This post was last updated on July 26th, 2016
You’re excited about visiting a new city. You’ve wanted to go there for as long as you can remember, and you can’t wait to experience the local culture and cuisine you’ve read so much about. It’s an enviable plan, but how would you feel if you got to your dream destination and found yourself surrounded by tourists? It’s a common problem, especially in popular areas, but one that’s fairly easy to solve. Here are four tips to help you avoid the tourist traps and find authentic restaurants that locals love.
Tap into the Local Mindset
Image via Flickr by coolio-claire
It sounds obvious, but the people who know where to get the tastiest dinner are the locals themselves, so don’t be afraid to ask. Have a word in the ear of your taxi driver, the concierge from your hotel, or a local shopkeeper. If a language barrier is an issue, learn the basic lingo before you arrive. Knowing the local word for what you want to eat will help enormously. If you’re on the shy side, most major cities offer some form of greeter tours – many of which have a focus on the local culinary scene.
Wander Off the Beaten Track
Image via Flickr by ronsaunders47
If you only hang out in the tourist areas, you shouldn’t be too surprised if you find yourself surrounded by tourists in the restaurants. Throw on your walking shoes and head out of town to discover unique local dining options. Look out for the little places off the beaten track – the kind of eateries that you find down unassuming side streets. Finding out what time locals tend to eat will help. In Rome, locals rarely head out before 8 p.m., while in Amsterdam, they’re more likely to eat out early.
And if you are headed to the Netherlands, brush up on this awesome list of top 50 things to do in Amsterdam. I definitely wish we had known about it before our trip!
Get the App
Image via Flickr by JenTravelsLife
You can always turn to the Internet to discover authentic dining options in your chosen destination, but there’s nothing like having an insider’s foodie guide in your pocket. Download the Gogobot app from Google Play or the App Store and you’ll find individual destination guides with reviews and recommendations from locals and people who have already traveled the path you’re about to tread. Whether you need the dirt on the menu at the fabulous Soho Grand Hotel or the best restaurants to check out in the French Quarter in New Orleans, Gogobot has you covered.
Eat With Locals
Image via Flickr by SanFranAnnie
If you’ve always fancied yourself as the next star on “Come Dine With Me,” you might consider trying out one of the services that allow you to eat with locals in their own homes. It’s rather like Airbnb, but for dinner parties, and it’s a great way to meet a local or two and some like-minded people along the way. You will still pay for your meal, but it’s likely that the cook will be someone who’s seriously into good food. The Meal Sharing and Eat With websites both have robust safety policies in place.
Follow these tips the next time you head off to explore a new destination. You might have to put in a little effort, but you’ll be rewarded with an authentic experience and plate after plate of the most delicious local fare.