Anthony Bourdain's Perfect Advice For Spotting The Best Local Places To Eat

In his 61 years, Anthony Bourdain was a writer, restaurant chef, and TV show judge, but he's arguably best known for traveling the world, sampling delicious and exotic foods wherever he explored. In his TV series "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown," the professional foodie bounced all around the globe, from Iran to Vietnam to Jamaica. Through his travels, he learned a thing or two about where to eat — and which restaurants to avoid.

Before his death, Bourdain offered his advice for choosing the best local food spots, and his words of wisdom apply even if you don't share his adventurous palate (read: you don't have to munch on cobra hearts or live octopus if you don't want to). In fact, the TV host once revealed to Bon Appétit that, from his experience, it's best to pay less attention to the food and more attention to the local people when choosing where to eat on vacation.

The locals know best

When asked by Bon Appétit how to choose street food spots in new places, Anthony Bourdain offered a simple tip: Go where the locals go. "If you're in Singapore and there are two chicken and rice places, and there's one with a huge line, go to the one with the huge line. Already, that's a clue," Bourdain shared. The celebrity chef added that the best street food stalls attract a variety of people from the community who don't mind going out of their way to nab their favorite food. "I look to see if locals are willing to inconvenience themselves and wait in line for a long time to get something that only costs a dollar fifty, especially if it's a mixed bag of different incomes," he explained.

When looking for the best restaurants in a new city, the same idea applies. Keep in mind, though, that getting the tastiest restaurant meal might require overlooking a little dirt. He told Money, "I used to say a dirty bathroom was a sign you should not be eating in a restaurant. I've learned the opposite is true. [...] They know their food is good and that's enough." Similarly, Bourdain suggested not being scared off if you see a dog lounging around the dining area, as it shows how confident the owners are about their dishes.

Watch out for tourist traps

Just as Anthony Bourdain recommended flocking to food establishments loved by the locals, he also warned against grabbing a meal at touristy spots. He told Money, "If you go to New York looking for a deli, you don't want to go to a deli with people filled from the Midwest taking pictures of each other. You want to go to a deli that's filled with New Yorkers. Not because New Yorkers are particularly nice; it's just that, chances are, that's a good deli." If you're unable to peek inside or aren't sure where the diners are from, he suggested looking for English translations (when traveling in a non-English-speaking country) or pictures of food on the menu to spot tourist traps. These details are generally designed to attract tourists, not local residents.

If you're still unsure where to eat, or you'd rather plan your meals in advance, use online trolls to your advantage. He shared with Esquire in 2013, "Go to a number of foodie websites with discussion boards. Let's say you're going to Kuala Lumpur — just post on the Malaysia board that you recently returned and had the best rendang in the universe, and give the name of a place, and all these annoying foodies will bombard you with angry replies about how the place is bulls***, and give you a better place to go." These days, you can try the same hack with Facebook groups, Reddit boards, and other online communities.