How many times have you asked a hotel concierge for restaurant recommendations and ended up feeling like they sent you to a tourist trap?  Or, have you ever gone to the concierge and you were given a pre-printed list of restaurants?  Do you ever wonder if the concierge actually eats there or if the food is even good?  My Vacation Lady tries to give our clients recommendations on restaurants but you may want other options as well.

Here are some ideas about how to eat like a local and get great meals at good prices:

Ask a local- Rather than asking the concierge, ask the bell hops or valets for suggestions on where to eat.  When we were in Maui last time, we got some great recommendations for great little places for sushi, seafood and more from the bell hops and valets.  Remember, they live there and eat there and aren’t looking to spend $300 a night for dinner.  One of the local places we went to in Maui was in a residential neighborhood.  Actually in a strip mall and we had huge portions of really great Hawaiian food for $15 each at Da Kitchen.

Sample local cuisine- the way they eat it–  In Hawaii, aloha plate or mixed plate lunches are the Hawaiian version of fast food.  A standard aloha plate lunch consist of two scoops of white rice, a scoop of macaroni salad, and a main entrée.  A plate lunch with more than one entrée is often called a mixed plate.  We tried a plate lunch in Oahu in a Kahala strip mall and walked out stuffed for $5 each.

Travel (safely) off the beaten path. Get away from the main tourist areas and venture off into some of the local neighborhoods.

Think outside the box.  Think about where you go for dinner or snacks at home, perhaps a local pub or café – and then do the same thing when you’re on vacation.  Ask shop keepers and hotel staff members (not just the concierge) where they go to eat with their friends and family.

Know the local customs. When traveling abroad, consider the times the locals eat.  For instance, in Italy, dinner is often late, starting at 9 PM since they have late lunches. Tipping may also be different too.  Our norm of 15-20% can actually be considered rude or downright insulting in Japan.  Know where meals can be quite large and meant for sharing.  Get into the French way of dining— buying a baguette and some cheese for breakfast.   If you see a lot of locals taking their lunches and eating in the park, you might want to try that as well.

Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive— it just may take a bit of thinking outside the box to get the best value on meals.

My Vacation Lady can help plan your next vacation or honeymoon with tips on restaurants that won’t break the bank in may locations around the world.