Tips For Finding Great Restaurants While Traveling

Tips For Finding Great Restaurants While Traveling

“If you’re traveling on a budget, this is the best place to eat incredibly well for cheap.”

If you love to travel, chances are: food is a big part of that experience. Redditor u/henry_120100 started a conversation when they said “On vacation, don’t eat anywhere near tourist spots. The food is rarely authentic and twice as expensive. Walk a few blocks away, usually about where there aren’t anymore signs subtitled in English, then eat there.” It sparked a lot of responses from people sharing their favorite tips for eating well while traveling. Here’s what they had to say, along with members of the Community.


“Bakeries are often the best places to find a cheap (and amazing) meal…especially in Europe. Whether it’s fresh pastries in France, olive focaccia in Italy, savory, flaky pie stuffed with feta in the Balkans, or sesame bread in Greece, it usually won’t cost you more than a euro.”


“If you see a restaurant that looks unappealing in an otherwise nice looking or trendy area, the food is likely amazing. This eater clearly don’t care to spend money on renovations or appearances, and maybe it’s because the food is usually good enough to compensate for all that.”


“For better international food, go where English is spoken less. In Rome, instead of eating next the tourist spots (Palatine Hill, the Colosseum, Spanish Steps, etc), we’d walk a few blocks away to where people stopped speaking English. It took us a few days to figure it out, but now we do this in any destination we’re visiting. The food was always so much better beyond the touristy areas.”


“If you’re working with a concierge from a hotel to make restaurant reservations, be clear about what you’re looking for. Often, a hotel concierge will recommend the touristy places (which is what lots of travelers want) but when you ask for the kind of spots he takes his wife out for date night, you’ll uncover the gems.”


“I was visiting Acadia National Park and my kayak guide told us that that if the view is great, the food doesn’t have to be. I’ve stuck by that philosophy for 15 years now.”


“If you’re traveling somewhere new, sign up for a cooking class. It’s a great way to learn more about local cuisine and the kind of dishes you should be trying. Plus, it’s a great way to meet other people and exchange travel intel and recommendations.”


“A picnic is often the best policy. This way, you can get the great view and the awesome food, all on a budget. For example, there’s no more satisfying meal in Paris than a picnic on the bank of the Seine. Just find a local spot to pick up a freshly baked baguette, a crescent of stinky Brie, and some thinly shaved jambon.”


“If you’re traveling to a country where the native language is different, learn a few phrases in that language to help you navigate a menu and the experience of dining out — phrases like ‘thank you’, ‘the check, please’, and ‘what do you suggest?’ There are a ton of free apps to help, or you can pick up a travel guide with useful phrases.”


“I always ask the locals where they take a visiting relatives or friends from out of town to eat. That’s how you truly uncover the best places.”


“Remember that there is such a thing as bad food. It’s easy to assume that every piece of pizza in Italy is going to be a good, or that every croissant in Paris will be a 10/10. But alas, there are plenty of restaurants churning out low-quality food and appealing to tourists who don’t know better. My advice: avoid flashy places near touristy spots and try getting off-the-beaten-path.”


“Research the norms around tipping ahead of time. While it’s custom to tip around 20% in the U.S, this doesn’t apply to everywhere in the world. Read about the local norms in the country where you’re visiting.”


“Establish your priorities for dining out. Sometimes you just want the amazing view, but be prepared to sacrifice flavor. I don’t mind a sub-par meal in some places and situations. For instance, if I’m at the Acropolis, I’ll take the overpriced mediocre meal to take in the view, which is the real reason why I’m there in the first place.”


“If you’re traveling somewhere new, make that trip worth your money by thoroughly researching the destination before you go. Before you arrive, you can already get a general idea of which areas are touristy, which areas are safe, which neighborhoods should be avoided, and where the locals tend to eat.”


“If you’re splurging on an upscale meal, consider going for lunch instead of dinner. In many places you can find better priced meals at midday. For this reason, letting lunch be your big meal of the day might save you some cash.”


“Food standards can drop once you move beyond the touristy areas. I was visiting a friend in Indonesia, and my Indonesian friend wouldn’t to take me to the ‘authentic’ restaurants where he would typically eat on his own. That’s because every time he brought foreigners there they’d get sick. I think it has to do with the fact our gut microbes take take time to adjust, similar to the fact that locals can drink the tap water while foreigners get sick from it.”


“Look for places where you’re clearly surrounded by locals. For example, if you’re in Barcelona, use your eyes and ears to try to decipher tourists from locals. Listen for Catalan being spoken in lieu of English. Look for the regulars sitting at the bar rather than the couple carrying maps and cameras.”

⁠—Hannah Loewentheil


“Keep in mind that authentic does not always equal delicious. I’ve eaten at plenty of ‘authentic’ places while traveling where the food was extremely sub-par. By contrast, I’ve eaten at plenty of touristy spots where I was pleasantly surprised by the meal.”


To eat well on any budget, choose the street food over the restaurant. The moment you sit down at a table the prices go up (and depending on what country you’re in, you may have to tip). So why even bother with a fancy restaurant sometimes when you can have delicious — and often more authentic — food at a street vendor or counter-service spot? Grab-and-go is almost always cheaper, and there’s something oddly romantic about scarfing a falafel sandwich on a curb while shooing away pigeons.”


“Broadly speaking, resist the urge to eat at the hotel. This isn’t to say hotel food is bad, but it is usually pricey. Especially at relatively remote hotels where there aren’t restaurant options walking-distance away, they jack up the prices. My advice in this scenario: shell out the cash for a cab or make the trek beyond of the hotel grounds. Nine times out of ten, you’ll find much better food for a fraction of the cost.”


“Don’t be afraid to ask locals for advice. I’ve met so many locals while traveling who love talking about their city to foreigners. Start a conversation with your bartender, Airbnb host, or a couple sitting at the next table and ask them for their favorite places — the restaurants where they eat when they’re not trying to appeal to out-of-towners.”


“As a general rule, avoid eating at any restaurant where there is waiter at the door trying to lure you in. If the food were actually really good, you wouldn’t need convincing to eat it.


“If you’re paying attention to a food budget, Stick to the ‘one meal out per day’ rule. Food is a big part of travel, and to skip eating out entirely is just sad. But if you’re dining out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you might end up blowing your budget. Eating just one big meal out a day will help keep your wallet and your taste buds happy.”


“Seek out happy hours whenever you can. Happy hour isn’t just a thing in the US. Plenty of restaurants around the world have designated times where food and drinks are lower priced. This also goes for bars. And since alcohol is usually the priciest component of any meal, look for happy hours that stretch your dollar further.”


“Eat local: try the delicacies and specialties associated with the specific place you’re visiting. For example, if you’re visiting Emilia Romagna, Italy, try regional dishes instead of seeking out the cuisine from another area like Tuscany.”


“Pack a snack or two with you when you set out for a long day of sightseeing or touring. That way it’s there if you need a little energy boost. There’s nothing worse than being hangry and feeling like you need to settle for the closest restaurant, even if it’s mediocre.”

Do you have a tip for finding the best bites while traveling? Tell us in the comments below.