Vacation Eats: How to Find Restaurants While Traveling
You’re going on a trip. You’ve booked the ticket, confirmed your Airbnb, dry cleaned your favorite silk pants, and figured out a dog sitter. Now for the real trip prep: deciding where to eat.
This is where anxiety sets in. Decisions! Options! The handwritten scribbles, emails to ourselves, saved Instagram posts, emails to friends. Ah!
This isn’t about the #textbook #best place, or eating exclusively at Netflix-approved locales. No. This is about high emotional (restaurant) intelligence — and going beneath the surface to find the places with details that are going to make your trip sing. It is about zeroing in on the right mood, palate, and details to enhance the vibe of the day and provide delicious, memorable plates.
Where to begin?
A few tips below, though we are always evolving our process for this (and welcome all of your suggestions too!).
Ongoing Restaurant Research
We find that keeping a running list for different cities is very helpful. Instead of making a mad dash to google when a trip is coming up, slow and steady wins the race. Keep a google doc for yourself with cities and restaurant/wine bar/cafe/hotel/hole in the wall suggestions as you see them; this could include links to restaurant reviews from magazines like Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, or Saveur, or could be super casual with suggestions from friends and family, spots from your favorite travel bloggers, food and wine writers, or food photographers and stylists.
Top 10 Lists
Eater, Thrillist, and TripAdvisor are great information sources – both in their diversity and their depth. Chances are, if something insanely delicious is going down, these publications are covering some aspect. If nothing else, they will help you locate chefs, neighborhoods or ethnicities you might want to peep further. If you’re looking for crowd sourced information from locals, check out CultureTrip which offers daytime activities, offbeat culinary activities, local history and off the beaten track bar and cafe options.
Instagram is an insane resource – leverage it. Save posts of the people whose taste you admire. Where are they going for that afternoon beer in Mexico City? Where did they have their anniversary dinner? That floral arrangement is beautiful, which hotel lobby is that? Searching hashtags is a key way to locate spots, but you can also just scan feeds and stories of those you follow and grab notes for yourself. And of course, think about the writers, travelers, artists, foodies, friends and acquaintances you know and follow — maybe your co-worker is annoying but knows everything about Tokyo speakeasys. Or your yoga instructor is way too into acai bowls but has the best taste in seafood, and loves to travel for meditation retreats. That beachside poke bowl though… A few names for your consideration. @Helenr (food writer for The New Yorker, formerly of Eater), @Yungbludlau (staff photographer for BonApp), @brad_leone (food content creator), @Albagine (food and travel photographer), @nicolasjammet (founder of sweetgreen, and avid foodie), @ciasamin (Samin Nosrat, chef and creator of “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”), @Hollyliss (social media whiz, and former employee of @theinfatuation).
Research is key to any amazing weekend away, but let’s not underestimate just living. That afternoon stroll to kick away jetlag, or early morning walk to the piazza — these spontaneous moments will often lead to discovery and sheer delight. Keep your eyes open for what’s around you – where do the locals hang out? Where does your Airbnb host go for his ceviche? Where does your cabbie go for a margarita? Take the shreds of info of those around you and reconfigure things as you go. The best meal I had in Portugal was my cab driver’s favorite hole in the wall spot, where we ended up drinking Porto Tonicos with the owner (a Frank Sinatra lover) till 2am. Take some risks, and cancel some reservations for spur of the moment recs. You won’t regret it.
Buon viaggio – we can’t wait to see your vacation grams!