Hungry travelers are seeking authentic culinary experiences at home and abroad.
Steaming bamboo baskets of plump soup dumplings arrive at your table. You could be in Shanghai, China, or even San Francisco's Chinatown. But one thing is for sure: With one taste of their delicate hand-rolled skins and rich, savory broth, you're hooked. Especially when you look around and realize that you're the only out-of-towner in the room.
To celebrate the distinct pleasure of being an insider wherever you may be, CNN and Travel + Leisure are joining forces for the delicious multi-platform series "100 Places to Eat Like a Local."
We will be gathering our intel through iReports, canvassing our network of correspondents and chefs across the globe, and gathering on-the-ground dispatches from CNN reporters. This series will look to the food-obsessed everywhere for their recommendations on their favorite uniquely local spots -- trattorias, noodle carts, clam shacks, taco stands, izakayas, coffee houses, patisseries -- whether in their home towns or farther afield.
According to a 2009 World Food Travel Association study of 11,000 self-identified culinary travelers in 37 countries, "authentic" and "localist" dining experiences rank as top travel motivators -- and the organization predicts those factors rate even higher today.
More than ever, food-minded travelers are following the old adage "When in Rome ..." (or Memphis, or Moscow, or Melbourne), and seeking out "only in" dining experiences they can't get at home. Be it an off-the-beaten-path ribs joint in Memphis or a croissant quest in Paris, there's a measurable return to what's real -- those places and dishes that locals and travelers alike obsess over.
Beyond giving a destination a distinct flavor, these places are often also a source of hometown pride -- and with good reason. Whether you're ordering a char-grilled kathi roll at Khan Chacha, a beloved local institution in New Delhi since 1968, or an overstuffed lobster roll laced with lemony mayo at off-the-radar Holbrooks Lobster Wharf in Harpswell, Maine, you are sure to find happy residents -- and a few in-the-know travelers, too.