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7 Things to Consider When Choosing a Restaurant

My husband and I love trying out dishes in restaurants, something we can't do better at home, so we choose a restaurant based on this.

How Do You Choose a Restaurant?

How do you choose a restaurant? Will the occasion itself shape your choice? Or, is food a major factor? Aren't service, ambience and location important, too? Or, do you go for Michelin stars? Whether we are conscious of it or not, we have our reasons for choosing a restaurant.

Choosing a Restaurant

Choosing a Restaurant

Which Restaurant to Choose?

When you take the time to choose, oftentimes, you are rewarded with a great gastronomic experience built around the ambience of the restaurant and the attitude of the staff serving you.

In choosing a restaurant, one faces many considerations. Word of mouth or reviews is useful. They give you an idea of what the restaurant is like. Especially from people who had been to this place several times. That would be a vote for the restaurant.

But why not take the risk and try out something new each time? This, too, could result in gastronomic surprises.

Will You Choose This Restaurant? What Is Your Top Criteria?

Street Restaurant in Hanoi

Street Restaurant in Hanoi

In choosing a restaurant, what is your top criteria?

Tips in Choosing a Restaurant

Tips in Choosing a Restaurant

Best Guide in How to Choose a Good Restaurant

Sometimes, all we want to do is get a table and eat. But once in a while, to make of our eating out an experience is quite enjoyable. Some of us know exactly what to look for. But for those who have not much clue in making your restaurant visit a memory to cherish, here are some tips to a great restaurant experience.

Barcelona Restaurant

Barcelona Restaurant

1. Location of the Restaurant

Choose a restaurant you can walk to. When you want to have a great time, driving afterwards can pose a real problem. So, get a restaurant that is close by where you can easily walk or where it is easy to get a cab. Another 50 bucks for a cab to go to a restaurant adds unnecessary expense.

Of course, it is different when the location is truly superb: a lake, seaside, riverside or a spectacular view of the mountain or an architectural gem. But food must be excellent to enjoy a $50 cab ride value.

A Neighbourhood Restaurant?

Beautiful Restaurant in Istanbul

Beautiful Restaurant in Istanbul

2. Ambience Matters

Sometimes, the restaurant may be beautiful but the décor is not to your taste. It jars your senses. Go to a place where you enjoy the general atmosphere.

Do they play music? How loudly? Check out the people who go to the restaurant. If you find it pleasant to be around these people as you eat your dinner, then go book a table. Maybe a specific table away from the kitchen doors and not under the air conditioner.

Sometimes, you have to work when you're in a restaurant. For meetings where you need to discuss serious deals, go to restaurants that have private rooms.

Mood, Music, and Art in the Restaurant

Sicilian Restaurant

Sicilian Restaurant

3. Particular Cuisine Paired With the Right Wine

There are evenings when you just want a particular cuisine. And if that restaurant is the only one available where you live, there is really not much choice. After coming back from Asia, many folks just go for that big chunk of beef. The revenge of the tidbits, they say.

Other evenings, the menu has to be titillating to your taste buds. Especially when the restaurants are all clustered in an area and you have choices.

The wine list is also important. In some restaurants, the wine list consists of highly priced bottles of six wines all from France. Or overpriced bottles from you don't know where.

But often, there are two or three choices for a particular cuisine. Check out if their chef comes from the country where that cuisine is from. You are more likely to get the real thing and not the stylized version of it. There is nothing wrong about stylized cuisine as some of the real ones are hard to take anyway.

Culinary Trends to Try in Restaurants

Culinary Trends in Restaurants

This video showcases the latest culinary trends you must try in restaurants. What is the latest for one may not be for another. We have a different preference, especially for food. So, go for what is best for you. But in case you're curious as to the latest trend, view this video.

4. Choose a Restaurant That Gives Good Value

Price matters when you choose

When you are bringing a big group, look for one that will give you value for your money. This does not mean being cheap but getting a good meal that you feel happy about paying. You are satisfied for what you get.

As an example in Thailand, why would I pay $25 for a pad thai that tastes average in a restaurant when I can buy a better tasting one in the street for a dollar?

Or, in Hanoi, the street restaurants offer local food that are more tasty than in fancy restaurants.

Value Options in Restaurants

Street Restaurant in Hanoi

Street Restaurant in Hanoi

5. Excellent Service

Want good service in a restaurant? Don't just expect it. Make it happen. When you find a restaurant you like, befriend the waiters and waitresses. Treat them kindly as you would treat your own friends and you will find that you will get great service all the time.

Sometimes, these waiters are super busy and you demand a hundred things. When you see them carrying many things to your table, be helpful. Give them space to place it.

Take some of the things that are hard for them to place on some sides of your table. These may be little things, but when you help them, they will go out of their way to make sure you are served properly.

Over and beyond this, of course, are restaurants with impeccable service no matter who you are.

Service in a Restaurant - Give the Best to the Customer

Service in Restaurant

Service in Restaurant

Do you enjoy good service in restaurants? - How much do you appreciate this?

6. Hygiene in the Restaurant

Check out the washroom

You may just want to check out the restaurant before you decide to book a table. Have a drink first and check out the place. Go use the washroom.

This is my friend's standard procedure. Use the bathroom and when it is clean, chances are hygiene standards are followed in the restaurant.

A Traditional Restaurant

Renaissance Restaurant in Dubrovnik

Renaissance Restaurant in Dubrovnik

7. Tried and Tested Restaurants

For big events, this is my criteria

However, for big events, it is always helpful to go to places you have tried and tested. You are better able to focus on the evening when the place is familiar and and the staff knows you.

You can make recommendations, you know the wine list, and you are familiar with the way things are done. You don't have many things to worry about. Just enjoy the meal and the experience of good service and a happy environment.

Even for just a regular going out, there is comfort in places you know. Every Saturday, we go to FCC, a riverside restaurant here in Cambodia. We had been doing this for years so we have attended weddings of staff, we know their kids and families and their desires and dreams. We actually go back to get updates.

Here, we can ask for what we want to eat even if it is not on the menu. Comfort food. How can it be better than this?

Seafood Platter in Dalmatino

Dalmatino in Dubrovnik

Dalmatino in Dubrovnik

My Fascinating Restaurant Experience

Sometimes, I Luck Out

Last night was one of those perfect moments in dining, when the wine was great and not over priced, the food well prepared and presented, the ambience was perfect, not loud and the diners were sedate.

The chef went around asking each table how they find the food. The servers were all attentive just at the right time without disturbing our own conversation. We were very happy.

To top it all, they had a promotion that if your bill reaches a certain amount, you get a free stay with breakfast for two in their newly opened hotel which is at present the top hotel in the city. You can even gift this to your family or friends. What a bargain and a great value for money.

That was not the highlight of what we got. We decided for this restaurant because of a news item that they have for this week, the Michelin chef, Eric Maio, cooking dinner. We called up a friend and trooped there.

We have not been to the hotel before as it just opened and we were impressed but the lamb my husband had was perfect. My pigeon had this heavenly crust and the pigeon is the most tender and juicy I have ever eaten and all the other accoutrements were tasty and different that we got some ideas, too. It is seldom to have this restaurant experience.

Interesting Data on Restaurant Delivery

With the COVID lockdown, most of our favorite restaurants only offer delivery. Most of us, even though some restaurants have opened, we still stick to the delivery option. It is interesting to note here that recent studies have shown different age groups' behavior to restaurant delivery. Particularly interesting to restaurants who want to enhance their food delivery options are the insights on a survey made by Revenue Management Solutions. The July 2020 results compared to May 2020 :

  • Dine-in saw no increase despite the lifted restrictions on eating out. Contactless channels, on the other hand, increased with meal kits showing the most significant growth.
  • 38% of Millenials order at least 5x per week, but GenZ is catching up.
  • There is a growing interest among consumers to go back to restaurants soon.

For a more comprehensive view of this survey, go to https://lnkd.in/eC6yRnQ

Useful Links on Analysis Restaurants

© 2010 Mary Norton

Leave your comments or share your own favourite restaurant stories - Or more advice for readers on how to choose a restaurant

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 11, 2020:

Thanks, Patrick. This is very helpful. Will check it out.

Patrick Huwyler on August 07, 2020:

Thanks for the article Mary.

I also think that looking for menu limitations is decisive. A restaurant that that uses fresh and seasonal ingredients will tend to have a very limited menu. Less is more.

I discuss more criteria on Instagram: english4hospitality if you’re interested...

anonymos on August 23, 2019:


Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 20, 2019:

Thanks for the addition. Will check out the article.

Bob Lewis from New York on August 19, 2019:

I appreciate the effort and attention to detail in writing this article. It is actually very important to check out these things when going to a restaurant as these little things really make all the difference. I would like to add a few more points. I believe that customers most often return to a restaurant that offers a variety of delicacies to choose from. No person will choose restaurant if they feel that it limits them to taking certain type of foods only. Prices should also be fair and reasonable. People also like the "on time food delivery" aspect of a restaurant. I often advise people to study more before visiting a restaurant and if you are someone planning to open a new restaurant, these are the things that simply can't be missed. Read this article https://foodlocator.menu/blog/what-do-people-look-... to find out more critical factors that can attract more customers to a restaurant.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 30, 2019:

Audrey, you can do it. Hope to see you one day in one of the world's greatest restaurants.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on May 17, 2019:

If I were wealthy I would travel the world just to try new foods and restaurants. The ceiling belonging to the Dubrovnik restaurant is amazing! Atmosphere plays an important role for me when I eat out.

Thanks for another unique and fun hub.

Akruti patel on November 09, 2018:

The best place to eat in a restaurant and engage with fun among friends because of good ambiance with good quality music system. The HHI Bhubaneswar have all these facilities to make the place more unique

Ria on June 19, 2018:

It was really useful

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 01, 2018:

Thank you Peggy. We try to find some of the best restaurants when we travel, something we enjoy as we bring home the know how. We always enjoy trying out something new especially in food.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 01, 2018:

We have our favorites but also like to try new cuisines or try different restaurants on occasion. The tip about checking out the restrooms for cleanliness is a good one. I enjoyed looking at your photos from restaurants around the world.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on January 24, 2018:

We are also like you. When we find a restaurant we like, we keep going back. Travel is good as it makes us try something new. Otherwise, we like to be regulars.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on January 23, 2018:

Your article makes me want to go out to a really fancy restaurant and sample the cuisine. Most of the time we end up at one of our three favorite places where we're comfortable, the food is good, the staff is friendly and the place is clean and affordable. Recently we went out as a group to the Silver Fox here in Dallas for the first time and had an incredible experience with excellent service and food. You're right. You can tell a lot about a place by the way they maintain the restrooms.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 20, 2017:

That's a good recommendation. I will have to look that up.

sukkran trichy from Trichy/Tamil Nadu on February 06, 2014:

for me taste and hygiene are very important. thanks for an interesting share

WriterJanis2 on April 28, 2013:

I love to try new restaurants, but I also have my favorites.

mrsclaus411 on January 30, 2013:

Great lens. I like going to restaurants with good food, nice ambiance, and good service too.

anonymous on October 16, 2012:

Always take a step back and watch the servers, dishes coming out to patrons and the faces of the diners. A lot can be told about the establishment from this exercise.


anonymous on October 09, 2012:

I love restaurants with friendly staff, good ambiance and quality of food. Of course location plays a major role too.

FashionMommy on July 03, 2012:

I often choose restaurants based on ambiance, service and good food. Great lens.

RetroMom on April 01, 2012:

Great tips on choosing a restaurant.

sousababy on March 29, 2012:

I was a server in my 20's while in college, so I look for good service and good food (prepared in a healthy way). I often ask specifics about how the food is prepared.

anonymous on January 03, 2012:

Nice tips and unique topic. Liked!

Thanks so much for your support and blessing my "Top 10 Most Favorite Foods of Filipinos for Christmas Eve (Noche Buena)" lens.

As a token of appreciation, I have featured your this lens on my "Top 10 Pinoy New Year's Resolutions "lens.

Hope you'll like it, too.



Tony Payne from Southampton, UK on March 04, 2011:

We usually go for value for money in a restaurant. Unfortunately we can't afford fine dining, but so many of those places leave you still hungry when you come out. I think I have only tipped more than 15% on several occasions, and then it was when service was exceptions. I can't imagine tipping 60% or more.

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