There are more than a million restaurants in the United States, so you can’t possibly expect to dine at all of them! When you visit a new city, however, odds are good that you’ll be seeking out something new. There is nothing more exciting than sitting down at one of the best local restaurants and savoring a dish you can’t get at home.
The most challenging part of dining while traveling is finding the right restaurants to try while you’re in town. You have a limited amount of time and can only enjoy a handful of delicious local food on your trip. In larger cities or major tourist areas, you might spend more time narrowing down your dining choices than you do seeing the sights!
How do you find the best restaurants while traveling if you’ve never been to the area before?
We’ve created this guide full of tips and tricks for making the most of your foodie vacation! We’ve included all our favorite ways to scope out high-quality eateries, no matter where you go. Keep reading so you can put these into practice before dinner time!
Ask the Locals
Who knows more about good places to eat in a city than its residents? You can get the inside scoop on dining by reaching out to locals for their recommendations. You don’t need to wait until you’re in town, either – you can do most of the prep work online.
Seek out the virtual spaces where locals like to chat. Many towns have a subreddit where anyone is welcome to ask for recommendations. There might even be an existing thread packed with dining advice, so try Google first.
Local Facebook groups are another great place to ask for restaurant recommendations. If you aren’t on social media, look into web forums or other virtual spaces.
If all else fails, ask the locals in person! Take advantage of the concierge service at your hotel, too. Odds are good that you’ll be able to find some great restaurants with very little effort!
Read Online Reviews
Popular review sites like Yelp can offer you a ton of honest reviews all in one place. Locals will have written some of them, while fellow out-of-towners will have penned others. For the most part, these reviews will be honest, and you can trust them to steer you toward some good restaurants.
Another place to find online reviews is in the digital editions of local newspapers and magazines. They may have an archive of restaurant reviews written by professional food critics. You’ll be able to quickly review a range of new and up-and-coming restaurants in the area.
You can often find short, to-the-point reviews directly on the social media pages of specific restaurants. You can sometimes find reviews on restaurant websites, too. Check out this blog for one example.
Take a Walk and Trust Your Stomach
Many larger cities have a shopping and dining district that is perfect for tourists. These areas tend to be pleasant and walkable, with myriad dining options on every block. Sometimes the best way to discover the best restaurant in a new area is to take a walk and follow your nose!
You’ll be able to follow good smells right up to the windows of some compelling restaurants. You can stop by and take a look at the menu. If you don’t like what you see, keep walking – there will be another restaurant a few paces away!
You can use your other senses to track down high-quality restaurants, too. Where are folks lining up? Where does the delivery driver look busy?
This is a great way to find hidden gems with a smaller internet or social media presence.
Visit During Restaurant Week
If you plan your trip wisely, you’ll be able to visit an area during restaurant week! Nearly every metropolitan city offers a restaurant week featuring superb local dining options. You can try several excellent, highly-rated eateries without breaking the bank.
Typically, participating restaurants will offer a prix fixe menu during a designated week or weekend. These are often their most famous or notable seasonal dishes. While you may not be able to make substitutions, you can be certain you’re getting a great meal.
A compelling component of this arrangement is the price point. You can try incredible food at steep discounts. It’s an affordable way to eat two meals each day at the best restaurants in the city and still save cash for souvenirs!
Try a Restaurant Crawl or Food Tour
Large, foodie-friendly cities usually host at least one “foodie tourism” company that can give you the hookup! You can sign up for a food tour or restaurant crawl and visit some incredible restaurants with the help of a local guide. While there, you’ll be able to sample many cuisines and hone in on a few new favorites!
These tours typically include the cost of food, and no one leaves hungry! While you walk from restaurant to restaurant, you’ll also get the lay of the land. Once you’re familiar with popular tourist areas, you can return and head to the best local spots right away!
These tours are affordable, fun, and a great way to meet and connect with fellow foodie tourists. Different tours go to different restaurants, so you may even be able to go on more than one! Once you find a place to eat that suits your fancy, there’s no reason why you can’t head back for seconds!
You Can Find the Best Local Restaurants!
No matter where you roam, there is certain to be a life-changing restaurant with a menu you can’t find at home! While tracking down the best local restaurants takes some finesse, a little planning goes a long way! Do your research and look into the techniques above and you’ll be dining like the locals in no time!
Still hungry? Check out the rest of the blog for more delicious culinary posts to fill you up!