I spend so much time making decisions in which there are thousands of choices in front of me. I don’t like doing this when it comes to eating and drinking.
I am overwhelmed by restaurant recommendations. When I travel, I’ve started to say to people, ‘Just give me your absolute favorite two or three spots, or nothing at all.’ In the past, I’ve had that super overwhelming, unevenly spaced, never-ending restaurant list in Notes on my iPhone pre-trip (with details like good music, semi-good lighting, sides of avocado, big portions!), and I end up spending 75% of the actual trip sifting through listings and addresses in panic mode, rather than actually taking in the city.
Not only do I feel constantly bombarded by recommendations on where to eat and drink, I also feel like restaurant websites online have an almost unhealthy dose of transparency. There are no surprises anymore: Based on your needs you can filter any restaurant search down to an absolute toothpick catering to your whim of the moment, whether that be going-on-a-third-date-rather-than-a-first-date, taking-mom-to-dinner or meeting-for-casual-hookups.
Whatever happened to going to a restaurant, sitting down, and not quite knowing exactly what to expect, but rather just knowing someone trustworthy recommended it to you? Isn’t that part of the magic of dining out?
In college, I spent a semester abroad in Paris, and recently went back with my boyfriend this summer. When I told my friend Marcella I was going, she let me in on her – far more adult – experience living as a fashion executive in Paris. She lived on Place Dauphine, a square I had often walked through (admiring how “local” it was), but had never sat in. She told me the one thing I had to do was go sit at one of the cafes there for breakfast. She is super chic and all around awesome, so obviously I scribbled down the suggestion and put it on our must list.
It would be an understatement to say that the recommendation made our day. The cafe – Le Caveau Du Palais – was about the whole experience (sitting in the square, seeing locals leaving for work, seeing cool French women walk their dogs and admiring the vine-covered windows) as much as it was about the food. Marcella had known her audience! Though we had no clue about the place beforehand – Did they serve scrambled eggs or fried eggs? Would they offer a side of fresh berries as an option? Did they have outdoor seating with chairs comfortable enough for an American guy very finicky about his space and seating? (Sorry Matt!) – it was absolutely one of the best experiences of our trip.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t have the option to research every detail of a restaurant beforehand if that’s what we want (Scenarios like boss dinners and bachelorette weekends call for that), but with our relaunch, we here at The New Potato aimed to bring you curated, simpler City Guides to download, that didn’t necessarily give the game away up front.
Manhattan, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Paris and London…we’re starting with a guide for each. We made the most beautiful PDF for each city, which includes a selective list of restaurants driven by both influencer recommendations (Robert De Niro, Meghan Markle, Graydon Carter – the list goes on!) and recommendations from the team here at TNP (after all this time food-ing for our Potatoheads, we figured we probably know something by now).
Once inside the PDFs, every restaurant warrants its own page. And in addition to listing the influencer who recommended it, and a quote about the spot, we give you price point, the cuisine and the neighborhood…that’s it. From then on, you’re on your own Potatoheads. You’ve got to take a chance, take the leap, or – worst case – Google further if you chicken out.
Whether you choose to download the guide or not, each city’s homepage still gives you five great recommendations. We tease a map of that city that includes five restaurant recommendations and corresponding sketches of the influencers who suggested them.
These illustrations are inspired by iconic spots like Sardi’s and Minetta Tavern, where there are sketches and cartoons on the wall of movers and shakers. Something about the way they surround you makes you feel like they’re dining with you. That’s how we want you to feel when you take a dive into our City Guides – like you’re walking through a city with your favorite celebs, restaurateurs, chefs, designers…and us.
Walk in Natasha Lyonne’s footsteps at Viand Diner and get the ‘Grilled cheese and fries and a vanilla milkshake’, which she maintains is ‘the perfect meal.’ Pull a Chrissy Teigen and order her go-to order at Blue Ribbon Sushi (which can be found in our Manhattan guide). And if you go to Sotto in Los Angeles, order the Spaghetti with Octopus Ragu like Giada De Laurentis tells us she does. No need to look up the menu beforehand.
We hope the guides intrigue you, and whether you just take a tip from the landing page preview or download the full guide…we want to hear where you went. Eyes up, Potatoheads!