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Posts published in “Food”

When In Rome: Why Locals Are The Best Food Guides When Traveling Abroad

Karen Cottle

One thing you hear from a lot of tourists or out-of-towners when picking a place to eat are sentences that usually start with “I’ve read about this place in…” or “I saw this place on…” Once I hear those words, I know that there’s trouble.

I’m not saying that things that get featured in articles or on TV shows are bad. They’re usually quite good. In the case of American regional specialties, they’re generally spot-on. When going abroad however, it’s a whole different ball game. When abroad, I highly recommend getting advise from the locals, or frequenting the restaurants or bistros they favor. Here’s why:

Prices

Let’s start with what discussions usually boil down to in the end anyway. When comparing the prices of a restaurant or eatery the locals favor as compared to one that’s featured on travel media, it’s a safe bet that the ones locals favor are significantly more affordable.

This is usually the case because rather than focusing on tourists who are likely to eat there once during the trip, they focus on repeat business from locals. It can be rather hard to attract customers when your prices aren’t conducive to repeat customers at least 2-3 times a week.

Authenticity

One thing I have noticed is that food geared towards tourists is usually altered in some way, particularly when geared at western tourists. Usually, it’s substituting local flavors with alternatives that western palates are more used to. This means that rather than getting an authentic flavor, we get a flavor that’s designed to be more familiar to us.

This usually means that locals are dismissive of the dish because it’s no longer the true to the flavors they grew up with. This means that the eateries and restaurants that cater primarily to locals are more likely to prefer the traditional versions. For travelers who are aiming for the authentic experience, this makes all the difference.

Regional Variety

When perusing the menu for a restaurant that caters to tourists, you may notice that the menu will feature some regional specialties (usually the most popular), then populate the rest of the menu with items that are more international in scope in order to ensure that there’s something for everybody. This means that other regional dishes that aren’t as popular may not be included in the menu.

While this may not be a great loss for most tourists, for those who are really looking for a complete immersive experience, it’s these dishes that may one day turn out to be favorites. For example, Filipinos will usually highlight dishes such as adobo as a “national” dish, with balut serving as a more exotic candidate, but what’s become my favorite dish from the region is letchon paksiw which doesn’t usually get featured.

Recommendations

One thing I have learned during my travels is that no matter where you go, there will be locals who love to talk to tourists about what the area has to offer. Whether bragging about which place makes the best local favorite, or where the best places to visit that most tourists don’t know about are, there’s always someone who wants to talk about their hometown to the tourists. Local eateries are a good place to find them.

How do you usually find the best eateries when you travel? Let us know!

 

 

Eating Out: The Best Apps And Websites For Finding Food When Traveling Around The US

Karen Cottle

The hardest part about travelling, even if it’s just around the US, is finding quality places to eat.  Unless you’re the kind of person who is happy with fast food all the time, finding quality food that’s within budget or caters to specific diets can be hard. Fortunately, technology has come to our rescue! Here are our favorite foodie apps:

Zagat

One of our recommended resources, Zagat.com’s filter feature and dual pool of restaurant reviews bumps it high on our list. The dual review pool of Google ratings as well as Zagat contributor ratings really adds credibility to the reviews as major discrepancies between the two can help filter out “sponsored” reviews.

The ability to filter out by restaurant type and budget also saves you a lot of time as you won’t have to search for the venue’s menu and hope they have one online so you can figure out how much you’ll be spending to dine there. It also cuts down the number of candidates you’ll have to go through to see if their offerings match your current cravings.

Off The Menu

Not so much for finding places to eat, as it is an app that keeps track of hidden menu items. It makes the list because it helps bring fresh light on old standbys. This is great for when you’re in the mood to try something different but are in a group that doesn’t want to try anything new and wants to play safe with an old standby.

It covers a wide range of franchises and updates regularly, which has helped us discover hidden treasures from places that we thought had nothing new to offer. It’s also a fun way to impress your friends when you get something that they can’t find on the menu!

Happy Cow

How does the Happy Cow app make cows happy? By helping you find restaurants that don’t serve beef or any kind of meat! Happy Cow is an app that helps vegans and vegetarians find places to eat that cater specifically to their diets, or at least have vegan options available. Despite the rise of vegan diets lately, the number of vegan restaurants still isn’t very high and travellers often have a hard time finding one.

Happy Cow helps you find places to eat without you having to do the somewhat embarrassing ritual of asking if the place has vegan options then leaving when they don’t (which can really make us vegans look kind of snooty). A must-have app for vegans who have to travel around the United States a lot.

Roaming Hunger

Lately, there has been a surge in the popularity of food trucks once again, with food trucks becoming as popular as their non-mobile competition. The main problem with food trucks, however, is that they aren’t always where you saw them last. Roaming Hunger helps solve this issue by tracking food truck locations for you.

This is great for finding out if that food truck that has those really addictive cucumber kimchi chips is in the area, or if that amazing coffee truck is close enough to get to on your lunch break. For travellers, it’s a great way to see what food truck options are available, given that most other foodie apps don’t track them.

What’s your favorite food app? Has a food app helped you discover a restaurant that became a favorite? Let us know!