Amazing local food has the potential to turn a good holiday into a great holiday, but how do you find the best foodie destinations while you’re on a cruise? Discovering hidden gems and best restaurants amongst the tourist traps and restaurant chains isn’t always easy, so we thought we’d pass on our top tips.
Do your research
There’s nothing wrong with being a good food geek. Just as you spend time in the run-up to your holiday planning what to do in each destination, you’ll reap some delicious rewards if you do the same when it comes to dining. There’s nothing to say you won’t stumble across some of the best pasta you’ve ever eaten in Italy, purely by wandering aimlessly down the side streets of Rome, but a quick Google search or guidebook buy will unearth countless tried and tested options too. There’s something exciting about flicking through a good food guide to a city, folding down the corners of the pages dedicated to anywhere which whets your appetite.
Avoid tourist hotspots
It is a widely recognised travel fact that the food dished up in the vicinity of major tourist attractions is almost always overpriced and unimpressive. The footfall in these places is guaranteed, so they can afford to compromise heavily on quality and push those prices right through the roof. Venture just a street or two away and watch the prices plummet and quality soar – your inner foodie will thank you for it! Another top tip is to dine where the locals eat; if a restaurant is brimming with people from the surrounding area, it’s a pretty good gauge that it is one of the best foodie destinations the vicinity has to offer.
Join your fellow foodies at the best restaurants
Food tours not only show you the must-see sights in any given destination, they also share insider knowledge on where you’ll find the very best food. For example, everybody knows that Paris promises some seriously good French dishes, but sign yourself up for a food tour of a dedicated district and you’ll become privy to the specific secrets of its chefs, foodies and wine experts. Our top tip is to always book your food tour for the first day or two in your destination, so you can make the most of the recommendations for the rest of your holiday.
Think twice about TripAdvisor
TripAdvisor is a wonderful tool and checking its reviews has become an inherent part of booking a hotel or restaurant. However, the review site’s downfall is that personal opinion is hugely subjective. Whilst one person may love the thrill of sitting in a TGI Friday’s in Times Square because it’s their favourite restaurant at home, the holidaymaker who is in search of America’s fabled barbecued racks of ribs and enormous steaks may findthe same menu as back home rather disappointing. Take the reviews with a pinch of salt and eat with your eyes instead, paying more attention to the food photographs when it comes to deciding if somewhere is worth a visit.
Don’t be afraid of street food vendors
Sometimes the best food you’ll encounter while travelling is served up in the most rugged way possible. Street food is a core part of many cultures, and if you’re savvy in your choices, could reward you with some of the freshest, most flavoursome dishes that have ever passed your lips. Use your instincts – if the place has a long queue (and the hygiene is up to scratch) then the chances are it’s well worth a try.
Seek expert advice on the best foodie destinations
Experts take many guises. It could that person at work who always goes back to the same holiday spot and has tasted their way around its restaurants, or it could be the well-travelled blogger who shares a combination of budget and high-end dining reviews on their site. Avid travellers are always keen to talk about their favourite place and that includes the food. Don’t forget to make the most of local experts too. Next time you’re chatting to a local in a café, ask them where they’d recommend for dinner. The same applies to your hotel concierge; ask them specifically what you want to know, so rather than asking where is good to eat in the city, ask them where does the best seafood or where you’ll find the most amazing tiramisu. You’ll receive a far less generic answer and more of a personal recommendation.
What are your tips for finding the best food wherever in the world you are? Let us know!