How to find restaurants abroad that offer great foreign food

Added 23/07/2010

Prawn cocktail

Eating foreign food can be part of the fun of travelling abroad and many of us look forward to tasting delicious meals while we are on holiday. But sometimes, finding restaurants that offer the best foreign food can be a little tricky. Guidebooks are useful resources and can offer excellent restaurant reviews. But some are outdated or have been written by journalists that have never set foot in the establishment.

There are tricks to finding restaurants that offer great foreign food whilst you are abroad. On the day you arrive, scout out the local restaurants and make a note of the eateries you’d like to try. Restaurants that are full, particularly with locals, are good bets. If there’s one that takes your fancy, book a table for later in the week.

Avoid empty restaurants that have touts on the door that try to drag you in off the street. If no one bothers you when you peer inside, then the food must be good because they don’t need to push for business.

Restaurants close to main resorts or tourist attractions might not offer foreign food that’s as nice as the food in smaller, hidden away bistros. Take time to look for hidden gems, but try not to go to restaurants that are too off the beaten track as the owners might not speak English and you won’t know what you might end up with. Also, locals might not take too kindly to foreigners crowding their tables, which could spoil your overall dining experience.

Don’t be scared to ask local people to recommend a good restaurant. Be wary of asking hotel owners or holiday reps — they may just direct you to the nearest cafe that’s crammed with tourists. If you are after an authentic local meal, you probably won’t find one in a touristy restaurant. Restaurants that are aimed at tourists sometimes think that all Brits want are burgers and chips.

Before you peruse any menus, find out which foods are in season and avoid restaurants that offer out of season fare — it won’t taste as good. Restaurants that provide short, handwritten menus are usually a good indication of fine dining. Avoid restaurants with long menus that are splashed with tasteless photographs.

If you are a vegetarian, be wary when you order a meal. Some foreign food that has been classified as vegetarian on the menu might actually contain meat, particularly in countries where vegetarianism is less common. Before you order your meal, check with the waiter that it doesn’t contain meat.

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