One of my favorite things about traveling is trying new food, so most of the stops on our itinerary revolve around eating. There are only so many meals in a day, but my husband and I try to make the most out of each one! We enjoy trying the local cuisine of the city, region or country that we are visiting. When we found out we were moving to Destin we couldn’t wait to try all of the southern dishes and seafood! We recently went to Brotula’s and the chef put together an amazing seafood platter for us. Everything was amazing, especially the crab legs, lobster and shrimp! We also ordered the fried green tomatoes since they are a staple in the south and they were super flavorful! Plus you can’t beat the view of the harbor! It’s a great restaurant that both tourists and locals enjoy.
When you aren’t familiar with where you are visiting it can be overwhelming and difficult to find the best restaurants. We prefer finding hole-in-the-wall eateries where locals dine rather than overpriced tourist traps. Here are my tips for finding the best restaurants while traveling:
Follow local bloggers. Before we visit a new city I like to see if there are any bloggers who live in the area. If so I’ll scroll through their Instagram feeds to see if they’ve posted about any restaurants or bars. Most bloggers also have a travel guide dedicated to their hometown on their site. Jenn from Haute Off The Rack has a helpful New Orleans foodie guide, Jess Ann Kirby has some great Newport, RI tips and I love Julia’s Charleston guide on Gal Meets Glam. I’ve put together guides to Seattle and Las Vegas and I’m currently working on a Destin roundup! Brotula’s will definitely be on there. I mean look at that amazing seafood!
Ask locals where to eat once you’re there. Sometimes our favorite restaurants have been ones I did not research in advance. We like to ask hotel staff, waitresses, Airbnb hosts, etc. for their recommendations. Our shuttle driver in Nashville gave us a ton of great suggestions, which is how we discovered bartaco and other great spots in 12 South.
Take a food tour. While Rob and I were in Miami we took a food tour through South Beach, which was amazing! It was a walking tour and we stopped at several restaurants and significant landmarks. Not only did our guide tell us the history of the food, she also pointed out famous hotels, mansions and historical sites. It was cool to learn about the culture while experiencing the food. Also, it’s a great way to find authentic hidden gems!
Be wary of Yelp reviews. We’ve been to some restaurants that have great reviews on Yelp or other review sites, but ended up being disappointed. Just because the restaurant comes up first when you search and they have a ton of reviews doesn’t mean it’s the best option. Don’t get me wrong, they might be great! But we have found that a lot of these can be really touristy or the restaurant got a boost because they paid for advertising. Obviously I’m not going to go to a restaurant with consistent 1-star reviews, but I don’t trust these sites 100%.
Check out the menu beforehand. This may seem obvious, but make sure there are a few dishes on the menu that you are absolutely drooling over! You don’t want to get to the trendy restaurant you saw on social media and then not be super excited about anything on the menu. I’ve dragged Rob to a couple of spots before that looked really cool and Instagram-worthy, but then we got there and were like ummm nothing looks good. One time I brought him to a vegan restaurant where they only served salads. He is more of a steak and burger kind of guy, so we were both disappointed. But they had a cool wall for photos and a fun atmosphere so I assumed it would be tasty. Oops!
Join location-specific Facebook groups. I recently joined a group about Destin where locals and visitors discuss where to stay, eat, see dolphins, etc. It’s helpful to get reviews from people who frequent the area.
What are your tips for finding great restaurants while traveling?