5 Tips to Help You Conquer Restaurant Week

With a New Year comes new resolutions, like creating memorable experiences and venturing into the unknown. Who knew you could do that in just the first few weeks of 2016 with a Restaurant Week near you?

That’s right! RESTAURANT WEEK IS HERE! Before you go to that crowded restaurant your sister’s boyfriend's boss recommended to you, here are five tips that will help you conquer Restaurant Week like a boss.

1. Don't Go Bacon My Heart. With so many choices, it’s always hard to find that perfect restaurant choice. They wouldn’t call it a needle in a haystack otherwise. Before you go venturing out into the unknown, decide how many hot spots you want to check out. If it’s three, set a budget on how much you want to spend at each location (that'll help narrow down options when you're having trouble weighing decisions). If it’s just one for the whole week, splurge a little more and go to that place you've been waiting to try. Knowing the number of restaurants you want to patron will give you a good road map, and place limit on what might seem like an unlimited number of choices. If you want to take it a step further, pick categories: Mexican, Asian-Flare, Sushi or three Latin-inspired-only options. Having a plan will make you feel less overwhelmed, and will target your taste buds versus what others are telling you to do and try.

2. Miso Hungry. Try not to make your restaurant picks based on pics. We all know what happens when we grocery shop on an empty stomach. We end up buying mismatching socks. Peanut butter, and no jelly. Tortilla chips, and no salsa. A restaurant can hire a professional photog, but their customer reviews are more telling than that beautifully lit ahi tuna on the home page. Download Yelp, and read up on what customers are saying about their server experience. They’re already participating in Restaurant Week, so chances are they are a great pick. What you want to know now is: Do they go that extra mile to give you a great experience? The more reviews and higher rating, the better.

3. Lettuce Celebrate! You’ve finally made your pick! Don’t think you can get a table at that hot spot everyone’s talking about just because you know the hostess. It takes just a few seconds to use OpenTable, Resy, or (ironically) I Know the Chef (only in NYC) to make your reservation. The upside to getting charged a nominal fee for a reservation: A guaranteed table at your city’s most buzzed-about restaurant. And some offer points when booking that could earn you money towards your next meal!

4. Let’s Taco ‘Bout Parking. You listened to us by researching that local watering hole that has cocktails infused with housemade ginger beer and cinnamon simple syrup, now take our recommendation in planning your trip there. Many foodies head to Point B without a travel plan. Planning head always makes for a better experience, and be sure to ask some questions like: Is there metro nearby? Am I going to drink more than 2? Is it better to drive so I can get to my son’s piano recital later? Part of enjoying restaurant week is not fretting about things like parking. With Parking Panda, you can easily find, reserve, and pay for parking ahead of time. Download the app to make real-time parking lot, garage, and valet comparisons for the best price. Look for the green for online discounts that are cheaper than the drive-up rate.

5. Romaine Calm! All is Well! You are at the restaurant on a big date, and the server forgets your side salad, or perhaps you asked for no onions. Remember part of going out during Restaurant Week is to enjoy yourself in that moment. You spent all this time researching, making a reservation, planning your trip there, now’s your chance to soak it all in. Turn off your phone, and relish in what restaurateurs put a lot of prep into. And if you’re up for it, take this challenge: All of you put your phones in the middle and whoever picks it up first has to pay for the tab.