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Eat Like the Locals and Profit Twice

This article was written by in Consumer. 7 comments.


My wife and I went on a mini-vacation this past weekend (our first using only cash), and while we didn’t specifically plan to limit spending on meals, we managed to do better than I had hoped.

Of course she knows about my serious push to do what I can to erase my credit card debt, but the more influential factor seems to have been the use of the Yelp app on her mobile phone. For example, we both appreciate good German food, so we were nearing New Braunfels, and she found a place with great reviews, so we pulled up directions on the same phone and easily found our way there.

We subscribe to the “eat like the locals” mentality encouraged by people like Anthony Bourdain. Even though in this case we weren’t traveling to a new country, or even a different state, different areas have different advantages. Here we found ourselves in a town settled largely by Germans, and their descendants still know how to make a schnitzel.

Friesenhaus wasn’t cheap, but we stopped in time for a late lunch for $67, and were so well fed that we didn’t even need dinner. The next morning, again with no forward planning, we found a place with “perhaps the best tacos in America,” and got stuffed (not in the British way) for $12.91.

It probably doesn’t hurt that we were on an odd schedule. We seemed to hit the taco place between morning rushes, strolled around the zoo for a while, and didn’t get hungry again until around 5:30 PM. Yelp came to the rescue once again and we got the mad scientists at Bunsen Burgers to solve that problem. (Seriously, it’s the nerdiest menu I’ve ever seen, which really called to my wife and me.)

On our way back home the next morning, Yelp’s success continued with a recommendation for Union Street Station, which boasted a classic Texan menu.

Over the weekend, we managed to avoid both chain restaurants and tourist traps, and still feel like we were on vacation. More impressively, over five meals’ worth of food, two people ate for an average of $12.45 per person.

I don’t mean to gush about Yelp; it’s certainly not the only app of its kind, but for this sort of thing I recommend going where the biggest user base is, and Yelp seems to be it. We had a delicious vacation eating with the locals, and I’m sure we’ll be doing more of the same in the future.

Published or updated February 23, 2010. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Smithee formerly lived primarily on credit cards and the good will of his friends. He is a newbie to personal finance but quickly learning from his past mistakes. You can follow him on Twitter, where his user name is @SmitheeConsumer. View all articles by .

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar SteveDH

I actually take notes while watching “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” and have been to three of the eateries featured. It’s well worth the effort! Glad to hear that you, your honey, and and your tummy, all had a great trip.

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avatar RJ Weiss

I also have a love for Yelp and great local food. It has helped me on more than one occasion when traveling.

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avatar Rick Fazio

I live for yelp or yelp to live, still workin it out! LOL! Best app I’ve ever used! Discovered many great out of the way places.

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avatar SimplyForties

I’m convinced at least to try it and am putting Yelp on my iPhone for a test. Thanks!

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avatar Tom Dziubek

The funny thing is that I initially read that title as “Eat the Locals”. Oddly enough, I’ll bet you can save even more money doing that although I suppose proper carcass disposal would be a real b*tch.

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avatar Mark Herpel

Eat like the locals and use the local currency when possible. Many areas of the U.S. now have their own local money only good at local businesses. It’s fun to use

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avatar Anonymous

Isn’t it amazing how apps how revolutionized how we function! I’m somewhat directionally challenged, so even when I’m in my hometown, I use location aware apps to find things. And for trips – I’d be lost without them! I personally like Yelp and LocalEats for restaurant suggestions.

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