- Don’t wait until you’re starving to look for a place to eat. At that point, you won’t be able to think straight, and you’re likely to make a poor choice by eating at the first place you see. Instead, check out a few options online (or stroll around and look at menus posted outside) about 2 hours before you can safely say you’re hungry.
- Don’t give yourself too many options to consider. This is a classic situation. You get together with friends and start discussing where to eat. Everyone has a couple of ideas at least, and next thing you know, you’re wasting 30 minutes discussing the pros and cons of each place. Be smart with your time; pick 2 places and then take a vote. If there’s only two of you, pick one place, with the promise of going to the other one next weekend.
- Always carry some cash with you. There are many excellent places that are cash only.
- Try street food whenever you get a chance. People are often intimidated by different cuisines, unfamiliar spices, and names of dishes they can’t pronounce. Don’t have a fixed mindset. Instead, expand your horizons by trying food from other parts of the world. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the diversity, the low price, and the comfortable atmosphere to eat in. Added bonus: no need to dress up for this occasion.
- Pack a plastic container in case you have leftovers. In many metropolitan areas (here in San Francisco, for example), some restaurants charge for leftover boxes and containers.
- If you’re working towards a fitness goal or are watching your calories, eat half of your dinner and pack the other half to go. Added bonus: you get another meal. Of course, this pertains to bigger, more complex dishes and not a salad or small sandwich.
- Time your visit to a restaurant to avoid crowds. Get there about an hour before the usual dinner (or lunch) crowd shows up, or if you schedule in another fun activity beforehand (going to the movies, hanging out with friends), plan to be there closer to closing time. Most places will be okay with you placing an order 30-45 minutes before the kitchen is done for the night, and the bonus is it will be more quiet and you’ll actually be able to have a conversation with friends in addition to enjoying the food.