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One thing that goes through every traveller’s mind while out exploring an unknown city in an unknown country…Where and what am I going to eat? There are so many options around every nook and cranny within every single town, city and village, but how do you choose where to spend your hard earned money? With a little research and poking around, it could mean the difference between an unsatisfactory meal and a WOW meal that you go home and tell your friends, family and your barista about, or like me, you could write an entire blog post about it.
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So, before you make a culinary decision, here are some tips for finding great food while travelling.
With more and more people spending time online these days looking for reviews before travelling, sites like Trip Advisor are a godsend. The numbers speak for themselves. With 340 million unique users every month and 350 million reviews on things such as restaurants, this site is a goldmine for travellers. Before every trip, I always make sure to spend some time researching restaurants and reading the reviews and checking out the photos posted from fellow travellers to gauge whether or not I’d consider eating there. I’m a visual person, so seeing is believing to me and if a restaurant has numerous photos of their menu items, chances are if i like what I see, I’ll be a customer.
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Ask The Locals
Nobody knows where the little delicious haunts are quite like the locals. Tourists tend to eat around the main attractions, which are usually more expensive and less authentic. Locals know where the good, bad and ugly food is at, so by gathering up a little courage to approach a local and ask where the best place to grab coffee, a snack or a true authentic meal can be found could be the best choice you’ve made during your entire trip. Locals usually go for quality and a no frills meal using local ingredients and meals full of authentic flavours.
Read more: A city guide to exploring Bremen, Germany
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Ask Your Friends
If you’re heading to a destination that you know some of your friends have been to, ask them for recommendations. Since they’ve already travelled to where you’re heading, they may know of a cute restaurant that serves the best fries, or the coldest beers, or has the best service. Take their recommendations and write them down and when you’re at your destination and looking for somewhere to eat, just refer to your notebook. A friend of mine recently gave me a recommendation for the best bitterballen in Leiden, Netherlands and let me tell you, I was not disappointed!
Read more: How to Spend 24 Hours in Leiden, Netherlands
The internet is a vast place and with more travel and food bloggers today than ever before, what better way to discover a hidden gem than to go online and read a few blogs to get some foodie inspo. Bloggers tend to write about their food experiences while travelling and if someone is absolutely gushing about a dessert place, or a pizza joint, it might just entice you to head on over to the restaurant and give it a go.
Read more: A City Guide to Maastricht, Netherlands
Ask Your Hotel’s Concierge
Hotels are a hotbed of information when it comes to knowing the best of the best in and around town. I usually ask the front desk within my first few hours where a good place to grab a bite to eat is and normally I am not disappointed with their suggestions.
Take a Chance
To be completely honest, some of the best meals I’ve had while travelling just happened by chance. Sometimes you just get to the point of being hungry when you just walk into the closest restaurant you can find. I was walking around Heidelberg, Germany one afternoon and I just stumbled into a restaurant just off the bridge and was so delighted with the food and the fact I had stopped in. It was real authentic German food. Plentiful and super hearty. It was perfection on a plate. In Flåm, Norway I walked into a restaurant based on the view and had some of the best salmon of my life! Sometimes it’s best to put down the guidebooks, maps and let your eyes and stomach lead the way.
Look At The Menu Before Deciding
There have been numerous times when I walked into a restaurant, sat down, looked at the menu then realized that there was nothing on the menu that actually stood out as delicious to me and had to embarrassingly get up and walk out. Most places have menus posted outside at street level, so that people get take a look and see if anything on the menu appeals to them. If you happen to see a place that looks inviting, has a great ambiance, but no menu on display, just walk in and ask to see one. I can recall a few times when I walked into what seemed like a great place, but once I saw the menu, I politely gave the menu back, smiled, said thank you and mentioned that I’d look around town some more before making a decision. I didn’t go back to that place.
Eat Local Street Food
Every country, city, town and village has its version of local street food that is just begging to be devoured by hungry people passing by. While wandering the streets, the scent of frying meats, grilled corn and fresh pastries are wafting through the air, wrapping their delicious aromas around your nostrils and making your mouth water. Nothing is more authentic than grabbing street food from local vendors and by doing so, you’ll be experiencing the true local way of life and supporting the local mom and pop rather than the bigger guys, which is always a number one thing in my books. Oh, and street food, as delicious as it is, it is also a fraction of the price that you’d pay in a sit down restaurant. Win win!
Great food is everywhere and every country has something unique to offers its visitors. Delicious local ingredients are thrown together to make the most delectable tasting bites and with a little research, or luck, you’ll be able to stumble upon so many culinary delights while travelling. If you’re a picky eater, try giving in to taking a chance and experience the local culture and cuisine, you might actually surprise yourself by liking it more than you thought you would.
Tell me, what was the best meal you’ve ever had while travelling and how did you find out about the place you ate at? Let me know in the comments below! xo