Indicators you may want to eat elsewhere

Now that you know some tips for picking a good restaurant on a trip, here are some pointers for avoiding the bad ones.

Forgive the quality of the sketches. I’ll explain in a later entry why I’m trying my hand at drawing for the first time since I was a kid. But for now, let’s explore the types of situations you’ll want to NOT explore on a trip:

Tip 1: Avoid restruants that are empty at peak eating times. Just as you want to go where all the locals are, you want to avoid the places where they aren’t. The corralary to this is also to avoid those restaurants that are packed…with other tourists. Several tour busses parked outside does not usually bode well for finding an authentic meal.

Tip 2: Avoid “The Welcomer.” Any touristy city will have these guys. They stand outside restaurants that are either empty, filled with other naive tourists or lack windows or the ability for you to see what the place really looks like. They speak passable English and are quite friendly…until you try to pass them by. Do so.

Tip 3: Eat fresh. Vegetables and grains are good staples to seek out in countries that lack adequate refrigeration. Meats and fish are not your friends after they’ve sat for several hours…or days… unrefrigerated.

Tip 4: Beware of well-fed rodents in the vacinity. Rats and roaches. Enough said.

Tip 5: Always check out the restroom. My dad worked in a restaurant in college. He still tells horror stories of what the chefs would do if someone complained about a meal. He also insists on inspecting a restaurant’s restroom for cleanliness due to past experiences of the kind you don’t talk about at dinner.

Now to be fair, I have had some great meals in places with grungy sinks and toilets, but those are the exceptions. If the restaurant can’t keep the restroom (that you can see) clean, just imagine (or rather, try not to) what its like in the kitchen that you can’t see.

There’s a reason I don’t have a sketch for this tip…

Happy eating and let me know your favorite tips or stories about good – or not so good – dining experiences while traveling.

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