Culinary travel is hitting big. Just like visitors can’t come to Buffalo without trying beef on weck with a side of wings, there are regional specialties (Baltimore crabs, Maine lobster) you must try “when in Rome.” Beyond local cuisine, true foodies also hunt down local markets. Here are some options in nearby cities that will inspire you to bring home a trunk load of treats.
St. Lawrence Market
93 Front St. E., Toronto; Stlawrencemarket.com
The market has earned the title of the world’s best food market by National Geographic, so you know it won’t be a wasted trip. Find items like whole octopus, escargot, crawfish, frog legs and fresh oysters in the seafood section. The meat department houses unusual items like beef tongue, crocodile, camel, duck, ostrich, kangaroo, turtle, goat, goose, pheasant, rabbit, wild boar and even lamb kidneys. In addition to the unique protein options, you’ll also find everyday favorites like steaks, cheeses, wines, olives, prepared goods, sweet treats and so much more.
181 Bay St., Toronto; Marche-movenpick.com
The lesser-known but still-amazing Marché Market is the perfect spot to grab a bite when your group is all craving something different. Upon arrival, you’ll be handed a card that is swipeable at the many food stands, ranging from pizza, omelets, freshly shucked oysters, crepes, sandwiches, salads and desserts. On your way out, just hand the cashier your card and pay your balance. Think Wegmans prepared foods section circa 2012, when all the stations had people manning them — but bigger.
The Cheese Boutique
45 Ripley Ave., Toronto; Cheeseboutique.com
The market is packed with a diverse range of jellies, candies, pastries, breads, chocolates, and of course, plenty of cheese. They’ll let you sample items based on the taste and texture you’re searching for: They keep tiny single-serving containers of sample cheeses in a variety of flavors so you don’t have to commit to only trying one.
Rochester Public Market
280 Union St. N., Rochester; Cityofrochester.gov/publicmarket
The Rochester Public Market, named one of the best U.S. farmers markets by American Farmland Trust, has been running since 1905. There’s a large selection of fresh produce, meats, wines, international foods, sweets, seafood, pickled goodies, oils, vinegars, flowers and cheeses. The market has nearly 300 vendors on Saturdays, who’ll happily discuss what you need for your cooking project.
Ithaca Farmers Market
Steamboat Landing, 545 3rd St., Ithaca; Ithacamarket.com
Not only does it offer a beautiful view of Cayuga Lake, the Ithaca market also has a variety of cultural foods to indulge in after shopping for groceries, including Sri Lankan, Vietnamese, Cambodian and Cuban cuisine. There are also the usual market goodies like baked treats (look for the huge cinnamon buns), wines, honey, produce, flowers, and meats. After collecting all the foods you’d like to try, head over to the water for a picnic.
CNY Regional Market
2100 Park St., Syracuse; Cnyrma.com
The Syracuse Market has several large indoor and outdoor huts filled with a variety of items. There are cheeses, artisan pastas (some quite unusual, like cricket pasta), baked goods, prepared foods and even liquor. It’s standard to shop around with a wine slushie in one hand and a Thai summer roll in the other. If you love salty snacks, try the handmade hard sourdough pretzels with extra salt.
New York City
Eataly NYC Flatiron
200 5th Ave., New York; Eataly.com
Eataly, simply put, is a must-see for foodies. Fresh bread is baking in the oven daily while desserts are being whipped up by their head pastry chef, Luca Montersino. Each day at Eataly, customers can stop by the cheese shop to see fresh mozzarella (and occasionally creamy burrata) being made by hand. There’s also a beautiful selection of Italian meats, produce, seafood, fresh pastas, oils, wines, and cookbooks (including their own, which I highly recommend). Be sure to book an Airbnb with a kitchen on this trip to NYC, so you can turn the tasty treats you buy into a culinary masterpiece. Or eat at one of the restaurants on-site.