The other day a reporter asked a question, “When traveling, how do you eat like a local?”
I thought for just a little bit then I realized it is simple, ask a local! If you want to eat like a local or enjoy the best food in town ask a local. And the good news is they are easy to find.
If your staying in a B&B or a small hotel then ask the owner. In Bruges that’s how we found Carlito’s, a wonderful Italian restaurant 3 blocks off the main square, or the Restaurant De Koetse that serves grilled meat and fish as you enter the door. Our B&B owner in Vancouver recommended a Fish and Chips place that has yet to be equaled.
When your out shopping ask a shop owner for their recommendation. The smaller the store the better. At a jewelery store in Nassau the owner recommended the Athena Cafe in Nassau where Greek immigrants have been serving their home cooking for years. We passed by a number of times but never gave it a second thought because it was in the tourist section of town. In Singapore last October we asked one of the gift shop owners in the Botanical Garden where to eat. She pointed out the window to Cafe Verde. Not only delicious but relaxing right in the middle of the park. Quite unexpected. This is also how we found Uncle Vito’s in downtown San Francisco. It’s a hole in the wall pizza place about 4 blocks north of Union Square. Full of locals and hard to get a seat at certain times, but excellent pizza.
If your staying with locals or working with locals have them take you some place really unknown. The best pizza in the world (IMHO) is at A Tal Da Pizza in Sao Paulo. There are two locations there but if you go to #1 you have to go with a local. There are no signs and they do no advertising. If you don’t know where they are you’ll never find them. Just save room for the chocolate and strawberry pizza for dessert.
And finally, just ask someone on the street. My wife started a conversation with a local who was working in his garden in San Francisco. Don’t ask how these things get started, even I don’t know. We talked for a good 10-15 minutes and then she asked “We’re to you recommend to eat”. He thought for a bit and then said, “Any place on Belden Alley”. It took a little research but we found it hidden in the middle of the San Francisco and he was right. Anyone of the restaurants there are good. Just choose one.
One warning though. If you can find out from the local what the place is known for order that. We were disappointed in a place at the Fish Fry in Nassau but realized we should have ordered the Conch Salad. That’s the local dish!