Every time you find yourself in a new foreign country, one of the many problems you´re faced with on an everyday basis is where to eat. In your home town you know all the best places, which place is cheap, which place is kind of expensive but you still like to go there on special occasions, where they have the best pastries in town.. These are the four tips on how to reduce your frustrations with finding a decent place to eat and relieve your travel budget one meal at a time.
- Follow the locals
You probably know the rule that says: if there are no people in the restaurant, something is probably wrong with the place and if the place is packed, it´s most likely packed for a reason. A variation of this rule would says: if the place is filled with tourists, it will surely have according touristic prices. Therefore whenever you´re desperately roaming around in a search of some simple cheap local dish watch the locals Are they packed in a particular restaurant? Are they carrying bags with take-away food? Is there a smaller, less noticeable street nearby where you can find locals doing their everyday routine? You just have to follow the signs. And don´t be afraid of shady looking places. If they are packed with locals it´s edible.
- Ask around
This one can be problematic. Especially in third-world countries or in countries where the colour of your skin screams that you´re a tourist. Whether you inquire about a good place with local food at a tourist information office or at your hostel, you will be most likely directed to the most touristic restaurant in the area, which is probably famous for specializing in authentic cuisine and is making big bucks out of it. But if you think about it, how often do you eat your own country´s authentic dishes which your grandma had been eating when she was young? If you want to immerse yourself into the local food, you´d probably want to eat something the locals are eating now, not what they were eating a hundred years ago.
- Check out multiple places
Don´t be afraid to step into a random restaurant, locate a menu and skim through it. After a couple of seconds of looking at the menu you should be able to get an idea of the price range of the restaurant. Afterwards, repeat the exercise in a couple other restaurants in the neighborhood and choose the one that looks most appealing and fits your budget the most.
In most food places dishes are usually listed by price, the cheapest being the first and going throughout the menu to the most expensive dishes, usually the specialties of the place. Another way to list the items on the menu is by popularity of the dishes, the most popular being first, up until the rarely ordered more unusual dishes. But the most common item listing method is a compromise between the two. Order the dishes from the beginning of the menu, they are the safest choice. They are cheap and most likely something that the locals are eating on a regular basis for a reason.
So there you have it. I hope these basic tips help you in your future search of tasty cheap local cuisine. However, if you´re really set to find the best and cheapest places in town do a preventive internet research. Or if you´re like me and don´t feel like doing that much work, do the easiest thing you can do, just ask a friend from the area or ask your Couch surfing host about what are their favorite places. It´s a bulletproof way to find the most awesome places to eat.