So much of the fun of traveling is in trying local restaurants for the perfect vacation food and getting to experience food the way the locals do. Even though you’re often set up in a beautiful resort condo on your Xplorco travels, it’s nice to get out and try everything. But how do you find the right restaurants? Yes, there are great review websites and apps that can help, but let’s take a look at how some of the world’s top chefs do it. Because, let’s face it, they know food!

Tips and Tricks for Find the Best Vacation Food

Be Obsessive
You have to really love food to be able to find the best possible restaurants. Jenny Goa, a chef who became founder of Fly By Jing is obsessive. “We live to eat. We travel to eat. And often, trips will happen around restaurant reservations.”

Jenny, and many other chefs, will spend hours researching where to go as part of their travel planning. Gao says that while it takes a lot of time, it’s totally worth it.

The Right Research Tools for the Best Vacation Food
Kris Yenbamroong, chef of Night+Market in Los Angeles, used to hit the road with an actual map in hand and would talk to locals to find the best restaurants. And that really works! Plus, it’s a great chance to meet people. But there’s so many other ways these days. Instagram allows you to see the meals people are eating, but you have to be careful because not everyone has good taste.

While Yelp isn’t highly regarded among chefs, it’s still an option. Throughout the world, there are various sites and apps that Yenbamroong would recommend. Wongnai is one in Thailand. Le Fooding is great in France. Dianping works in China. You really just have to find what works where you are. And there are always magazines and online rankings and that old standby, talking to people.

Vacation Food

Big, small, fancy or casual, we’re always on the hunt for the best vacation food.

Map Out Your Vacation Food Goals
Don’t spend too much time waiting to eat. Figure out the locations of the restaurants, whether you need a reservation and the best time to go. And you can usually plan your activities around the restaurant you’ll go to that night. That’s what Eric Ripert, chef at Le Bernardin, does. It’s really all about the strategy to figure out what makes sense and when.

Put Yourself Out There
Andy Ricker, chef of Pok Pok, likes to show up somewhere without a plan. “I like to just get out on the street and start walking,” he said. “I’d rather walk around where I am and find a place that looks good. I find pleasure in doing that.”

It’s nice to see where people are. Crowds generally mean the food is at least pretty good. Take your eyes out of your phone and take in your surroundings. While chefs often do have local connections, strangers are helpful. Let yourself be a little vulnerable and trust a local.

The Actual Vacation Food is Important, But Not Everything
You want every meal to be delicious, absolutely. But if you’re working so hard to find the best possible meal, you might miss some parts of the whole eating experience. Ricker isn’t looking for the best place for this or that but rather to have a great experience. It may not end up that way, but the only way to find out is to give it a shot.

Eating when you’re on vacation is an absolute joy and an opportunity to try things you haven’t had before. All the chefs have a similar mantra and that’s to have fun with it and enjoy yourself because even a bad meal can be great if you let it be.

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Source: How chefs find restaurants when they travel, The Washington Post