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How to Find the Best Food When Traveling

If you’re a person who loves to travel, you also likely feel that what you eat is a fundamental component of the experience. So much of immersing yourself in different cultures and feeling like you’re making the most of your travels is about the food. Here are some tips that will help you find the best food wherever you travel.

Most of us when we’re traveling, particularly abroad, want to have memorable culinary experiences and the ability to try new things or try local favorites done the right way.

At the same time, it can be overwhelming when you’re in a new place to know where to go.

table from a restaurant with some glasses, plates and napkins

Finding the Best Food While Traveling

One of the best things about traveling to a new place is getting to experience the culture of that area, which includes their food. For many places throughout the world, the food you get from the actual country or city is much better than Americanized versions of it.

However, it can be hard to find a good restaurant or food when you’re completely new to a city. So to help you get an amazing culinary experience as well as see a new city in the world, here are a few tips for finding good food when traveling to a new city. Three easy ways to find good food when you visit a new place.

Do Your Homework: Research!

You’ll inevitably want to do your homework on any restaurant you plan to visit. Rating sites such as Yelp can provide insight into local hotspots and give you an idea of what’s on the menu. As you browse, ask yourself the following of each restaurant:

• Do they accept reservations?
• What time are they busiest: for example, would it make more sense to go to lunch versus dinner?
• Are there any days of the week that they’re closed?
• How much is my potential meal going to cost, including tax and tip?

Again, sites such as Yelp can be incredibly helpful for understanding whether or not a spot is worth your time: however, be skeptical of spam reviews. You may want to do further research on travel forums or sites or a local Subreddit which will likely offer commercial-free feedback on local cuisine. Try to find recent reviews to make sure the restaurant isn’t coasting on its reputation, too.

Take A Culinary Walking Tour

If you’re afraid that wandering the streets for food on your own will leave you unsure of where to eat, you can always book a culinary tour. Culinary tours are an excellent way to make sure you’re trying what the area is best known for, and you can get a bit more structure than you might enjoy when traveling.

As an added bonus, you might also meet some great people if you do this kind of tour.

In many cities across the globe, locals are putting together culinary walking tours to help people either unfamiliar with local foods or those visiting the area to get an authentic taste of the local cuisine. According to Hilary Sloan, a contributor to the Huffington Post, taking a walking culinary tour will simultaneously allow you to sample some of the city’s more unique and tasty foods while also giving you a great “lay of the land”. During your walking tour, you may spot additional places you’d like to try, which could give you evermore places to experience great food in this new city.

Talk To The Locals

If you’ve only just gotten to the city, one of the best ways to get some insider information about where to eat is to speak to an insider: the locals. However, for your own safety, you probably don’t want to just ask a random stranger on the street where a good place to eat is. This could put a target on your back as a tourist and make you an easy mark for people looking to take advantage of visitors. Rather, Genevieve Ko, a contributor to Real Simple, recommends going to a restaurant you know you like, maybe a chain, and then asking the staff for their local suggestions. By asking people who work in the foodservice industry, you could get some great info that even other locals may not have.

Read Local Food Blogs

The problem with simply doing a quick search of restaurants in your destination is that you’re often going to be directed to restaurants that might be the most popular in terms of how many customers they serve, but not necessarily those hidden gems that really make a trip amazing.

A good place to start rather than a simple Google search is to find some food bloggers from the area. If you’re traveling to a larger destination, you’ll likely be able to find quite a few.

They’ll give you recommendations you might not otherwise know about.

Read Blog Comments

Another great way to find restaurants is by reading comments that are on blogs from people who either live in these locations or have visited them. It’s like getting personal recommendations, but it’s much easier than walking up and down the street on your trip asking where you should go.

Sites like TripAdvisor also tend to have great message boards where people discuss destinations around the world, so it’s a useful resource for dining tips.

a place serving tons of different food in the street
Photo by: Abdul Rahma

Don’t Ignore Holes in the Wall

As an aside, bear in mind that looks can be incredibly deceiving when it comes to restaurants. Make sure not to solely judge a book by its cover: just because a spot looks questionable on the outside doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time. If numerous locals recommend a “hole in the wall” while you’re traveling, consider stopping by. Besides, foodies should be all about adventure, right?

Go With a Group

If you’re a serious foodie, you may want to travel with a group to get the most bang for your buck and enjoy more cuisine on-the-go. For starters, traveling with a group allows you to do the following:

• Split the cost of travel, including lodging and transportation
• Share and split items at restaurants so everyone gets to try a bit of everything
• Simply enjoy the company of others: food represents a social experience, after all

Go To Markets

When you’re traveling, you might think your eating experiences are going to revolve around restaurants, but a great way to get a sense of the regional distinctions that make an area special is to visit a local market. If you can find a market, you’ll see what locals eat, and markets are always such a vibrant, colorful experience.

What’s also excellent about this approach is the fact that you’ll likely save money over having a restaurant meal.

Forget Non-Foodie Fees

Beyond the cost of a plate, hidden fees often lurk for unsuspecting foodies: from reservation surcharges to required valet parking, you might wind up spending an arm and a leg if you don’t know what you’re getting into.

Going somewhere fancy? Make sure that you snag a reservation as far in advance as you possibly can. Likewise, you can find coupons for an Uber ride to take you to and from your next exotic meal. After all, personal taxi services such allow you truly enjoy your meal (and perhaps a few drinks) and spend a fraction of pricy parking fees.

Venture Away From Tourist Centers

As a final note, if you want the best foodie experiences no matter where you are in the world, try to go away from tourist centers. Tourist centers tend to have watered-down and often Americanized versions of the food the area is known for.

Check Out The City’s Guidebook

While there are a lot of blogs and guidebooks out there meant to help tourists with things like finding good places to eat, these larger publications often won’t provide you with the experience you’re looking for. Especially if someplace is known as a tourist destination, you could miss out on the actual culture of the area. These publications often aren’t trying to just get more visitors to a certain restaurant and will help you find great food that’s a bit more off the beaten path from where typical tourists will be eating.

Conclusion

Traveling as a foodie should be fun: rather than stress out, think of ways you can save money and stay full. By taking the time to plan ahead, you can make the most of your meals during your next journey.

The further you can get from these parts of your destination, the more likely you are to find authentic, delicious food options.

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