Food finding 101.
Foraging a city for culinary treats.
How do I find my restaurant and cafe suggestions when I go traveling? When I’m in a new city, how do I find that perfect flat white I have become too familiar with. Well, I love food and I love experiencing great food with friends and family. Above all else I have come to love the process of finding new food. There is also a weird satisfaction that I feel when someone I know listens to my recommendation and loves the outcome.
When it comes to my recommendations, they always lean toward independent places. where the people who own it, are probably working the till. My findings are always intended to be at a reasonable price. But, there are the countless times I have walked into the right restaurant on he wrong budget. I will never forget the $16USD of water in that Italian restaurant, in New York city.
Not just any old friends, discover and treasure the foodie friends you didn’t know you had. People who have the same taste. Always keep in mind just because they like food, doesn’t mean they have the same budget.
Air BnB hosts
If you are staying at an Air BnB, there is a good chance your host knows what some of the good places are. They aren’t always on the same page, and might not really care to indulge you with their wisdom. If nothing else, try and figure out the local favourites and go from there.
Speaking of Locals — speak to the locals.
It’s hard, I know. But, once you break that barrier of talking to people you don’t know, the bond you can create over food is one a kind. If you find yourself in a great cafe, ask the people who work there where their favourite hidden gems are around the city. Write that shit down and follow it up. Don’t be afraid to be ‘that guy’ or ‘that girl’.
finding food with hashtags. Checking food with check ins. Appetite whetting with food accounts.
First up, please ignore how cringeworthy the hashtags are: #foodiesinLOCATION #LOCATIONfoodies and #bestFOODLOCATION.
They have come through with the goods on more than one occasion. I discovered The Federal, in Manchester on the hashtag #manchesterbreakfast. I discovered Mazi, a Greek restaurant in London (RIP wallet) and even The Elgin (which was just around the corner from me) all from Instagram hashtags. It’s also convenient that the photos taken and uploaded are always a higher caliber than Tripadvisor.
Or at least take reviews and images with a grain of salt.
Tripadvisor, is a place where anyone can write a scathing review with no consequences to the writer. The composer of a vengeful review might happen to be competitors, a disgruntled ex-employee or a monkey that has accessed the Internet. Ignore the photos. A good photo of food is an art form and the photograph taken on a Kodak Easyshare 1.1 megapixel camera is not going to do any justice, to any meal, anywhere.
Use Google, properly.
Find the key words that work for you and learn how to minus results. Seeing results that don’t include timeout (or the cities equivalent), and tripadvisor are the best results. It might look like this “best food in london -timeout”.
I’m not saying don’t use timeout or lonely planet. Just be mindful that t is a big company which has to make money. Maybe, sometimes, it might be a biased view which has to appeal to the masses to create revenue.
Base it off shops
What’s a brand you like? Or a cool shop that everyone recommends: I normally use this as a last resort, but take APC or Acne for example. It is likely to be within a sniffs distance of some culinary treats.
OK, maybe you found a place? Check the menu. A lot of time, less is more. 3 amazing options which you might not normally pick are better than 47 options that are below average. You can normally get a good indicator of whether you will be served fresh produce that’s locally sourced, or, something that is frozen and fried and plated, sitting next to a bottle tomato sauce and 1kg jar of mayo.
Local Food bloggers are your friends.
- laugh at them as you will; looking silly snapping the perfect pic on their DLSR, instead of just eating it. What you have to keep in mind is that are doing it solely because they love it. They won’t all be great. Some will hit and some will miss. Including the words *food blog* *local LOCATION food blogger* in your google search might just lead you to the golden trail of recommendations.
Never shy away from waiting in line
Maybe you didn’t so any researching. You are just out there, wandering around and you go past somewhere that has the atmosphere. Somewhere that oozes cool and permeates a buzz. Check it out. It’s a risk, but it’s a risk worth taking. To avoid disappointment the first port of call is checking the menu. Or my favourite, “if in doubt, ask someone what the vibe is all about”.
I have waited for 1 hour in line for breakfast, and it didn’t make it into my top ten breakfasts. Comparatively, I waited in lines for 70 minutes for Spanish, and it’s now in my top 5 of all time.
I think that’s it. That’s everything. If you still can’t find any food you like after all that, head over to a recycling bin and eat some cardboard. or follow my on instagram for more tips. @tylerhendy.