One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned while being a semi-professional gadabout, is to get out of the comfort zone and ask a local.
I don’t mean asking for directions, I’m referring to plucking up the courage to ask people who live in your destination to tell you where the “best place for (insert what you’re looking for here) is”.
A perfect example of local magic happened this morning.
As a Melbournian, coffee flows in my veins where most people have blood. I don’t mean any coffee, good coffee. So when I go to the USA (sorry guys), I usually steel myself for the reality of pretty average coffee each morning.
It was post workout, and I was chatting to a guy through drips of sweat and much panting about being in LA and my upcoming trip, lamenting the fact that I had yet to find a really great* coffee in LA.
To which I was promptly given 3 amazing coffee recommendations (including an Australian run joint), and sent packing to his personal favourite mere blocks away. A hole in the wall style cafe called Flake.
It was brilliant.
Sure! I could have browsed online at the veritable smorgasbord of recommendations, but how much easier and satisfying it was to just head on down, with confidence, to somewhere the locals actually go.?Not somewhere that could just have really great Marketing.
(Consequentially this guy had also been to Iceland, so I have even more recommendations for this part of the trip!) 😀
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done a tonne of my planning off the back of forum posts. Facebook polls and questions to you guys and chatting to ex-pat mates who live in various places.
Nothing has ever beaten local.
Cementing this belief for me last night, I asked the ever wonderful Mich and Rio (local mates who put me up in LA), to take me out for “real mexican”. Something that, while possible to get in Australia, is usually well overpriced and more “tex mex” than authentic.
Frijoles (Inglewood) is the kind of place most tourists wouldn’t even notice, or would drive right on by. Side of the road, out of way from most tourist spots, and BLOODY DELICIOUS.
You can tell by the smile on my face and this huge “Bloody Mary Mechilada” what I thought of the food. Authentic, home made, a bargain price and full of locals. Ticks all of the boxes for me anyway.
This is my strategy for the entire trip. Ask a local, trust a friend, and don’t be afraid to ask for them to take you there themselves! I’ll do the same for anyone** wanting to have a food tour of Melbourne, it’s the best way I tend to discover the true soul of a city, by travelling on my stomach.
In fact, I’m about to be taken out by another LA local friend for even more food right now! I’m gonna need those sweaty workouts!!!
*I have found reasonable coffee here… this the first time it’s be GREAT coffee.
**Seriously… hit me up. So long as you’re not a weird stalker, “I want to wear your skin as a coat” kind of person.