Whenever traveling anywhere, or even eating and going out locally, the need to make reservations or to plan out your dining/travel has become absolutely essential. There is no “show up and see what happens!” scenarios anymore. Even with places that do not take reservations, it’s important to plan your day out as you may need to wait in line for the day.
Regardless, this finding of restaurants, making reservations, and just general travel food planning has become a passion of mine. Whenever I am traveling anywhere, I need to find the local favorite food, and I can’t just walk anywhere and try it, I need to find the best version of it and do everything in my power to get to that restaurant immediately upon arrival.
Another big factor, I immerse food content. What that means is that I am always on the lookout for restaurants and food in general in my personal life. I notice new restaurants opening up, I read about new food trends, and I like nearly all of the food shows on TV. I am constantly trying to better my food mind to eventually, eat these new trends whenever possible.
How the heck do I do all of this? Does it even work? Fear not my friends, that’s what I’m here for. I’ll break down my food research and how I make sure every time, the MLT bellies are full and happy.
Google is Your Friend
My first move whenever we book a trip is to simply look up and search “Best type of food in city/town/country”. This is how my food travel planning begins. More often than not, this is a great way to just get a basis of what food I should be eating upon arrival. For example, when I search this in New Orleans, I end up seeing beignets, po’ boys, and crawfish. Now, I know my basis for my search as I can see the types of foods I should be looking for.
TIP: Do not just simply click on the first restaurant that comes up. While sometimes this will result in something delicious, this is more often than not the most touristy or easiest to come by destination. Do some more digging!
Use Websites Dedicated to This
There are people that do this professionally, and I have developed a trusted method to verify where I should be eating in new places. Yelp is obviously the go-to food website. To me, it serves its purpose on providing the basic information. I find it a good place to start my searching. It’ll give me the basics in terms of hours, general customer reviews, do I need reservations, etc.
The people at Eater do great work, they map things out to make it easy to do some planning. This is probably my favorite place to do research on food. I find they tend to have a similar palette to me, and certainly can be found in most US cities. I usually find a few places I like here, and keep going through my process.
Lastly, I take my Eater recommendations and simply google pictures of that restaurant’s food. I know, how can I tell anything from a picture? You can tell a lot! You can see the general look for pizza crust, if a sandwich is greasy, or if a piece of meat is cooked properly. This is usually a strong verification for me wanting to eat there if I like what I see.
Make it Happen
Ok, so I have found a few places that I like, and maybe even a few types of food that I want to try. So what now? First thing here, if it is a restaurant that requires reservations, I immediately try to make a reservation. I would hate to miss an opportunity to go to a place that I really want to go to just by the simple fact of being lazy. With Opentable, Resy, and even making a 5-minute phone call, it’s so easy to make a reservation in 2018 that there is no excuse not to do it.
Sometimes, it’s really hard to get in a restaurant, but if it’s really worth it to you, take that extra step. That could be emailing the restaurant, getting on a waiting list, or staying up until midnight to ensure that you get that reservation a month out. On top of that, if you can’t get in, don’t stop looking, people cancel reservations all the time, you may be able to get in at 9 PM instead of 8 PM, what’s one hour difference? More often than not, if restaurants are that full and difficult to get into, it’s worth it.
Obviously, not all restaurants take reservations, so it’s important to figure out, when is the best time to go? Once again, if it’s an incredibly popular place, put the time in. You should get there before it opens, or, quite simply, be prepared to wait in line. This is another thing, if you’re traveling with friends or loved ones, what is wrong with spending an hour chatting while waiting for delicious food? People treat the line at Franklin’s BBQ like it is the most daunting thing imaginable, it was three hours, I hung out with friends, made some new ones, and was eating before I knew it.
Lastly, people are always amazed when we eat at some of the best restaurants in the world. You know what? We seek this out because it is part of what makes traveling so special to us. Nahm in Bangkok was one of our favorite experiences we had in Southeast Asia. Lunch at Osteria Francescana was legitimately one of the best eating experiences we’ve ever had. Eating and traveling is something we’re so passionate about, so we are going to spend more time doing this than most would think is normal.
Reach out DIRECTLY to the Restaurant
We actually did not get a reservation at Osteria Francescana by booking online like everyone else. I knew we had a week or two window in that part of Italy. I tried to book, and could not get a table. However, with our flexibility, I reached out and simply emailed the restaurant. Two weeks later, there had been a cancellation and we were in. Take the extra steps people!
Everyone would love to eat dinner at 8:00 PM. However, you simply cannot expect there to be openings at that time for every restaurant. Be flexible, eat early, eat late. And hey, lunch is a great way to get in too! Let’s you eat and then have a nice relaxing evening afterward.
Don’t be afraid to Stumble Upon Something Delicious
SIGN UP FOR NEWSLETTERS
What may be my biggest piece of advice, sign up for email sign ups (Just like ours!!) and newsletters. This is where you can get some new information about openings and the like. This the way that I get tickets to many great Broadway shows and events. This was how I got tickets to Harry Potter in London so effortlessly. When you look at the tickets, look towards the end of the calendar, fewer people thinking ahead and thinking that far in advance!
Tip Cheat Sheet
|1) Google Your Destination (Use the pictures!!)|
|2) Research with your Trusted Sites|
|3) Make a Reservation (Be creative with times/days/lunch)|
|4) Reach out To Restaurants (They respond!)|
|5) Sign up for Newsletters|
|6) Be hungry|
|7) EAT ALL THE FOOD|