraz, 2 +34 915 590 939

4. Arce Wry and gregarious, chef Iñaki Camba comes out of his legendary kitchen to greet the guests at every table, asking about preferences and likes and dislikes - so he can customize every dish to his diners' desires. If he asks whether you like mushrooms and risotto, you would be foolish to say no. Calle Augusto Figueroa, 32 +34 915 220 440

5. Poncelet Cheese Bar Opened in mid-2011, this new wine and cheese bar offers one of the most extensive cheese selections in Europe, if not the world. And they serve an extraordinary ice cream made with honeycomb and Parmesan. Calle José Abascal, 61 +34 913 992 550

Related: View a slideshow of these amazing Madrid eateries »

Hong Kong
The bustling Asian center comes alive at night, with rooftop bars and underground lounges. Try Bloody Marys and Pimms Cups by the pitcher at The Lawn at the Upper House Hotel (Upper House, 6th Floor, 88 Queensway, Pacific Place, +852-2918-1838) or act like a detective and try to find the speakeasy-like 001, where a well-dressed crowd bellies up to the bar for artisanal mixed drinks (Near the junction of Graham St and Queen's Road, Central, +852-2810-6969. There's no website; call for directions if you get lost.)

Related: Top 10 Bars in Hong Kong »

Austin, Texas
This is without a doubt one of America's most exciting food cities, an intersection of world-class barbecue and top-of-the-line Tex-Mex, not to mention the best sushi joint between the two coasts. Craving breakfast tacos? This is the city to get 'em in, with everything from spicy to chorizo to escabeche carrots stuffed into tortillas alongside eggs, cheese, and of course, lots of hot peppers. Like everything else in Texas, burgers are bigger here, with addictive offerings like the gorgonzola and bacon burger at 24 Diner (600 N. Lamar Blvd., 512.472.5400). There's worthy Tex-Mex and barbecue everywhere you turn, but take a break from the spice and heat and try out Tyson Cole's Uchiko, the new offshoot of his wildly popular sushi restaurant Uchi (4200 N. Lamar, 512-916-4808). Better yet, head to the first Austin Food & Wine Festival April 26-28.

Related: Top 10 Restaurants in Austin, Texas »

For both cutting-edge restaurants and architecturally marvelous hotels, there are few places in the world right now that compete with Singapore. In what some are calling Asia's hottest dining scene, you'll find extravagant multi-course experiences and chefs whose training ranges from as close as Australia to as far away as another hot cuisine scene, Copenhagen. And most of the dining rooms boast not only inventive food that draws on Singapore's mishmash of cultures, but breathtaking design and scenery.

Related: Top 10 Restaurants in Singapore »

San Diego
San Diego? That sleepy city nestled between sprawling Los Angeles and the Mexico border? Yes, that San Diego. Suddenly, the city's picturesque new (and renovated) hotels are buzzing with a range of people seeking anything from a relaxing golf game to wild nightlife. And the restaurant scene may be America's best-kept secret, with seafood-focused menus, that famous California produce, and tables with stunning ocean views. Oh yeah, and where else are you guaranteed for a warm weather post-dinner beach stroll in March or early April?

Related: Top 10 Hot Spots in (Sunny) San Diego »

From one of the tallest hotels in the world to places with rooftop restaurants and lounges that peer out toward China's design-friendly city's most stunning skyline, Shanghai can be like a dream. Drink and dine with the jet set on the 58th floor of the Ritz Carlton Pudong (8 Century Avenue, Pudong, +86-21-2020-1888) or steal away to the hidden 25-room Pei Mansion Hotel (170 Nanyang Rd, +86-21-6289-7878), one of the most romantic spots in Shanghai.

Related: Top 10 Hotels in Shanghai »

The people of Australia are really serious about their food and drink, from an intense coffee culture to cheese, farmers markets on every block and restaurants. So many restaurants. Sydney is by far Australia's most ethnically diverse city, a mash-up of Asian and European flavors, and the restaurants - including a branch of David Chang's NYC-based Momofuku empire - reflect this diversity.

Related: The 10 Best Things I Ate In Sydney »

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