Last week, I had the privilege of traveling to St. Louis, Missouri to attend a conference for my day job. I stayed in a hotel downtown for six nights and got a pretty good taste of the city. We ate at a variety of restaurants (in addition to having our fair share of hotel catering which wasn't too bad).
A few tips for eating while traveling:
>> Plan ahead. I try to bring snacks with me (i.e. granola bars, an apple and trail mix). Having snacks I can carry with me and eat on the go keeps me from binging on something less than healthy, in addition to saving some money. There have been times I literally only have enough time to make my connection in an airport, walking directly from one gate to the next.
>> Research where you're going. It can pay off (save you money) to look up groupons and other online coupons ahead of time. I love urbanspoon for reviews when it comes to finding good places to eat. I also use foursquare which occasionally earns a free dessert or something like that for first-time visitors.
>> I always ask locals for restaurant recommendations. I let them know what I my appetite is for and ask for places they like. I steer clear of chain restaurants. I can eat at Red Robin when I'm home, but I may want to find a good local burger while traveling. It's also a good excuse to find the local cuisine and learn what an area may be known for (beef and barbecue were the St Louis faves).
I was pretty impressed with the restaurant scene during my time and thought I'd share some favorites, in case you find yourself in St. Louis.
>> Local Harvest Cafe & Catering. The first thing I loved about this was the location. It's situated in the old Post Office building and I'm a sucker for pretty architecture. The place has only been open a matter of months and their menu features local fare (as you may have guessed by the name). They had a great array of sandwiches to choose from at lunch; everyone in my group was very happy with their lunch.
>> Stefano's featured a great selection of sandwiches, brick oven pizza and gelato. I had a delicious pizza topped with olive oil, fresh mozzarella, and basil. My colleagues raved about the gelato.
>> Rooster is the place I looked forward to all week. My schedule didn't allow for a sit down breakfast until the end of the trip, but this was well worth it. They serve a variety of crepes with sweet or savory fillings. But my favorite was the dark hot chocolate I ordered with my breakfast, it was a bit indulgent, but balanced with my egg, bacon and cheddar filled crepe.
>> Mosaic is a tapas bar & restaurant. Their butternut squash soup was amazing! I was not disappointed when I chose to try the soup over fries with my burger (which was also delicious).
>> Robust Wine Bar This is a newer restaurant in the downtown area with an interesting menu. I enjoyed the olive oil poached shrimp, but could have easily returned for one of their fabulous look cheese platters.
>> Bailey's Range milkshakes are the perfect thing to satisfy your craving. The small is small, but extremely thick (just the way I like a milkshake). It was just the right size for an afternoon
snacks + more
>> I discovered Culinaria, a grocery story, just blocks away from where I was staying...always a life-saver! Thankfully we had a refrigerator in our room, so I could stock up a few yogurts for quick breakfasts. I learned it was hard to find breakfast of more than a bagel before 8am in that part of town, so having a yogurt and banana on hand was quite helpful when my meetings/sessions started at 8 or 8:30am.
Do you have any tips for eating while you travel?