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How To Dominate Dining Out As A Couple On The Road (Request #2 Is The Real Key)

by Tony · 15 comments

Dining out when traveling

4 Years Of Marriage & 4,000 Meals

The latter is an approximation (scientifically accurate btw) while the former is quite exact: April 10th, 2010.

4 years of traveling, adventuring, trying new things, eating, and a whole bunch of other incredible amount of fun fueled by our desire to experience life in new ways. But the key word really is eating, because you know that no topic gets us obsessing more about it than food.

A big part of the reason why we personally travel is just to eat and taste great food around the world!

No matter what country we visit or what new city we land in, we are always on the search for the next great meal. I realized as well, while thinking about marriage and travel, that eating out is one of the biggest advantages couples have when traveling.

Sure, solo travelers might have the advantage with being able to choose wherever they want to travel next without entering into some serious negotiations, but we couples clearly are the winners of the dining out experience. I’ll show you how…

The Two Requests Every Couple Should Have When At A Restaurant

When we get to a new city, we always research a great restaurant to try.

But with every great restaurant, there is always more than one item that gets rave reviews and sounds incredible. As a couple, we can order multiple items and split them all – effectively getting two meals of amazing flavor :)

Now I’m not here to brag about all of the more food we can eat than you single travelers…

What I’m here to do is share our favorite tip about how a couple can better take advantage when dining out at a new restaurant.

During our Anthony Bourdain obsession in the run-up to our RTW trip (who are we kidding… we’re still obsessed), we watched every single episode of No Reservations. In one of the episodes, he shared his go-to strategy for ordering something interesting at every restaurant he visits… and we have co-opted it as our own.

Bourdain In The Flesh

When the waiter asks for your order, respond by telling the waiter this. Exactly this.

“We would like two entrees chosen by the chef, please.

  1. The dish the chef feels is most popular.

  2. The dish the chef feels should get more attention.”

So simple. So perfectly effective.

By ordering like this (you can do it with your appetizers and even dessert as well), you get the dish the restaurant is known for and you get the dish the Chef feels you need to try. You also (according to Bourdain) will get an instant status raise in the eyes of the Chef. Bring on the comped appetizers :)

What’s also awesome about this arrangement as a couple is that you can split these dishes and get the chance to try more tasty delights from the restaurant. 

What Are Your Best Tips For Dining Out When Traveling?

We know we don’t own the market on travelers who love to eat, so please share your favorite tips in the comment section on how to eat amazing food while on the road!

About Tony
Quit his job to try actually following his dreams for once... and is currently loving it. He is working hard to to make this life-style permanent by writing about his adventures and brainstorming money making opportunities with his partner-in-crime, Meg.

Tyler April 11, 2014 at 5:34 am

Great tip! Anaïs and I are big on ordering different dishes and drinks and sharing the experience. We tend to ask hostel/hotel employees for their recommendations, but we haven’t tried leaving it up to the chef, something we’ll have to start doing.

Our best tip would be to order something you’ve never heard of. Sure you may miss out on a great pad Thai, but you’ll learn more about the local cuisine that way.

Tony April 11, 2014 at 11:54 am

Thanks, Tyler!

It’s a really fun thing to do. When you leave it up to the Chef, you usually don’t even know what is going to be brought to your table so it adds a bit of suspense. Just make sure you tell them about any allergies.

Oh and also, if the restaurant is swamped… you might not want to. You never want an annoyed chef cooking your meal :)

Love your tip! It’s so easy to order something you know or have tried at that restaurant before, but ordering something new is the only way to discover a new favorite. Gotta be adventurous.


Jerry April 11, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Great Article and Happy Anniversary BTW. I love the tip and I will have to try that approach. Often we will ask the waiter for their fav of the moment but allowing the chef to make their choice is brilliant.

Tony April 11, 2014 at 12:23 pm


Waiters give good advice, but the chef advice is usually always unique. Try it your next time at a good restaurant when it isn’t too busy!


nedcro April 11, 2014 at 2:12 pm

hi foodie loonies, hello from dalmatia.

tip 1:
look at the menu, preferably outside, and check for original entrées and desserts.
main dishes tell a bit, the creativity is in the starters and desserts (says the cook I used to be when my hair was still growing).
tip 2:
don’t fall for fancy decorations, see where the locals go to get value for their money.
tip 3:
never trust a waiter or the chef, as chef’s special can also mean “get rid of it before it starts walking”.
tip 4:
trust your guts, experience and first impression.
tip 5:
if many tourist buses are outside and tourists inside, walk on and forget it.
those places serve bulk, cooked in the morning, served in the evening.
tip 6:
always keep some canned food, chips, good chocolate and a bottle of wine in your vehicle in case nothing was worth a visit and you have to go to bed with an empty stomach.
tip 7 and for finals:
always before visiting a country, county or city check what the local specialities are.

pozdravi iz Svinisce, Centar od Svijet*), Pim.
*) see google translate :-)

Tony April 11, 2014 at 5:12 pm

So true about the Tour buses, Pim. Avoid those at all cost! Also, great point about the decor. So easy to get tricked at a fancy place, but a great meal isn’t always served in a fantastic looking restaurant…

One of our all time favorite meals was served in a hut in indonesia… so you never know!

Svinisce is the center of the world? Debatable :)


nedcro April 11, 2014 at 3:36 pm

one more additional tip, important if not the most important:
if the chef has only one leg, better ask for the fish on the menu :-)

Tony April 11, 2014 at 5:13 pm

HA! :)

Catherine April 13, 2014 at 9:05 am

This is genius! Definitely going to try it next time I dine out. Heard a similar tip recently – order the item you most like the sounds of and the item you least like the sounds of. Apparently people are normally surprised and prefer the one they didn’t like the sounds of! Not tried it myself yet, but will definitely be trying out both of these tips sometime soon :)

Tony April 13, 2014 at 12:01 pm

That’s a really fun tip, Catherine!

I’ve never actively done that, but now that I think about it, I’m usually surprised when someone else orders something that I think sounds terrible and yet it looks so good when it gets to the table. I’m definitely going to be trying this!

Although my only problem might be that most things sound delicious to me… I’m just a fat kid at heart :)


Bethany ~ twoOregonians April 14, 2014 at 3:52 pm

I don’t know about the *best* tip for all travels, but I’ll say when you’re in Macedonia and can’t read a single word on the menu or understand a single thing the server’s saying, go to the little corner bar/restaurant where the neighborhood locals are hanging out with each other (and smiling), and play the peer-at-everyone-else’s-table/I’ll-have-what-they’re-having-sign-language game. We ended up eating the most delicious plates of the locals’ favorite foods, and we made a few friends, too.

Another tip, find a great little spot and return for multiple meals. Build relationships with the staff and earn a few insider food recommendations along with personalized service.


Tony April 16, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Such a great tip about eating at local restaurants in foreign countries, Bethany! We did that so often. Although it gets awkward when your eagerness to point at a delicious meal ends with you sticking a finger in somebody’s steak… hypothetically of course :)

Return trips to great local restaurants is also really helpful. My old boss also taught me that if you tip really well on your first visit or two, you can get treated like a King (& Queen) on your return visits. Works like a charm and can even result in some free appetizers!

Oh and we’re probably just straight up moving to Portland in July. So stay tuned to provide us with some really helpful neighborhood info :)

simon May 27, 2014 at 12:36 am

My wife and I have a rule that we can NEVER order the same thing at a restaurant. At a great restaurant, it means that we get to try two good dishes instead of just one. At a not-so-good restaurant, it means you’re effectively hedging your bets – one of you is bound to order something half-way decent!

Jaylen April 8, 2017 at 4:30 am

I really appreciate the props from you guys, thank you so much for posting about thHilsopeful!y the list will help a few people find some really cool info.- Chris

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