Business Travel Dining Guide

This post is sponsored by Dinova. All opinions are Road Warriorette’s.

After writing about business travel for almost ten years, one of the topics I still get the most questions about is dining on business trips. Common queries run the gamut from dining alone to finding a great restaurant to eating out with clients or coworkers. And did you know that $77 billion is spent by corporations and small businesses annually in the U.S. on dining and catering? It’s surprising that something so necessary (and that’s such big business!) is stressful to so many travelers.

Before we get into the guide, I want to share some interesting stats about business dining. A recent study was commissioned by Dinova in partnership with the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). If you didn’t know, Dinova connects corporate employees who travel frequently to restaurants that those business travelers would love. All kinds of fascinating tidbits came up in this study about business travel dining, but here are a few of my favorites:

  • Millennials eat more fast food on the road while Baby Boomers tend to opt for upscale casual dining with clients.
  • 22% of business travelers said their company has no formal dining restrictions at all (lucky!).
  • Many travelers (particularly Millennials) have reservations about expensing things like snacks, room service, and booze (perhaps related?).

Finding a great restaurant in a new city

One of my frequent suggestions for business travelers is to enjoy the city you’re visiting –  within your time constraints of course. A super easy way to enjoy yourself and get to know your destination is to eat what the locals like. It made me so happy that the study showed this is becoming more and more common. Out of the business travelers surveyed, 77% prefer to “eat like a local”, 52% search for restaurants that locals like, and 49% research food that is unique to their travel destination.

Some of the best experiences I’ve had on trips have been at restaurants that are homegrown favorites, and I look forward to going back on return visits! But how do you find these culinary treasures? One simple way is to ask the hotel front desk or concierge. One of my favorite restaurants was suggested to me by the front desk at a Marriott in Nashville. If you need a brunch spot, I highly recommend Holler & Dash!  They have delicious, creative brunch options with a southern flair.

Another way that I’ve found tasty hidden gems is by getting suggestions from coworkers that live in the area. This is especially helpful when traveling internationally, as unusual food can be intimidating. A colleague from India gave me a fantastic recommendation for where to get the best version of Hyderabad’s specialty, a rice and chicken dish called biryani.

Finally, a great option for finding local fare is to use a website like Dinova. Even if your company doesn’t have a partnership, they are a great reference for business grade restaurants that traveling employees love!

Eating out on your own

When it comes to business travel dining, the most frequent concern I hear is that people are worried about eating by themselves. Some assume that other diners will feel sorry for them, others think it will be awkward for them to eat with no one to talk to, and still others think it just feels lame.

I get it, but I promise no one is looking at you! They are too focused on their own meals. However, there are ways to feel less self-conscious when you’re dining alone. First of all, if you want someone to talk to then you should sit at the bar. You’ll be facing away from other diners, and you can watch tv or visit with the bartender.

Bringing something to do is a great way to forget you’re by yourself! I actually enjoy eating on my own because it’s an opportunity to read a book while people serve me wine and delicious food. Some coworkers like to bring their laptop to get work done, and others like to watch a movie on their tablet. Either way, if you’ve got something to occupy yourself you won’t have time to worry what others think.

Another option, and another great way to enjoy the city you’re visiting, is to do some sort of dinner activity. For example, one of my coworkers always tries to go see a local sporting event and eats there. If you like movies, there are plenty of movie houses that also serve food.

Dining with others

When you’re eating out with coworkers or entertaining customers there are additional things to consider. The most important thing is to know your company’s spending guidelines ahead of time. Will they reimburse you for alcohol? Is there a per person limit to how much you can spend? If you’re eating with a coworker, should you pay separately or together? According to the Dinova/GBTA survey, only 56% of employers allow you to expense group meals and less than half will pay for alcoholic beverages.

For those of us who tend to be more outgoing, conversation with near strangers is typically not a problem. However, if you are more introverted it may help you to think of conversation topics ahead of time. The Home Warrior, by nature very introverted, always feels more prepared for group dinners when he has some backup topics in mind beyond the weather and the current sports news.

One final warning: be sure you don’t overindulge! It can be easy to order more drinks than might be wise when you’re on the company dime. Make sure you are still in control of your faculties! And if you do drink a little too much, take an Uber or cab back to your hotel.


While it can be tempting to give up business travel dining all together and just order room service, enjoying a local meal can be a great experience by yourself, or with others. Follow these tips and you’ll have a delicious meal and way more fun than can be had in your hotel room.

Readers, do you have any tips for dining on a business trip?

This post is sponsored by Dinova. All opinions are Road Warriorette’s.


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