Embrace technology: There are dozens of websites, mobile apps and blogs out there that can point you toward a great meal in any city. Yelp and Urban Spoon are two popular sites that offer companion mobile phone applications. These sites aggregate reviews by real people and provide an average quality score of the establishment, the relative cost of entrees, the restaurant’s operating hours and comments about the food, service and atmosphere. These sites are great resources if someone in the car has a smartphone.
Look for crowds and ask the locals: If you’ve decided to ditch technology during your road trip, you can still find great food the old fashioned way: Ask the locals. Find a local hangout and ask where to find great food in the area. Or, if you’re in a place with a lot of restaurants but aren’t sure which to choose, go with the place that has the longest line. It might take longer to get your food, but if the locals are willing to wait, the food is probably worth it.
Use the Anthony Bourdain method: Travel Channel host and food writer Anthony Bourdain has an awesome tip for finding good food in an unfamiliar area. His advice is to evoke “nerd fury.” Start by finding an active online foodie message board. Once there, resist the urge to post a question like “Where can I find awesome ramen noodles in Brooklyn?” This approach may work, but Bourdain suggests a different strategy. Make a bold statement such as, “XYZ Noodle Shop is, hands down, the best ramen noodle joint in Brooklyn.” Your challenging assertion will cause food nerds everywhere to passionately defend their own choices, likely resulting in a better response than if you’d simply asked where to go.
When you’re on a long summer road trip, potato chips and peanut butter sandwiches aren’t going to cut it for every meal. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the food culture in the areas through which you’re traveling.
Sometimes, it's the true hole-in-the-wall dining establisment that provide the best settings for the best road trip memories! How important is finding good local watering holes on your travels? Any other strategies for finding the best places to eat and drink on the road? Leave a comment! And thanks to Rosetta for sponsoring this post!