Part of the charm of travel is opening yourself up to new experiences. And one of the best ways to find new experiences is through the food of the places you visit. Here are 4 tips for finding new food on your travels.
1. Research Before You Go
As with almost everything involving travel, it’s important to do your research. It’d be such a waste if you got to your destination only to have no idea about where it’d be good to eat. You could end up in a restaurant serving mediocre food. Or you could be too intimidated to choose a restaurant serving local cuisine and opt for a chain restaurant instead.
There are lots of tools you can use to find good places to eat. You can check reviews on apps like Yelp or go through a foodie website. Find recommendations for restaurants and what to eat there. It would also be good to check their prices so you can budget better.
You can also try using social media. Try posting about your trip and ask for recommendations. You might be surprised and find that people you know have visited your destination, and they’re usually eager to talk about the highs and lows of their experiences.
2. Ask the Locals
As part of your research, you should also ask the locals for recommendations. After all, who better to ask about the local food than the locals? They’re usually very friendly. Just be sure you’ve done your research and know what body language to avoid. In Taiwan, for example, you should point with an open palm.
There’s nothing wrong with just going out and asking people on the street, but there are less stressful ways of getting information. You could ask the staff at the hotel you’re staying at or a taxi driver.
Be sure to specify what you want. If you’re looking to try out the local cuisine, then ask about that. Otherwise, you might be directed to a fancy restaurant, or possibly to a restaurant that serves food from your home country.
You could also try the local market. Not only will you have more chances to interact with the locals, but you’ll also be able to find farm-fresh products. You’re also likely to find local food vendors in or near the market. Take note of these food joints while you’re out and try the ones with the longest lines later.
3. If You See Something Different, Try It Out
Research won’t always find you the most interesting spots. You’ll usually only find well-known restaurants by looking through reviews and using apps. You’re sure to find some good places that way, but what about the less known food spots?
A bit of spontaneity is good sometimes and can lead to some serendipitous encounters with hidden gems. If you see something different, then go for it. Try restaurants with interesting names or ones that seem to be serving interesting food. You might even find the food you’re familiar with but with a local twist.
Then again, if you’ve just started traveling or if it’s your first time in a particular country, then likely everything will seem new and exciting. This tip is likely to be more helpful for more seasoned travelers. The next tip might suit newer travelers more when searching for interesting food.
4. Try a Self-Service Restaurant
One great way of getting an idea of the local cuisine is to go to a self-service restaurant. In case you didn’t know, these are basically restaurants where you get the food for yourself rather than having a wait staff do it for you. Buffets are an example of this.
Self-service restaurants will typically have a variety of food lined up in trays, on tables, and on stainless steel food service carts. The best part about these restaurants is you’ll get the chance to try a bit of everything. Depending on the kind of food they serve, you’ll be able to try the local meats, fish, vegetables, drinks, and desserts.
This isn’t the best way to find exotic foods, especially if you’ve already visited a particular country or have had similar food in other ones. These restaurants also usually serve foreign cuisine to diversify their menu, so you might find less of the local cuisine.
However, it’s great for when the local cuisine is mostly new to you. You also get to pace yourself with new food. Instead of getting a whole, unfamiliar dish, you can have just a small portion of what would be served in other restaurants.
Food is one of the best ways of coming into contact with the local culture. Follow these tips and you’ll be finding whole new dining experiences.