A set table in a sunny room.

Survey any number of my friends and they will tell you going out to eat is my external happy place. New scenery, insatiable dishes that I’d normally be too skeptical to ever try and having an overall fabulous dining experience? That’s what life is all about.

But with every unforgettable night out comes an experience that leaves a sour taste in your mouth. From iffy menu options, to horrible customer service, you name it and it is bound to happen. That’s why it’s so important to cover all your bases to ensure you have the best night possible.

Want to have the ultimate dining experience, no matter where you go? Get into these eight tips you need to turn your night out into an amazing one:

1. Read Restaurant Reviews

Before I make plans to go out to eat, I like to read a few online reviews of the restaurant so I know what to expect in terms of dress code, quality of food and customer service. Yelp! and Eater are two of my go-to sites, they normally have pretty reliable ratings. Be sure to read the reviews carefully, some customers look for any reason to complain. That low rating you see could be the result of something silly, like a guest not getting enough ice cubes in their drinks. Know when to weed out the ridiculous from the truly helpful.

2. Make Reservations

I cannot stress this enough. With the holiday season approaching, restaurants are guaranteed to fill up quickly. And the last thing you want to do is get all dolled up just to find out there is an hour wait – or worse – flat out turned away because there is no availability. Put an alert in your phone days or weeks in advance to reserve a table. Doing this will alleviate stress, and you will get to enjoy yourself the night of.

3. Have A Dining Backup

Let’s say you made your reservation and you’re ready to go, but you suddenly decide you have a taste for Mediterranean instead of the little Italian restaurant where you’re booked. What then? That’s why it’s always smart to have a dining backup. In case your taste changes – and it might – having a backup means you’ll still be able to take advantage of a night out and still have a great dining experience. Choose a backup restaurant that has equally delicious food and doesn’t fill up too fast, just in case you need to arrive last-minute.

A neon sign that reads "Eat What Makes You Happy"
Even if you change your mind the night of, eat what you love! Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash.

4. Prep and Arrive Early

Now that you’ve made your reservation, leaving the house and getting to the restaurant on time is another hurdle to overcome. Whenever I make plans, I swear I’ll have enough time to get dressed, and do my hair plus a full face of makeup. Yet the hour rolls around and I’m stuck standing in front of the bathroom mirror, hair pinned and one eyelash on. Words of caution: don’t be like me. Start getting ready a few hours in advance by ironing clothes and setting out accessories. Whatever you need to do to pull it together. That way you won’t have to rush to get to the restaurant on time. And the bonus is, if you arrive early, you can make any seating changes within the restaurant you may find necessary.

5. Be Adventurous, But Don’t Overdo It

There’s just something about reading menu items that makes you want to try every last one. I know I’m not alone. Each dish described sounds so good and the pictures make your mouth water. You’re thinking, “It’s my night out, let me try something new.” And while it is certainly great to broaden your palette and step out of your comfort zone, there is a chance you won’t like the taste of something even if the picture of the food looks handcrafted by angels. I try to stick to what I know and add a little umph. I love all types of fish and know that I normally can’t go wrong with a seafood dish. It’s all about understanding what you like and catering to that.

6. Alert The Waiter of Any Dietary Restrictions

As I’ve been focused on leading a healthier lifestyle, I know I cannot eat everything I used to. Which also means I can’t have certain foods prepared the way I’m used to. So I have to alert the waitstaff of any concerns I may have early on. Whether an entrée is cooked with dairy products or includes processed ingredients are real concerns for me. Letting the staff know early on gives them a chance to recommend the best menu options and accommodate me throughout my meal.

7. Take Your Time

This is so important. I can’t tell you how many times I have been so hungry that I practically inhaled my food. Minutes later, I couldn’t even tell you what I had just eaten. Taking the time to really savor each bite makes the dining experience that much more enjoyable. You can take in the full effect and really enjoy the dish that the chef has crafted so beautifully.

8. Turn Off All Technology

Sometimes sitting down at a dinner table is the only chance you get to have an uninterrupted conversation and share a similar thought with friends and family throughout the week. You can’t enjoy yourself if you have work emails, text message dings and calendar appointments constantly popping up, disrupting the moment. It’s okay to silence your phone or even turn it off and give the experience your undivided attention. It’s hard to believe, but trust me, the world won’t stop just because you’re disconnected for an hour or two.

Okay, now that you’ve checked everything off on your list, you’re ready to have a worry-free night with great food, great company and even better vibes?

Happy eating!

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Do you often find yourself questioning where you should brunch this weekend? Or maybe you’re tired of the same NYC restaurants. This NYC Brunch guide gives you 6 weeks of Food Before Love Favorites that will change how you eat .

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Common Foods Video with Danielle Fontus

If certain words such as chipotle, espresso and acai make you nervous, you are not alone. Some foods are admittedly easier to pronounce than others. And some make you pause every time you read them. But we are here to tell you that there is no shame in needing to take a minute and sound a word out before ordering. You shouldn’t let anything, let alone pronunciation, stop you from enjoying what otherwise could be an unforgettable dining experience filled with good food and laughter.

Have you ever decided to be fancy and hit up a restaurant you’ve never been to? You dress up, fully willing to broaden your food horizons. But the minute you get the menu and eyeball a few of the dishes, you regret it all. You don’t know how to say any of the selections or if you even want to eat any of them. All of a sudden you’re back in elementary school with beads of sweat on your forehead as you sound out syllables at the table. It’s not a good look, but it is a common dilemma we’ve all faced. However, it doesn’t have to be. Ordering delicious meals should truly be the time of your life.

And that’s why we’re here: to help guide you through those awkward restaurant encounters. There’s no better time than the present to improve your food vocabulary by learning the real way to pronounce common dishes. We continue our handy guide with the help of our friend Danielle, Creator of the She Dares community. The next time you see one of these items on a menu, you’ll impress your friends and bae by sounding like an expert.

  • Edamame – A boiled soy bean, which can be a snack or appetizer before the main dish

  • Lychee – A white fleshy fruit

  • Chipotle – A smoke-dried jalapeño

  • Espresso – A coffee brewed by boiling water under pressure

  • Acai – A reddish-purple fruit.

     

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Common Foods Video
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Believe it or not, there are tons of common (and not so common) foods that you have probably been pronouncing incorrectly for years. Is it see-tan or say-tan? Is the ‘g’ in gnocchi silent? Do you pronounce caipirinha like piranha? These are just a few questions you’ve probably had while out dining. Spelling can be a bit deceiving, so it makes sense that we have all fallen victim to butchering our food orders.

Let’s set the scene. You head out for a night on the town with your girls. You take a quick glance at the menu, feeling pretty confident as you ask the waiter for pho. Pronouncing it like a childhood enemy, he or she stares at you in confusion because they haven’t the slightest clue what you are talking about. We have all been there.

Mispronouncing the names of your favorite dishes is one of the biggest food faux pas a blossoming foodie can make. But you shouldn’t feel ashamed. And that shouldn’t stop you from experimenting with new menu items. You never want to be too timid to ask for a platter just because you don’t want to say the wrong thing. Life is all about giving anything a try at least once.

That’s why we have taken the guesswork out for you and tracked down a couple of those tricky foods you just can’t seem to say right. With the help of our friend Malandra, the Vegan Diva, you’ll be able to order any item off of the menu and not feel intimidated. Our common foods guide is setting the record straight once and for all.

Four Foods You’re Pronouncing Incorrectly:

  • Pho – A delicious Vietnamese soup with noodles, cilantro and meat

  • Seitan – A soy-bean based meat for vegetarians and vegans

  • Gnocchi – Soft balls of dough

  • Caipirinha – A sweet Brazilian drink you can order right along with your mojitos and margaritas.

     

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Common Foods you're pronouncing wrong
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There are plenty of common foods you’re pronouncing wrong. How common is it, to go out and not understand what’s on your menu? Let alone, how to say it. Too often, we get intimidated by our menu options and miss out on the experiences set in front of us. We also are hesitant to teach others the proper way to say things and it’s time to end the vicious cycle.

That’s why we sat down with Cliff of Culinary Cliff LLC to tackle a few words with you. Cliff brings to light some of our favorite words that we’re currently pronouncing wrong. So now you can order off any menu like a boss because you’ll be better educated after watching this video.

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Organized Desk

It’s about time my work space had a little makeover. Nine times out of ten when my mind is cluttered, my desk is likely to be as well.

Huge problem.

I knew I wanted to organize my desk but what was super important for me this time around, was that I wanted to customize it. We all fall victim to comparison and there are a lot of other bloggers and entrepreneurs out there with perfect looking office spaces, as if no one is getting any work done on them because they’re just too beautiful. This wasn’t going to be me ever but I was determined to add my own personal touch to my work space that equally inspired me to stay on brand and gave me clarity. 
Unorganized-desk
I wanted to find accents for my desk that were a lot simpler to find and a lot more realistic for me financially. I started to think about what do I use on a weekly basis at my desk to either be productive or stay inspired. I already had a cork-board on my wall with photos of my loved ones but I didn’t have any photos that inspired me to eat, or think about food. It was important for me to have food references throughout my work space so as I began to declutter, I started to think about what that would look like. 

Tip 1: Start to think about what your ideal desk will look like and start small

The next thing I did was declutter. All of the papers and documents that were just kicking up dust, had to be filed immediately. After all, they were taking up room that I could be using for my new reads. I already had a beautiful wine glass, boxed up at my desk so I decided to toss the box and let it shine. I also removed anything I hadn’t used in the past three months or didn’t pay attention to. I love hoarding post it notes and I realized those were piling up as well. To give myself a reason to use them, I ordered burger inspired notes from Zazzle and customized them with my logo. Now I felt inspired to to make use of my work space, instead of using it as storage space.
Burger Post it Note

Tip 2: Make room for inspiration. File old documents, remove the things you don’t use.

My desk was starting to look a bit empty so I looked at the things I had kept and decided to repurpose them. I added fake flowers from the dollar store to a vase I wasn’t using and covered my pen holder with sushi wrapping paper I had laying around. It was starting to look like a food bloggers desk now but some things were still missing. Since I was already on Zazzle for one thing, why not customize my desk a little more? There was a frame I wasn’t using at my desk, so I filled with a NOM poster that really brought it’s section to life. I wanted to fill my desk with colors but not be overbearing and having a black and white photo really pulled that together. It also was going to remind me to have lunch on those days when I’m working too hard and forget. This is also made it so I wasn’t spending too much money to makeover my work space. I was really just adding small touches that made me feel like I had. 
Organized Desk

Tip 3: Repurpose the things you already have to fit your current needs.

The last thing I did was replace the reads on my desk. I keep a small library nearby my work space but always have my current reads non my desk. The problem was that I was keeping books I already read closer to me than the ones I wanted to get to. One I replaced those, the only thing that was really missing was a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and for that, I needed a new mug! It was the final touch Zazzle could provide and they had an array of items I felt inspired by. Good things come to those who hustle spoke to me the most and now, it had made my desk complete.

Hustle Mug

Tip 4: Make your workspace your own. Add the things that define YOU and inspire you to succeed.

There was even a taco expert button I added to make my work space, really feel mine. I am a taco snob after all. The best part though, was that I was able to do all of this for UNDER $50 and now my desk is clear, organized and basically Instagram worthy. I hope to add some new things to it in the near future. But tell me, what are your custom work space hacks that keep you organized and inspired?
*I received a gift card to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own*
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Casandra Rosario Using Social Media

A couple of people have been asking me to share more business/blog tips here. It’s definitely something I’ve struggled with for a long time. This kind of information is what I help people with over at The Rosario Group However, I realized that a lot of the food lovers here, are looking to start or grow their blogs as well.  Especially resources like Meet Edgar, which help me repurpose my content and engage with my audience better. Besides, I’m having a salad as I write this so it counts right?

Casandra Rosario Using Social Media

Meet Edgar is a social media management tool that allows you to automate your social media post. How many times do you put a blog post or something informational out into the world of social media, only to never see it again? On Meet Edgar, you can repurpose that content by putting it in your library of information. You can add a photo and/or caption and schedule it to circulate for as long as you wish.

Meet Edgar Content

You can create topics of information that you want to go into the library and fill them up with the content from your blog. In my library, I keep a log of blog post, informative information, questions and more. It makes sense to put as much information in your library as possible so that the information doesn’t repeat itself for a long time. Once it’s in there, you can assign it to the accounts you have connected to Meet Edgar.

Meet Edgar Categories

The best thing about Meet Edgar is the Queue but I’ll get to that because first, you have to build your schedule. Once you’ve decided and built on your categories, you can now drag and drop when you want them to go out. You can customize this by account and change it as often as you’d like, based on your analytics.

Once you complete your schedule, all the content will go into your Queue which basically tells you when the content is going out (according to schedule) and which piece of information it will be. It’s so easy to use! Not only can you schedule your blog post, but you can promote your next event, and even share quotes you love. The key is to automate as much as you can, so you can then focus on live engagement in that time you sparred yourself.

Meet Edgar Schedule

Unfortunately, there is no referral program for Meet Edgar so I can’t offer you a discount on the tool. I need to emphasize that I am so serious about how much I love this program and how influential it is to the growth of my business. Right now, you have to apply to be invited to take part and for not much longer, the tool is $49 a month. If you’re looking to save time as a busy entrepreneur and want to maximize your productivity, try Meet Egdar out and see how it works FOR you.

If you have any questions about the tool, I’m more than happy to help! Just shoot me an email at info@foodbeforelove.com with your questions.

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