Food is an integral part of traveling for many people who choose to explore a new place: regional specialties, unique food culture, local markets and different dining etiquette all add to the experience that only food can bring. However, choosing where to eat can always be a bit tricky if you don't know the language of the place, or where the best areas to grab a bite are. How do you avoid winding up in an overpriced tourist trap with mediocre morsels, and instead find the best food that you can? Well, it depends what you're looking for, but there are a few tricks you can follow.
1. Whip out your smartphone
Or, if you don't have a smartphone, look on the Internet beforehand. Forget TripAdvisor, when it comes to food, you need to use a site like Yelp, an app and website curated by food lovers, for food lovers. Unlike TripAdvisor, Yelp isn't based on reviews solely by tourists. People who write reviews often live in the cities whose restaurant scenes they critique, and they know the ins-and-outs, the best value for money and whether or not somewhere is over-rated or a hidden gem. Yelp guided me well in the likes of Milan, Paris and Charleston, and those who leave their feedback on it really know what they're talking about.
2. Follow the locals
If technology isn't your thing, you could do the old-fashioned thing and simply ask locals where they like to eat. Be careful how you phrase your question, though: If you ask, "Where's good to eat in town?" they may well feel compelled to direct you to the swankiest spot in the city, which is fine if that's what you're looking for. However, a better question to ask is, "Where do you like to go for lunch?" This way, you're more likely to be sent to a place that offers not only great prices, but great quality, too.
3. Get in the line
Street food culture around the world is thriving, and whether you're in a medina in Marrakesh or a sidewalk in Portland, there's one cardinal rule that anyone who wants to try out the food hawked out of carts and wagons needs to follow: line up. Unless you're eating outside of usual meal times, no line at a street food cart is often a red flag. If you see people lining up to eat somewhere, it usually means that not only is the food good, but it probably won't make you sick - something that's imperative if you're in a place where food hygiene standards aren't as high as they are at home.
4. Take a leisurely lunch
If you're looking to eat somewhere a bit nicer, but are afraid of the price tag attached with it, then consider making lunch your main meal of the day. Lots of classy restaurants offer up a lunch menu that is substantially cheaper than the one at dinner; you still get a slice of fine dining, and you won't need to worry as much about making reservations weeks in advance.
What are some of your best tips for eating on the road?