There have been a few people who have asked me how do I get to know where to eat when The Husband and I travel. To them, we seem to stumble upon the place’s best eating places. I concur that we do.
One thing is for sure: finding good eats is usually, or around 95%, no accident.
I’ve gathered all of my best practices, which are pretty simple and highly doable, to share with y’all. Are you ready with your pen and paper?
#1: Read magazines, books, blogs, websites
I am a nerd. I love reading. Hence, I read about food & travel on the Internets and this is how I learn about most of the places we visit.
For Southeast Asia and Turkey (a dream destination), I read Eating Asia. For Dubai cheap eats, I closely follow I Live in a Frying Pan by Arva Ahmed. For other countries, I make sure to look up local bloggers for any recommendations.
I also check out Yelp! and Tripadvisor for more recent and real time customer reviews. But then I take these with a grain of salt since there is a lot of hullabaloo here about the authenticity of the reviews.
So, when in doubt, just Google away your queries.
#2: Watch food & travel shows
I make it a point to always catch up and review my favorite food & travel shows, which include the following:
- Anything by Anthony Bourdain – No Reservations, The Layover with replays on Travel Channel and the latest Parts Unknown on CNN
- Bizarre Foods by Andrew Zimmern on Travel Channel
- Man vs Food on Travel Channel
- Diners, Drive Ins and Dives by Guy Fieri on Food Network
- The Chew on ABC
- Chowdown Countdown on Travel Channel
- Food Paradise on Travel Channel
Any other shows you can recommend?
#3: Ask locals
Okay, not just any locals, but those who actually care about the food that they eat.
Those who painstakingly would research the best places to eat. Those who actually care that they shove a tasty spoonful of food into their mouths. Those who would line up for hours to get a taste of excellence. Those who would care to venture into the unknown and uncomfortable for the sake of palate knowledge expansion.
Don’t just ask any local. Ask locals who adore food.
#4: Go local
The Husband and I would usually shy away from international chains that are a dime a dozen. We prefer to eat local.
And I don’t just mean locally born, bred and ran hole-in-the-walls. Or places who have been serving the community since time in memoriam like Katz’s Deli. I also mean local fast food chains like Freddy’s Steakburgers and Frozen Custard from Kansas.
These are the places that surely have the local flavor, history and culture in them. So why go eat in places which tastes the same wherever in the world?
#5: Follow the lines
If there is a line, then it means there much be something good worth lining up for. Its worked for us in Dubai with the crowds at Sarhad Darbar and barbeque places closer to our current home like Salt Lick BBQ, Pecan Lodge and Oklahoma Joe’s.
So whenever you’re crusing along, keep your eyes peeled open for these places that would draw crowds.
Goodluck! Happy eating!