It should come as no surprise that Plated is full of adventurous eaters who love to travel far and wide to explore new cuisines and cultural delicacies. However, like many of you, we’ve got to stay on a budget. Here are some of our best tips for eating well anywhere without spending an arm and a leg. Bon voyage and bon appétit!
1. Ask Locals
While travel guides, friends, and hotel concierges can be helpful sources of information, locals are invaluable in sussing out the best cheap eats. Cab drivers are often the best bet, as they’re intimately acquainted with the far reaches of their city or region, and generally don’t receive kickbacks from the restaurants like guides or concierges. If a local showers you with generosity and asks you into their home for a meal (in a safe, non-threatening manner, of course), say yes! The cultural experience and home-cooked food will likely be far more authentic (and, ahem, inexpensive) than eating out.
2. Buy Local and Cook Local
Whether it’s a chain store or an outdoor market, grocery shopping can offer unparalleled cultural immersion. If you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen, stock up on local ingredients and discover the cuisine through your own cooking. If you can, ask the stall owner or shopkeeper the go-to ways to prepare the ingredients—they’ll know best.
3. Get on the Fancy Lunch Train
If tasting menus and white tablecloth dining are your jam but not exactly in your budget, embrace the fancy lunch. In addition to breaking up the day with a pleasantly indulgent interlude, lunches are almost always more affordable than dinners, and they often feature similar (if not the same) menu items. Plus, afternoon cocktails are basically a must-have on vacation.
4. Take a Cooking Class or Attend a Food Tour
With global travel ever-increasing and an obsession with food on the up and up, food tourism has become an industry in itself. Taking a cooking class is a wonderful way to experience a new cuisine—and it enables you to bring home your experiences in the form of new, impressive kitchen skills. Food tours are also a widespread, enjoyable food-related activity that offers the opportunity to taste many different specialties, usually fairly inexpensively. Before you leave for vacation, crowdsource the best classes and food tours, and sign up in advance if necessary.
5. Research Deals and Happy Hours
Just like you, locals everywhere love food and saving money. Research happy hour locales and deals before and during your visit, and you’ll undoubtedly unearth some deliciously affordable gems. And hey, you’ll probably meet some new, cool locals in the process!