Restaurant Guides and Dining Reviews: Your Guide to a Night Out
The Valentine’s Day date is a bit of a test. What will the night say about your romantic relationship? What kind of Valentine’s date would be the most fun and romantic for you? What kind of Valentine’s gift is appropriate – a sweet little candy necklace or a getaway trip for two to Bermuda?
Even without the pressure of a romantic holiday, today’s economy puts pressure on almost any night out. Will the restaurant be worth the money?
Valentine Dining Tip: You’ve got to know where you’re going. Finding a good restaurant doesn’t necessarily mean finding the best restaurant in town. The right restaurant should reflect your tastes, tickle your stomach, and in the end, make you and your date happy.
Do a little research. There are tons of sites that compile write-ups on local restaurants. Start with Yelp.com. Even in the smallest cities you’ll find mostly honest reviews on Yelp from real people on popular places.
Zagat, online as Zagat.com, has little maroon-colored print guides, and is known for quick, easy reviews. The quality of Zagat’s reviews is solid – basically crowd-sourcing restaurant reviews, condensing them, and publishing a perfect outline of what to expect from the restaurant in about three sentences. Zagat is only available in select cities. (No Eagle River Zagat Guide, I’m afraid.) Zagat’s Valentine’s Day planner might be useful.
Restaurant Row offers quick overviews of restaurants, and the great thing is that you can search a chain, say Tony Roma’s, or Morton’s Steakhouse, and up pops all the locations around the country, with location and contact information. Restaurant Row also offers a “Restaurant Row Top 10” from five cities in every state – and these aren’t restaurants chosen by some snob, these are the restaurants with the most requests on their site.
Open Table hosts reviews of restaurants, and also takes reservations for some 15,000 restaurants nationally and internationally, boasting that their reservations are “free, instant, confirmed”. Open Table’s Valentine’s Day reservations page, and invites you to make restaurant reservations at your destination if you are traveling.
Wondering what the “experts” think? Well, travel and food writers (see Guyot.com, TravelandLeisure.com, BonAppetit.com) tend to be a particularly critical bunch, offering their opinions on “the best of the best” all the time. Beware of sites that list the “Top 10 Most Romantic Restaurants in the US”, because as soon as something like that is published, the #1 restaurant closes or is topped by something more exotic. Just go with your gut, and keep it simple. Remember, it’s YOU your date wants to be with, not the expensive ambiance, the food, or the “spectacular service” at the restaurant you pick!
Remember that if you’ve got an unused gift card in your pocket, you can always sell your gift card on Plastic Jungle for cash (or trade it for an Amazon.com Gift Card, or fund a PayPal account, and more) which might defray the cost of a night out.
What about outright dining savings? You get that at Plastic Jungle, too. There are tons of restaurant gift cards available on Plastic Jungle; some, like the Darden Restaurants, are good at all the restaurants in the chain. Discount Darden Restaurant Gift Cards on Plastic Jungle are currently offered at 10% off face value, and are good at Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grill restaurants across the US. Or try Restaurant.com Gift Cards, which are good at thousands of restaurants nationwide.
Other Discounted Restaurant Gift Cards on Plastic Jungle Include*:
Chili’s (Gift Cards are also good at Macaroni Grill, On The Border, Maggiano’s)
Morton’s Steakhouse (currently at 17% off!)
Hurry, supplies are limited. You can always set an alert to be notified when your favorite gift cards come into stock at a discount on Plastic Jungle.
Let us know where you’re going for Valentine’s Day and let us know if you had fun!
*Gift card prices and availability may vary.