Eating on vacations

Your restaurant choices can be a matter-of-face chore…or they can provide rich opportunities to connect with others and their culture.

Very often people think “vegetarian” means “no red meat” or “not much meat.” If you are a strict vegetarian, you’ll have to make things very clear. Write the appropriate phrase, keep it handy, and show it to each waiter before ordering your meal.

University cafeterias (generally closed during summer holidays) offer a surefire way to meet educated English-speaking young people with open and stimulating minds. They’re often eager to practice their politics and economics, as well as their English, on a foreign friend.

The “tourist menu” popular in restaurants throughout the world’s tourist zones, offers confused visitors a no-stress, three-course meal for a painless price that usually includes service, bread, and a drink. You normally get a choice of several options for each course. Locals rarely order this, but if the options intrigue you, the tourist menu can be a convenient way to sample some regional flavors for a reasonable, predictable price.

In many groceries and open-air markets, most food is priced by the kilo (about two pounds). 

If no prices are posted, be wary. Travelers are routinely ripped off by market merchants in tourist centers. Find places that print the prices. Assume any market with no printed prices has a double price standard: one for locals and a more expensive one for tourists.

Point, but don’t touch. At produce stands and outdoor markets, it’s considered rude for a customer to touch the goods. Tell the vendor (or point to) what you want.

Never eat in a touristy area or near a tourist attraction

As a general rule, walk five blocks in either direction before you find a place to eat. The closer you are to tourist attractions the more you are going to pay and the worse the food (and service). Use websites to find some delicious and popular restaurants around you.

Additionally, never eat anywhere the menu is in like 6 languages! That means the restaurant is just for tourists!

Try new food.

Don’t ask what it is. Just put it in your mouth and see if you like it. If you put your guard up, you might miss out on some unusual and delicious local cuisine.

Eat street food!

If you skip the street food, you miss out on culture. Don’t be scared. If you’re nervous, look for places where kids are eating. If it’s safe for them, it’s safe for you.