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!