Dining out can be a great way to experience a new city—especially if you don’t know your way around. But it can also be a bit of a challenge, especially if you’re not familiar with the local cuisine. Here are some tips to help make your dining experience in a new city a success.

1. Do your research.

Before you even step foot in a new city, do some research on the local cuisine. This will give you a better idea of what to expect and help you narrow down your options. Once you’re in the city, take some time to explore the different neighborhoods and find out which restaurants are the best.

2. Ask around.

If you’re not sure where to start, ask the hotel staff or concierge for recommendations. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction based on your budget, taste, and dietary restrictions. You can also ask locals—they’ll usually be happy to share their favorite spots.

3. Make reservations.

This is especially important if you’re dining in a popular restaurant or during peak hours. Calling ahead will ensure that you get a table, and it also gives the restaurant a heads up so they can be prepared for your group.

4. Be flexible.

Keep in mind that you may not be able to get your first choice, so it’s important to be flexible. If the restaurant you want is fully booked, see if there’s another option that’s similar. You may end up finding a new favorite in the process.

5. Know your order.

When you’re ordering from a menu in a foreign language, it can be helpful to know what you want before the waiter comes to your table. This way, you can avoid any confusion and make sure you get exactly what you want.

6. Be aware of portion sizes.

In some cultures, it’s normal to order multiple dishes to share. But in others, each person gets their own entrée. Be aware of portion sizes before ordering, so you don’t end up with more food than you can eat—or being charged for something you didn’t want.

7. Mind your manners.

Table manners vary from culture to culture, so it’s always a good idea to do a little research before dining out. This way, you can avoid any embarrassing faux pas and make sure you show respect for the local customs.

8. Know the etiquette.

Along similar lines, there is such a thing as restaurant etiquette—a set of unwritten rules that govern behavior in these types of establishments. Familiarize yourself with the basics before dining out, so you can avoid any awkward situations.

9. Be flexible.

When you’re dining in a new city, it’s important to be flexible. The menu may not be exactly what you’re used to, and the service may be a bit slower than you’re accustomed to. But if you keep an open mind, you may just find that you enjoy the new experience.

10. Know your limits.

If you’re not used to spicy food, don’t order the hottest dish on the menu. Start with something milder and work your way up. It’s better to err on the side of caution than spend your entire meal gasping for water.

11. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

If you’re not sure what to order, don’t be afraid to ask the waiter or waitress for a recommendation. They know the menu inside and out, and they’ll be able to point you in the right direction.

12. Be patient.

If you’re dining in a busy restaurant, it may take a while for your food to come out. But it’s important to be patient—rushing the staff will only make things worse. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the experience.

13. Tip generously.

In most countries, it’s customary to leave a tip after a meal. In general, you should leave 10-15% of the bill. But if you received exceptional service, don’t hesitate to give a larger tip.

When traveling, it can be difficult to know where to eat. These are a few tips for dining out (more tips)in a new city that will make the experience easier and more enjoyable. Follow these tips and you’ll be able to explore the local food scene without any trouble.

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