6 New Year’s Resolutions That’ll Make You a Better Diner in 2019
Recommendations from the Foobooz team for how to eat and drink more deliciously (and responsibly) in the coming year.
Sure, we’ve established that you never shouldn’t tip (assuming you don’t want to spend eternity burning in hell, of course). But here’s a somewhat radical idea I’ve been following for a while: If your service is good — or, depending on the situation, standard — tip extra. Tip over 20%. Tip a dollar on your $2.50 drip coffee (a point on which my esteemed editor and I diverge). Every industry person I know tips big when they go out to eat, because they know how hard the work is, even if they’re not rolling in it themselves.
Plus, it just feels good (and a little bit baller) to throw that extra dollar in the jar or drop 25% on the table. How often does spending more money make you feel like you’re doing something good instead of increasing the chances that you’ll die penniless? I’ve spent the past decade working in foodservice, at nonprofits, and writing. If I can tip extra, you can too. — Alexandra Jones
Don’t forget about the oldies.
Philly diners (myself included) are easily distracted. We’re competitive and we’re insatiable. A new restaurant will open, we’ll rush to eat there, and by the time the dessert course hits, we’re already making plans to get to the next new spot. This year, let’s make sure we take a second to appreciate the classics. Set some nights aside to hit up the places that have been to in ages. Because you don’t know what you have until it’s gone — and all restaurants eventually close. Even the ones you thought would be around forever. — Alex Tewfik
Be your own best friend.
Take yourself out to dinner. Dining alone can be an entirely different experience, forcing you to focus more on the things happening around you rather than who you’re sharing a table with. All of a sudden, the food is more interesting, the play of action on the floor and in the kitchen becomes more fascinating because it all becomes your evening’s entertainment. So leave the phone in your pocket, treat yourself, and just, you know, be in the moment. — Jason Sheehan
Get out of your comfort zone.
Unless I’m headed out to eat with intention — trying a new spot for the first time, heading somewhere in particular to celebrate a special occasion, or working — I’ve found that I tend to stick to the same spots: my favorite place to get enchiladas, the fried chicken spot I love, the cozy bar with local cheese on the menu and lots of natural wines. And it’s understandable: once you’ve found something that works — especially if, like me, you tend to be particular — it’s easier to stay in a rut than take a risk on something new.
Switching things up and trying new-to-you spots is what keeps dining exciting. With our tendency to stick to recommendations from lists, reviews, and rankings that can’t possibly encompass every great meal in the city, things can get myopic. Recently, I made a point to try out more new spots and ended up with several new favorites around the city. Now, I’ve got even more great places I know I can hit up if I’m in the neighborhood, recommend to friends, or add to my regular rotation. — Alexandra Jones
No more spraying reservations.
Making a reservation at a million restaurants just so you have options, and then canceling day-of when your party finally makes a decision — that’s an ugly thing to do to a restaurant. If you reserve a table for four at 7 p.m., (obviously) that means nobody else can reserve that table for four at 7 p.m.. And if you cancel the day of the reservation, it’ll be hard to fill those seats. Empty tables mean lost revenue, at a business that already deals with horrifically slim margins. Don’t be that person. — Alex Tewfik
Talk to the staff.
There are a million ways to judge a restaurant. But the best shortcut I’ve learned is to talk to the people who work there. Because if the floor staff or the busboys or bartenders are excited about what they’re doing — if they can’t help but talk about the ceviche or the pasta — then it’s a safe bet the kitchen is, too. Excitement like that is contagious, but more important than that is the opposite. Because boredom or inattention is an absolute sure sign of something going wrong. If the staff doesn’t want to be at the restaurant, I can guarantee that you don’t want to be either. — Jason Sheehan