Q&A: Tips for world travellers

I am writing to you from agricultural heartland (Gippsland, that is) and hoping you might be able to give a coupla tips for surviving a visit to Washington DC. Naturally, the idea of eating in America inspires a degree of terror in me and I thought just maybe you might have a few clues? We are also visiting the Big Apple for the first time and would love to eat well there too.. I have heard this is easily achieved.. however after paying the diabolical hotel bills I suspect we will have to choose some ‘cheap eats ’.. anything like Ichi Ni there? Or ??? Over to you, Ed.
Robbie A.

A Travel guidebooks are notoriously bad on food.

But the web can help you. Urbanspoon is a pretty good eating site. It has an iPhone app with a brilliant pokie machine like interface and can geolocate what’s near you. Another one to look at is Yelp.

Otherwise try sites such as Tripadvisor where people rate restaurants.

Or there are the really hard core food forums such as egullet.

Also people are using twitter from their mobile’s and asking for local tips. You could check out this blog post for tips

Also you could search local blogs – something like “Washington restaurant blog”

If you do have a web enabled phone don’t use global roaming. Get it unlocked and buy a local SIM card. I was charged $3,000 by Optus for what would have been $17 of usage locally and the company said it couldn’t help me on data costs before I travelled. As it turns out all Telcos charge over $20,000 a gigabyte.

Finally, don’t forget in the US to tip at least 15%.

Good luck.

Anyone got any other thoughts?


  1. The food in the States is like most things in the States, when it’s good it’s excellent and when it’s bad it’s horrid. Here are my tips –

    New York
    Blue Hill in Washington Sq http://www.bluehillfarm.com (Dan Barber’s restaurant) is a small scale splash out but it did give me hope for American food after 2 days in the Iowa corn fields. Otto at 1 8th Ave is a cheap and cheerful way to get a slice of the Mario Batali pizza action.

    Washington DC
    In DC check out Julia’s Empanada’s at Dupont Circle
    1221 Connecticut Ave NW http://www.juliasempanadas.com . It’s the best street food I found in the US, South American treats made by hand and just a few dollars. Otherwise the farmer’s market at Dupont Circle is pretty nifty and has an incredible selection of mushrooms depending on the season. Otherwise Malaysian Kopitiam at Malaysia Kopitiam
    1827 M St Nw, http://www.malaysiankopitiam.com is really good Malaysian food by a couple from Ipoh, Malaysia and it’s not too pricey. For a few days of train travel I went to Wholefoods (organic-ish superstore) and got supplies to take with me. I was trying to avoid corn syrup and this was one of the few places that stocked jam with actual cane sugar -eek. Still, it’s a fascinating place. Happy travels.

  2. Why not try Lupa, which is part owned by four well known lumineries in New York… one of which is Mario Batali. It might sound expensive, but its not! Based on an Italian, or Roman trattoria, the food is about quality at a reasonable price ; http://www.luparestaurant.com

    also, make sure you take a wander down Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn/Queens, as some of the most amazing delicatessens/food stores with Middle East to Carribean origin and have been there since the 30’s and 40’s. Its truly worth a day visit just to wander up and down the street sampling the wares.

  3. Washington DC is wonderful! Center of power, talk about melting pot: World Bank, IMF, all those embassies. Why am I saying this? VARIETY OF FOOD. If you are staying in the city (avoid SW, SE – WDC is divided into 4 quadrants, NW (upscale), NE, SW, SE), wonderful, you can hop onto the Metro, very convenient. Visit Georgetown, Arlington, Old Town Alexandria- venture all the way to the suburbs (VA & MD) as far as the metro will take you. DO NOT MISS OUT THE ONLY FREE MUSEUMS IN THE WORLD – SMITHSONIAN. Go onto the Washinton Post website; Friday edition provides a detailed what’s going on and places to go & things to do.

    Lived there for 6 years—I miss it.

  4. Eating in the US reflects the US in general. When it is good it is very good and when it is bad it is horrid.

    In New York, Blue Hill (www.bluehillfarm.com) Dan Barber’s restaurant was incredible and gave me cause for hope after spending time in the corn fields of Iowa. Otto at 1 8th St is a cheaper and cheerful way to get a slice of the Mario Batali pizza action. The Wolfgang Puck outlet at Macy’s is a fun place to eat cheaply and not too badly, you might also be able to pick up some of Francis Ford Coppola’s own-label wine while you are there.

    In DC you can find delicious empanadas for a few dollars at Julia’s Empanadas 1221 Connecticut Ave NW # 1410 some of the best street food we found in the states. The farmer’s market at Dupont circle is also good fun and has an incredible selection of mushrooms (depending on the time of year). There is also a surprisingly decent Malaysian restaurant called malaysian Kopitiam at 1827 M St NW, Washington, DC, United States‎ – (202) 833-6232‎.

    Have a great trip,

  5. Try http://www.roadfood.com, keeping the Americana dream alive!

  6. my suggestions are check out the market at union square. then have lunch at union square cafe. (its a rest not a cafe) remember ressies required for most restaurants in nyc.

    also walk across brooklyn bridge in daylight/dusk, buy a pizza in brooklyn, and eat it down on the hudson beside the the bridge.

    or you can try fine dining at the river cafe under the bridge (on the brooklyn side). great views across the rive back to manhattan. but i looked out at envy the people enjoying the warm summers night on the wharf drinking beer and eating pizza.

    of course, walk over to restaurant and get cab came to manhattan!

  7. New York is one of the best places in the world to eat – either cheaply or at the other end of the market. Some of the best in the affordable / affordableish price range we’ve tried are:
    Terroir (an East Village Wine Bar), or if your budget stretches, try their more upmarket Hearth or Insieme.
    All the Momofuku restaurants – Ssam, Noodle Bar, etc. Ko is hard to get into and definitely not cheap (but memorable).
    Diner (in Brooklyn) – or its next door sister restaurant Marlow & Sons (haven’t tried the latter but Diner is fantastic and in the latest issue of Saveur, Marlow is listed as one of the 12 most influential restaurants in the US.)
    Fatty Crab

    You could also try:
    Shake Shake (the down home end of Danny Meyer’s empire).
    Co (the brand new pizza restaurant from Jim Lahey)
    We also have Ten Bells (lower east side) on our list of places to visit next time. It would be especially good if you’re interested in natural wines.
    And, given you’re from the agricultural heartland, you would probably enjoy a visit to the Union Square Farmers Market.

    That’s just a first pass. Don’t feel even a mild sense of terror about eating in New York – celebrate it. Just at the moment, it’s one of the most exiciting food cities on the planet.