There’s really no doubt that one of the best ways to get to know a place and its culture is to try the local cuisine. Traditional dishes can give specific insights into the customs, lifestyle, and even history of a destination. When traveling, AFAR staffers always make an effort to dine locally, whether that means enjoying fresh ceviche on the coast of Peru or a pot of fondue on a mountain in Switzerland. However, we differ in our approaches to eating abroad—including where we find those traditional dishes. Read on for our tips for eating well—and authentically—wherever you go.
“Inevitably, I end up grabbing a late-night snack at 7-Eleven anywhere they have one abroad. The international outposts always have decent takes on local bites. For instance, the onigiri rice balls in Tokyo are really solid and come in, like, half a dozen flavors at most locations.” —Andrew Richdale, senior editor
“I like to sample a mix of food options, both in recommended restaurants and (thoroughly cooked) street food. My favorite foreign food experience is visiting a grocery store to create my own picnic. It’s culturally fascinating, helps keep costs down, and often results in a great hour of people-watching in a nearby park where I devour my discoveries.” —Lou LaGrange, content partnerships director
“My preferences for street food or restaurant food depend on the country I’m visiting. Whenever I’m in Southeast Asia, I almost exclusively eat street food or at Hawker Centres (aka my Disney World). When I’m in Europe, there are street food options but they’re more snacks than meals, so I definitely eat the majority of my meals in restaurants. However, I do encourage grabbing cured meats, cheese, and a baguette from a bodega in Spain and having a picnic in your hotel bed when you need a break.” —Ashley Goldsmith, editorial intern
“I prefer to eat street food—in fact, I usually make it a point to eat food from a cart at least once on a trip. I’ve found that doing a street-food tour is a really good way to get good food and a bit of history and culture at the same time, since food is usually so tied to both of these things. I’ve done this in Seoul and Seattle and had a blast both times.” —Sherry Jin, director of engineering “My goal is usually to have street food for lunch, then go to a sit-down place for dinner. While in Berlin, I was so hungry one day that I ate four sausages from a street vendor. I just stood next to him for about a half an hour eating those things. By the third one, I didn’t even have to ask for another—I just nodded and he knew. I think that was one of my more memorable interactions while in Germany.” —Andrew Raymond, photo intern
“I prefer to eat authentic, cheap, and locally sourced food when I’m traveling. I’ve made some lovely memories using the following formula: Stay with locals or in a hostel, buy raw ingredients from the nearby markets, and cook a meal together with new friends for much less than you would spend in any restaurant.” —Thomas Alexander, guides intern
>> Next: 5 Rules for Eating Street Food