[Updated on the 7/10/2020]
Ahhh… Here we are again, talking about my favourite subject. FOOD!
Food has been an inseparable part of my life ever since I moved to Melbourne. When I’m having breakfast, I’m thinking about what I’m having for lunch and dinner.
I handpick restaurants and go through the whole menu before going.
I dream about pho and paella at night.
I drool when I was writing about my cooking class in Laos.
I would marry dimsum if I can.
That’s just how much I love food. So naturally, I plan my travels around food. However, I find it not as easy.
First of all, restaurants are not like tourist attractions. You can easily Google search for Eiffel tower and know almost everything about it. You can locate it on Google Map straight away, and even know which metro line to take. You will be informed about the opening hours, the ticket prices, the best view point etc.
However, it might be hard to know which brasserie serves decent ratatouille in Paris.
A simple google search will yield many generic results, amongst all the never-ending Trip Advisor recommendations. I am not saying that Trip Advisor doesn’t give good advices, it’s just planning for a foodie trip can get hard if you don’t know where to start.
That’s why this post is here (also for my own future reference)! Here’s to how to plan a foodie trip!
Start with websites dedicated to food
Start with some websites dedicated to food because they have already done the hard part for you!
I normally start with Wikitravel (I know it’s a little generic), but there’s this section on Wikitravel where they tell you about the local cuisines and what dish must you order.
That’s how I learnt about Bouillabaisse in Nice, Sarma in Sarajevo, Fesenjan in Shiraz, Cha Ca in Hanoi and Pineapple curry in Bangkok!
If you know what kind of food you’re expecting, it makes your subsequent searches a lot easier.
Next, you can start researching about restaurants based on your budget. I am a die-hard fan of Zomato (previously called Urbanspoon). It’s available in 23 countries and it includes many restaurants. It even tells you the estimated price.
I use Zomato to narrow down to the cuisine that I want (usually the cuisine of the country). For example if I am going to Slovakia, I am just gonna narrow it down to Slovakian Cuisine.
Yelp/ Spotted by Locals
If Zomato is not available in the country that I am going to, I go to Yelp or Spotted by Locals.
I love Spotted by Locals because they provide in-depth insight of what to expect. You can basically imagine yourself dining in the restaurant.
One of my biggest expenses while travelling is always food. It’s because I look at Bib Gourmand’s guides! Bib Gourmand is basically the brother of Michelin. Just narrow down your search to Bib Gourmand’s selection.
The only difference is Bib Gourmand restaurants have lower price tags that’s suitable for peasants like you and me. It’s not dirt cheap but they provide decent recommendations that you can spend a date night at.
All my experiences dining at restaurants by Bib had been amazing (for example in Seoul)! The Bib Gourmand guide is available in many cities in the world.
Chowhound, SeriousEats and Thrillist are US-based but they do include some recommendations for major European cities like Paris, London, Amsterdam and Berlin.
Use TheFork for some European cities like Geneva, Milan, Paris, Brussels, Madrid, Barcelona, Lyon and more.
If all the website above don’t cover your city, I go to TripAdvisor. I normally take TA’s advices with a pinch (or a granule) of salt.
If you are coming to Australia, download Liven and Eatclub. They offer massive discounts and I have already talked about it in my Melbourne Travel Guide.
Eatigo also offers amazing last minute discounts in many restaurants in Asian countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Hong Kong and India.
If you know other websites/apps that’s useful for planning a foodie trip, please comment down below!
Read some food blogs
I normally start with food blogs that I love such as:
I find that my palate is pretty similar to Thanis Lim’s and Will Fly For Food so I read a lot of their blog posts too.
Eat Your World is another website that I would recommend and it includes user content as well.
Right now, I am planning for my trip to the Balkans. I am obsessed with this rare gem by Food Perestroika!! It covers a lot of countries that I am going to in Eastern Europe (spoiler alert!)
Go on forums
I know, I know. This is going a little to far but lemme tell you what. Forum is one of the places that you can ask a direct, specific question which locals can quickly answer.
I normally start asking on Couchsurfing because I absolutely love the platform. It’s also free to sign up! Everyone keen to help out with any question related to travelling (and eating).
For example, I recently posted a thread on Couchsurfing’s forum on authentic cuisines in Eastern Europe. As I am planning to go to more obscure countries like Bulgaria and Macedonia, Google might not yield the answer that I’m looking for.
I posted a thread titled “Restaurants with affordable and authentic Bulgarian cuisine” and I got 28 replies within 2 days.
These replies are by locals and I believe with these recommendations, my foodie trip is all set for Sofia, simply because the restaurants are vouched by the locals!
Trip Advisors’ Forum can be really useful if you are asking a specific question.
Literally right now the thing that ran across my mind was “cheap porchetta sandwich in Bologna”. If you post that question, I can assure you that some helpful locals will jump on it and tell you all they know about porchetta, including how you should also try parmigiano reggiano next to that sandwich restaurant and the gelato right across the fountain.
I told you I am always thinking about food.
Watch some food shows
I binge on so many food shows.
Anthony Bourdain has many food shows and he will always be my favourite. I was devastated that day when I woke up learning that he took his own life. And now, at the point of writing this article, I just learnt that Joel Robuchon passed away too. And it’s raining outside 🙁 Let’s have a moment of silence.
My latest obsession is Somebody feeds Phil. I actually took my pen out to write down every single place that he went to in Venice.
Don't forget about the markets!
Going to a local markets is fun-taste-tic. Literally, it’s the best thing to do when you first arrive in a city.
You get a quick sense of what the locals actually eat.
Every time I go to a market, my senses will be overloaded with ingredients that I’ve never seen or smells that I’ve never experienced in my life.
Besides, markets can fill your tummy up pretty cheaply too! Although there are some that are catered towards tourists, majority of the markets are still frequented by locals and that means it’s inexpensive to get food there.
A few of my favourite markets in the world:
- Great Market Hall Budapest
- Or Tor Kor Market Bangkok
- Ben Thanh Market Ho Chi Minh
- Naschmarkt Vienna
- Tsukiji Fish Market Tokyo
- Grand Bazaar Tehran
If you love some spectacular markets, please comment down below!
Now, go travel!
Not everything is gonna go with your plan. You might be running late for your reservation. It might be raining and going to the restaurant becomes a dreadful trek. Anything could happen and screw your plan up.
My advice is, do some quick research on where the hipster area or the restaurant strips of the city is. They are the epicentre of food and you can taste a lot of food in one go because you have only one stomach!
So even if anything happened, you can still go to these neighbourhoods and have a wide array of food within walking distance!
I hope this post helped you in searching the best goodies when you’re travelling! Happy planning! On nom nom nom…