Oh, Travel: Eating locally

One of my foremost travel commandments is one I learned from my father at a young age: thou shall not eat at chain restaurants when traveling. If you can get it at home, you shouldn’t be eating it there. My two exceptions to this rule: coffee shops & road trip food. While I would prefer a local coffee shop for my morning cup o’ joe, that’s not always possible, so sometimes I have to break down & head to Starbucks. Ditto when you’re looking for dinner while driving along the Interstate: sometimes, you just have to break down & head to Cracker Barrel because that’s what’s listed on the “food this exit” sign.We love getting local food recommendations from locals & friends who have been there in the past. We also live by two rules: 1. the place where the line is longest with locals is the place to go & 2. the places mentioned in the hotel in-room magazine are not the way to go (found this out the hard way when a friend recommended a place in Chicago & then it was mentioned in the in-room magazine. Sure enough, it was tourist hell). I’ve also found that the key to finding the best local places is to walk past the places aimed at tourists – there’s usually a local place tucked in a corner somewhere.

Below are photos from some of our favorite local eats. What are some of yours? Leave a comment below with your recommendations!

Pizza in Naples. It doesn’t get any more Italian than that. Even though this place was clearly geared toward cruise ship passengers (note the photos over my shoulder), it was recommended to us by our tour guide as the place to go for pizza. We were the only Americans there & the pizza was excellent = winning!
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

Gelato in Florence. It was amazing. In fact, I would return to Italy just for the gelato.
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

Sometimes going to Starbucks is okay… especially when it’s the original. Touristy? Most definitely. But can you really go to Seattle without stopping there?
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

We were really excited to find this hole-in-the-wall sandwich place in the back streets of Villefranche, France & were even more excited to use our high school French to order. The only disappointment came when the man in the window said back to us in perfect English “So you want a ham sandwich?” We didn’t notice the “Recommended by Rick Steves” note until after we got home!
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

We love to seek out local institutions that have been there forever, even for snacks. Childhood memories are what lead us to the Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop Factory for ice cream.
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

Childhood memories also led us to Malley’s for ice cream during our trip to Cleveland last summer. The pink elephant sundae was exactly as I remembered it as a kid.
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

While traveling in New England last summer, we were determined to eat as much lobster as possible to find the “best” lobster roll. I found my favorite at Gilbert’s in Portland, Maine.
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved


Clearly we eat a lot of ice cream when we travel. This strawberry cone was purchased out of a window along a side street in Kennebunkport, Maine. All their ice cream was homemade, yet the store was literally the size of my bedroom closet. I’m not sure how they do it, but I’m glad they do.
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

The best New England Lobster Bake we found was off-the-beaten path at the West Street Cafe in Bar Harbor, Maine. A freshly steamed lobster, blueberry cobbler & the locally brewed blueberry ale was the perfect way to recover from a six mile sea kayaking trip.
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved


We walked past the places featured on the visitor’s map to find the Harbor Public House in Bainbridge Island, Washington & we’re glad we did: we were the only travelers there & the fish & chips was fresh, hot & excellent.
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

I’m always seeking out a good cup of coffee. The best I have found in Barbados is at the Coffee Bean. Barbados may be the only place on earth that doesn’t have a Starbucks & I’m hoping it stays that way.
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

P.S. I realize I have now posted about food two Thursday’s in a row. Clearly I have food on the brain!

P.P.S. I’m not perk’d or paid to write any of this – I can assure you that these establishments have no idea that I exist.

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About christina

Christina is a 30-something D.I.N.K. travel writer & photographer who travels the world often wedged into the middle seat. Follow her on Twitter & Facebook.

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5 Responses to Oh, Travel: Eating locally

  1. Francesca April 21, 2011 at 6:52 pm #

    Wait, did I write this?? ;-) Seriously, I agree 100% with everything you wrote here. And now I am seriously craving a Cape Cod lobster roll. Great post; love the photos, too!

  2. HockeyBroad April 21, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

    I try to eat as local as possible. After all, one travels to experience the new, the unusual, and what one can’t get at home!

    Only problem is sometimes stuff is soooo good that I then have location envy and wish we had stuff at home! (ie. Three Twins ice cream in Napa)


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