Last Updated on November 18, 2023
If you’ve traveled before, you know how tricky it can be to find local restaurants. There are so many different options. And very often, the best places are somewhat hidden, tucked away in narrow alleys and obscure streets. But look no longer to avoid the tourist traps and discover the hidden gems.
Here are three tips for finding the best local restaurants in a new city.
Tip #1 Seek Recommendations from Locals
Your best bet when trying to find local restaurants is to ask the people who actually live there. Locals will know about the most popular spots in the city. Ass well as the little hole-in-the-wall places that you probably wouldn’t otherwise find.
Not only can locals recommend quality restaurants to you. They can also advise you on exactly what to order. A restaurant might have a dish on the menu that’s legendary to the local community. But unheard of by visitors and the rest of the world. You should always at least try out the local favorites because the dishes are likely known as favorites for a good reason.
As far as how to obtain local recommendations, there are a few ways to go about it. If you have a friend or family member in the area, you might reach out to them and see if they can guide you through the city’s restaurant scene.
However, if you’re in a place where you don’t know anyone, then don’t be shy about striking up conversations with local strangers. Make an effort to meet new people. Or ask the people who work at local shops for suggestions about where to get the best food. You could also try using an app like eatwith to connect with locals and create memorable dining experiences.
To really get the best recommendations, though, you should speak with bartenders and staff members at the restaurants you do visit. Since they’re both local to the area and familiar with the industry, they can provide you with some well-informed, top-tier restaurant recommendations suited for any budget.
Tip #2 Be open-minded
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It’s important to keep an open mind when looking for new places to eat. Especially if you’re in a foreign country. It doesn’t make sense to travel thousands of miles to just get the same food you could get back home. Try to step outside of your comfort zone and taste dishes you’ve never heard of, or you would never have a chance to eat.
In the spirit of adventure, you should also try to get yourself into a positive, curious state of mind before even stepping out the door. After all, you won’t enjoy your food to the fullest extent unless you’re in a great mood.
Before hitting the town and exploring all the different restaurants, take steps to boost your mood and maintain positive energy. Use Black Mountain resistance bands to get a workout in, enjoy some high-quality CBD gummies by CBDfx. Or relax and have a few drinks with friends before going out.
Tip #3 Leverage the Power of Social Media
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Hop on social media to get some inspiration, ideas, and suggestions to find local restaurants around the city you’re in. Since you presumably don’t know the area, crowdsource information, and get advice from both friends and strangers online. Make a post asking for restaurant recommendations in a given city and you might hear about some surprising places that would’ve never popped up on your radar.
Tip #4 Check review sites like Yelp
Of course, you can also visit social review sites. For instance, Yelp will help you find out about popular restaurants in the area. The upside of sites like these is you’ll be able to read a lot of different reviews, easily get directions to the place, and oftentimes view a menu and even pictures of the food beforehand. However, the downside of these sites is that they’ll often lead you to the most popular, trendy places rather than the more unconventional spots serving food that’s more authentic to the area.
Tip #5 Browse online forums
As an alternative to review sites like Yelp, you might consider browsing online forums such as Chef’s Feed, which offers dining guides compiled by local culinary professionals. You could also try to pick up a guidebook specific to the city you’re in that’s written or edited by a local resident.
Tip #6 Wander Off the Beaten Path
While it’s convenient to explore popular tourist areas, the real culinary treasures often lie beyond the well-trodden streets. Venture into residential neighborhoods or less frequented districts where locals live and dine. You’re more likely to discover charming, authentic eateries that haven’t made it to the tourist guides. Use local transportation or take a leisurely walk to explore areas beyond the city center, and you may stumble upon hidden culinary gems that offer a truly local experience.
Tip #7 Attend Local Food Events and Markets
Immerse yourself in the local food culture by attending food events, farmers’ markets, or street food festivals happening in the city. These events showcase a diverse range of culinary delights, allowing you to sample local specialties and interact with passionate food vendors. Engaging with vendors and fellow food enthusiasts provides valuable insights into the city’s food scene, and you might receive recommendations for off-the-beaten-path restaurants that don’t always make it to traditional guides.
Tip #8 Embrace Apps for Real-Time Recommendations
In addition to social media and review sites, leverage technology for real-time restaurant recommendations. Use apps like Google Maps or food-specific apps tailored to the city you’re in. These apps often feature user reviews, ratings, and real-time updates on restaurant popularity. Some apps also use location-based algorithms to suggest nearby hidden gems. Embracing technology ensures you have access to the latest information, helping you make informed decisions on the spot as you navigate the city’s culinary landscape.
If you do manage to find a great local restaurant or a unique dining experience while traveling, show some gratitude. The most authentic places are often mom-and-pop run, so they’d probably appreciate it if you spread the word and sent friends and family their way in the future. And if you love the food, don’t forget to compliment the staff on a job well done!