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Five Ways to Eat Like a Local

My top tips for finding the best spots to eat anywhere

When you travel or move to a new country, it’s the simple things that make your stay: understanding whether you’re miles from town centre, transport options, the best not-so-‘sightseey’ things to do, and the top of my list – the best places to eat. Whether I’m going overseas, or interstate I always carry a list – compiled recommendations that are the must try’s – usually provided by friends or through my own research. This is always easier when you’re going to popular places like Sydney, New York, London, etc, because chances are most of your friends have been or even lived there at some point, and there is always lots of information available. What are your options when you head into no man’s land, places where you don’t speak the language and can’t even read the street signs? Here are my tips for finding the top spots anywhere. What are your tips for finding the best local spots? Would love to hear from you (email: JC x

1. Ask – this sounds obvious but start with your friends, family, co-workers, your local barista – anyone who’s opinion on food you value highly. Mention where you’re heading and almost every time, someone from your close or extended circle has a cousin who went there, a primary school friend that lives there, ex-colleague that lives there, etc.

Tip: Ensure that the highly valued person you ask is a foodie or with similar ‘food taste’ to you.

Lady Iron Chef


2. Food Bloggers/Sites – every City has its foodies. Do a quick Google search and guaranteed, the local bloggers, local publications or food guides will come up on the first or second page. After some quick reading you’ll quickly discern which dishes, restaurants or café’s keep coming up. Another great way to uncover local eats is through websites where you can book a home cooked meal or cooking course hosted by a local. Essentially like the Air BnB of home cooking, refer to some of these sites when planning your itinerary: Eat With, Feastly (mainly U.S based but type your destination in the search button just in case they’ve launched in the city you’re travelling to) , Travelling Spoon and Home Food (Italian based).

Tip: it won’t hurt to ask your local food bloggers if they know of any spots too – they might have a global foodie network. Also, look up the accounts of Chefs and reach out to them – some actually get back to you.

The W Seminyak Dessert flatlay


3. Door Stickers – in the past this has worked a treat, particularly in places like Italy or France. I’m not talking Yelp, but look for Michelin or local food guide stickers on restaurant/café doors or even food stalls at markets that aren’t earnt through just anyone typing in a public review. In Europe especially,  you would be amazed how many doors are covered in them – sometimes you can’t even see through the door.

Tip: If people are lining up around corners, writing names down for the door list, etc; mark the place’s name down and go early the next day, or line up!

Combi Coffee outside


4. Social Media – this is like point one but on steroids. Do a shout out for food travel recommendations on social media and you will be surprised by how many people come back to you. I’ve found in general people always want to help and give information.

Tip: search hashtags – Instagram in particular is amazing for this. It might be a little time consuming but do a search for the City or Country you are going to, then start broadening the search, with combinations of the City or Country and a food centric word like: #restaurants #foodies #foodbloggers #cafes, #eats, etc. This may also help you find food bloggers or local influencers. You can even follow hashtags on Instagram for a few weeks leading up to your trip to see if any of the same places keep coming up. Also create ‘city’ albums in Instagram so you can save posts that relate to cities you’ll be travelling to – you’ll find all the information in one place.

How to eat like a local pizza barboni
5. Travel resources – These are some accounts and sites I follow and read for travel inspiration and food recommendations when overseas. The list below, should at least help you get started with your search or inspire your next destination, it also includes a recommendation from a friend who has just booked a food tour in Istanbul (thanks Tas!).

Culinary Backstreets – food tours of Istanbul, Athens, Barcelona, Rio, Mexico City and Shanghai.

The Lady Chef – travel guides to many Asian cities, as well as Barcelona, Paris and London (make sure you scroll down to the bottom).

Where Chefs Eat – an amazing, world first kind of resource with food recommendations from top international chefs.

Intrepid Travel Food Tours – a huge range of foodie tours around the world

Anthony Bourdain –  These No Reservations Episodes should give you some great local food tips.

Goop City GuidesHaters love to hate Gwyn but her food recommendations are actually quite good and cover a range of budgets.

Trip Advisor – I am using Trip Advisor’s mobile phone app more and more these days. I love the ‘near me’ search to find eateries within walking distance. I recommend cross checking the eateries on Instagram to get a better idea of menu items, and make sure you read some of the reviews before deciding on where to eat.