Going on vacation? Moving to a new neighborhood? Or simply don’t know where is best to eat? It’s getting harder and harder these days to track down good restaurants using the internet for a number of reasons.
The times of trusting TripAdvisor are gone – there’s been a multitude of exposés written about the consumer review platform that suggest it is unfortunately now filled with paid ads and misleading reviews. Independent blogs should also be taken with a pinch of salt, as bloggers are not always honest about whether they have been hired to provide a positive review, even if that’s not what they really think.
So, if review websites aren’t providing trustworthy accounts of dining experiences as they are supposed to, how are you to be sure you’re picking the best restaurant to celebrate a special occasion? A bad meal can ultimately spoil an event – so we’ve decided to help people navigate the tricky world of finding where is best to dine when you’ve never been there before. Follow these tips and you’ll hopefully never suffer a negative dining experience again.
- Compare & contrast
Customer and restaurant product reviews can generally be trusted if there are many good reviews from lots of different sources. Go to separate, unaffiliated sources – blogs, well-known review sites, restaurant websites, their Facebook review page, search their mentions on social media – and weigh up the pros and cons of each. If they have overwhelmingly good reviews, you can relax and be sure that you’ve made a good choice for your meal!
- Personal recommendation
When looking for dining options in the area you are in, ask people around you! Word of mouth is still the best kind of honest opinion to gain about any type of service. If you’re on vacation, ask the hotel staff. If you’ve moved to a new area, ask where is good to eat when you’re getting to know your new neighbors or workmates. People will be happy to share personal experiences, make recommendations and feel like they are helping somebody out.
- Get friendly with the staff
The best way to be sure you’ll get a positive experience in a local restaurant is to make friends with the staff! Of course, you should always be polite and friendly to service staff, but you should make extra effort to ask them questions and try to get to know the business. You can certainly do this over the phone when deciding if you want to make a reservation, or you could pop in and ask a few questions. By visiting the restaurant itself you can also get an idea of the atmosphere and vibe. If you do dine there, be sure to adequately tip the staff – they will remember you as a delightful customer and treat you as such when you return.
- Use apps
Smaller review apps that you can get on your mobile may be more trustworthy as they have a smaller user base. Foodspotting, Urbanspoon and OpenTable are great places to start when searching for restaurants near you. Foodspotting is particularly good for reviewing individual dishes rather than the overall restaurant, which is a great idea for foodies to share their favorite spots to get the best foods. With OpenTable, you can make a reservation without having to pick up the phone and reduces the risk of turning up somewhere to find that it’s completely full (though this is usually a great indication that the food is amazing, and you should come back another time!).
- Track down specialized restaurants
If you have any special dietary requirements, it’s a good idea to filter out the rest and focus on finding a restaurant that fulfils your needs. For instance, if you need a place that is suitable for children, do a Google search and comparison of all the best kid-friendly eating spots near you. If you follow a gluten-free, vegan, or allergen-free diet, search online for the places that best cater to this, and make sure to ask the staff as well to prevent enduring a bad experience.