A side of surprise with that?

Boston to Addis Ababa, filling station to church basement, travelers recall their unforgettable meals from around the globe

Every traveler has tales to tell: delayed flights, run-down hotels, misplaced passports, dreadful food. When you’re away from home, meals are especially important. They provide rest during jam-packed days, time to review where you’ve been and where you’re headed, a moment to savor some of the culture that brought you there in the first place. Even people who wouldn’t call themselves foodies are keen to discover a bit of local color on their plate or in their glass. When what you encounter is dull or frankly unpleasant it can easily spoil the day’s fun. But stumbling upon a good meal where you least expect it is a thrill and supplies the plot twist to stories you’ll tell again and again. These writers found heavenly food in a gas station in Argentina, a clock factory in Germany, at a fast-food place in Southern California, in a biker bar in Virginia, in rural Wisconsin, Vienna, Ethiopia, and more. They came home with these memorable morsels.
Currying flavor in the Black Forest
Schwarzwald, Germany

Currying flavor in the Black Forest

A cuckoo clock factory provides zesty meal in Germany: chicken curry.
California dreaming
Dunsmuir, Calif.

California dreaming

An Asian oasis in a tiny northern California town.
Go, green
Carlsbad, Calif.

Go, green

Finding something amid the fries, never before seen on a takeout menu: avocado.
What's food got to do with it?
Hong Kong

What's food got to do with it?

I never, ever eat at McDonald’s, particularly in a country offering such dazzling choices as China does. But my desire for an Egg McMuffin was overwhelming.
With gas, you get salsa; at church, wings
Boston

With gas, you get salsa; at church, wings

With exploration, Boston yields great food in surprising places.
Video Soul food
High-taste fuel
San Juan, Argentina

High-taste fuel

Local specialties from a gas station restaurant.
Bologna that burned a place in my memory
Wood County, Wis.

Bologna that burned a place in my memory

An unwanted hunting trip brings an uninvited, yet tasty, surprise.
Porkers
Des Moines

Porkers

If you’ve never had a fresh, perfectly grilled pork chop, cut thick so it sears on the outside and stays juicy on the inside, then you may want to visit the Iowa State Fair. Really.
They broke eggs, not heads
Virginia Beach, Va.

They broke eggs,
not heads

There wasn't biker bar brawl, but I’ll gladly take a great breakfast as a consolation prize.
Cold war, red meat
Vienna

Cold war, red meat

A luckless vegetarian tries to go meatless in the Eastern Bloc.
Raw nerves calmed by raw pleasure
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Raw nerves calmed by raw pleasure

I was high in the Mercato when our driver suggested we eat kitfo.
Your great meals in unexpected places?
Discuss

Your great meals in unexpected places?

Tell us about an unusual experience you had at the table or around food while traveling.