Tourist Restaurant Traps & How to Avoid Them

What is a Tourist Restaurant:

A restaurant located in major tourist destinations serving food of low quality claiming to be authentic to the city or country it is in.

Tourist restaurants in major cities are everywhere, both in the US and overseas. They can absolutely ruin a meal, and no one wants that when you only have a limited time in the city you’re exploring! With these tips, you’ll learn how to spot them and avoid them at all costs!

Why you want to avoid them in the first place:

Tourist restaurants are located in ideal spots to get a meal. However, once they get you seated everything goes down hill. The prices are heightened, but they generally don’t make up for it with the quality of their food. The food is generally not traditional to the culture or country it claims to be from. A prime example: fettuccini alfredo. Alfredo sauce is not something Italians eat, so any place serving it definitely is not “authentic”. Sometimes, service is awful because they figure you’re probably not coming back.

In my opinion, why go to one of these restaurants when you can walk 5 more minutes to a restaurant that is so much better. I’d rather take a little more time out of my day to get better food and service for my money! You’re only there once, so you deserve the best food you can get!

What to look for:

Location, Location, Location:

Tourist restaurants are usually located on main streets around popular tourist spots like the Trevi Fountain or the White House.

The man or woman begging you to look at the menu:

Like the photo above, most tourist restaurants will have someone standing at the front greeting people, inviting them to come in, and sometimes aggressively making people read the menu or even following them down the street.

It’s super hard at first to say no or avoid them because you feel bad. There’s never any reason to be rude to them, but you also don’t need to engage in conversation. Just say “no” and keep walking.

The Menus

These restaurants usually have menus in 27 different languages. The menus will have a giant picture of the flag representing the language it is, and that should really give it away. Super tacky.

Another thing to look for is how many dishes are actually on the menus. If the menu has about 100 dishes, there’s a good chance the food isn’t freshly prepared. There’s also a good chance the food isn’t great, because if you think about it, it’s hard for a restaurant to be amazing at 100 different things.

The Decorations

When you’re looking at the restaurant, are there super bright checkered table cloths and creepy plastic food? If so- run while you can!

How to find restaurants that aren’t “tourist restaurants”:

Finding great restaurants isn’t hard! It just takes maybe 5-10 minutes ad you’ll be set for your entire day of exploring the city you’re visiting. Here are the best 3 ways I find restaurants:

Look on TripAdvisor and Yelp

Looking on these apps will certainly help you separate the winners from the losers. I personally like to look for restaurants with over 100-300 reviews, depending on the city you’re in.

If there’s bad reviews, look to see why, but generally move on!

If you are walking around and find a restaurant you think you’d want to eat at, Yelp it before you go in! That 2 minute search will save you from making a foodie mistake!

Ask the locals

If you get a chance to interact with locals at all, ask them their favorite places! Trust me, locals don’t go to tourist restaurants. Therefore, also be sure to look if locals are eating there!

Look on food blogs and instagram

Food bloggers know what they’re talking about when it comes to food! They’re not going to recommend bad places or tourist places either. The places they recommend sometimes have cool, instagram-worthy food that you’ll definitely want to check out!

For example, when I went to NYC I looked at food blogs and instagrams to find this cool treat!

Overall, food is a serious matter and you shouldn’t risk having a bad meal in a place you may never go back to! Check out those tips, my food page, and my instagram!

Below are just a few food gems that I found from asking around, looking on social media, or checking TripAdvisor and Yelp:

Found this breakfast place in Munich on TripAdvisor!
Asked our local Portuguese tour guide about a food market to find this gem
Found this BBQ spot in Dedham from looking at someone’s instagram story!

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