The question of where to dine has always been important to anyone on vacation. Meals help to make traveling experiences more memorable. There are two camps; those who will eat local foods and those who won’t. Before I dive down the rabbit hole with my personal views regarding dining away from home, I’ll simply say it’s your vacation. Do as you like. However having said that, I simply must also say, when in Rome do as the Roman do.
Where To Dine – Eat Where The Locals Eat!
Some of the most forgettable meals we have ever had were at chain restaurants in ports of call, many years ago when the kiddos were little. I couldn’t tell you anything about the service or the food, other than it was on par with at least twenty other stateside locations. After a couple of lackluster meals, we decided to employ more adventuresome tactics. We began looking at foreign restaurants the way we look for new non-chain favorites at home. These handy tips on where to dine should help you to discover some vacation gems of your own.
- When in port, ask the locals where the best places are to eat. Don’t ask the cab drivers, they typically get a kick back for directing people. Ask a local who isn’t driving or leading a tour.
- Do some online research before you go. There are lots of sites (we like TripAdvisor) that list reviews of local restaurants. These days you’ll even see photos of the food.
- Make a reservation if you can. You don’t want to be on an hour long wait list if you have limited port time for example.
- Look for hand written menus on chalkboards with fewer items rather than a five page plastic menu with fifty items. Menus that change frequently typically serve fresh locally sourced food.
- Do not dine in an empty restaurant. Ever. Look for one with a good steady flow of business.
- Avoid a restaurant where everything is big and written in English if you are in a foreign country. It’s a tourist trap. Find a restaurant with a menu that is not in English when you are outside of the US. Some menus will be in more than one language or show more than one currency. This is normal.
- Consider buying food to go at a market and dining via picnic as you sight-see.
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