We’ve all been there before. You’ve just arrived in a new city. You’re hungry and you need to find a good restaurant. But which one? Never fear, I’m here to help with my tips of how to find a great place to eat!
Restaurants With Tourist Menus
This is an obvious giveaway that something’s wrong. The restaurant is trying to sell you sub-standard food, which may have been hanging around for ages. It may seem like a bargain. However, as usual, you only get what you pay for!
Restaurant Menus With Pictures Or Translations
This is a surefire sign that this restaurant is targeting tourists and not locals. If you were Italian, why would you need a picture of the dish to remind you what it looks like?! You can guarantee that the food won’t look anything like the picture when it arrives. You’ll also be getting a version of the dish that’s squarely aimed at tourists, and that an Italian would send straight back!
Another danger sign is when they have the menu translated into different languages. While this may seem helpful to tourists, it’s another sign that you’re getting food aimed at international tastes. The general rule of thumb is the more languages on the menu, the worse the food is going to be.
So, if you see a menu with pictures and multiple languages, beat a hasty retreat!
Restaurants With Non-Italian Dishes
As I’ve mentioned before in one of my previous posts, there are certain “Italian” dishes that don’t exist in Italy. The most obvious one is spaghetti Bolognese. While this may give you a reminder of home, Italians consider this a crime against food. If you see a picture of this on a laminated menu, translated into all the languages of the world, run away quickly!
It may seem petty to tourists, but Italians have spent years perfecting these dishes. There are also certain shapes of pasta that go with dishes. For example, Italians would never have spaghetti with ragu (the true Bolognese). It’s always paired with tagliatelle. It’s infinitely better at picking up the meaty sauce than spaghetti.
Restaurants With Hawkers
Another pet hate of mine. There’s nothing else guaranteed to make me continue walking than this. If they’re thrusting a menu in your face and trying to drag you inside, there’s a reason. The place is probably empty, or contains only tourists. If they have to tempt you to come inside, there’s something wrong with the food!
So How Do You Spot A Good Restaurant?
The good news is it is very easy! Don’t eat anywhere next to the main tourist sites, as they always target people who don’t want to stray too far.
However, just walk a few streets back from where you are, and you’re always guaranteed to find a place that’s filled with locals.
Or, do what I do. Wait until it’s lunchtime and stalk a local from a safe distance to see where they go. If the locals like it, you’re going to get an authentic Italian meal. Even better, it will be at a fraction of the price of one of those awful tourist menus!