Looking for the Best Restaurant in a New Town?
There is no better way to explore a region than through its food…
Man Cannot Live on Bread Alone…
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.
There is no better way to explore a region than through its food. The challenge for many travelers is finding the best of the best. You know, the places not found in the most popular guide books. The ones where the locals go to get away from you…the tourist!
And yet when you, the tourist, arrive they welcome you with open arms and open hearts as they proudly share the food, culture, and true experience of their home.
A group of travelers were asked about how they found the best local restaurants and experiences when they arrived at a destination and here is what they had to say.
1. Talk to the Locals
Start your day with a cup of coffee at the local coffee shop…
Every traveler agreed the best information came from talking to the locals! Yep, rather than scrolling through your screen, a smile and a question will often get you better information.
Start your day with a cup of coffee at the local coffee shop and then ask the patrons and staff for recommendation for where to go and what to do during your stay. By nature, coffee shops are where locals gather and as long as they are not dashing off for work or a meeting, they are happy to chat.
Seasoned travelers follow the locals. They say if the place is full of tourists…keep going. You’ll find what the locals love off the main streets and main neighborhoods.
2. Ask for Recommendations Where You Stay
Checking in is your first opportunity to get the local scoop…
Word of mouth from the hostel / hotel / AirBNB you are staying in. Ask the receptionist, bellhop, or other employees. They live in the area and are often eager to share their favorites with you!
3. Local Publications
Local publications give ultra-local tips…
Pick up the local magazines, not the regional newspaper. The larger newspapers will have ads for local restaurants which may be perfectly fine; however, you may want to get a little more “off the beaten path.” Which great places, that are not paying for ads in the newspaper, should you see? For that information, look for those freebie magazines like the ones found in the stands near grocery stores and shopping centers.
4. Social Media
People you know and people who know the location…
Of course! There are a couple of ways to tap into social platforms like Facebook and Instagram. First, ask your own social network. Let people know where you are going and ask for recommendations.
Look for a Facebook Page about the destination you are going. Become a member of the group and then ask people in the group for their best recommendations for things to do, must-see sights, and not to miss foodie experiences.
5. Specialty Websites for Vegans
Special food preferences? No problem…
For plant-based foodies, try the website HappyCow. They also list vegan hotels, resorts, and B&B’s.
“Our purpose is to make healthy food easy to find and more accessible.
HappyCow was founded in 1999 as a public service to assist travelers and people everywhere find plant-based / vegan options and healthy food. We are vegan-run, from a vegan perspective, and staffed by vegans and vegetarians. Today, our online community has grown to include members from around the world who are passionate about the vegan lifestyle as a healthy, compassionate, and environmentally sustainable way of living. More than simply a restaurant and health food store guide, HappyCow is an ever-evolving online hub that serves millions worldwide each month…”
6. Local Eating and Cooking Experiences
Local culinary experiences can lead to new friendships and expand your taste…
More and more websites are adding local experiences to their pages in an effort to provide travelers with more authentic experiences once they reach the destination. These experiences may be provided by small business owners, or locals who simply love where they live, have a skill to share and are happy to add you to their own list of “soon to be friends.”
One such site is the Traveling Spoon for a local experience. Eat with a vetted home cook, take a culinary class, or explore the local markets. https://www.travelingspoon.com/
“Traveling Spoon is like having a friend’s mom cook you a home cooked meal in every country you visit. Traveling Spoon connects travelers with local, vetted hosts to share the joy of a homemade meal in their home and learn about their cultural and culinary traditions passed down through generations…”
Another is Culinary Backstreets: https://culinarybackstreets.com/
“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. We were enthralled by all of the tiny epics we encountered while eating our way through the city and set out to share as many of them as we could. From the start, we vowed to go slow and collect these stories one-by-one, giving equal measure to the culinary side as the human element of the story. This way, we expected a deeper understanding of the city and its daily life to emerge with every bite. For us, it’s never just about the best meatball in town; it’s always about all of the meatballs…”
7. Combine Food, Drink and Exercise
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 that want to cover a little more ground, try this: http://www.bikabout.com/
“We think the best way to see any city is on a bike. On a bike, you set your own schedule. You leave the second you’re ready, and when you arrive, there’s always parking. When you’re biking, and you smell something delicious, you can go find the source of that wonderful smell and give them some money. If an amazing park inspires you to admire the flowers for an extra hour, you don’t have to worry about parking meters or bus schedules. 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…”
NOW….we would like to hear from you. Where do you go when you want to find the best restaurants when you travel?