There’s a world of food out there waiting to be explored. However, there are some things you should know before you start dishing up some international eats. We’ve put together this handy insight into what you should know about eating out in other countries.
Things You Should Know About Eating Out In Other Countries
Avoid restaurants with hosts outside
We’ve all seen them in the main tourist drags, charming hosts holding menus and promising the best food inside. However, if these restaurants really did make the best local food, they wouldn’t need someone outside to bring you in. Be wary, it may be an easy way to decide to dine, but there are often hidden costs, and you may not be getting quality food or value for money.
Ask your waiter
One good restaurant can lead to another. If you enjoy a particular place, ask the waiter or a staff member for a nearby place for breakfast, a good cafe, bar or even another good place to try for dinner.
Plan your travel dates ahead
If you have your heart set on eating at a well-known restaurant, it would be advisable to book ahead. It’s also key to remember that in France, Italy, and Spain, locals tend to go on holiday for the month of August, so you might discover the restaurant you want to try is closed.
Also, research for any key dates, such as religious holidays or festivals, public holidays, or any events. Keep up to date with weather information, as outdoor food markets and dining terraces may not have the same appeal during monsoon season.
Learn the Lingo
Learn a few phrases
A few vital phrases will go a long way. It will make it easier with your waiting staff and shows added respect for the country you are traveling in.
How to say, ‘Check; please!’ in the following languages:
- French – L’addition, s’il vous plait
- Italy – Il conto, per favore
- Spain – La cuenta, por favor
- Portugese – A conta, por favor
Know where and how to tip
There is no need to tip in Japan and China; however, tipping is the norm in the USA, and staff generally expect 15 to 25% of the total bill to help subsidize their incredibly low wages. In Europe, the tip is often already included in the cheque, but you can leave an added tip for the wait staff.
If you want to experience an upmarket dining experience, you need to remember that you’ll need to book in advance. Think ahead and allow yourself plenty of time, as some venues can sell out months in advance. Some real foodies book their restaurant reservations ahead of their flights!
Know local cultures and customs when it comes to food
Remember that in some countries, how you eat your food is important to remember. When in Morocco, the Middle East, or India, it is polite to only eat with your right hand, do not eat with your left as it is considered rude and very unclean. In China, use the serving chopsticks to pile food on your plate, not your own. In Italy don’t eat pizza with a knife and fork; eat it with your hands, and in America, double dipping your foods into sauce bowls after you’ve taken a bite will outrage your American counterparts.
When is dinner?
Depending on the country you visit, dinner can be served at a different time than in your home country. In Spain and South America, people sit down to dinner around 10 or 11 pm. Wandering the streets of Madrid at 1 am, you will see families with their children having an after-dinner walk before heading home. In Arab countries, dinner is also usually taken after 10 pm. In Paris and Rome, it’s around 9 pm, whereas in New York, restaurants generally have two dinner sittings, with the earliest starting from 5:30 pm.
Street food markets
Street food markets are the best place to enjoy fresh and authentic food. Tuck into freshly baked bread, aromatic teas, and strong coffees. It’s important to practice standard food hygiene rules, look at how the food is being prepared, ensure it’s not being washed in tap water, and be wary of anything that doesn’t look fresh.
Avoid tourist restaurants
Visit a tourist attraction, and you’ll surely find a restaurant. To gain a more authentic experience, go off the beaten track, even just a street over, and you’ve no idea what little eateries you will discover. They will often have better food and will be a lot more affordable than the overpriced restaurants in the popular main square.
Benefits of being a solo traveler
There are many benefits to being a solo traveler, and dining out is one of them. Even the most exclusive restaurants in the world can accommodate room for one more. If you want to experience a particular dining experience but don’t want the hassle of booking prior, this can save you trouble.
Written by Sarah McCann, Blog Editor at MyBaggage.com, a luggage delivery service helping travelers worldwide.