How to Dine Like a Professional Foodie (and Not Spend a Fortune!)

We offer tips to help informed foodies stretch their dining budget. Eat smart, eat well!

We offer tips to help informed foodies stretch their dining budget. Eat smart, eat well!

Ahoy to all you local-source-loving, sustainable-seeking, dedicated foodie enthusiasts!

As you well know, the ship has sailed on boring dining. A resurgence in the experience of eating well is waiting to be found in great restaurants across the nation – likely in your city!

When your cravings dictate a trip outside your apartment kitchen, you know you’re going to spend some dough, however.

If you’re going to splurge on cuisine, how can you ensure you’ll enjoy a worthwhile meal? We’ll help you make the most of your on-the-town budget with these considerations and tips.

Good eating to you!

Foodie, know thyself
Start by knowing the types of dining experience you enjoy.

Do you want to like to discover the newest places and eat on the cutting edge of your city’s dining scene? Do you tend to stick to a set of favorite spots that you enjoy giving your repeat business?

When you know what you want out of a restaurant experience, it’s easier to get the most for your money. Don’t visit a joint that your instincts tell you won’t make you happy you attended.

The informed foodie
If you want to be in the know, you’ll need intel. This means finding and keeping up with a few favorite online sources for dining information.

Larger metros likely have dedicated local or even neighborhood publications. I live and eat in Atlanta, and, here, I follow Creative Loafing’s Omnivore blog, Eater Atlanta, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s food blog, among others.

On a national scale, Eater is a great resource for feature articles about restaurants and cutting-edge dining trends. The site also discusses issues facing diners. This is a highly-entertaining site about all things foodie. (Note that 27 North American cities have pages dedicated to local content!)

Sites like Urbanspoon and Yelp focus on keeping diners connected and informed about restaurants in their area. These sites use foodie-created reviews and ratings to cite the most popular places to dine. Be aware that visitors to these sites submit their own opinions, so read each with a grain of salt. A preponderance of opinion is likely more helpful than any single review.

Tips to stretch your foodie dollar
Ok, so how does the enterprising gourmand eat what he wants without breaking the bank?

For starters (get it?), eat ONLY what you want; don’t succumb to an up-sell.

Restaurants exist to serve you, but have their own agendas, too. Namely, they want to convince you to spend as much as possible on your evening’s indulgence. Keep in mind that you get to decide which combinations of appetizer, entrée, dessert, and drinks you prefer. Unless a restaurant runs a dedicated prix fixe menu – where you pay a fixed price for a certain number of courses – the run of the menu is yours: order as much or as little as you like.

Planning ahead can help you be more careful about what you order. With the Web, you can gather information about a restaurant you’d like to visit. Many places share their menus online for your casual perusal. You can even pick out what you think you’d like to order before the meal — and calculate the likely bill total in advance. It’s powerful to be prepared (and kind of fun to begin your fantasies about a great meal ahead of time!)

Share your experience — and learn from others’
You may feel inclined to add your own voice to the din of public opinion. When you weigh in on with personal comments on a dining experience, you help others discover a great evening out, as well. Why not share your foodie cred with other enthusiasts online?

Feedback you both give and get from other informed diners not only helps everyone enjoy the best of a city’s culinary landscape, it likely helps each diner feel, in the end, that the money spent was well worth the experience.

Of course, there are the usual suspects of social media (Facebook and Twitter,) but also consider more food-specific outlets. In ten cities around the country, Savored.com even helps diners find kindred eaters to go out together for a meal.

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Cvetanovski

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