Given the explosion of sites and apps that connect travelers with home cooks, eating with locals has resonated with we globe-trotters. Here, four very different sites worth bookmarking for your next trip (or a weeknight break from cooking in your own city).
The spin: Your link to truly authentic Japanese home cooking. Though 12 countries are listed on Tadaku’s site, this Tokyo-based company offers the most when it comes to Japan. Local cooks take travelers to local markets (and even farms and sake breweries), then bring you back to their home to cook a meal.
Meal we’d join: The “high mountain menu with insects“. Learn how to cook grasshoppers and bee larvae—hey, it’s the protein of the future—in a traditional Japanese ryokan (hotel).
Company: Home Food le Cesarine
The spin: Think a curated list of Italy’s most food-obsessed grandmas. Italian-based Home Food has designated cesarinas/cesarinis, or home cooks (often women) who have deep knowledge of and love for regional Italian dishes to open their kitchens to travelers.
Meal we’d join: “So good and so tasty seems… Grosseto cooking”. We’re not exactly sure what that means, but the menu includes pici (a thick hand-rolled, spaghetti-like pasta) with bean purée, glazed tomatoes, and bacon so we’re IN.
The spin: Imagine a dinner party in Barcelona with a Michelin-starred chef. Or cooking with a food writer. Or sitting down to a crab feast with a fishmonger. Read: These aren’t your average home cooks. EatWith claims that chef-hosts are thoroughly vetted by the team and that only “4% of all applicants are accepted.” Diners get to review hosts, which also keep standards up. Currently, you can join a meal in one of more than 150 cities.
Meal we’d join: A “live” tapas dinner in Barcelona. Make, then devour, Spanish and Catalan tapas, like pà amb tomaquet (a bread and tomato app) and grilled veggies with romesco sauce. Then wash it all down with a nice Spanish red.
The spin: This is more like dining with your food-obsessed neighbor and a bunch of his or her friends. Dinner themes range from Caribbean to Cajun soul food, with a few cooking classes (truffles, butter) tossed in.
Meal we’d join: Mac & Cheese Redux. Three courses (THREE!) of mac ‘n cheese await anyone lucky enough to travel to Chicago right now, including a chorizo-spiked version and one with pumpkin.