Whether you are one town over visiting friends and family, or are in an entirely different state on a family vacation or business trip, finding a place to eat out can be a challenge when you don’t know the area well. Thankfully there are some simple, yet important, steps you can take to give yourself the greatest odds of uncovering a great place to grab a bite to eat during your stay. Below are six tips to get you started.
Check Out Their Website
While we are firmly in the modern age, many restaurants, and similar establishments, unfortunately, are among the last to embrace digital media in many instances. Outdated websites (or, worse yet, having no website at all) can still be an issue with a much smaller franchise or mom and pop restaurant. But if you can find a website for a place you are considering, be sure to take some time to look it over. Does the website look nice? Is it easy to navigate? Is there good information on its pages? Can you find the information you need? A good website can be a sign of a modern, updated, and professional establishment.
Read Reviews and Double Check Them
Along the same lines of looking for the company website, you should also look for online reviews. These may be on a special page of the website or on their social media pages. Read the reviews and see what others have to say about their experience at the restaurant and what they thought of the place. But remember, that while reviews are a good tool, they are not the end-all, decide-all, as we all know that everyone has different wants and needs and experiences when eating out someplace new. Consider the reviews along with anything else you learn and make your decision that way.
Call Ahead if You Have Time
Unless you are looking for a place to eat at in the next half hour, you may want to consider calling ahead to ask any questions you may have. Some questions or needs just can’t be properly answered through a website. Things like seating arrangements or accessibility concerns, how they deal with food allergies, and any other special needs or concerns are often best answered by speaking with someone directly. It takes a little more work and effort, but it is the best way to ensure you’re getting accurate information that you can base your decision on.
Look for Menu and Pricing Lists Online
One of the big issues for many when it comes to finding a place to eat out in an unfamiliar area is how much the food will cost. Some people have a tight budget for their vacations, and business trips often come with limits on food stipends as well. Fortunately, if the restaurant has a website, chances are there’s a menu and price listing of some kind also featured; that’s pretty standard information that will be readily available to help customers choose where to eat. If there is no listing online, you can always ask for general price ranges if you decide to call ahead.
Get First-Hand Recommendations if Possible
Another way to make sure you find the perfect restaurant while you’re traveling is to ask people who are in the know. Ask business associates, friends, and family members in the area where they like to go. Get recommendations on where to try and what places are best to avoid. Word of mouth recommendations are often the best and most reliable sources of information when it comes to choosing a restaurant when you are in an unfamiliar area. From food, to service, to ambiance, to cleanliness, these things are best learned from the locals.
Be Open and Check Expectations
The final tip to help choose where to eat when you are out of town is to simply keep an open mind when you do make your choice. Remember, not every experience will be perfect. Sometimes a good restaurant has a bad day. Remember that not everyone has the same expectations and needs. First impressions matter, but aren’t everything. Don’t expect 5-star service from a small, dive-style restaurant and don’t expect a relaxed ambiance in a luxury restaurant. Keep your expectations in check and you will have a better chance of being happy with your choice.
Following these simple but easy suggestions can help you feel more confident in your choice of where to eat out when you’re traveling. For more tips on dining check Finding Lover’s article on picking the right local restaurant. Keep our tips in mind as you head out on your next family vacation or business trip!