An acclaimed chef, perpetual traveler, and host of CNN’s rock-and-roll-vibed travel show Parts Unknown, Anthony Bourdain knows a thing or two about eating great in foreign places, whether in Madagascar or Miami.
Bourdain recently gave Entrepreneur magazine his best advice for finding delicious, authentic food while traveling. So, if you’re planning a trip and would never dream of eating in the hotel restaurant, listen up.
1. Be open to unplanned eating experiences.
You can carefully construct your travel itinerary with lock-tight reservations, or you can loosen up, as Bordain suggests, and stay open to “happy accidents.” He recalls a time he was in the Caribbean riding scooters with his girlfriend when it started pouring. They pulled over to a wooden shack with a tin roof for shelter, and then, seeing that it was a restaurant, and ordered the chicken. “Everything about it was unexpected, but it came together,” Bourdain tells Entrepreneur. “The beer was cold, the right song — something by Peter Tosh — came on the radio. It was a happy accident, and it was the best jerk chicken I’ve ever had.”
2. Get advice from locals.
Not all of your meals can be spontaneous happy accidents — obviously, traveling requires prep. Rather than asking the hotel concierge for eating tips — he’ll likely send you to places he knows tourists like — ask locals (unaffiliated with the hospitality industry) for recs. This is the only way to discover where the great food is. In short: “Don’t eat like a tourist.”
On-the-ground exploration of the place you’re visiting is essential — visit local markets and neighborhoods not necessarily featured on the tourist maps (plus, you’ll get the ultimate insider advice.) “Chances are high that a guy selling fish in a fish market will know where you can eat great fish,” Bourdain says. “He might well know where you can get an amazing bowl of pasta, too.” Obviously, this requires courage, but, as Bourdain says, you just have to “take the plunge and just walk into a place. That simple moment when you get good yakitori or something else you’ve never heard of for the first time — its a tremendous feeling of accomplishment.”
—Maria Yagoda, @mariayagoda