Restaurant divination techniques

Joined Aug 23, 2000
Calvin Trillin has written about his techniques of finding good eats in unfamiliar places. How do you find good grub on unfamiliar ground?

My rule No. 1: Check out the parking lots at lunch. An unpaved lot filled to overflowing at lunch has *never* failed me.

Your techniques? Please enlighten.
Joined Aug 11, 2000
Resources before hitting the road.....reading newspapers, local mags (Chicago) etc., national mags, James Beard guest chef list to see what they've cooked at the house, if it's a small town and I'm driving through looking for lunch I stop and ask, sometimes read the menu and walk out, consider what the area is known for and look for a place that would potentially serve that food......full parking lot paved or unpaved is a good resource. Years ago Hot Springs Arkansas had breakfast diners lining the main street.....across from the bathhouses and down from the strip joints. I remember walking main and peeking in the windows to see what pastries each restaurant had that AM....oh.....even at 11 years old I was a discriminate diner.
Joined Aug 12, 2000
When I'm passing through a strange town, I might be attracted by the number of vehicles in a parking lot. But I always would look inside, and lots of times the atmosphere is so creepy, or so much like other places I've found bad food that I'd rather wait an hour than eat there.

Sometimes, too, I'll see a window out the corner of my eye that looks like an inviting place, stop and check, and sure enough, get a great meal in the middle of nowhere.


Joined Apr 4, 2000
Visit the bathroom before ordering. If the bathrooms are not kept clean you can assume the kitchen is in a similar condition.
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