Anthony Bourdain's Best Advice For Finding Great Restaurants In Any City

One of the great joys of travel is experiencing new and exciting cuisines, but it can be overwhelming when trying to steer clear of tourist traps and find traditional, local eateries. During his travels, the late, great Anthony Bourdain had some standby tricks for finding high-quality cuisine in any destination (and thus avoid any of the foods Bourdain hated with a passion). These tricks include observing (and dining with) locals, avoiding tour groups and tourist-catered cuisine, looking for spots that specialize in a limited number of items, and even provoking online foodies to find out their favorite haunts. 

Bourdain was famous for his global gastronomic adventures, showcasing lesser-known, underrated food cities, and encouraging an appreciation for different cultures and their unique dishes. While, yes, he had a particular American sandwich he craved when traveling abroad, his main goal was to find and sample the best of global cuisines. For a traveler in an unfamiliar city, the local culinary scene is a wonderful way to get a taste of the place and the people who call it home. With food being such an integral aspect of any culture, trying traditional regional cuisine is vital to getting the full travel experience. But, of course, you have to find it first.

Do and dine like a local

One of Bourdain's best bits of advice for feeling out a new city is to see where the locals are eating. Nobody knows a city's food scene like the people who call it home. His trick was to head to the central marketplace early in the morning when residents were starting their days. It's helpful to see what locals are grabbing on their way to work, be it breakfast, groceries, or food for their businesses. Being out and about in the central hub allows a glimpse of life before the tourists are out and makes it easier to spot the favorite food stops for locals.

Observing residents' go-tos is a great way to find delicious regional cuisine, and will often lead to spots that specialize in specific dishes. He told Money, "A place that does three things, and it looks like they've been doing those same three things for a very long time — that's a really healthy sign."

Bourdain was also adamant that you'll find these endemic flavors at food trucks or stalls that aren't geared toward tourists. "You get an idea of what a city or country is good at because they're catering to local tastes," he said to Esquire.

Find the online foodies

With all of the dining and travel information available online, it's a chore to sift through all the noise and find the real gems of advice and guidance. Localized food blogs can be a great resource if you are unfamiliar with an area or its offerings. But Anthony Bourdain also knew how to weaponize the foodies of the internet, turning to online forums and message boards to see where people broadcasted their strong food-focused feelings. 

It can be helpful to look at discussion boards specific to the city you are visiting to see what spots inspire the biggest emotional responses. Never one to shy away from some heat, Bourdain recommended posting a false opinion about the 'best' dish a location is famous for at a touristy restaurant in a given city to provoke angry replies from those more well-versed in that specific food scene. In telling you why it's not the best, angry online foodies will inevitably point you to the real worthwhile spots. If there's one thing you can say about Bourdain, it's that he always knew how to stir the pot in the best way.