10 Food Writers’ Tips for Eating Well While Traveling

updated May 24, 2019
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(Image credit: Dylan Ho + Jeni Afuso)

Finding good food while traveling is not always easy — there may be language, navigation, or cultural differences that can make the whole process frustrating and disappointing. We asked 10 well-traveled food writers for their best tips on finding the tastiest meals while they’re on the road so that every bite is delicious and memorable.

(Image credit: Robin Jolin)

1. Aida Mollenkamp

I’m a research nerd so I love the challenge of finding a new place to eat, and, if you ask me, it all comes down to flexing the power of social media. At least a week before, I tweet or Facebook friends to ask for travel advice.

When I’m really ambitious, I search out a few local food bloggers and ask their opinion because locals always know best.

Finally, if Anthony Bourdain has been there, I make sure to look at his thoughts and finds too!

2. Matt Armendariz

Food photographer and author of On a Stick! Visit Matt’s website and blog.

The holy grail for food when traveling is when people invite me over, as I will never turn down a home cooked meal. I can’t think of a better way to experience culture, hospitality, friendship and see the true beauty of human beings than sharing a meal at home. No matter what city that home is in.

3. Alice Medrich

Author of the forthcoming book Flavor Flours. Visit Alice’s website.

I love a personal list from someone who lives or has lived in the place. I want to know about neighborhood places, wine, bars, cafes, and street food, not just fine dining and starred restos. I go to food shops and markets where I can see things I may not know about, chat up the vendors, and buy a little of this and that.

(Image credit: Colin Clark)

4. Joanne Chang

Author of Flour and Flour, Too. Visit Joanne’s Flour Bakery website.

A tip I got from my husband is to ask local salespeople when you are shopping around, especially if you go to a nice store or two.

They often are tuned into what’s new and great and we’ve had some great tips in foreign countries where we really didn’t know that much about the local scene.

We had our best meal in Vicenza, Italy after getting a rec from a shoe salesman who was clearly very stylish and in-the-know.

5. Jessica Fisher

One of my favorite ways to travel with our big family is to rent a condo with a fully equipped kitchen. Since we have six kids, it’s usually cheaper than two standard hotel rooms and allows us to save more money by cooking our own meals at least part of the time. Early risers can grab breakfast when they’re ready while the rest of us get to sleep in.

We also are able to cater to my daughter’s food allergies instead of wondering what’s safe — as well as good — to eat in local restaurants. We still eat out on occasion, but having our own kitchen really frees us up and helps us save money.

6. Michael Ruhlman

Find out where the locals eat. My dad and I had some of the best meals in Madrid by doing this, especially lunches, but this was back when Spain was more civilized about long lunches (and siestas)!

7. Marisa McClellan

Author of Preserving by the Pint. Visit Marisa’s website, Food in Jars.

When it comes to finding good things to eat in a new place, I almost always turn to Twitter. People love to share the best of their city and are always willing to lead visitors in the right direction.

(Image credit: Samantha Wolov)

8. Andrea Nguyen

Author of the forthcoming book The Banh Mi Handbook. Visit Andrea’s website, Viet World Kitchen.

To prevent getting hangry, I travel with a backup food supply of lightly salted, roasted almonds. There’s usually some in my luggage and my purse. They satisfy and fuel me, help me think straight when I try to do things like find a eatery or street food vendor that a bellman recommended. Yup, I get eating tips from all kinds of people, including the men who open the door for me at a hotel — when I can afford to stay at such fancy establishments, that is.

9. Jessica Goldman Foung

Author of Sodium Girl’s Limitless Low-Sodium Cookbook. Visit Jessica’s website, Sodium Girl.

Many people say the best way to experience a new culture is by tasting its cuisine. And while dining at a restaurant is always nice, if you have your own kitchen, you can experience local food on a whole new level. Add edible tourism activities to your itinerary — like visiting an artisan’s shop, a farmers market, or even taking a fishing lesson. And make yourself a meal to remember.

10. Cathy Chaplin

Author of The Food Lovers’ Guide to Los Angeles. Visit Cathy’s website, Gastronomy Blog.

If you’re staying in an ultra-touristy part of town, wander far from home base to find the choicest morsels. Your best bet is to look for eateries located on smaller streets and alleyways. The ones packed with locals are always a good bet!