Eating and drinking like a local in Europe is all the rage nowadays – well, pretty much anywhere I suppose – and it is a trend I can wholeheartedly support. The tacky tourist traps that line the historic quarters of Europe, shamelessly pilfering those who just want a halfway decent local meal and a drink, have always annoyed the heck out of me.
The saddest part is, often, it’s not that we really want to eat or drink at these type of garbage places – most of us can sniff out a ripoff – it’s just that after an exhausting search, sometimes all we wanna do is just simply sit and eat.
To prevent you from getting to that exhausted point in the first place, here are a few tips to help you drink and eat like a local in Europe.
Scour the Sites
Obviously, the internet is going to be your number one resource in searching for the best local food and drink in Europe. My first bit of advice though is to make sure you mix up the websites you use. There’s no doubt that you will stumble across the ubiquitous Tripadvisor on your quest, and while I’m not going to say to ignore it completely, just take it with a big grain of salt. Make sure you blend in plenty of other sites like Spotted By Locals – written by locals – or Eat Your World – made by food fans the world over – and you are guaranteed to get a more well-rounded view of things. Never forget your foodie friends over on the forums over at Chowhound either, for while they can take things a bit too seriously at times, I’ve never been led astray by their advice.
While I am still not totally sold on the unfettered positivity of travelers lodging in local neighborhoods, I definitely think that local neighborhoods are the best places to go for food and drink options. The restaurants and bars in these areas will be friendlier because they aren’t getting brow beaten and asked questions by tourists all day, typically cheaper because you usually can’t rip off people you have to live next to, and undoubtedly offer more authentic local specialties unlike establishments in the tourist center, which will always have an eye to an international clientele’s taste buds.
Search for Spirits, Too
While food, beer, and wine may be the first thing to come to mind when we think of Europe, don’t forget that the continent is also a cradle of spirit-making. Almost everywhere is home to a local liquor that must pass your lips before you leave town. From jenever in the Lowlands of Netherlands and Belgium to absinthe in the Alps and rakija in the Balkans, any bartender worth his or her salt (preferably at a local bar, remember tip #2) will be able to steer you to a spirit you should try and let you know how you should sip it.
Actually Eat with a Local
Taking the sharing economy to its inevitable and delicious end, you can now actually have a real live local cook a meal for you. Yes, on sites like EatWith and With Locals (among others) you simply enter the city you are going to, and you’ll quickly see a whole list of fun activities for those who love their food. Make sure to read the reviews and the ratings of hosts to ensure the tastiest results and I suppose check to see if they’ve ever been arrested for poisoning in the past.
If All Else Fails, Just Ask Someone, But Not Just Anyone
If you’ve exhausted the first four options, and you still can’t find a place to eat or drink like a local, just grab someone on the street and ask. In fact, I would recommend a random person on the street over staff at your hotel or hostel. Why? Well, let’s just say that a little birdie has told me that these very helpful folks can sometimes be slightly swayed by local establishments to send clients their way. Innocent? Perhaps. Helpful in finding you the best local meal? Perhaps not.
This post originally appeared on TravelPulse