It's no secret: I love food. The good thing is, I think everyone else does too! Even if you're very careful about what you eat, you should enjoy every mouthful you take. Although I like cooking at home, going out to eat is even better. I can have what I want, I don't have to cook it, and there's no washing up for me to do either! I love to try new places, but sometimes I can get stuck in a rut. Finding somewhere new to taste-test isn't always easy. I know you have to take a risk sometimes, but I don't want the risk of a bad meal to be high. Disappointing meals make me cry! So I have a few things I can do to find the best restaurants to try out, whether I'm travelling or at home.
Get All the Apps
There really is an app for everything, so I always make sure I have some restaurant discovery apps on my phone. They can tell me the nearest places to go from where I am, what they're like and how people rate them. They help me find a restaurant when I'm in a hurry and about to starve if I don't eat right now. It's great to have something to help when I'm out and about, and maybe when I'm travelling and don't know the city too well. It's even better if there are offers and discounts available too. I just discovered one for Malaysia, Offpeak.my, which is going to expand into other Southeast Asian cities soon.
Watch Out for New Openings
Sometimes the best time to try a restaurant is when it's just opened up. Although it can also be the worst time, for a few reasons: It might be very busy if there's a buzz surrounding the opening, and you might have the best meal of your life, only to discover that the restaurant didn't last more than a month. But, like I said, you have to take risks sometimes. Visiting a restaurant when they're just finding their feet can give you some great experiences. If you want to hear about new restaurants, it's a good idea to sign up for newsletters for local websites. Look at food bloggers, news sites, and more to hear about Monterey restaurants and other places around the world before anyone else. It's also a great idea to set up a Google alert that sends you results for "(your city) new restaurant".
Choose at Random
I love a surprise. And the surprise of a great meal you weren't expecting is one of the best things in the world. It's amazing how you can stumble across incredible food in the most unlikely places. You can walk into a café or restaurant thinking it looks a bit ropey, and the food could change your life. Sometimes when I'm travelling and at home too I just pick somewhere at random. It might be a fancy restaurant, or it could be a street food vendor. It might be a bad choice, but usually it's an excellent one.
Do Lots of Research
Using the internet to research can help you to discover lots of incredible restaurants. It's an especially good thing to do before you go on a trip if you don't know what to expect. You can try starting with the top-rated restaurants on TripAdvisor and similar websites to see what everyone loves. There are other ways to find out the best places to go too. If you're looking for somewhere prestigious, look for restaurants that have Michelin stars. Usually, I don't need something that upmarket, though!
When you're researching online, reviews can be useful. But I don't listen to them all the time since they can sometimes be all over the place. Some people will always find something to complain about, so you have to know when to ignore a bad review. Sometimes it's better to look at average ratings than it is to read individual reviews. Personal opinions might not mean much, unless they're all exceptionally good or awful. They do help you avoid the terrible restaurants that will only give you food poisoning!
Ask the Locals
If you don't know where to go, whether you're at home or travelling, try asking someone. You can start with family or friends who might have experiences. One of the things I like to do is ask someone local who knows the area well. You can talk to the staff at your hotel if you're on a trip or just walk into a shop and get someone's opinion.
Looking for new restaurants to try can sometimes be a pain, but it's definitely worth it when I discover somewhere amazing. How do you find places you love? Drop me some suggestions below! =)
Living to Eat,
*This post was contributed by a guest blogger.