Even if you don’t speak the same language as the restaurant owner.
When you’re in a foreign country, it’s often difficult to decide where you want to eat. How can you choose somewhere on a map if you don’t speak the language? Looking up a local restaurant can only get you so far. So how do you find somewhere that’s tasty without being armed with any information beforehand?
5. Don’t be afraid to walk into a random restaurant!
If you’re in a walking town, just moseying along into town and choosing any restaurant will probably get you some great results. Take a look around—which restaurant has the longest line or is the most packed with people? That will probably have the best food. But let’s be honest, no matter where you plop yourself down in, all foreign countries have excellent food.
4. Don’t just stick to the American favorite of the country!
When you’re in Italy, it’s spaghetti with marinara. When you’re in France, it’s a croquet monsieur. When you’re in Greece, it’s a gyro. Don’t get me wrong—the classics that Americans know and love and have their own version of are excellent. You definitely want to eat the authentic version of your favorite international foods from home. But you definitely need to think out of the box—try something of a name that you don’t recognize! When I was in Stresa, my friend had never heard of gnocchi, the little potato past balls, so she ordered pesto gnocchi purely because she thought the name was funny. Coming hot off the stove, steamy and creamy and melty with cheese, her pesto gnocchi ended up being the most delicious dish out of our whole group of six!
3. Order in a group and make sure to share plates.
This goes along with trying new foods besides the classics. Whether you’re in a group or even a pair, pick a few things that sound exotic and delicious (I usually go for anything with lots of cheese… you can never go wrong there!) to everyone, and turn your dinner into a buffet! After trying a little bit of everything, you can find your new favorite meal of that country, and try the same dish at another restaurant to compare flavors.
2. Ask locals about their favorite places!
This is one that everyone assumes, but not everyone actually does it! The locals of each country obviously know the best restaurants—they do have to eat there too after all. One of the great things about asking locals is that they know places that are not only delicious but usually cheap as well. Even go so far as to ask them their favorite dish—it will probably end up being your favorite as well!
1. Make friends with the waiters, and, if possible, the owner!
I can’t stress this one enough. If you are nice to the people serving you, like in America, not only will they treat you nicely as well, but they will also make sure their service is better and that you get the best quality food. And if you’re really lucky, sometimes there are extra perks along with making friends: when I was in both Greece and Italy, I asked locals where I should go to eat and they directed me to their favorite spots. On both occasions, I ended up meeting the owner of the restaurant, who not only showed me the best things on the menu, but also gave me (and my group) free bottles of wine! You can’t get much better than that.
If you can’t tell, I’m a bit of a food fanatic. But food is really one of the highlights of traveling! Every dish tastes so unique to each country, even down to each city, that you really just want to try it all! Don’t let foreign food scare you… embrace it, gobble it down, and enjoy!!
Article written by Sarah Graham.