When Traveling Abroad, Should I Avoid Places That Serve A Lot of Tourists?

On the Paris board, I opened up this discussion on a thread for a specific restaurant (Le Chateaubriand), which has been around for awhile and is well known to tourists:

I figure that this might be a better place to continue it & would appreciate a discussion. I do think that my own opinion has changed over the years, as I now spend more time in a place when traveling, taking a lot of pressure off on finding the “right” places to go & enabling me to play around more with my choices. Also, on longer trips, there is my tendency to enjoy, periodically, being around other tourists and comparing notes. Like an in person HO. Comments?

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It depends… First of all, the food must be good, tourists or not. One of the reasons people want to avoid places with other tourists on holiday is because usually the food is a watered down version of what locals would eat.

In that case, no I would not go to a place where other tourists are.

The other consideration: do you want to be surrounded by people speaking your own language? For example, in Paris I wouldn’t mind people speaking English around me, but once they speak my mother tongue Dutch, I feel less excited somehow.

I remember going to a conference in Rome, and on the Friday night seeing some other participants of that conference at Al Moro where I was with my partner. That was a good mix of locals and tourists with great food.


I have never been one always in search of the “authentic” or “traditional”. Most of my holidays these days are to resort areas so research is necessary if I’m going to avoid the worst of the tourist traps. But research is entirely possible and satisfactory. For example, we usually send three weeks in the winter in Tenerife. We stay in a purpose built resort area catering to its mainly North European tourist base and there are some awful tourist traps (often heralded by many customers as the “best ever”). I now have a good base of restaurants that we enojoy - maybe not traditional Canarian or, even, Spanish food (these palces simply don’t exist) but we eat well and that’s all I’m really interested in. Such as the place with the best pizza I know outside of Italy. Or the place that has quite a lot of tourist customers but serves the best ham or prawn croquettas I know.


Agree, it depends.

Some tourists, travellers and visitors have great taste!


I think of it a little differently. We try to find places that are considered excellent/interesting by locals because they are more likely to be on top of current quality. You can do this by reading local food reporting. Google translation is your friend.

We have frequently been asked by locals, “How did you find out about this place?” and then they go on to ask where else we’d been or planned on going, often sharing their own faves and finds.


Besides taste, many tourists, travelers and visitors have good manners. They observe the ethos of the place they’re visiting and blend in without altering the ambiance.

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Sometimes you go to a place, like Tenerife, where there is little local food discussion, so you end up reliant on Tripadvisor. Where it’s a good idea to look at reviews in Spanish (or Italian if its an Italian restaurant). It can often bring a differen perspective.

Then again, there’s a place there often recommended by a small number of Brits (of which I am not) because the taxi drivers and police officers eat there. Now, I don’t know about anyone else but I wouldnt ask a taxi driver or cop for a restaurant recommendation. Ethnicity of the customer base is no guaranteed indication of good food.


Yes, you need to read between the lines.

One of the best meals I had in Nice was at a restaurant my mom picked from a tourist pamphlet at the 2* hotel lobby (the horror!). It had all the trappings of a restaurant food snobs would typically warn against.

+1. I think it’s a badge of honor for food snobs to eschew ‘tourist’ restaurants.


Taxi drivers are a good restaurant resource in Toronto and NYC.

Cop cars parked outside a donut shop can be a good sign.

A driver we used to hire in Oxford ran a B&B with his wife, so we used to stay at their B&B fairly frequently. Nice English breakfast! I’m not sure if we found out about the B&B or his driving first.

So many of these dreaded tourists on HO too :scream:



It all depends. In San Francisco I generally avoid the tourist places because they’re rarely any good compared to other places we know that are off the tourist beat. I’d add that they’re also overly-expensive, but these days that’s true of almost all restaurants in San Francisco (and so we almost never go out here any more); with the strong dollar, an equivalent meal in San Francisco is literally 2.5-3x as expensive as in Paris, sometimes even more depending on your wine orders.

In Paris, it’s more mixed. Some tourist places I avoid in the high season but go to in the off-seasons because I like the atmosphere better and/or it’s easier to get in. For example, Parcelles in the 3rd last year was primarily French diners and it was not difficult to get a reservation. Alas, it has now has made it to at least some US tourist lists and is not worth trying to get in during the tourist season. But there are others where we go even in tourist season such as Aux Bons Crus, where there can be a substantial number of tourists (it varies by day of week and meal time) gut it’s convenient to where we live and is a reliable last-minute go-to.

Interestingly, some places that used to be big tourist destinations in Paris no longer are. For example, Willi’s Wine Bar used to be largely American and British clientèle, but now it’s majority French in my experience.


My rule is to never eat in a restaurant that has a menu printed in more than two languages (the local language + one other). Any more than that, and you know it’s overpriced and sloppily executed at best. Ideally the menu is only printed in the local language, but in some places that barely exists at all.



I get pissed at other Americans at times. We’re not all dipshts; but some are so arrogant and ignorant, it offends. I’ve shewed some kids out when we’ve traveled. We’re guests, not dictators.

Honestly, I tend towards clostrophic in certain situations, so I avoid crowds pretty frequently. But, if a trusted friend says it’s worth the wait, I’ll wait.

I would trust the cop. (I’m a tad biased, here.)They have to eat out more than most occupations and they know what’s good where they live. I’m not talking donuts, either. I’ve noticed that, when cops I know have free time, they tend to chat on food.

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Generally, I avoid touristy seeming places, e.g. prime locash, menus in several languages with pics even more so, waiters accosting you on the street.

OTOH, Katz’s is hugely popular with tourists, and the food is great.

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It’s funny, I’ve walked past Katz’s over 25 times and I’ve never tried their food.

I’ve only eaten at Mendy’s, Sarge’s, Carnegie and long gone Wolf’s.

I’ve only been to Schwartz’s in Montreal once. It was good, but I haven’t been back.

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I think I went maybe twice. To me personally, the amount of meat they slap on those sammiches is kinda ridiculous, but the pastrami itself is good.

I’d prefer going to R&D next door, but that shit’s $$$$.

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I do visit R& D, and ship gifts from R & D, and I visit Barney Greengrass for bagels with Nova & shmear to go.