How do I choose the perfect vegetarian restaurant while traveling?

Being a vegetarian, finding a vegetarian restaurant or a vegetarian-friendly restaurant in a new city is extremely difficult, let alone finding a vegetarian restaurant that offers local cuisine. However, thanks to Indian food’s fast growing popularity, you can expect to find at least one Indian restaurant in most of the major cities all over the world. And it goes without saying that Indian restaurants are definitely vegetarian friendly if not completely vegetarian. However, one of several reasons I love to travel is to try out the local cuisine. What good is it if I end up eating the same Indian food in Italy or in Budapest? I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the culture of a city to its fullest unless I try their local cuisine. And as I mentioned earlier, discovering a vegetarian restaurant that offers local cuisine in a new city is very difficult.

I have two dedicated websites/apps that  use to find the best vegan/vegetarian/vegetarian-friendly restaurants offering the local cuisine in any city I travel to.

Happycow:  An online vegetarian restaurant guide that lists out all the available vegan/vegetarian/vegetarian-friendly restaurants in any city of your choice. Juts enter the name of the city you are traveling to and select the type of restaurant you would prefer – vegan or vegetarian or vegetarian friendly.

Happycow

Happy cow will then throw you a list of available restaurants along with their rating,

Happycow2

I searched for vegetarian restaurants in Budapest and that’s how I came across Napfenyes Etterem (Napfenyes Restaurant). For the three months I lived there, this was my go-to restaurant for vegan Hungarian cuisine. You could also enter your current location through GPS and find the vegan restaurants near you. That way, you could just grab a bite of the local cuisine while you’re in the middle of a tour.

Tripadvisor: This is something most of you would have heard of. Earlier, TripAdvisor had an offline city guide app for every popular city. You could just download the offline app for the city you are traveling to, and search for the vegetarian restaurants near you. The best part was – all of this could be done offline. You would just need to turn on your GPS. This feature is not available anymore.

However, the Tripadvisor app still has all the information – just that you would not have city specific apps but just one app for all the cities. Just turn on your GPS on your phone, and search for vegan/vegetarian restaurants on Tripadvisor. Tripadvisor will then list out the vegetarian restaurants near you. You can select the restaurant of your choice based on reviews and ratings. Once selected, you could get directions to go to the restaurant as well! Please note that you need to be online to do this. There is another option where you can download the content of some specific cities before you travel so that you could browse through the content, offline. Just scroll to the bottom of the app and click on ‘Download cities’. You can choose the city you are traveling to and then download all the information about that city. Now, when you are traveling, you need not have an internet connection to access information about that city on your Tripadvisor app.

I usually use both Happy cow and Tripadvisor to choose the restaurant and I’ve never been disappointed!

A few other tips while selecting a restaurant:

  1. It’s better to move away from the crowded tourist attractions to find a good restaurant.
  2. Many a times, waiters would be standing outside a restaurant with a menu and would try to entice you in (mostly at the tourist attractions). Don’t fall for that. It’s always better to read reviews about a place and make an informed choice.
  3. Ask your Airbnb host/hotel manager for options. Who better to know about the place than the very locals who have been eating in the city, day in and day out.
  4. If you’re making day trips out of town, I would suggest you eat there. Food outside the city is much more authentic. The chances of you finding a vegan/vegetarian restaurant would be less but, you will still have vegetarian friendly restaurants. When in Rome, I had Pizza for lunch at a town – Tivoli – around 30 kms from the city. Needless to say, it was scrumptious.
  5. Also, every city has it’s own app/website in the likes of Tripadvisor/Happycow dedicated to reviewing restaurants. I suggest you have a look at them as well before making a choice. For example, when in India, I always use Zomato to search for the best restaurants in a city. I believe, in the US, people use Yelp for the same purpose. So use the local city restaurant apps as well to finalize your restaurant.
  6. Never hesitate to try street food.

Happy Eating!

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