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How to choose a restaurant on the go?

Guys, I used to be like that. I left to travel with all the restaurants on the route duly researched -- some even reserved. He invented trips around restaurants. He made a point of killing as many trendy restaurants as he could, mixing Michelin stars with incensed ones in posh magazines.

I stopped. First, because I stopped being a rich grin But also because, in 2008, I took a truly transformative journey. I spent three months in 8 major cities in Europe (ending in New York) renting apartments. By renting out flats, the immediate neighborhood where I was staying took on another importance. And suddenly eating at that nice restaurant on the other block that caught my attention when I passed was more fun than getting reservations at a top restaurant.

Here are my tips for eating out:

1) Flawlessly research your hotel's location. The nicer (less tourist) the place you stay, the more nice restaurants you will discover;

2) Wherever you are staying, take some time when you arrive for terrain reconnaissance. You'll spot nearby places, up to three blocks away, that at the very least can save the homeland on a night when you're too tired to go out again. (If you don't do this terrain recon, you could end up in the tourist trap on the side of the hotel, not knowing that walking five minutes would find something nicer.)

3) Understand the city. Once you understand the city, you will find your beach. And on its beach you will discover the restaurants that are just like you.

4) Guides: Frommer's and Lonely Planet are not usually good sources of restaurant tips. When the restaurant is lucky enough to make it onto the lists of these guides, it ends up being so tourist-oriented that it usually loses its personality. (Not to mention that the quality of the authors of these series varies a lot.) Time Out, on the other hand, is a consistent source of cool tips -- sometimes too cool. My advice: separate the Time Out restaurant tips that you find nice and try to get past them on your wanderings; live you decide if you want to come back at dinner time...

5) TripAdvisor: use sparingly; rankings reflect average Anglo-American tastes. But a good tactic is to use the local version (,, looking for reviews made by locals, in the language of the country. I did it in Italy and I did very well.

6) Local newspaper magazines/supplements are the best source for news or to find out which part of the city is really hot at the moment. They are always a good starting point for you to make your discoveries.

7) To choose that gastronomic/starred restaurant, use forums like ChowHound or follow the gourmets of your choice.

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Enjoy everyone!


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