A Taste of Something Different.
Enjoying local cuisine is a special part of traveling that shouldn’t be overlooked. Travelers who tend to dine on their creature comforts while otherwise being adventurous always perplex me. Why fly halfway around the globe only to eat at McDonalds? I travel specifically to sample the local flavors, explore the regions’ spices and cultural specialties. The cuisine says a lot about the culture and diving head first is how I travel.
Obviously there are restrictions that I usually follow, never drink the water in Central America, avoid extreme spices and be wary of some street food. I tend to eat too much street food, but I figure if the locals eat it, why shouldn’t I? Water in third world countries in general should be avoided due to parasites that your insides might not be used to. Eating extreme spices when on a road trip is another danger all together.
Countless times I’ve been unsure about tasting something only to be completely surprised and amazed by the new flavors. Eating live octopus in Japan sounded and looked insane but once I actually did it, well, it was pretty gross, to be honest. Not everything you try will be appetizing but at least I can say that I tried it. The memory is always with me and the experience was unforgettable. Had I decided not to push my boundaries and try the still alive octopus, I don’t think the memory would last.
My travel memories are constantly awakened by smells, tastes and textures. It’s amazing how the mind connects memory and experiences. I can’t walk past a gyro shop without being reminded of my time in Greece, the aromas are so overpowering and pleasurable. Gyros are now one of my favorite dishes and I have an afternoon in Athens to thank for that.
I have a few simple rules that I live by when I travel that apply to food. First, I always eat local my first meal. You won’t find me eating at an American chain restaurant anytime soon, even if it’s in Istanbul. Instead I’ll ask my cab driver or concierge at my hotel what food I NEED to try. You’d be amazed by how many suggestions you’ll receive.
I find that people are generally proud of where they are from and revel in the opportunity to share their favorite local spots. I know that when friends and family visit me in Los Angeles, I am a venerable fountain of information, just spewing restaurant names and my favorite dishes at anyone who will listen.
My second travel cuisine rule is simple… do not be afraid. Many of what you are about to eat may look, smell or even taste bad, but you cannot show fear. Instead be brave and just go for it, take a big bite, chew it up and savor the flavor. Granted, you may spit the food immediately out and that’s fine, I’ve done it. It’s a natural reaction of your body to reject some tastes, but at least you now know that whatever you just ate is bad.
My wife and I were traveling in the Philippines a few years ago and my cab driver said that we had to try balut, which if you don’t know is fermented bird embryo, and is a very acquired taste. When I first saw balut I was honestly scared, it does not look appetizing, in fact it doesn’t even look edible. The smell was horrendous and all the locals stared at me like I was about to do something real dumb, and I was. I followed my own rules and I took a bite, not a large bite, but a bite nonetheless and my reaction was violent and over the top. I spit out my bite, threw my arms into the air, yelled a primal scream and tossed some water down my throat. Was I overreacting? Sure, but with the added audience I figured a larger than life response was warranted. I got a loud boisterous reaction from the gathered crowd followed by applause. This was my favorite moment from our trip to Manila. A simple taste of local cuisine has stuck with me for years like it happened yesterday and to think, if I hadn’t been adventurous I wouldn’t have ever experienced this. Of course I remember the awful taste, but what I truly remember were the connections I made with a dozen locals that day.
My last rule of eating while traveling involves your intestinal fortitude. When I travel, I always try whatever on the menu scares me the most. In England, this was blood pudding. Just the idea of eating coagulated blood is so unappealing to me its no wonder I was terrified by this choice. But just like all my other food related travel memories, I can perfectly paint a picture of that day. I was visiting my good pal Simon, who was on weekend leave from the British Army. We met at a local pub and began drinking pints, as the locals were known to do. Who was I to shy away from local traditions?
Simon and his mates knew I was terrified of eating blood pudding, so they egged me on for hours. I finally caved to their taunts and ordered blood pudding. A horrid looking dish, much darker than I had ever imagined and the smell was similar to an old dumpster. They come in sausage casing, which is already a strike against them, and are cut into bite size pieces. All that build up and you know what… they weren’t half bad. They taste similar to liver, very irony and grainy. The texture is one I won’t soon forget, but you know what… that day was incredible. I’m honored to have spent it with young soldiers while we sampled their local cuisine.
Remember friends, travel with your senses and you will never forget.
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Sure, you can get a great meal anywhere. But how many times have you had a meal that sticks with you for the rest of your life? If your answer is “not enough,” then you need to check out one of these amazing global dining destinations. Food aside, the atmosphere and experience will stick with […]
A Guide to the Best Food in San Diego
It’s one of the first questions every person asks when they are traveling to a new city for the first time.
Where is a good place to get a bite?
Food on a trip might even be a major component that you plan an entire vacation or day around. That is especially true in big cities like San Diego, which always seem to have the biggest and best local and chain restaurants.
San Diego in beautiful California is one of the ten largest cities in the U.S. and is known for its top-notch cuisine. Everyone loves a good food tour, and San Diego is somewhere that has numerous can’t-miss places to eat you will want to read about.
Continue reading for a comprehensive list and guide to the best food in San Diego broken up by category.
Seafood is Tops in San Diego
There’s no doubt that one of the first things on anyone’s mind traveling to San Diego is to try the fish. Sitting right on the coast, and arguably the biggest city right on a coast, San Diego can offer fresh seafood that other places simply can’t. If you live in the U.S., odds are you do not live near a coast, so take advantage of this unique situation.
One of the restaurants heavy into seafood with a top reputation is George’s at the Cove. They were once voted San Diego’s top restaurant!
Another is The Fishery, with some of the best main courses you can find on any menu in town. Their fresh catches are so good that they not only serve their own supply but they are a distributor for other restaurants.
If you have gone fishing yourself and caught something tasty, or want a closer look at the catch you elect to eat, head to El Pescador Fish Market. A traditional beach hangout, they’ll cook your fish for you, or you could head on in with nothing and sit down and eat too.
A couple more seafood restaurants of note are Civico 1845 and Seafood La 57.
San Diego Pizza
Beyond fresh fish right off the ocean, San Diego is also known for its strong pizza selection. Definitely try either the pizza or seafood as some of the best food in San Diego when you head over.
Civico by the Park has wood-fired pizza and pasta that is unmatched across the city and even the state. This restaurant combines the flair of pizza with the best wine selection as well.
If you are feeling homesick on your trip, try Tribute Pizza. They feature and imitate some of the most well-known pizza places around the country, so maybe they picked one from your hometown.
Tex-Mex in San Diego
It’s all in the name as you can get the best tacos not just in town but in the solar system at Galaxy Tacos.
Some taco spots are right next to each other and competing, but that offers a great chance to try them all. Taco joints Corazon de Torta, El Comal, and Las Cuatro Milpas are all in downtown San Diego.
For more great tacos and burritos, there is also Tuetano Taqueria. They coat their special tacos with a blend of seasoning to give it a different tone and unique taste.
More Great Restaurants
While seafood, pizza, and tacos may be some of the most irresistible food around, there is still plenty more to take in on your trip to San Diego.
If sushi is your thing, try Yakitori Hano or Yakitori Taisho. Try it as the nightcap, as they are only open for dining at dinnertime. A couple of other strong sushi options are Soichi, Sushi Ota, and Sushi Tadokoro.
With a name that stands out, Crack Shack has a giant chicken out front indicating their food of choice. Fried chicken and wings like you have never had before are available there.
Everyone loves a good steak, and a food tour would not be complete without mentioning the best place to get a porterhouse or filet cut. Born and Raised takes cooking steak back to its roots.
Italian-based Civico by the Park is probably the highest-rated and most sought-after pasta establishments in the area as well as pizza. Buona Forchetta is one more pasta place that some really love.
Beyond the highly-acclaimed In and Out Burger, the best hamburger restaurant is certainly Swagyu Burger. They even have another version of their place that is Swagyu Chop Shop that combines Japanese food with American burgers.
Upscale San Diego Cuisine
One of the best things about San Diego food is that they have something for everyone. If you are looking for more of a higher-scale dining experience, look no further.
When you give this level of restaurant a try, you will also get to experience food you might have never tried before. Like at Jeune et Jolie, one of the highest-rated establishments in the city and a French masterpiece.
If you are into golf and find yourself out near the famous Torrey Pines course, there are some incredible options right near you. Try the A.R. Valentien, an eatery built right into the golf course’s lodge. Walk the same grounds Tiger Woods did when he won his 14th Major championship on a leg with a torn ACL.
The Best Grub Around
In addition to being one of the most beautiful cities to visit in the U.S., San Diego has some of the best food in the country as well. You’ll want the best grub when you are soaking up the sun, enjoying the beach, and watching some of the best sports.
There could be no better place than to head on a food tour in sunny San Diego. Now that you know the lay of the land, go out and find the best meal today.
For more articles on food, culinary, and travel, head to the rest of our blog.
Healthy Travel Snacks
Theres no reason to go hungry or wreck your diet when you’re traveling or stuck in a hotel room without room service. Take along these healthy snacks suggested by Charles Stuart Platkin, nutrition and public-health advocate, and author of The Diet Detectives Count Down.
Healthy Travel Snacks
Just because you are traveling, doesn’t mean that you have to ruin your diet. There are many pitfalls that we as travelers fall into, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Late nights in hotels and constantly eating out can wreck any healthy diet, but if you play it smart, traveling and eating healthy can go hand in hand. A good snack should be somewhere close to 100-150 calories, anymore than that and you are creeping towards a whole meal’s worth of calories.
I think the key to eating healthy in general is proper planning and meal preparation; this is no different when traveling. If you meal prep for your weak at home then why not meal prep for your trip as well? We all know that eating late or eating on the go often requires eating fast food, unless you plan ahead. Fast food is the death to any healthy diet, so a simple key to remember is PLAN AHEAD.
Another aspect to healthy eating and travel involves self-control and portion control. When traveling its easy to act like what we eat doesn’t matter, since we are technically on vacation. This is a terrible routine to fall into, just because you are on a trip doesn’t mean your diet has to go on vacation as well. Portion control is a great way to combat this problem. If you only eat a little bit, then it doesn’t matter technically what you eat.
Here are my favorite travel snacks that will help you avoid room service and keep you on your diet.
Nuts travel so well and are just a great, healthy snack. They also come in such a huge variety that they keep you from becoming bored. As we all know, when boredom creeps into your mind, you stray from your diet. I try to stick to unsalted and raw nuts, because they have the most nutritional value. Nuts are low in calories but high in protein, so they are the perfect tool to keep in your diet’s arsenal. An ounce portion usually rounds out to about 120-150 calories, so that’s a perfect snack.
Energy bars are generally a good meal substitute, but stay away from the ones that are filled with sugars and unnatural products. I recommend Cliff bars as they are made with natural sugars and don’t have too many preservatives. The best part of energy bars are their portability and how easily they can be packed for long periods of time. I tend to keep a couple bars in my suitcase at all times, because you really never know when hunger can strike.
Fruit is readily available all over the world and travels so nicely. Fruit is natural so you don’t have to worry about preservatives and the portion control is built in. One apple or a bunch of grapes are usually around 100 calories, so they are the perfect travel snack.
Can of Tuna:
Cans of tuna are another perfect travel snack, they are made to be portable and don’t leak, so toss them in your overnight bag. I like mine with some crackers to make mini sandwiches out of and also keep my fingers from smelling like fish.
Cold Cut Sandwich:
The perfect travel meal, a classic sandwich is always portable and always a favorite. I can’t recommend a sandwich more; they can be made ahead of time and easily packed away for a few hours. I tend to make a sandwich when I fly since they are allowed through security and are cheap.
Remember fellow travelers; planning ahead and packing smart are key to eating healthy while traveling.
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