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The Best Restaurant Guides
One of the best parts of traveling to a new area is trying out different places to eat. When we first began traveling we would rely on restaurant guides to help as decide where we would dine. By using the restaurant guides we found that about half of the time we were disappointed in our dining experience. We decided that we needed to have a more reliable system for choosing our restaurants.

We started asking the desk clerks where we stayed, if they could recommend a dining choice. We did get better results with this approach, depending upon the clerk. Some would take the time to ask what type of food we were looking for and what price range we wanted to spend. Based on our answers to those questions they would make recommendations.

We found that this approach was effective as long as the clerk was not busy with others checking in, or answering the telephone. Some clerks would simply say that restaurant guides were provided in the room. It was also difficult to get a recommendation for dinner plans if the hotel or inn had their own dining room.

We have found that larger cities have restaurant guides that are published by local newspapers. These are often lists of the restaurants by cuisine, price and some other basic information such as reservation requirements and dress code. The newspaper restaurant guides are mainly a list of resources rather than a rating or critic system. You will find out what is available, but you will not know the quality of the food.

The best restaurant guides for us are asking local residents. This may sound strange, but most people like to support their favorite restaurant by recommending it to others. We have approached people by simply going into a neighborhood bar and having a drink. We will ask the bartender or another patron.

This can actually be fun because at some bars more than one person will give a recommendation and soon a debate will begin as to the best place to eat. We ran into this situation when we were visiting Minneapolis. We were staying at a hotel downtown and had walked a few blocks to a pub. This was a weeknight so the pub was not overly busy. We sat at the horseshoe shaped bar and ordered a drink.

My husband asked the bartender if he could recommend a place for us to have dinner that was within walking distance. Before the bartender could answer the man sitting on the other side of my husband named a local restaurant. Another patron commented that the restaurant was under new management, so it was no longer as good. Another patron mentioned their favorite place to eat, but the bartender thought it would be too far to walk. The eight local patrons that were in the bar were soon telling stories about eating out and places that were closed and many other topics.

We were enjoying the lively conversation so much that we had the bartender make us a frozen pizza and we spent the evening talking with the people at the bar. When the hot pizza was put in front of us one of the patrons commented that we would not be finding this meal in the restaurant guides. I have to admit it was a more enjoyable evening than any that could have been offered by the restaurant guides.
About the Author
Author of this article is Glenn Low. For more articles visit the website: Travellers' Guidebook.
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