Food is a great way to explore a region so you want to know how to find the best restaurant when traveling

Man Cannot Live on Bread Alone…

Traveling is more than just a change of scenery; it’s an opportunity to savor the world’s rich tapestry of flavors. That’s why culinary travel is so popular. As we venture beyond our familiar horizons, each destination becomes a culinary canvas waiting to be explored. Whether it’s the sizzle of street food in Bangkok, the delicate pastries of Parisian patisseries, or the farm-to-table delights of a quaint Italian village, every journey can be a feast for the senses.

Man cannot live on bread alone. There must also be pasta, soup, salad, and cannoli. And let’s not forget to drink…wine, beer, moonshine, craft cocktails, whiskey, tea, whiskey IN tea, coffee, and everything in between.

The challenge for many travelers is finding the best of the best, the places found beyond the glossy pages of guidebooks and the impersonal algorithms of travel apps. That’s where you find the hidden gems, local experiences, and delightful encounters with fellow food enthusiasts.

In this article, we’ll show you how to go beyond the tourist traps, seeking out the soulful heartbeat of communities through their food, their stories, and their traditions.. The ones where locals go to escape the tourist crowds!

But when you, the tourist, arrive, they welcome you with open arms and open hearts as they proudly share the food, culture, and true essence of their home.

Local dining experiences are hidden gems waiting to be discovered and experiencing local cuisine can be a gateway to understanding the people and traditions of a region, one bite at a time.

So how do travelers manage to uncover these gems? A group of avid explorers were asked to share their insights about how they find the best local restaurants and experiences, and here is what they had to say.

1. Every Traveler Agrees: Start Local

Start your day with a cup of coffee at the local coffee shop…

The best information always comes from talking to the locals! Rather than scrolling endlessly through your screen, a simple smile and a question can result in better information, and tastier results!

Kickstart your day with a steaming cup of local coffee at the nearest cafe. It’s not just about the caffeine, it’s about the connections you’ll make. Ask the patrons and staff for recommendations about where to go and what to do during your stay. By nature, coffee shops are comfy and welcoming, it’s where locals gather and as long as they are not dashing off for work or a meeting, they are happy to chat.

Experienced travelers know to follow the locals. If a place is teeming with tourists, keep moving. Locals tend to avoid crowded tourist areas and can guide you to the authentic, off-the-beaten-path experiences.

2. Local Insights from Where you Rest Your Head

Checking in is your first opportunity to get the local scoop…

Consult the receptionist, bellhop, or other employees at your hostel, hotel, or Airbnb. These local experts are often eager to share their personal favorites and hidden treasure. If there is something new in the community, they probably know about it!

3. Off-the-Grid Recommendations: Local Publications

Local publications give ultra-local tips…

Pick up local magazines, instead of regional newspapers. Restaurant ads in larger publications may be perfectly fine; however, when you want to get a little more “local” go small. Look for those freebie magazines like the ones found near grocery store stands and shopping centers.

4. Social Media Secrets

People you know and people who know the location…

Of course! Harness the power of your own social network by sharing your destination and asking for suggestions. Additionally, explore destination-specific Facebook groups for a treasure trove of insider tips.

5. Specialty Websites for Vegans

Special food preferences? No problem…

For those with a plant-based palate, exploring the world of vegan dining has never been easier. Enter Happy Cow.

HappyCow’s mission is to make healthy food easy to find and more accessible. Founded in 1999, it has grown into a global online community passionate about the vegan lifestyle.

According to their website, they are “vegan-run, from a vegan perspective, and staffed by vegans and vegetarians.”

Their passionate online community includes members from around the world who fully embrace a vegan and environmentally sustainable lifestyle. More than a restaurant and health food store guide, HappyCow is an online hub that serves millions every month.

6. Beyond Dining: Immersive Local Experiences

Local culinary experiences can lead to new friendships and expand your taste…

To truly savor a destination’s culture, consider adding local eating and cooking experiences to your travel plans. Two platforms that excel in this realm are Traveling Spoon and Culinary Backstreets.

Traveling Spoon connects travelers with local hosts for home-cooked meals and culinary traditions.. Eat with a vetted home cook, take a culinary class, or explore the local markets.

“Traveling Spoon is like having a friend’s mom cook you a home cooked meal in every country you visit…”

Culinary Backstreets shares the untold stories of a city’s foodways, focusing on family-run restaurants and the human element of food.

“In 2009, we started reporting from a borderless urban zone we like to think of as the “Culinary Backstreets” because we believed that there were countless stories of a city’s foodways that needed to be told. We wanted to focus on a more traditional side of urban culinary life – the workings of simple family-run restaurants, the masters passing their craft on to an apprentice, the banter of regulars gathered around an open table, the rhythm of a life committed to meatballs and nothing else…”

7. Eating, Drinking, and Exploring on Two Wheels

Slow food, slow travel….a better way to experience a new location…

There are lots of ways to eat your way through a destination. A pub crawl and walking food tour are a couple of options. For those seeking a dynamic way to explore a destination while indulging in its culinary delights, consider Bikabout.

“Seeing a city by bike combines all of the freedom of walking with the range and speed of mass transit. Seeing a city by bike stacks the cosmic deck of unintended happy consequences in your favor by letting you interact with your environment instead of watching it go by out a window. You meet people. You discover. You reflect. We want to make all of it very easy…”

On your next trip, why not plan a culinary journey on two wheels, where you set the pace, and indulge in the city’s authentic food scene along the way.

The Final Course in Culinary Travel

One thing we definitely learned from our travel pros is the power of conversation. From a friendly chat with a barista over a morning coffee to the warm invitation into a local’s kitchen, these connections are the seasoning that makes every meal abroad unforgettable.

Follow the locals, immerse yourself in their traditions, try a new dish, and revisit old favorites. This is how culinary travel can help you uncover the heart and soul of a place.

Now, we’d love to hear from you: Where do you turn when you’re on a quest to find the best restaurants while traveling?