For me, and, i suspect, for many people, food is a very important part of travelling. Many will wander weary miles just to satisfy their taste buds, myself no less. In fact, to me, the food part has an equal weight to the rest of the sightseeing experience, so i spare no effort to make sure that every meal on a trip will be good, and i mean EVERY meal (other than breakfast provided by the hotel). That means i will do prior research on where and even what i will have for my meals. Since I started doing this, my trips have become much more satisfying than those times when I left everything to chance. The best restaurant may be right under your nose without your knowing it and what a pity that would be.
What i think most people will do is to check TripAdvisor. I do too, though it’s not always the most reliable source for food reviews. I think the best reviews are those by the locals themselves, which is usually not the case on TripAdvisor (sorry to say this but I would trust a review on, say, Japanese food by an Asian more than I would someone from the western world). The results on TripAdvisor are often skewed in favour of restaurants nearer to tourist attractions and those that have an English menu. So, in addition to referencing TripAdvisor, I would go on to check if there are native food review websites.
In the case of Japan (where I’m going very soon), I found tabelog.com, which basically made TripAdvisor redundant. The restaurants recommended on TripAdvisor were not always as highly rated, according to the Japanese reviewers on tabelog.com. Also, there are many more restaurants reviewed, and the store information available is much more comprehensive and accurate (especially the name of the restaurant in Japanese characters which you may need for identifying the restaurant, and the pinpoint location on a map). The entire website is in Japanese of course, but with Google translate, there is no problem for anyone to be able to understand.
For North America, I found yelp to be useful. For Australia and New Zealand, urbanspoon did the job. For Singapore, hungrygowhere is the go to website. Often times, blogs provide the best information on where to find good food. For Hong Kong, I basically followed the recommendation of a single blogger and it worked well. Ultimately, you should base your decision on multiple sources and don’t just count on TripAdvisor.
By the way, if you’re curious about the food in the photos above, in clockwise direction from the top left:
- Goose liver at Erhardt, Szeged, Hungary
- Tapas (grilled cheese and mushroom that tasted heavenly) at El Majuelo, Salamanca, Spain
- Beef steak at Dom Beisl (one star Michelin), Vienna, Austria
- Seafood casserole (with rice at the bottom, very tasty and filling) at Restaurante Regional de Sintra, Portugal