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How to Choose a Restaurant when Traveling

How to Choose a Restaurant when Traveling

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A Food Fun Travel Guest Post

There are many advantages to traveling on your own, but there is a small nuance. You constantly have to make your own choices. This includes choosing where you will eat, drink coffee, or just sit with a glass of wine. And since money (no matter how much) is always in short supply, you’d like to spend it with as much pleasure as possible. Here are a few simple tips on how to choose a drool-worthy establishment in a city you don’t know at all when you have no one to ask.

Things To Look Out For

First, about where you should never (or almost never) go. A big red “stop” sign should be the presence of a barker at the entrance. An establishment that is good with food and service simply doesn’t need one. And in general, a restaurant’s staff should all be busy preparing food and serving customers. If someone is standing outside, it means they have to save money on the first two. And it was probably the cook.

The establishments along the tourist streets are also highly questionable. It is not difficult to find such paths — there are always masses of people and (this is the worst) collective tours. Tourists in their masses are fearful and not curious creatures, so they walk strictly along the routes drawn in guidebooks. Of course, even on these streets can be a good place, but often it will be simply unreasonably expensive. Note: If you want to get to some special places away from the tourist centre, renting a car at is advisable. Needless to say, rental rates for restaurants on these streets are skyrocketing. And the restaurateur has a simple choice: try to raise prices or lower quality. Chances are, you’ll have the second choice. So if you just go to sit in a crowded place, grab a glass of wine or a cocktail. You’ll still overpay, but an Aperol spritz is the same everywhere.

Menus in multiple languages and menus with pictures are also a bad sign. Actually, it means that the institution is designed for people who are not only tourists (and are unlikely to come here again) but also tourists who don’t understand what is hidden under all these strange names. And therefore, why even put in the effort? What is given to them, they will eat. And they will even praise them (sometimes). 

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Signs of decency

If you’re in Europe, then try to live by the European way. In particular, many assume that lunch is only from 12 to 3 pm, and dinner begins after 6-7 pm. These are the intervals in which the main thing is the food, not the interior and other special effects. After lunch, such a restaurant either closes altogether, or they can only pour wine, make coffee, and serve some snacks. A break in the restaurant allows you to keep professionals in the kitchen.

Look for establishments on quiet streets, away from the flow of tourists.  If it has been there for a long time, then people go there for a reason. It’s Good! At times, you can find very decent restaurants literally 50 meters from the tourist paths. You just need not be afraid to turn off the trail.

A good sign is a small menu. It means that groceries for the kitchen are likely being purchased today. And in general, the more items on the menu, the higher the probability that something will go wrong. Therefore, it is better to choose a restaurant where there are only five or six types of the main dish, but they will be made properly.

Should you believe the reviews?

Today, any information is available in a few swipes of the finger on the smartphone screen. Including all kinds of ratings of establishments and lists of “best restaurants.” This is both good and bad. The fact is that thousands of people read these ratings along with you, and there is a chance, coming to the establishment on this kind of recommendation, to find there are just like you, tourists. So even if you have read about the institution in a credible source, it is worth looking around on the spot. Maybe it is better to walk another 50 meters and dine at a less hyped place with better food.

The only source that has never let me down is the Michelin Guide. It’s not about restaurants with stars. The Guide has several categories for relatively inexpensive establishments, and getting a sticker with that category for a restaurant is a serious achievement that is treasured. Chances are, it will be at least not bad there. Although, it won’t do any harm to look around there, either. After all, when the waiter brings you a menu, you choose not only the dishes but also the restaurant itself.