How to Find a Great Restaurant When Traveling

By: Russell Benavides

My favorite part about traveling around the world is discovering all the new food and drinks in each city we visit. The chorizo in Spain, the truffle pasta in Italy, the salmon in Seattle, the wiener schnitzel in Germany, the craft beer in Oregon. My mouth is watering just writing about them. Each place we go is filled with wonderful dishes and I make it my mission to try the best ones. Over the years, I have become adept at finding great places that are delicious and for the most part affordable. See how I find these restaurants in the steps below.

1) Consult TripAdvisor and Yelp

TripAdvisor and Yelp are excellent places to start your search for the best restaurants in each city. I tend to favor TA more but Yelp was an excellent resource on my west coast road trip. The best way I have found to use them is to first filter the restaurants for $$ and $$$ categories. This will eliminate the super low budget places which tend to only be coffee shops and ice cream places. It will also remove the outrageously expensive places.

From there, I work my way past the top 10 restaurants given. It is in the next 10 restaurants where I find the hidden gems that are well rated but sometimes overlooked. Read the reviews of some and see if they sound like a place you would like. I also make sure they are close to where we will be at some point during the trip.

You should also download the app for each of these. Find yourself in a place you didn’t expect to be? Simply pull up the TA or Yelp app and see what’s around you. This was a big help for us in Venice.

Trattoria La Grotta in Cortona, Italy. Found this gem on Trip Advisor

2) Read Blog Articles

Performing a simple Google search for blog articles relating to the city you are visiting is a great way to find local restaurants that you may have missed in step one. For example, when we first moved to A Coruña, I discovered an article on Cat’s Sunshine and Siestas Blog for the best places in A Coruña. Further, for our trip to San Sebastian, I utilized Lost In Cheeseland’s article as a starting point for our tapas adventure.

3) Wander Down a Small Street Away From The Tourist Area

In every city you visit, there will be a tourist area and inevitably, there will be numerous restaurants nearby. Unfortunately, often times these places are overpriced and serve average food. I hate having to eat at these places.

Instead, I simply wander down a few side streets and look for places away from the center of the tourist area. I almost try to get lost going down the most narrow streets. Usually, the place on the smallest street with the most unassuming sign is the best.

Caprese Salad in Cortona, Italy.

4) Follow The Crowd

When wandering down the side streets, if you see a crowd of people in the restaurant it’s a safe bet that the food is good there. This is how we found Casa Rita and our other favorite place in A Coruña, Manteleria 3. Look to make sure the crowd is local though. A crowd of tourists in a restaurant can be misleading.

5) Ask The Locals

Asking local people for their recommendation is another great way to find some hidden gems. Nomadic Matt and Jodi of Legal Nomads actually recommend asking taxi cab drivers what their favorite place is. You discover some authentic, local cuisine this way. I tend to shy away from asking the hotel where I am staying because they may be receiving a kickback from the restaurant.

Veal Cheeks in San Sebastian
Veal Cheeks at Borda Berri Bar in San Sebastian

There is no greater satisfaction for me when traveling than finding a great restaurant that specializes in the local fare. It makes my day. I hope the above tips help you find some awesome places on your next adventure. If you have any questions for me or would like some restaurant recommendations, feel free to leave a comment below. I love to spread the word about great food.


4 thoughts on “How to Find a Great Restaurant When Traveling

  1. I couldn’t agree more. Food is one of my major reasons for travelling as well and finding good places to eat is so important. I always find that markets are a great resource for good eats and generally geared towards locals and lonely planet also provides some suggestions. In addition I also like to use for restaurants close to me with good ratings.

    Thanks for sharing your tips!

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