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Recently, we have received a number of questions about "restaurants that serve local food" and "what's a traditional dish in country X". We have one about Leipzig, Reyjkavik, Chicago, Budapest, Japan and Peru, to name a few that came up with minimum searching.

Does the community think those are useful, acceptable and fit the SE format? These questions are virtually indistinguishable from one another, sans the location. Invariably, the OP would also ask for a place to try the dishes, essentially soliciting recommendations, which off-topic for us.

Should any more of these questions be accepted? Should we close them?

Personally, I don't see much value in having them. There are multiple other resources to obtain much more relevant, complete and up-to-date information. Wikipedia should be a decent starting point for local cuisine, and recommendation sites such as Tripadvisor for restaurants and venues. Failing that, a good ol' web search should do the trick.

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  • Why do you want to limit this to restaurants. It could be extended to hotels, hostels, airlines, car rentals, cellphone operators, etc. Basically, the problem is the same. – user3470 May 11 '13 at 8:31
  • @MarcelC.: Certainly, but I thought it's best to reduce the scope of the question, lest some of the other categories are to be treated differently -- there are quite a few local-cuisine questions which are not closed and somewhat highly voted. – mindcorrosive May 11 '13 at 8:33
  • You can set this rule for restaurants. Personally I would not really disagree. However, when doing so I think that you will create a precedent, and the same rule has to be applied to topics other than restaurants. – user3470 May 11 '13 at 9:25
  • Did you change your mind since meta.travel.stackexchange.com/questions/331/… or are you trying to draw a line somewhere? – Relaxed May 13 '13 at 13:54
  • @Annoyed: There's a difference between "Tell me what to eat in country X" and "Where can I find dish Y in country X". The latter is a practical, objectively answerable question, while the former is not -- it's just soliciting opinions. And yes, I am trying to get some consistency in what is accepted and what not on the site. – mindcorrosive May 13 '13 at 13:58
  • Well, the questions listed above are not quite as general or subjective as that, hence my question. You could also argue that “Where can I find dish X” questions also invite opinions (e.g. you wouldn't recommend a bad restaurant or one that serve something you regard as a bad interpretation of the dish) whereas “What's the typical food of place X” can be answered objectively (or at least as objectively as anything related to culture might be). – Relaxed May 13 '13 at 14:14
  • Another potential problem that just occurred to me is the fact that it's not really practical info. I don't think we would welcome history question just because some people enjoy trivia about the places they visit (and I do!) – Relaxed May 15 '13 at 13:10
  • @mindcorrosive: Which types of content here cannot be found by a good ol' web search? – hippietrail May 20 '13 at 6:00
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I find Q&A about typical dishes and foodstuffs useful, I don't think this information is so easy to come by. Specific restaurant recommendations can be useful too but are obviously more problematic (basically asking for personal opinions, information prone to become outdated as restaurants open and close all the time). Still, some restaurants are older than most ski resorts and amusement parks and can be the main reason for a trip. Rather than establish some hard rules, I think we should try to keep an open mind and stir questions in the right direction if their original formulation appears to invite too much speculation.


Incidentally, for France, there is a whole series of books called “Inventaire du patrimoine culinaire de la France” covering these sorts of things (with detailed descriptions of local products covering their history, their production, their characteristics, recipes complete with information about where and when they were collected and a bibliography), so it's not all fleeting opinions, there are in fact authoritative but hard-to-find sources about these topics.

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The more specific they are, the happier I am. "Where can I eat Chinese in San Francisco?" is NOT specific enough. "Where can I find the first restaurant in San Francisco that serves fortune cookies?" IS specific enough.

I think the line should be - is is asking for recommendations - if so, we close unless it's insanely specific (a particular dish - say, where can I eat cuy (guinea pig) in Cusco?").

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  • But then the people will bash it necause it is too specific – user3470 May 11 '13 at 7:57
  • Can simply point to the faq. Too specific is more stuff that won't be useful to any future person. Looking for the cheapest flight from X to Y on June 23, 2014 is too specific. Where to find a local dish is a fairly common question. – Mark Mayo May 12 '13 at 2:29
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In general, I would keep restaurant recommendation out of here. Not so sure about the food in general though. The restaurants are ALWAYS recommendation and always subjective. Just the question if a 5 USD pizza is the best or a 35 USD is simply far out of the scope here.

Regarding the typical food, I am also not in favor of, but for different reasons. Typical food for a country would require often whole books to be written unless someone becomes so superficial that wikipedia would be the best alternative anyhow.

One would have to be VERY specific and localized to be accepted. I would be fine with this question for example:

I heard that there is a dish called "Beggar's Chicken" in China. I am traveling to Hong Kong this month and would like to taste it. Can someone tell me the minimum and maximum price range the dish is available for and 2-3 restaurants along the scale of the price?

Since this is not a recommendation but a more factual approach, I would let that go through. Every "I do not know anything about a place and it's food and want someone to write a guidebook for me"-type question is in my opinion a no-go.

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  • What you describe is a recommendation too. Either you are for or against. If you are for, it is better to have more general recommendations. The specific ones are quickly outdated and become irrelevant faster than they are written. – user3470 May 10 '13 at 19:10
  • I agree with @MarcelC that with the last sentence it becomes a recommendation question. Asking for some assistance to find a source of said recommendations would (I think) be a relevant question though. Such as "Is it known by any other names locally and can someone tell me where I can find a list of local restaurants that would serve the dish". No prices or venue recommendation unless there is a factual reason, like it being the oldest or has some other notoriety/celebrity status (eg. a restaurant run by monks). – dsample May 11 '13 at 15:54
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    I'm against restaurant recommendations in general, but there are plenty of specific cases where they're not really recommendations such as "Mexican" restaurants might be everywhere but all based on the American idea of Mexican food, whereas authentic Mexican restuarants might be really hard to find - like here in Australia. Or sometimes you want any restaurant of a certain kind rather than a recommendation for one that somebody liked. For instance I would love to know of any Georgian restaurant anywhere in Sydney. Some restaurants really are hard to find! – hippietrail May 20 '13 at 6:06
  • I don't think we should go around pretending to be dumb automatons with one simplistic neuron deciding whether to apply some "recommendation" stamp to a question and another simplistic neuron applying some rule about "recommendations are bad mmmkay". We could find ways of interpreting most questions on the site as recommendations if we wanted. In reality we are all capable of applying a whole bunch of brain cells to decide whether a given question is the kind of bad recommendation question that's not a good fit here. – hippietrail May 26 '13 at 10:53

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