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  • Writer's pictureJulie Prusak

Top Tips for Finding the Best Restaurants While Traveling: A Culinary Guide

If you’re like me and have a passion for food, then you know that finding the best restaurants while traveling can make or break your day. However, in popular tourist destinations, it can be challenging to differentiate between genuine culinary gems and overhyped tourist traps.

Here are a few helpful tips to ensure you find the most memorable dining experiences during your travels:

Ask Locals

This is hands-down the best piece of advice I can offer. The locals know all the hidden authentic food spots that won't just impress your Instagram followers. If you don’t personally know any locals in the area, there are other ways to tap into their knowledge. I highly recommend asking for recommendations on online platforms like Reddit or travel groups on Facebook. I find that fellow travelers on these sites are often more reliable sources of information than the curated food content you see on Instagram. Whenever I arrive in a new place, I immediately strike up conversations with taxi drivers or the friendly barista at a local coffee shop. People genuinely love talking about food and sharing their favorite spots, so don't be shy!

Hotel staff, particularly the concierge, are typically knowledgeable about the local dining scene. They can provide excellent recommendations based on your preferences and budget. Additionally, they may have insider knowledge of hidden gems or up-and-coming restaurants that haven't gained widespread attention yet. Don't hesitate to ask for their advice and make reservations through the hotel if needed.

Use Instagram (but choose wisely)

It's no secret that food is a visual experience, and Instagram has become a hub for food enthusiasts. While I do follow some food bloggers for inspiration, I've noticed that sponsored content has become quite prevalent. It makes me question the authenticity of some restaurant reviews. However, this doesn't mean you should abandon Instagram altogether! I recommend seeking advice from individuals with smaller accounts who are more likely to be honest about their experiences. I also find it beneficial to search for restaurant inspiration using location tags, such as "Paris," and save posts that catch your eye. Additionally, browsing relevant hashtags like "#Parisfoodies" or "#ParisEats" can lead you to hidden culinary treasures. Utilize the save button and organize your findings by city in your saved folder on Instagram for easy reference later.

Research through Food Blogs

Food blogs are a fantastic resource for finding not only the best restaurants but also local dishes that shouldn't be missed. A simple Google search, such as "Italy food blog" or "Where I ate in Rome," will reveal a plethora of websites to explore. Personally, I've had some of my most memorable dining experiences based on recommendations from passionate food bloggers who share my love for culinary adventures.

Consult Food Review Websites

In addition to asking locals and exploring food blogs, consider checking out popular food review websites like Yelp or TripAdvisor. These platforms provide user-generated reviews and ratings for restaurants around the world. You can read about other travelers' experiences and filter the search results based on your preferences, such as cuisine type or price range. Keep in mind that personal tastes vary, so it's essential to read multiple reviews and consider the overall consensus rather than relying on one person's opinion.

Explore Food Markets

Whenever I find myself in a bustling city, I make it a point to search for local food markets. Often situated in proximity to popular tourist attractions, these markets house an array of gourmet food stands. From the Hawkers Market in Singapore, known for its freshest seafood, to the vibrant food markets in Barcelona with their diverse culinary offerings, these spots are a treasure trove of delicious discoveries.

Utilize Local Food Apps

Many cities have their own food-related apps that cater to locals and tourists alike. These apps often provide information on nearby restaurants, reviews, menus, and even exclusive discounts or offers. Do some research and download a few popular local food apps specific to your destination to discover lesser-known eateries and special promotions.

Sign up for Food Tours or Cooking Classes

Nothing reveals a place's culture and history quite like its cuisine. That's why I absolutely adore signing up for food tours or cooking classes through platforms like TripAdvisor and Viator. These experiences provide a unique window into the local food scene and often feature knowledgeable tour guides or chefs who are incredibly passionate about their city's culinary heritage. I always make it a priority to choose tours led by locals as they provide invaluable insights into the local food culture.

Check Out Local Food Festivals and Events

Before you embark on your travels, research if there are any upcoming food festivals or events in your destination. These events showcase the local culinary scene and offer a fantastic opportunity to sample a variety of dishes in one place. From street food fairs to international food festivals, these events allow you to immerse yourself in the vibrant flavors of the region and discover new culinary delights.

Embrace Spontaneity

While it's always great to plan ahead, sometimes the most incredible culinary experiences are found when you let go of the itinerary and follow your instincts. Allow yourself to wander through local neighborhoods, explore side streets, and stumble upon charming hole-in-the-wall eateries. These hidden gems may not have made it onto any review sites or top 10 lists, but they can surprise you with their authentic flavors and warm hospitality.

Remember, the key to finding the best culinary experiences is to embrace your adventurous spirit, engage with the local culture, and be open to trying new flavors. With a combination of research, recommendations, and a dash of spontaneity, you'll discover a world of delectable delights during your travels. Happy eating!

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