If your idea of paradise is finding an out-of-the-way bakery serving outrageous pastries or eating a homemade lunch you can’t pronounce in a no-frills canteen, take time to peruse the archives of Culinary Backstreets, a terrific website offering recommendations for real-deal delicacies in far-off places. Co-founder Yigal Schleifer shares a handful of gastronomic gems found around his old stomping grounds of Istanbul.

ISTANBUL, Turkey – Istanbul sinks its magical claws into you and won’t let go in a way that few other cities do. I lived there for eight years between 2002 and 2010, but there really isn’t such a thing as leaving Istanbul. The city keeps calling me back, especially its old-school food spots and the people running them. The city’s history and humble nobility sustain Istanbul through its sizable ups and downs. When I touch down in Istanbul, these are the places I make a beeline for.

Kaymak, clotted cream made from buffalo milk, is probably the most blissfully delicious Turkish creation, the kind of thing that will eternally haunt your food memory dreams. It does mine. This spot is one of the last traditional kaymak purveyors in Istanbul, serving it with a drizzle of honey and a side of crusty fresh bread. Stepping through the doors here feels like stepping back in time.

A Turkish version of a greasy-spoon diner, this cozy place specializes in all things fowl, from chicken soup to a variety of egg dishes and even a dessert that weds a thick, milky pudding with almost microscopic strands of poached and shredded breast, served with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top. The eggs — scrambled with tomatoes and peppers (AKA menemen) or fried with your choice of different cured meats, are uniformly outstanding. But it’s their soul comforting tavuk göğsü, the chicken pudding, that remains a revelation every time I taste it.

It may no longer be a hidden treasure — the founder has been profiled in the New Yorker and René Redzepi, and other celebrity chefs have sung its praises — but no matter, there are few other restaurants like Çiya in this world. Owner/chef Musa Dağdeviren’s vision — to document and serve traditional Turkish regional recipes before they disappear — is both compelling and lovingly executed. Come here in spring, when the cooks do wicked things with bracingly tart early fruits, adding them to savory stews or grilling them with kebabs.

If there’s one place every traveler should eat in Barcelona, it’s the impossibly chic El Nacional, a food court like no other.

BARCELONA – There’s no shortage whatsoever of good — no, extraordinary — food in Barcelona. You don’t have to try hard to eat well here. But when faced with an all-too-fleeting 36 hours in the city of Gaudi, there is something to be said for a place that begs a repeat visit on a limited timeline. Which is why I found myself at El Nacional not once, but twice (okay, okay, it might’ve been three times).

Located in the heart of Eixample, a neighborhood defined by Catalan modernism, and tucked just far enough away from the bustling but ritzy Passeig de Gràcia, El Nacional is modern food court that will redefine what you think of food courts. The impossibly chic space houses four restaurant concepts — La Braseria (dry-aged, wood-fired meats), La Llotja (supremely fresh fish and shellfish), La Taperia (all of the tapas), and La Paradeta (any-time-of-day perfect bites) — and four individually specialized bars.

Oh, and did I mention every square inch of the the place is impeccably designed? Inspired by the San Miguel market in Madrid (and within walking distance of the legendary La Boqueria), interior designer Lázaro Rosa Violán transformed an old garage into a design maven’s paradise, with 8,500 square feet of soaring high ceilings, steel casement windows, modern fixtures, and enough natural light and tilework to convince one to overshare on Instagram.

On my first visit, I cozied up to the oyster bar at La Llotja, where I indulged in a few ice, ice, ice-cold and brilliantly briny Galician oysters. To sip while I slurped, I had a crisp and juicy glass of Spanish rosé cava.

For my next course, I slinked towards the wine and cured meats bar, where I nibbled on paper-thin and glistening slices of Ibérico ham and a sharp, hard Basque cheese alongside fragrant pan con tomate. Putting it all over the top was an (almost irritatingly) balanced Aperol spritz.

And so, to no one’s surprise, I returned after dinner that night, for a good old-fashioned do-over. Now, it’s your turn. Do me a favor: Don’t snooze (like I did) on the namesake “El Nacional” at the cocktail bar, which is made with white Yzaguirre vermouth, cinnamon, sugar, lime, and mint. And order one of everything else.

New York is home to the iconic coffee cup. And now: premium, fair trade, minimalist coffee boutiques — serving a fast-growing, highly caffeinated fan base. Inspired by West Coast coffee culture and downtown’s artisanal food trend, dozens of small establishments are setting up shop to serve one thing and one thing only: premium high-end coffee by the cup. The lingo permeates everyday conversations (ie: baristas, foam-design, Probat, tamping, single-origin beans, Clover, la Marzocco), which makes it clear that quality coffee is quickly becoming the rule, rather than exception.

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