Dining at upscale restaurants on vacation can make for memorable, one-of-a-kind experiences. But to really experience a destination's food scene, you’ll want to seek out meals at a range of price points. Here are five ways to enjoy a tasty mix of foodie adventures while traveling:
1. Curate Your Experiences
Be selective about where you want to eat and when. Look for well-reviewed spots that offer authentic food at different price points and decide the best mix for your palate — and your pocketbook.
A beloved local hole in the wall or fast food joint, for example, might serve food that locals rave about and contrast nicely with a formal sit-down establishment. Or if you and your traveling buddies love brunch, make that your big meal of the day and have a lighter evening meal. For a hot spot or award-winning restaurant, you will want to book well in advance, or even schedule the dates of your travel around the reservation.
2. Do Your Research
Make the most of your dining dollars by researching the meals and dishes for which a restaurant is best known. Being well informed will help you better navigate the menu and curate your meal. Read up on reviews and see what other restaurant guests have to say. Which eats proved underwhelming and which ones stood out?
Besides a strong Yelp rating or a nod on a "best" list, what sparks your interest about a restaurant? Is it known for offering outstanding regional fare? Is it the ambiance or wine list that make it a standout experience? Or is it something more personal, like a love of Tiki bars, ramen or vegan cooking.
3. Choose Lunch and the Bar Over a Formal Dinner
It's fun to mix up your experiences — and perhaps get to interact with locals — by eating at a restaurant's bar, dining during happy hour or picking a neighborhood destination. Many restaurants offer their signature dishes during lunch, something to keep in mind when trying to make tough choices during a weekend or short trip.
4. Share Dishes
You'll be able to indulge in a wider array of food by sharing plates with your companions. If the establishment allows, split main entrees, so you’ll have more room to sample appetizers and dessert. Whether you choose a smattering of small dishes, or several appetizers, main courses and desserts, you'll have an easier time satisfying your curiosity — and your stomach — with the added bonus of not doing too much damage to your wallet.
5. DIY Your Meal
Not all meals have to be in a restaurant. Hit a specialty market, seasonal farmer's market or local grocery store to assemble cheeses, charcuterie or other regional specialties for a picnic in a park or at a local winery or brewery. Dine around a popular food truck stand, and try one item from several establishments.
Or if you're staying in an Airbnb or rental with a kitchen, cook a few meals while you're there. Shopping at a market and scouting ingredients that can only be found locally is an adventure in itself. When traveling, you don't want to miss out on foodie fun. Getting creative and resourceful about your dining options will ensure a most delicious time on the road.
Community Question: What's your top tip for discovering the local food scene during vacation?
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