Once your plane has safely landed, your tray table is in the upright and locked position and you’ve grabbed your carry-on luggage and disembarked, if you’re anything like me, your stomach is probably growling. Sometimes, the food on the plane and in the airport–although convenient–doesn’t quite cut it. You want something filling, something delicious, and most of all, something local.
But where do you go?
One of the most wonderful things about traveling is sampling the cuisine that each city you visit has to offer. Perhaps it’s the deep dish pizza of Chicago, the cheesesteaks in Philadelphia or the barbeque found across Alabama. While some people make it a priority to check out the sights and sounds of the cities they visit, by now you may know that I’m also a bit of a foodie. Wherever I go, I place finding the best dining experiences I can in the area on top of my to-do list.
But finding the best places to eat may not be as simple as you expect. Here are some tips on finding the best and most delicious places that the city you’re in has to offer.
Check Online Reviews
Reading online reviews is typically a good place to start. Websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor have convenient means of locating restaurants that are close in proximity to you when you’re not looking to travel too far for a meal. The selling points of using these sites are the ratings and reviews, and the ability to search by type of cuisine. If you’re craving fettuccine alfredo, you can search for Italian food on the sites, and each will return you a list of eateries close to you that will satisfy your stomach. You can then find one that fits your price range and read reviews, which can come in handy when finding out what dishes each restaurant specializes in, and perhaps which to avoid.
Ask People in the Area
Online reviews are a great start, but if you want a real taste of what’s local, who better to ask than the people who live there? Stopping someone on the street and asking them for a recommendation will never hurt, oftentimes they’ll know more about the city than you, and will be able to point you in the right direction.
Another benefit of asking the locals is avoiding the tourist traps of your city. While a place like Pats or Genos in Philadelphia may be the two most widely-known places to get an “authentic” cheesesteak when you’re in Philly, that doesn’t mean they’re the best. Locals and food bloggers in the area will be able to recommend anything from the best place to get a cheesesteak to the best five-star restaurant within walking distance.
If All Else Fails, Trust your Gut
Your gut is, after all, where the food is going to end up, right so why not trust it? If your efforts of perusing online reviews and asking the locals have failed, don’t be afraid to try something new. Walk into a restaurant and ask to see a menu. The most important part of travel is exploration. You’re exploring a new part of the country, or a new part of the world, why not explore its food? Is there a chance that you could end up with a mediocre meal, sure. But trying a new restaurant or new food will beat the same meal at a fast food restaurant every time, I guarantee it.