Between unfamiliar smells, inscrutable menus and the threat of gastrointestinal distress, choosing where to eat while traveling abroad can be fraught with possibilities both dangerous and tantalising. Keep these tips in mind as you make your choices.
Pick your price point
Before heading off on your trip, do some research to figure out what options are available for your budget.
There may be a robust street food culture that provides tasty treats at reasonable prices, leaving room for a few more high-end splurges. There may be an international enclave from another country that makes that nation’s fare a local prize.
Figuring out the general food landscape is an important precursor to any trip.
Watch where locals stop for lunch
While there is much to be gleaned from scouring reviews, there is more immediate evidence offered by watching peoples’ patterns.
The opinions of travel bloggers who may have visited the city won’t compare to those of the citizens living and working there every day. For that reason, if you see a queue that is populated by residents from the area instead of tourists, it can act as evidence of somewhere that has the best fare even for those long accustomed to what the area has to offer.
Look for the restaurant that doesn’t “belong”
If a restaurant with a plain or even somewhat run-down facade, but has managed to keep up with rent prices in a more upscale area, it may be a good bet.
Chances are the quality of the food makes up for the lack of curb appeal and that profits are reinvested into the menu, not the interior decor.
Be skeptical of views
A restaurant location that can attract diners based on something other than the food, like a nearby vista or landmark, may not offer the best quality dining experience.
Many times tourist traps can create Instagram-worthy plates with little substance to pair with the aesthetic. Planning to eat before trips to high-demand sights can help avoid traps like this.
Learn local specialties
In some countries, regional differences within food culture can vary widely. There may be local specialties that vary even from one town or city to the next.
Often, these local traditions in food culture have to do with an ingredient that’s overly abundant in the area or a historical trend that imposed a certain technique. – The Charlotte Observer/Tribune News Service
This story was created by Detour, a journalism brand focused on the best stories in Black travel, in partnership with McClatchy’s The Charlotte Observer and Miami Herald. Detour’s approach to travel and storytelling seeks to tell previously under-reported or ignored narratives by shifting away from the customary routes framed in Eurocentrism. The detour team is made up of an A-list of award-winning journalists, writers, historians, photographers, illustrators and filmmakers.