Locally caught cod over watercress puree at Verde Mesa.

Stay local when you travel!  And, eat local, too!  That’s our motto when we travel.

Whenever we travel, we often try to rent a house in a residential neighborhood rather than stay at a hotel/resort.  And, we always eat local.  We look at all the reviews and tour books, then we turn to people in the know – the locals!  If we know someone who lives there, that’s certainly the best.  But, if not, I will ask our neighbors, travel agents, concierges, shop owners, hotel staff, and then I go to the sources (see below) – anyone who can fill me in on where THEY go to eat and buy food.

A recent trip to Puerto Rico allowed us to live our motto, so I thought I’d share with you my:


  1. If you have an extended stay in a location, rent accommodations with a kitchen.  There are also many hotel chains now offering extended stay rooms with kitchenettes.  Not only does this allow you to save some money by preparing some of your own meals and have snacks on hand, but allows you to use the local ingredients.
  2. Plan your trip around the local farmer’s market.  We like to arrive a day or two prior to the farmer’s market and get settled in and determine what we will need and then go shopping!  I like to continue our real food eating habits even when we’re away.


    My wonderful stash from a trip to the Farmer’s Market.

  3. Check in with a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to see if you can order a one-time trial box.  This past trip to Puerto Rico, we called and the owners of the farm made a special box for us.  We are enjoying this, oh so much.  We were also able to source fish from a local fishing co-op.
  4. Ask the locals at the framer’s market where they eat!  The vendors there usually supply the local restaurants, so are definitely in the know.
  5. Stay away from the tourist areas.  On this past trip to Old San Juan, the cruise ship ports were located a few blocks from the home we were staying in.  All the tour books had a list of not-to-be-missed restaurants.  So, we went to a few, the menus were just okay, as was the food.  Nothing to write home about.  So, we went back to our neighborhood and to where the locals told us to eat.  Best decision….
  6. When you find a restaurant you love, ask them where to eat.  They will recommend their friends whom they trust.  They want to keep you happy, so you come back and visit them.  This past trip, in one day we hit the same place twice and made reservations for Friday night, too.  It was that good…


    Went for lunch and so good we made it back for dinner.

  7. Cook with only local ingredients.  Make your favorites with a local spin.  Our breakfast one morning consisted of local ham and eggs scrambled with a sweet pepper.  On the side, I made my cucumber and tomato salad with lime instead of lemon and added local mango.  The taste was different, but oh, so good.  I served the salad over an avocado.


    Breakfast made with all local ingredients.

  8. Don’t order yourself.  Tell the waitstaff what you like and don’t like and ask them to order for you.  And, don’t forget to ask them what they ate before they started their shift.  Often, the chef will prepare a meal for the staff.
  9. Take a local cooking class.  This is one of my favorite things to do when I have some alone time.  I get to try new recipes and ingredients and be with “like-minded” people.  My heaven…
  10. Pick up a local cook book.  These not only are great mementos for you, but make personal gifts for all those who love to cook in your life.


    A local flavor cook home going home with me…

If you take nothing else away from these tips, just be sure to make time to enjoy all that is around you on your travels, including all the good eats!  Oh, and I would certainly be remiss if I didn’t include the local drink…


Enjoying rum mojitos at the Bacardi Distillery!

  – DANA