I don’t know about you, but choosing a place to eat is one of the most difficult things to do. I’m not sure why we have such a hard time with it, but we do. I invited Beth Mars on to share with us a few of the things that she does to finally answer the question, “Where do you want to eat?” once and for all.
Here is what she has to say-
Going out to eat is one of the best ways to spend time with your partner, friends, or family. It’s even a great thing to do on your own if you’re brave enough to enjoy your own company. However, making a decision about where to go isn’t always easy. You might be spontaneous and pick somewhere at random.
The luck of the draw could mean you end up eating somewhere terrible just as much as it could mean picking somewhere incredible. Choosing when there’s more than one of you involved in the decision can be even harder. You don’t want to get stuck in a loop of “I don’t mind, where do you want to go?”
If you struggle to choose places to eat out and you often end up giving up and staying in, you should make a change. There are a few actions you can take to make sure you get to eat out more often and choose excellent restaurants almost every time.
Consider Different Cuisines
Sometimes when you want to go out to eat, you don’t know where to start. You know you don’t want to cook at home, but you don’t know what sort of experience you’re in the mood for. The first thing you need to think about is what type of restaurant you want to visit.
There are different factors you can consider when you pick a restaurant. For example, how formal do you want it to be? Do you want it to be family-friendly or is it better if there are no kids in sight? Are you looking for an all-you-can-eat buffet or do you want a three-course meal served to you at your table?
Of course, you also need to think about what sort of cuisine you want to eat. Depending on where you live, there could be an impressive range of choices from around the world. Culture of origin is often a good way to think about what you feel like eating. French, Italian, Chinese, Thai or Mexican? However, many restaurants will have a range of influences in their food, which can be useful if you don’t have a strong preference. Don’t be afraid to try something new once in awhile.
You might have a particular restaurant you like, but you want to step out of your comfort zone. Or perhaps you’re new in town or traveling, so you need advice on where to go.
Getting recommendations from other people is one of the best ways to get your starting point. Of course, everyone has different standards and opinions. A restaurant one of your friends loved might be the last place your parents want to visit. But if you have friends and family who know what you like, they can suggest places you might enjoy.
Another place to get recommendations for restaurants is online. While you might be reading reviews from strangers, you have the benefit of seeing opinions from many people at the same time. Of course, there’s a chance that 100 people could recommend a restaurant and you could still dislike it.
However, knowing that a lot of people enjoyed an establishment and not so many people disliked it does help you out. Another option is to read reviews from restaurant critics and food bloggers. If you do this, you will begin to trust the opinion of some reviewers over others. Try a site like Eater.com to find useful reviews.
Is it important to you that a restaurant has been recognized for its quality? Restaurant awards pick out the best of the best to make it easier for you to find quality places to eat. Some of the best restaurants in the world are recognized with Michelin stars. However, there are other awards that you might choose to look for.
Many places have local awards, or you might look at other regional or national awards. See which food publications offer awards for the best restaurants and chefs. Restaurants are always happy to show off the things they have won, so keep an eye out for them.
Be Aware of Any Safety Warnings
Before you make your restaurant selection, it’s important to keep your safety in mind. Whenever you eat out, you’re trusting someone else to cook for you. It’s up to the restaurant to keep hygiene to high standards and to prepare all their food safely. You should remember that any restaurant could have problems, from cheap diners to high-end establishments.
The first thing you can do is be aware of any current problems, either at specific restaurants or in the country in general. You can find details by UnsafeFoods.com on current incidents or general information about the issues that can occur in restaurants. You can learn about the effects of food poisoning and where certain bacteria are most likely to occur.
Keep Track of New Restaurants
If you like trying new places, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on new openings. The thing about restaurants is that there are often new ones opening, especially if you live in a larger town. Many restaurants don’t last long, which is a shame if you find a new one that you like.
It’s still fun to discover something new, even if it isn’t around forever. There best way to hear about new restaurants opening is to read about them in local and food magazines, as well as online. As well as permanent restaurants, you might also hear about temporary pop-up events that offer food for a limited amount of time.
Think About Practicalities
When you pick a restaurant, it’s not all about the food. Of course, that’s a large part of why you want to go. But you also want the restaurant to offer certain conveniences to make your visit easier. For example, you might need the restaurant to have parking so that you can drive there. You might want them to have facilities for children or mothers with babies.
Consider the Neighborhood
Another thing you might want to consider is where the restaurant is. This is important for getting there, but you should also think about it in a wider context. Is it a neighborhood that will offer you an enjoyable experience? Will you feel safe walking through it and will you want to look out the window when you’re eating?
Are there other places in the neighborhood that are easily accessible if you want to go somewhere else for dessert or perhaps a drink after you have eaten? You might not want to go out of your way to visit a restaurant that’s in the middle of nowhere.
Create a System to Help You Choose
One of the problems with choosing a restaurant is that you have two or more of you and can’t make a decision between you. Everyone says that they don’t mind and doesn’t have any suggestions or there are arguments about which place is best. If you find this happens often, you could decide how you’re going to make the decision in the future. There are lots of ways you can approach the problem.
If you can’t decide where to go, try writing down some options and eliminating them one by one. If you really have no preference, pick a restaurant at random instead. Or if you just can’t decide who should get to pick, make sure you get to take it in turns.
Try Something Other Than a Restaurant
Sitting down in a restaurant is a great choice if you’re looking for a romantic night out or maybe a celebration. If you want a more casual affair, you could consider something different. Instead of going to a restaurant, what about looking for a food truck? Any food truck that has been around for a few years is likely to be good.
They usually have a few seats, and if there aren’t any, you can look for somewhere else to enjoy your food. Pop-up restaurants are good options too, but you have to catch them before they disappear.
Looking for Specialized Restaurants
Some people have specific requirements when they eat out. You might have dietary requirements, for example, ranging from vegetarian to gluten-free. Perhaps you’re on a diet, or you’ve started a new healthy eating regime, and you need somewhere that will cater to your requirements.
This can be difficult sometimes, although it’s easier if you live in a bigger city. To help you make your choice, you can find restaurant menus to look at before visiting. You’ll be able to see what’s available to see if it’s suitable for you and even contact the restaurant to inquire if you need to.
You can also look for specialist restaurants that cater to your needs. Some restaurants, particularly higher-end ones, are also willing to create a dish for you if you have special dietary requirements.
Making a choice when you decide to eat out can be much harder than it should be. If you find yourself getting in a muddle every time, try using these techniques to make the choice easier.