How to choose a good restaurant in Europe

Ponto Final Lisboa

Sampling the food when on holiday in a foreign city is usually one of the highlights of a trip. This is definitely the case for us when we travel, often rating meals or reastaurants in the top few things we did. When in a tourist destination, there are a multitude of dining options to consider. Many of these options will have excellent local food, however there are often tourist traps that will leave you feeling underwhelmed and light-on in your wallet. This is particularly true when in key European holiday locations.

Read on for our advice on how to choose a good restaurant when in Europe

  1. Avoid restaurants on the main tourist streets. Whilst appealing in location, often the hospitality venues in the centre of tourist promenades or streets have expensive prices and food that is targeted to “weastern” tastes. Sure, this is fine if you know what you’re getting into, but if you want to sample fresh, authentic cuisine, then we would advise steering clear.
  2. Take care with restaurants with a sever trying to coerce you in the door. These venuse will often prioritise making money rather than the quality of their food. We typically avoid restaurants with these staff out the front. They also tend to be in higher traffic tourist areas, which can carry risks as mentioned above.
  3. Look for lines out the front. Yes, lines are time consuming and can be frustrating, however these queues often signify that these restaurants are worth waiting for. This isn’t always accurate, but can be a good guide if wondering where to choose for dinner. Tess and I will often embrace the waiting, get a glass of wine and enjoy it on the street (if the restaurant will allow).
  4. The menu’s hold the key! Look for handwritten menus and specials, this indicates fresh, seasonal produce. Lists written in the local language are also a good sign, despite the frustration of being unable to read them clearly. Google translate can help, or you take a guess and enjoy the surprise. Menus with multiple languages and that are laminated are often a bit of a red flag.
  5. Ask for recommendations from locals. We always make a point of asking our or AirBnB hosts where they recommend to eat. This isn’t foolproof, and we have been lead astray (a terrible paella in Barcelona comes to mind), however we have also been treated to some outstanding food (some of the restaurants we recommended in Lisbon were suggested by our lovely AirBnB host). Finding out where the locals will eat in a busy city always increases your chances of an excellent meal.
  6. Look are advice from travel bloggers and locals online. As travel bloggers ourself, we are biased here, however taking advice from others that have experienced the city gives you excellent insight and increases the chance of an outstanding meal.

Do you have any further advice on how to choose the best restaurant when in Europe? Comment below!

Keen to read more? See travel articles or information about food and restaurants we have experienced?

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