Let’s be real, travel is like 93 percent about the food.
We’ve all done a side-eye when someone suggests Mickey D’s or a chain restaurant during a trip. After all, who travels to a new destination to eat the same food you can get on every corner at home? Not I. The second best feeling after traveling is sinking your teeth into the best *insert food* you’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting and just KNOWING that you’ll never be able to enjoy that food the same again.
Many of us have limited time on vacation and that also means limited number of delicious meals to eat, so it’s important to make every meal count. Here’s how I always find the best restaurants when I travel:
ASK A LOCAL
Don’t be shy about asking locals for their personal recommendations. In most cases, people are happy to share! I’ve had bartenders voluntarily write their favorite cocktail bars and restaurants on napkins.
Ask bartenders, servers, Uber drivers, etc. for their favorite restaurants.
JOIN A FOODIE TOUR OR EXPERIENCE
Some of my favorite travel experiences have been foodie tours!
Check Airbnb experiences, Viator, Eat With, With Locals for local led food tours, hands-on cooking classes, & more!
Use these referral codes for a discount:
EATWITH: Give and get $12 off per $105 meal with a host using code 71FE54AF
AIRBNB EXPERIENCES: Get $40 off any Airbnb Experience when you sign up for the first time!
HEAD TO THE MARKET
In some cases, it helps to skip the restaurant and head straight to the market.
Markets are my first stop anytime I visit a foreign country. They’re full of life, color, and DELICIOUS FOOD. I’ve eaten my way through markets in Thailand, Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Paris, Italy, Morocco, and many more countries around the world. They’re the ultimate way to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of a country. You’ll discover foreign fruits, vegetables, and other foods that you never even knew existed. It’s the perfect place to interact with locals and brush up on your language skills!
Ask a local, do a quick google search, or sign up for a market tour on websites like Airbnb experiences!
Don’t know where to start? Afraid to approach strangers? Intimidated by crowded markets? Start with reviews!
Google Maps is a great resource/app to use while traveling. Type ‘Tacos’ into the search bar and you’ll be pointed to the best tacos in town. You can also find mini-guides that have been curated by locals. I also love checking out details like ‘popular times’ and reviews for a good idea of when & where to go.
Yelp, Trip Advisor, and Open Table are also great review sites.
Check out Chef’s Feed and Eater for articles that are curated by local chefs & foodies.
Seriously, just wander around.
Walk around and follow your curiosity. Smell baked goods or fresh bread? Head in that direction!
I’ve found many great places to eat by because a long line or beautiful decor grabbed my attention. So what did I do? I took a step inside. This is how you can discover those ‘hidden gems’ that you won’t find in a guide book.
USE SOCIAL MEDIA
Crowd source using social media before departing! Ask friends on Facebook and Twitter!
Instagram and Pinterest are incredible resources to research before you go. I usually ‘save’ places that look cool when I’m planning for a trip.
You can use Pinterest like a Google search bar to find articles, blog posts, and listicles that are destination specific.
Search local food pages and city/food hashtags on Instagram using hashtags like #newyorkeat and @balifood.
Go where the locals go. If you see a restaurant packed full of locals at lunchtime, then there’s a good chance that this place serves great food!
FOLLOW THE LINES
If there’s a line wrapped around the corner or block, why not check it out?
I once found myself walking around Antigua, Guatemala when a long line caught my attention. I decided to look the restaurant up online only to discover that it was one of the highest rated places in town! Better believe I returned the next day once the line died down! This ended up being my favorite meal during the entire trip. I may or may not have eaten here three times in two days.
LEAVE THE TOURIST AREA
That main tourist strip with those flashing lights and big crowds? Yea, keep walking. If you want to find better food and cheaper prices, then walk(no…run) several blocks away from this area for.
Those workers that are trying to convince you to visit their restaurant? Avoid.
Those places that have menus with large photos and words in English? Keep it moving!
Any chain restaurant that you can find back home? RECONSIDER!