What Do You Want!?
Here's How To Pick A Restaurant. Definitively. Once And For All.
We've all been there. You're on a trip, you've read all those Pinterest lists, and you have about fifty restaurants you want to try before you go home in three days. If you're in a city you don't know, picking a place to eat can be an eternal, world-shattering, life-altering struggle. I may be exaggerating, but that's how it feels when you're hungry.
Whether you're alone, with your significant other, or traveling in a group, how in the heck do you go about picking a restaurant before everyone gets way too hangry to function?
After a few years of traveling, eating, and always being hungry, here are my tried and tested methods for how to pick a restaurant while traveling.
Follow The Foodies
If your budget is a little higher and you have enough forethought to make reservations, foodie bloggers have some incredible recommendations.
Fair warning, though, the food you get might not live up to the incredible photos that foodie bloggers have taken of it. Expectations versus reality can be a stark contrast from their stylized photos and occasionally over-the-top fairytale descriptions.
Try Googling wherever you're going followed by "food blog" and you should get some good results from real restaurant picking pros. Otherwise, a few of my favorite food bloggers, whose food opinions I trust implicitly are:
This is the one that catches me up. I'll have twenty-five tabs open and I'll never reach a conclusion. All the same, some of the most interesting restaurants I've found have come from going through this horrible process.
You'll find some great top ten, top twenty, or top one hundred lists. You can narrow down your search to fit whatever your specifications may be by adding "budget friendly" or "gourmet" or "most patient wait staff" to your search.
The key here is to stop looking once you've found one that jumps out at you and meets your criteria.
Use The Apps
Spot, foursquare, and the other ones (yelp, opentable, urbanspoon, the list goes on) are great options for finding all kinds of restaurants.
I like spot, in particular, because you can find everything, not just restaurants, but you can also narrow your search. You can look for restaurants near you, or you can read other people's lists of places you must eat in [insert destination].
I'm a big fan of this method because they're very comprehensive. You can see prices, reviews, pictures, and walking directions all in one place.
Take A Walk
Head to where the restaurants are and wander into one!
If you're in a small town or a city, this is a great way to find those "off the beaten track" places to eat. Conversely, if you're, for example, driving around Iceland's ring road, you might not have that many options.
Some of the best, and, to be honest, some of the worst restaurants I've ever eaten in have been found by simply walking around. In Greece, not twenty metres from my hotel was home to the most horrific salmon risotto.
Go With Your Gut
You know how they say that flipping a coin is the best way to find out what you really want? Deep down, you know what you're craving. If something sounds good, just go! Stop weighing options!
If you truly do not have any idea what you want, take the opportunity to try something totally different. Like "Brenda's French Soul Food", or a national cuisine you've never tried.
Stray From The Pack
So, this one time, I found an awesome mac and cheese restaurant. A little hole in the wall where you sit at the bar and watch the kitchen make all these gourmet mac and cheeses. I knew right away that was what I wanted, but, unfortunately, we weren't traveling alone.
I was determined to have my mac and cheese, so Rick and I separated from the group. That remains to be one of the coolest restaurants I've ever been to. If you're ever in San Francisco, it's on our top ten list here https://www.spiritedsloth.com/blog/san-francisco-top10
Try Not To Worry About FOMO
It's just food. You will not be able to try all the places on your list or all the places that food blogger said to try. That's ok.
If you're in Rome for a weekend, you likely won't be able to hit every recommendation you want to. FOMO, or fear of missing out can be a real issue when you're traveling. My advice is to truly relish in the things you are able to do, see, try, or eat.
Find Your Hidden Gem
You could go to "the most instagrammed restaurant in Lisbon" orrrrrr you could discover a completely unique little place all on your own! The prices are usually better, too.
Making decisions is hard. In the end, it's food at a restaurant. It's probably going to be pretty satisfactory, even if it's not on any top ten list.
If you read my post about sunset in Santorini, you know I'm all about finding your own way. My best advice for picking a restaurant is don't go where the whole world is telling you to go. Yes, those places are probably good, but it's so much more rewarding to find your own favorites, and these are some great ways to help you find those gems. Those secret little places are what it's all about.
Now, go eat!
As always, thanks for reading, and don't forget to follow the sloth!
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