One of the most fun parts of moving to a new place is making new discoveries. Whether you’ve moved across the country or just across town, you are bound to find new places like stores and restaurants. Why waste your time on a chain restaurant that you could visit in any city in the U.S.? Find the best restaurants and learn what makes your new home special. Sure, you could just rely on review sites like Yelp, but those don’t tell the whole story. The most exciting finds are the ones you make yourself.
It can take time to learn all the secrets of a new neighborhood. Read on for some fun and unusual ways to uncover those hidden gems.
Get Inspiration from TV Restaurant Reviewers
There has been an explosion of restaurant review shows on television. You can find them on cable, on subscription-based services and even on YouTube. Look around to see who has reviewed restaurants in your area — the more obscure the better.
The hugely successful show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, specifically seeks small, family-owned places that locals love. By now, they have visited more than 900 restaurants! You can search a complete list on their website.
Food Fanatics is a magazine geared toward people in the industry. However, they also have a YouTube series where they visit different cities, and they host live shows.
Another show to try is Check, Please! from PBS. The public network presents the show in a variety of cities where they have affiliates, and they post episodes online.
Check Social Media
According to CNBC, social media is having a huge impact on how diners find restaurants and even how food trends spread. There’s good reason for this phenomenon. The social sphere, especially Instagram, is chock full of gorgeous “food porn” photos, often accompanied by thoughtful reviews and information.
Search Instagram for hashtags that include the name, or nicknames, for your ‘hood. You may discover specific hashtags in your area specifically dedicated to restaurants. Follow users who frequently use those hashtags, and start building your own foodie network. Soon you’ll be able to jump into the conversation with your own mouth-watering photos.
Follow Local Food Bloggers
Along with the rise of social foodies comes the rise of the hyperlocal food blogger. Find them via Twitter or Instagram, again by searching hashtags unique to your area. Independent bloggers, including those who blog only as a hobby, will offer more flair than a reviewer in a traditional daily newspaper. You can interact with them, too, to ask questions or share your own experiences.
Visit the Farmer’s Market
If you’d rather get up and about than sit at your computer, start with your local farmer’s market. Strike up conversations with vendors at the local farmer’s market and ask what restaurants they sell to. They’ll know all the best establishments buying fresh, local ingredients. Some restaurants may even set up their own booths to sell select menu items or give out samples. Try this guide to search for farmer’s markets near you.
Attend “Taste Of” and Food Truck Events
Practically every city, town, and borough offers a once- or twice-yearly “taste of” event. Local restaurants showcase their wares, usually either priced by the sample or for a single entry fee. Attend with friends or family so you can maximize your coverage. Try everything you can and chat with the proprietors. Check local event listings or visit this site, which lists events across the country.
Food trucks have gotten bigger and bigger — so big, in fact, that many are now opting for full-blown locations. You can check out individual food trucks online to learn where to find them. But a great way to try several at once is to attend an event where lots of trucks plan to park. Street fairs and festivals tend to host lots of trucks. In addition, many microbreweries, which boast taprooms but not kitchens, invite trucks to set up shop. With a large group, you can sample a lot of options in one outing.
Where Not to Eat
Along with figuring out where to eat, you need to know what places to avoid. You know those letters hanging in the windows of restaurants? If the letter is anything other than an “A” you don’t want to eat there. Use this health score app to figure out what places to avoid. Also, look for these telltale signs that a restaurant isn’t up to cleanliness standards. Remember, just because a place is fancy or expensive doesn’t mean it’s clean.
If green living is important to you, you may also want to avoid the worst offenders and opt for restaurants that engage in environmentally sustainable practices. Here are some tips on how to tell if a restaurant is environmentally friendly. The Green Restaurant Association offers a searchable database of restaurants across the U.S.
Of course, talk to your neighbors, too. They’ll not only tell you the places they like, but they’ll probably be glad to rant about any negative experiences.
Enjoy checking out the cuisine of your new neighborhood. Soon you’ll be eating like a local and maybe even making recommendations to your neighbors.