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Eating Abroad

The top 10 tips for foreign dining

When it comes to dining abroad, there are generally two types of gourmands: those who can walk up to any random street cart in the world, order up whatever the local specialty is and savor “the best meal ever”; then, there are the rest of us. Folks who require first-hand knowledge, ingredients we recognize, and at least one Michelin star for good measure.  But when you’re not on your turf, just where do you go? Since food is often one of the most memorable elements of travel, how do you find those unforgettable meals that give you a real taste of the country you’re in? Here are our top 10 tips for dining abroad:



Image: Tafelspitz, boiled beef, is a classic Viennese meal; Christian Kadluba, flickr

Engage the concierge -- Let’s face it, hotel staff are often rewarded for recommending the same handful of eateries. However, they can still be a valuable source of information. Instead of asking what they recommend, try being more specific: What’s your favorite local dish and who makes it best? Where do most chefs eat? If you had friends visiting, where would you take them?

There’s an “app” for that -- You’d be amazed what you can find online. From posing the question of where to eat on social media to travel blogs and dining apps, there are a variety of ways to discover that hidden culinary gem. Click to check out Paste magazine’s suggestions.

Ask a waiter -- Good food leads to more good food. If you are in a restaurant you’re particularly fond of, ask the wait staff for their recommendations...after you’ve complimented them on the fine meal you just enjoyed at their restaurant, of course.

Check your calendar -- Do some research before you travel, or speak to your Travcoa Travel Director, about local festivals, public holidays or religious observances that are occurring in the area, which often attract some unforgettable street fare.

Plan ahead -- The finer the meal, the more in demand the reservation. If you want to visit that new up-and-coming celebrity chef, you’ll need to book pretty far in advance.

Don’t overlook the hotel -- Many Michelin-starred restaurants are right at home in hotels. Gone are the days of bland, homogenized cuisine. Today, the meal of your life may be no further than the lobby.

Dinnertime -- Not everyone eats at the same time. While you might typically dine around 7 pm, Spaniards and Arab diners usually don’t show up until at least 10 pm and the Swedes prefer to eat at 6 pm. That being said, make sure to ask what time dinner is typically served wherever you are.

Tips for Tipping -- Not all countries expect you to tip after a meal. In fact, in Japan it’s seen as quite rude. Since some places include a service charge in the bill and others rely on tips, it’s important to know the standard in the country to which you’re traveling.

Enjoy a picnic -- Sometimes simple food on an unhurried day can be the best treat. Ask for directions to the market and stock up on fresh produce, cheese, local bread and fine wine.

Eat traditional -- Ask a local about their favorite meal or their grandmother’s special recipe. Then, order up that dish the area is known for.

Traveling abroad? Why not incorporate an exceptional food experience into your next trip? Travcoa offers luxury Escorted Journeys as well as Private and Custom travel to must-see destinations throughout the world. Its unique Dine-Around Program allows travelers to dine at any restaurant of their choosing -- including exclusive Michelin-starred venues – and the cost is already included in the journey price, except for alcohol and caviar. To learn more about how the Dine-Around Program works, Travcoa’s unique travel destinations, or to make reservations, call your travel agent or a Travcoa Journey Consultant at 1-800-992-2003, or email

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Topics: Dine Around