Every country has its own unique culture — and part of that culture can be found in the local cuisine. That’s why checking out its restaurants is one of the best ways of getting to know a country deeper and more personal.
But we know that finding the best restaurants in a foreign place isn’t easy, especially when you’re travelling on a budget! As such, we made something that can make the lives of travellers a bit easier.
Here’s a list of tips that can help travellers spot the best local restaurants while travelling overseas. With these, you should discover the true hidden gems places have to offer.
1. Step Out of Your Hotel and Go For a Walk
If you’re staying at a hotel, it’s easy to be lured into the convenience of hotel service. However, that’s only going to hurt your wallet upon checking out.
So, one of the first things you must do is go out of your hotel room and explore.
Sometimes, the best restaurants the city has to offer are right beside your accommodation. Sometimes, they’re streets away! The point is, you need to explore to find them.
While exploring, you may also ask a few locals to know where most of them go to eat. Only people who have been living there can point you to where the great restaurants are, so better flex those communication skills!
2. Research and Ask the Experts
Since time’s going to be your enemy here, it’s better to do research on the great restaurants in the city you’re planning to visit before hopping on that plane. You may also consider booking a culinary walking tour as it’s getting more and more popular these days.
Also worth noting is that you can ask your transport personnel (cab drivers, chauffeurs, limo drivers, etc.) for advice here. After all, if they know the city, they know the hotspots and best places to eat in it as well.
Most professional drivers even expect to be asked such questions by tourists, so don’t be shy. The people we talked to at Limousine Service Singapore told us that they often find themselves determining where their clients from out of town eat or hang out, in fact.
3. Read Food Reviews
If you don’t want to waste your money on bad local restaurants, then researching food review blogs on the Internet is the first thing you should do. One click on Google can lead you to countless food review sites written by reputable food bloggers like Girl Eat World.
Alternatively, you might end up on a blog like Legal Nomads. That’s another site we’d recommend as it provides travellers a perspective on how to consume and appreciate food as a tourist.
There are literally dozens of great blogs like these for just about every town or city in the world. Check them out before you travel, as they can give you great insight as to which establishments you should try.
4. Look for Lines
A long line in front of a busy restaurant should be enough indication that it’s adored by locals and that it’s worth checking out. It says a lot if people are willing to wait just to eat at a local restaurant.
However, if you don’t have a lot of time, you may ask what time it’s least busy and come back then. If you can, ask if they accept reservations as well.
5. Take a Chance
Taking your chances and risks is part of being a traveller because you’re exploring unfamiliar and foreign places. This principle can also be applied when finding local restaurants.
No matter how good reviews and recommendations are, you can never know how great a restaurant is until you try it yourself. That also means that if you have a good feeling about a hole-in-the-wall you’ve just chanced upon, go ahead and try it!
You may be worried about food poisoning or stomach upset from poorly prepared food, though. Fortunately, there are things travellers can do to avoid those, say the specialists at Gastroenterologist Singapore — and who would know better than the doctors who often have to treat tourists with these digestive issues?
First, they advise looking for relatively busy restaurants. If the establishment has a fair number of people going in and out of it, chances are high that food isn’t being “stockpiled” from the previous day. That’s good because fresh food is less likely to cause stomach issues.
Then, they advise a quick scan of the establishment. Is it clean? Do the cutlery and glassware look like they’ve been washed properly and are tables wiped down well?
If an establishment has bugs all over the seats or corners, according to the doctors, you probably don’t want to eat there. They may have the same pests in their kitchen, which could lead to contamination of food.
Anyway, there you go! These are some of the tips that every traveller should keep in mind while searching for the best restaurants in a city they’re visiting.
If you have any similar tips that you think we missed, go ahead and share them with us! We’d love to know how everyone else discovers great restaurants when they’re travelling.