Part of the adventure of travel is finding new and memorable restaurants at your destination.
One of my favorite travel adventures was eating at Asti’s in New York City’s Greenwich Village the first time I went to New York (many, many years ago). I was thoroughly impressed by the opera-singing waiters, the delicious Italian food and the wall of photos and autographs of famous people who have eaten at Asti’s (it was said to have been President Franklin Roosevelt’s favorite restaurant).
Whether it is a sidewalk café in Paris, quaint little pub in a small English village or family-owned place in Little Italy; finding a great place to eat and observe the local scene may be the part of your vacation you treasure the most long after you return.
But how do you find such unique places when you travel? Clearly it helps to have a friend who lives there or a knowledgeable concierge at your hotel, but what is the adventure in that kind of travel? The true adventure is in finding the great places yourself.
Fortunately the web is full of sites to help you find your way to gastronomical delights in a strange city.
For example, check out the Zagat Survey on www.zagat.com. When Tim and Nina Zagat started their survey, they didn’t take the ordinary path of using professional critics. Instead they enlisted ordinary restaurant patrons to provide their own opinions and ratings.
Zagat.com is a very versatile site. You can search for a restaurant by city, neighborhood, cuisine, what age group it appeals to, etc. Another interesting feature on Zagat.com is its, “show me more like this” button. One click on this and you will find similar restaurants in other cities and countries.
Another way to find restaurants is by searching the various online city guides. For example, AOL offers www.digitalcity.com, which includes a professional review followed by comments by ordinary patrons.
One of the most ingenious ways to find a good restaurant is offered by Michael Shapiro in his excellent book, Internet Travel Planner. Shapiro suggests using online forums to post a question about dining ideas in, say, Phoenix, Arizona. Based on his experience, you should very shortly receive many informed suggestions about restaurants in Phoenix in response. He mentions rec.food.restaurants as one group to log onto, but you can also find other groups by searching Google.groups.com
And while I am making a well-deserved plug for Michael Shapiro’s book, I should also mention another creative idea he suggests.
Once he has found a promising restaurant, he searches for reviews on a search engine. For example, he wanted more information on the Thirsty Bear in San Francisco, so he searched under “thirsty bear san Francisco” and found many online reviews.
Well that’s it. You are now fully qualified to eat in a strange city. So go forth and make travel an adventure.
COPYRIGHT © 2006, Charles Brown. All rights reserved.