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7 Things to Consider When Choosing a Restaurant

When my husband and I go to restaurants, we love trying out dishes that we wouldn't make at home (or couldn't make as well).

Choosing a restaurant can sometimes be daunting.

Choosing a restaurant can sometimes be daunting.

How Do You Choose a Restaurant?

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

Which Restaurant to Choose?

When you take the time to choose, you often get your rewards—a great gastronomic experience built around the restaurant's ambiance and the attitude of the staff serving you.

In choosing a restaurant, one faces many considerations. Word of mouth or reviews is valid. They give you an idea of how other people experienced the restaurant. That would be a vote for the restaurant.

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

Street restaurant in Hanoi

Street restaurant in Hanoi

Tips for choosing a restaurant

Tips for choosing a restaurant

Best Guide for How to Choose a Good Restaurant

Sometimes, all we want to do is get a table and eat. But once in a while, we want a unique experience, a culinary delight or something beyond blah. Often we just run out of ideas, so here are some tips for a great restaurant experience.

Restaurant in Barcelona

Restaurant in Barcelona

1. Location

Choose a restaurant you can easily walk to from your place. Driving afterward can pose a real problem when you want to have a great time. Another $50 for a cab to a restaurant adds unnecessary expense.

Of course, it is different when the location is 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.

Beautiful restaurant in Istanbul

Beautiful restaurant in Istanbul

2. Ambience

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. Book a table if you find it pleasant to be around these people while eating your dinner. Maybe a 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 with private rooms.

Restaurant in Sicily

Restaurant in Sicily

3. Food and Wine Pairings

There are evenings when you want a particular cuisine. And if that restaurant is the only one available where you live, there is not much choice. After returning from Asia, many folks 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. Choosing is easy when the restaurants are all clustered in an area, and you have choices.

The wine list is also essential. The wine list consists of highly-priced bottles of six wines from France in some restaurants. 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 originates. You are more likely to get the real thing, not the stylized version. There is nothing wrong with stylized cuisine, as some real ones are hard to take anyway.

The video above showcases the latest culinary trends you must try in restaurants. What is the latest for one may not be for another. We have different preferences, 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. Good Value

Price matters when it comes to restaurants.

When bringing a big group, look for one that will give you value for your money. This choice does not mean being cheap but getting a good deal for your money. You are satisfied with what you get.

For 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 tastier local food than fancy restaurants.

Street food in Hanoi

Street food 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 friends, and you will find that you will always get excellent service.

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

Take some of the hard things 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 serve you to your utter satisfaction.

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

Good service can make a dining experience great

Good service can make a dining experience great

6. Good Hygiene

Here's a tip: Check out the washroom.

You may want to check out the restaurant before you decide to book a table. Have a drink first and check out the place. Using the washroom is my friend's standard procedure. Use the bathroom, and when it is clean, chances are hygiene standards are followed in the restaurant.

Renaissance Restaurant in Dubrovnik

Renaissance Restaurant in Dubrovnik

7. Tried and Tested Restaurants

For significant events, this is my most important criterion.

When it comes to those critical events, it is always helpful to go to places you have tried and tested. You can better focus on the evening when the site is familiar and the staff knows you.

You can make recommendations, know the wine list, and be familiar with how they do things. You don't have to worry. Just enjoy the meal and the experience of good service and a happy environment.

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

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

Dalmatino in Dubrovnik

Dalmatino in Dubrovnik

Sometimes, I Luck Out

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

The chef went around asking each table how they found the food. The servers were attentive just at the right time without disturbing our conversation. We were delighted.

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 the top hotel in the city. You can even gift this to your family or friends. What a bargain and an excellent value for money.

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

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

A Michelin Star Restaurant in Madrid, Spain

A Michelin Star Restaurant in Madrid, Spain

Interesting Data on Restaurant Delivery

With the COVID lockdown, most of our favourite restaurants only offer delivery. Even though some restaurants have opened, we still stick to the delivery option for most of us. Interestingly, recent studies have shown different age groups' behaviour toward restaurant delivery. The insights on a survey made by Revenue Management Solutions are fascinating to restaurants that want to enhance their food delivery options. The July 2020 results compared to May 2020:

  • Dine-in saw no increase despite the lifted restrictions on eating out. On the other hand, contactless channels increased, with meal kits showing the most significant growth.
  • 38% of millennials order at least five times weekly, 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, see the link below.

More About Restaurants

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 Mary Norton