How to Scope Out Local Restaurants While Traveling

The world is practically a foodie now. There are unique dishes and local gems around every corner and in every step of each country. However, being a foreigner and trying to find a good bite to eat, isn’t the easiest challenge. We don’t speak the language and companies are literally in cahoots with each other, banking off tourist’s uncertainty.

If you’re anything like me, then food is an important aspect of a great trip and a crucial part of getting to experience the culture. Basically, food brings people together! Along my travels I’ve constantly been asked “Emily, where did you FIND this place?” In a good way of course, or we might have a slight problem.

So here I am with some more travel tips, and this time we’re discussing my favorite ways to scope out the best local food!



I mean you knew this was coming right? Yelp is by far one of the best tools to use to check out the local food scene.  My favorite part about using Yelp is that people leave photos of their meals. So at least if you cannot pronounce that dish in Russian, you’ll know what it is before it gets to your table (nobody wants meat jelly).

Yelp is also extremely reliable with reviewers leaving details of price, ambiance, customer service, and food ‘yumminess’. You have to take reviews with a grain of salt though. Some people just go on Yelp to complain about the most trival of things. When using Yelp in another country, I prefer to pay extra attention to the reviews that are in that country’s language. That way you know it’s written by a local. Yelp will translate them for you now!


A look at my saved restaurants for Playa Del Caremen

Tip: If you see a restaurant on Yelp that catches your eye but want even more photos, then open up Instagram and search it under places. You can find tons of good photos that way! If you’re also serious about the decor, Instagram is a great place to gain more insight.


If Yelp doesn’t quite do it for me, then I head over to TripAdvisor. When I visited Portugal years ago, Yelp wasn’t yet available for reviews in that country. You’ll find that in less popular countries Yelp can be hard to use, or you’ll find the pool of restaurants that have been reviewed is much smaller. If this happens, TripAdvisor won’t let you down.

Like Yelp, TripAdvisor boasts lots of reviews from travel fanatics and most often they are on point. You’ll notice a slightly older crowd using TripAdvisor and most reviewers will be serious travelers.


A few of my saved coffee shops in Prague.

Tip: Do NOT be afraid to eat Italian food in Portugal, or American food in the Czech Republic. All countries have an array of restaurants and cuisines that can be very good. Imagine a Spaniard settling in Italy and opening a restaurant. It happens! And the food is probably good. I was quite surprised to find a tapas and wine bar as the best rated food in the Czech Republic on TripAdvisor. It was amazing. I had the most amazing burger in Poland as well! It would be absurd if Americans only ate American food (hotdogs and hamburgs every day anyone?), and Italians only ate Italian food.


Bloggers just know what’s up, and especially travel bloggers on Instagram. Find a few bloggers you like and take extra care to notice the places they tag in their photos. Once I’ve found a place that looks super cute + appetizing, I’ll screen shot it like this:


That way before I hit Prague or Paris I will have all my screen shots of awesome places to eat. The most amazing part is that the map is part of the screen shot, so you have a quick overview of where the place is located if you’re on the go for the day and looking for a bite to eat. Since I am always looking for coffee shops to hit up on my travels, I take the time to find really good coffee bloggers and I stalk them like crazy!

Tip: You can also try searching through Instagram to find foodie accounts. For example, try typing in the Instagram search bar something like ‘Paris food’ (as seen below). You’ll notice right away the @thefoodstache account, and then the @paris.foodguide account, which is even more impressive. This is another great way to find authentic local food. Instagram can be used just like Google search. Never underestimate 2016.


Ask Your Driver

Because Uber is in nearly every major country now, I feel like this one finally applies (ahhhh). I’ve asked my Uber driver on more than one occasion where their favorite eats are located. This also applies for cab drivers, though I tend to find Uber drivers a little more raw and approachable. These guys know the city like the back of their hand. You bet they know where some good restaurants are!

Tip: Be very careful asking your hotel where some good local restaurants are. A lot of times hotels are getting commission for referring people to a certain restaurant. I’ve eaten at some pretty bad and just completely touristy restaurants because of ‘recommendations’ from the hotel. If you see a bunch of pamphlets of places to eat, more than likely they make some sort of commission off them. There are the few exceptions of course. So just be careful! If you are ever unsure of a recommendation, immediately look that restaurant up on TripAdvisor. That should tell you what you need to know.


I hope these small tips help you a little bit to scope out amazing local gems. It doesn’t seem like much, but they freaking work every time. I always get asked how I find great places to eat and it’s actually quite simple. There really is no secret. Just a little persistence and time spent doing the research.

How do you go about finding the best restaurants in every country? Would love to hear any travel cheats you guys have! Comment below!







  1. The post came at perfect time as I plan my upcoming vacation next month. I probably won’t explore too much out of the resort in Mexico but this post will be helpful for all my upcoming trips! I totally Yelp everywhere I go but never thought of maximizing Instagram. This is actually brilliant because I’m also a very visual person and atmosphere places a huge roll in whether I enjoy a restaurant. Brilliant post babe!

    xoxo Rina

    1. Maximizing Instagram is probably my favorite! So glad I could help you out and I hope you have a great time in Mexico. There are a few little gems there that I’ve saved to Yelp, specifically the few pictured in this post (if you’re going to Playa, which I think you mentioned before). πŸ˜‰

  2. While I was out of town, I did ask the cab driver where’s a good and cheap place to eat. Never be afraid to ask the locals… Well that is if you do speak the language. I can’t wait for my first out of the country trip next month… Let’s see what I’d do with this one. xD


    1. Your first time out of country?! OH MY GOSH, you will love it!! I am so excited for you! I like asking people too. I think sometimes it can be intimidating, but hey if you find a great restaurant then it is totally worth it in the end! Have a great time. πŸ™‚

  3. These are some truly amazing and helpful tips! It can be difficult to pick a good restaurant, especially when in a foreign country! I tend to use TripAdvisor for all my travelling needs, but I will be sure to check out Yelp also, thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚ <3


  4. I do use Yelp a lot and I like it better than TripAdvisor. There are some stuck up twats on TripAdvisor and I have learned to take the reviews with a pinch of salt. And I definitely agree with Instagram too, isn’t it amazing how huge it plays a part for many of us these days. Who would have thought a picture sharing site would do so much? Great tips as always, Emily!

    Shireen | Reflection of Sanity

    1. Thanks Shireen! I totally know what you mean by some people being stuck up. It happens on Yelp as well. I find I like Instagram because it tells me exactly what I want to know and people are just taking photos, rather than leaving their opinions haha. For local options anyway. For international I try to use a review site paired with Instagram. Have a great weekend lady!

    1. I do the same thing and it always works! LA bloggers are so active and go to the best spots haha. What would we do without ‘us’? πŸ˜‰

  5. Great tips! I do all of the above, and I usually befriend locals at the restaurants. πŸ™‚ I love meeting new people and chatting them up. You learn so much about the locals, culture and all the hidden spots in the city. πŸ™‚
    Local bloggers are always a great source as well. πŸ™‚


    1. Thanks Miki! I love chatting up the locals too. Even with the language barrier, I try to seem approachable because I think it’s so fun to learn about other people and their culture. πŸ™‚

  6. This is such perfect timing Emily! I’m heading back to Paris in less than two weeks and have been Yelping, Instagraming, etc. like a psychopath trying to pick the perfect places to eat every meal. (To the point my husband is concerned I’m obsessed.) By the way, I’m doing a roundup of the most useful travel posts I’ve come across on Monday and am including your post on packing for two weeks in a carry because it was a post after my own heart and included some tips I hadn’t thought of before! Please keep your fabulous travel/coffee/review posts coming!

    1. Hahaha I think my boyfriend thinks I get obsessive too. But then I’m just like “have you ever eaten anywhere bad with me?” And he usually agrees and shuts up ;p… I am so excited you are going to Paris! I would love to go back. Please eat some pastries for me.

      Thank you for thinking of me and including me in your post! Yay! That totally has made my day. Can’t wait to read your roundup. Hope you have a great weekend. πŸ™‚

  7. I never thought about using Instagram, good tip! For me, I like to get away from the main tourist-y areas and explore the local towns (if I feel it’s safe enough after a bit of research of course!)

  8. Excellent tips! On our recent vacay we used Yelp a lot and we also relied on the Tourism book in the hotel room. I usually don’t look at those thing but I’m so glad I did. After flipping through a few pages and little website stalking we found an awesome brunch place.


    Violet Roots || Instagram || Twitter

    1. Thanks Monika! I’ve definitely found some gems through random books as well! It’s the most satisfying feeling. πŸ˜‰

  9. I like to really investigate good places to eat at before I travel too. I use instagram, yelp and tripadvisor too but hadn’t thought of asking the uber drivers πŸ™‚ Actually I’ve never used uber. but am travelllng to the states very soon so I guess I’ll have ample opportunities to try there πŸ™‚

    1. Oh you’ll definitely want to use Uber in the states. It’s really really amazing and so much cheaper! Let me know how it goes. πŸ˜‰ And happy traveling!

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