As foodie culture has exploded in popularity, dining has become an absolutely integral part of travel.
"The remarkable thing that's changed over the years is that travel is synonymous with food," David Chang, star of Netflix's "Ugly Delicious" and the mastermind and founder behind Momofuku restaurant group, tells CNBC Make It. "And I don't know anyone who travels who doesn't plan their trip around food, now, they're just one in the same."
Indeed, a recent survey by American Express found that 79 percent of respondents consider eating, including trying new food, to be an important part of a vacation. And 68 percent of consumers said they prefer travel experiences that offer a deeper sense of meaning, including immersing oneself in a culinary cultural moment.
With so many different areas of the world touting vastly different cuisines, it can be hard to narrow down where to take your tastebuds to next. Chang, whose show "Ugly Delicious" takes him to locations around the globe, shares with CNBC Make It his insights on the foodie cities that will be popular in 2019.
"Mexico City is super hot right now," Chang tells CNBC Make It. "More and more people that I know are going there. Many foodies are beginning to discover that there's so much diversity," he says.
Popular dishes to try in Mexico City include tacos topped with "cebollita y cilantro" (onion and coriander) and tacos al pastor (spit roasted, pineapple infused pork). Another popular street food is tlacoyos, a blue corn dough tortilla filled with pork crackling, soft cheese or bean paste.
And don't forget the mezcal, an alcohol made from agave, which grows in Mexico (and is also used to make tequila).
Mexico City is attracting millennials, in particular, according to Earth, the millennial-focused travel media platform. Mexico City cracked Earth's top 10 travel destinations for young people, according to data submitted by more than 100,000 millennial Instagram followers.
Across the globe is another foodie hot spot: Japan. And its not just major cities like Tokyo and Kyoto — Chang predicts increasing popularity in other areas of the country too.
"Tokyo I think is still barely been discovered," Chang says. But he's starting to see more and more people exploring the southern regions of Japan, like Okinawa and Kansai.
Japanese food includes much more than just straightforward sushi, and different regions of the country serve different types of food. Udon, for example, boasts different regional varieties, like udon noodle (from southwest Japan), kishimen (in central Japan) and inaniwa udon (from northern Japan). Other popular, Southern Japan delicacies include champuru (a mixture of various ingredients fried together) and awamori, a drink distilled from rice with high alcohol content.
Copenhagen, Denmark, is home to Noma restaurant, which has been named the best restaurant in the world several times by The World's 50 Best Restaurants organization. Chang says it was "ground zero" for foodies, but now people are discovering the region has much more to offer when it comes to cuisine.
"I'd suggest other cities in Scandinavia, like ... Stockholm [Sweden] and then even Oslo [Norway]" for 2019, Chang says.
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