Happy Friday! Just a few more working hours till we’re set free from the drudgery of the work week! And no doubt you’re spending less time actually working and more time thinking about your evening plans. Fridays are really only placeholders so employers can guarantee you work at least 4 days out of the week.
For most of us, Fridays are days for eating out and decompressing after a long week. But does anyone else ever feel like picking a place for dinner always results in the same debate?It’s the one where you and your family member(s)/boyfriend/best friend toss ideas back and forth trying to decide where + what you should eat for dinner. The new place around the corner? Or what about that pizza place we say we’re always going to go to but never do? What about this Japanese place on yelp? It got 4.5 stars, but should we really trust the reviews? Do you feel like Italian or Mexican food? Then again, our standard place has the best deals for happy hour.
It’s painful, really. Over the years I’ve practically given up trying to come to mutual agreements with family members. That’s about as effective as trying to mentally herd cattle into the barn. But when I do have the option of picking where I’m going to eat out, and especially if I want to try something new, I have a few methods for finding the best meal, anywhere.
1. Know your company. If the area you’re planning to eat in has an overwhelming majority of some ethnicity, eat their food. I live close to Irvine, a predominantly Asian city. Most of the restaurants are Asian. So when in Irvine I eat Asian food. Why? Because the people who make the best Asian cuisine tend to actually be Asian. It’s the food they’ve grown up with and they usually do it best.
2. Eat where there are a lot of restaurants. It’s all about competition. In order to survive in a competitive market, your food has to be able to compete. If you eat in an area with a lot of restaurants, you’re more likely to get good food.
3. That being said, the hidden gems are often the best. There’s a place in LA that’s jammed between a liquor store that never cards, and a dry cleaner. And if you didn’t know better you would pass right by this place. But this little restaurant is actually owned by the same chef who owns one of the most popular food trucks in LA. This restaurant offers an entirely different menu, that is equally as bomb dot com. So do some research and don’t be afraid to try the holes in the wall.
4. If you’re gonna yelp, do it properly. Instead of typing in “Italian food” in the search box, instead Google something specific like “happy hour + beer + Santa Monica.” You can usually find some good places + reviews/blog posts that address your needs. And of course, check a restaurant’s menu online before you go. The menu will usually tell you everything you need to know (price range, interesting or generic food, etc.) to make a good judgement about a restaurant.
5. When all else fails, go with a recommendation from the locals. Guys I don’t care if you you never stop to ask for directions, but please stop and ask for the best restaurants. Locals know best.
And if you really can’t decide, stay at home and make this:
Curry Coconut Rice Bowl
Inspired by the rice bowls of that little hole in the wall restaurant I mentioned earlier. This bowl is an Indian curry twist on a Mexican food favorite. Serves 5.
2.5 cups rice (I used a wild rice mix from Trader Joe’s)
1 can coconut milk + 1 cup water
1 pound shrimp
2 cups corn (I used Trader Joe’s fire roasted frozen corn)
1 red onion
2-3 T spice mix:
2 t chili powder
2 t oregano
2 t curry powder
1 t cumin
Cook rice in coconut milk and water. In a wok/large skillet cook shrimp. When shrimp are pink, set aside in a bowl. In wok/skillet saute veggies until tender. Stir spice mix into rice. Make your bowl + top with lime and cilantro.
Happy Friday all you weekend warriors!