Tammy’s Top Ten (t3 report)Tips for Eating Out

It’s the height of summer and we’re vacationing far and wide. I love this time with my family. I love to see new sights, to see what inspires them, to get to know them in a bit different setting and to just be together. While we’ve been able to rent a couple of places with kitchens where we can prepare our own food, we’re certainly finding ourselves dining out far more frequently than we do at home. Here is a list of tips that work for us.

The Boys Contemplating the Future

The Boys Contemplating the Future

Ten Tips when Dining Out:

  1. Find a local, independently owned restaurant.
  2. Try to check out their menu online before you go.
  3. Ask about the ingredients and the menu item before you order. Is it vegan? Can you leave off the red onions? What oil do they use to prepare it?
  4. Order as if you were Sally. Sure there are places that say no substitutions but you’ll never know if you don’t ask. Ask for the dressing on the side or the bacon to be left out or whatever else you need to get it perfect.
  5. Ask for your server’s opinion. What is the most popular dish? What is your favorite? If I’m trying to decide between this and this, which would you choose? Ask what wine they’d pair with it.
  6. Give them feedback. If there is something you didn’t like, give them the opportunity to fix it while you’re there. Tell them what you do like.
  7. Be respectful to your server and their time. I read a recent piece about how much time wait staff spend waiting for their guests to get off their smart phones and how much time patrons spend taking photos of their food.
  8. If your service was good, tip well. I am certain that many of you, like me, made your way through school on those jobs. Perhaps some of you still enjoy this type of work and know how difficult it can be.
  9. Ask about their produce and meat purchases. Are they able to purchase them locally? Where do they come from? Leave  them with the understanding that you have a preference for local food and ask them to share with the owner/chef/proprietor. Years ago, the organic consumers organization made small cards for patrons to leave in restaurants to inform them of this preference.
  10. Give them a great review online if they deserved it. Be specific so that the information is useful to them and to other travelers who will also be seeking nourishment.
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28 Comments

  1. Hi Tammy–
    As always a great t3 report.
    I saw that same story online about the amount of time people involve their smartphones in their dining experiences—from checking emails to photographing food to getting the server to take group photos. It’s become a little strange and crazy. Let’s just get together, converse, enjoy our meal and time together.

    Reply
    • I’m with you. That article whether true or not, had a big impact on me. I read it to my family and am trying to get them to be aware also.

      Reply
  2. You’ve just given me 10 more reasons why I prefer to dine in, rather than out. :D

    At home, I can tailor dishes to my tastes (and waistline). I know the cook washed her hands and how the food’s been stored. I never have to eat more than I want or ask for a doggie bag. I’m never surprised by extraneous ingredients (e.g., bacon in my fruit salad).

    Glad you’re having a FUN summer. Enjoy it to the MAX!

    Reply
    • I really don’t like being surprised by ingredients so I am working on doing a better job of asking what is in things. Sometimes, I would just never guess that they’d put bacon in fruit salad!!

      Reply
  3. Lisa H

     /  July 30, 2014

    Great tips! We used so many of your suggestions during our summer trip. Since I deal with an egg allergy, I have to ask about ingredients, so I place my order last so the waiter won’t forget my requests.
    One of our best meals was when we had a waiter order for us. We gave him an idea of what we liked and he brought back the most amazing seafood platter. Definitely a great memory.

    Reply
  4. Wonderful tips! I will make sure that the waiter isn’t waiting for me to take photos of my food :) A friend just launched an app, Greenease, that allows you to screen restaurants by different criteria (e.g., vegan-friendly, gluten-free, sustainable seafood, grass fed, etc), and all of the restaurants are vetted for sourcing from local farmers. It only covers the DC area, but I’m hoping she will expand it soon! It’s a great tool for travelers.

    Reply
    • That’s a great idea for an app. I’m surprised that yelp hasn’t added that feature already.

      Reply
  5. Great advice, Tammy. We eat out often in the summertime, too. I like your list. Blessings to you…

    Reply
  6. levesquenr

     /  July 30, 2014

    Such a great topic for a post!!!!!

    Reply
    • Thank you for reading it. What tip resonates most for you?

      Reply
      • levesquenr

         /  August 1, 2014

        Definitely asking for your servers opinion. Everytime I go out to eat I always ask the server their favorite between a few dishes that stick out to me and usually they are 100% honest. I love when a server can be honest enough to say that they’ve never had it but they’ve heard it tastes this way; or even if they didn’t like something. Those are the best restaurants to go too!

        Reply
  7. Abby's Kitchen

     /  July 30, 2014

    Great tips. Loved that video clip! Sharing it on my fb page.Thanks!

    Reply
    • Glad I remembered that clip. Of course, if you’ve seen the movie, then you know it was not the most famous restaurant scene.

      Reply
  8. Fantastic tips! I read the same article about how long people take wasting time in a restaurant by being on their smart phones. I take 2 photos and hope for the best – and with a point and shoot camera. And I never use my phone when we are dining out – it is so rude in my opinion. Asking the waiter what his / her choice would be is a great tip :)

    Reply
  9. Excellent tips, dear Tammy! :) A cool lovely post too! :)

    Reply
  10. I do most of my eating out when I’m away too. It’s my time-out from the kitchen. I always leave a tip because I’ve been-there-done-that as a waiter too xx

    Reply
    • I’ve been watching your eating out in NYC. We feel the same about Ellen’s stardust diner.

      Reply
  11. Tammy, I’m printing this out and taking it with me. We touch down at Washington on the 20th and drive down to Charleston and back during our stay. Looking forward to sampling something different from the food here in Britain!

    Reply
  12. I love getting the server’s opinion–but if you can get a place with a kitchen for the options, that is the best (even if you eat out some too)!

    Reply
  13. What a great spot for a vacation.

    Reply

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