It's not easy to find great restaurants when you're on vacation. Ask a local and you're liable to be pegged as a tourist and directed to the "fancy" place with mediocre food. To find out where the native foodies eat, says O
food editor Celia Barbour, don't wait until your last night in town for your big night out. Splurge on a fantastic meal* the first
night. Make your reservation for early or late, when the place won't be packed and the staff won't be harried. Then befriend your waiter, your sommelier, your bartender, and your chef, if he appears in the dining room. Ask them where they
go on their days off, what's their favorite diner, the best place for breakfast, the shack eight miles out of town with fried chicken to die for. Make it clear that this is a mission, and that without their help it will fail. Vacations are too short for even one bad meal.
* To pick that one great restaurant: Check Zagat.com
, post a query on Chowhound.com
, or look up the city you're visiting on the James Beard Foundation Web site (JamesBeard.org
)—every year the foundation gives awards to leading chefs and restaurants around the country.