One of the best ways of tapping into the soul and culture of a new area you are visiting is to explore the flavors and recipes that the locals consider to be the best they have to offer.
These local dishes tend to define the identity of a region and if you can successfully search out the local eateries that need to be on your radar you should be able to enjoy some amazing culinary experiences.
Here’s how to find the best restaurants when you are exploring a new area, including some good old-fashioned tactics that are still relevant and help you sniff out the places to dine, plus some tech-savvy to use your smartphone for dining solutions.
Take a walk
If you are staying at a hotel where you feel right at home, like the Marriott Central Charleston, for example, it can be tempting to cocoon yourself and sample the menu and dining options on offer there.
However, you really do need to walk outside your hotel and explore the area if you are going to experience the genuine tastes of the area, regardless of how great the food is at your hotel.
Search out local experts
It might take longer than you want to find a suitable restaurant if you simply walk outside the hotel and head in the general direction of where it looks like the food action is.
Your best bet is almost always to search out so-called local experts. In other words, people who know the area intimately and don’t have a vested interest in directing you to one restaurant in particular.
You can gauge whether the concierge is giving you an unbiased and helpful view of how to eat like a local and not a tourist, or you could hail a cab and ask them where the best type of local food is served, based on your preferences.
Many locals are proud of their culinary culture and will be more than happy to point you in the direction of a place where they happily dine themselves when they go out for something to eat.
Follow the local crowd
Another great visual clue is to look for crowded restaurants that are packed with locals rather than tourists.
The fact that there is standing room only at a local eating house is a big clue that the food is likely to be great and the prices are not aimed at tourists.
A restaurant that is busy serving locals is rarely a bad choice and it is unlikely you will be paying over the odds for your meal either.
Let your phone do the detective work
Another option worth considering is to use a few well-chosen apps on your smartphone to guide you toward some of the most high-rated restaurants.
There are apps like Chefsfeed, for instance, that rely on the guidance of some top chefs to suggest places that are their local favorites, outside of their own kitchen and establishment.
Try a few apps out to see how reliable they are, and maybe avoid generic ones like Yelp, where the reviews are not always that easy to substantiate or reflect your own standards.
Searching out the local food delights is a bit of an art but the rewards are obvious when you enjoy an awesome meal that awakens your culinary senses.