After graduation, where do I eat now?

Five ways to find great restaurants in your new home

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The Infatuation App is a must-have. While in the app, you can see nearby restaurants that their content creators have reviewed, in the form of a map. 

Christina Anton | Cavalier Daily

So, you’ve graduated. That means no more late night College Inn cheesy bread deliveries, Take It Away sandwiches on the Lawn and Sunday pancake stacks at Villa. But do not despair! A whole wide world full of new food discoveries awaits — wherever your post-grad life may take you. 

There is no doubt that Charlottesville offers one of the most diverse and rich food scenes in this area. You can find almost any kind of food you could ever want in our little bubble. But of course, there comes a time at the end of four years — maybe a few more for those lucky ones — when we must spread our foodie wings and learn how to find new restaurants without the trusted help of our group chats and roommates. 

However, doing so can be quite daunting, especially if you end up in a big city with thousands upon thousands of restaurants to choose from. How do you know if somewhere is truly delicious? And how can you narrow down the copious choices you will undoubtedly encounter? 

This is where I come in. Here, you will find some of my personal tips on how to discover your new favorite restaurant. Navigating the food scene and finding those hidden hole-in-the-wall spots is one of the best ways to feel at home quickly. 

And for those of you staying in Charlottesville, these tips can help you, too. Try them in your hometown, on vacation or even during your lunch break from your summer job. You never know what kind of delicious eats you might find. 

1. The Infatuation iPhone App

This app is life-changing. If you find yourself in any of the cities where it has intel —  Austin, Chicago, Denver, London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle or D.C., that is — The Infatuation App is a must-have. While in the app, you can see nearby restaurants that their content creators have reviewed, in the form of a map. You can also search for restaurants based on neighborhood and cuisine. My favorite feature of this app is the “Perfect For” filter in the search tab. This allows you to find places that offer the vibes you are looking for — anything from “Keeping It Kind Of Healthy” to “Celebrity Sightings” to “Serious Take-Out Operation.” Each of their profiles shows the restaurant’s price point, contact information and location and lists a few things on the menu accompanied with a humorous and fun-to-read review. They also offer city guides for more than 15 cities around the world. The Infatuation is brutally honest — they aren’t afraid to tell you where to steer clear! 

2. Food Instagram Accounts

I know this sounds cliché, but usually restaurants on food Instagrams taste as good as they look. Spend a little time exploring the “Places” tab on your Instagram, or follow a foodie from your city. A few that I love are @stirandstyle — a honest blogger based in Los Angeles, @thenaughtyfork — for anyone moving to Miami, @foodbabyny — a cute family in NYC and @districtdelicious — if you’re staying close-by in D.C. While these may not help you discover the hidden gems, they will steer you towards places with well-known, delicious food. 

3. Local Publications

Every town has their own publications providing content unique to their locale. Pick up a magazine or newspaper in your neighborhood coffee shop and see what the locals have to say about the foodscape, or maybe even find out about special events happening at nearby restaurants. Magazines like Boston and Washingtonian have excellent food and restaurant sections, both in print and online. TimeOut is a New York City-based magazine that, among other things, offers great insight into the city’s vibrant food scene in its bar and restaurant sections.   

4. Zagat 

Some of you may remember the little red book that was the Zagat Guide from a few years ago. This timeless restaurant guide is still a great source of restaurant intel — they are very on top of the hot and new food scenes in many cities around the country. Similar to The Infatuation and now accessible as a handy website, zagat.com offers premade guides as well as many search filters to help you efficiently find what you’re looking for. 

5. People, people, people!

One of the best sources for restaurant recommendations is — and always will be — people! Locals know best. They are the ones who will lead you to the most authentic Chinese take-out spot or the gas station barbeque that may just be the best pulled pork sandwich of your life. So reach out to your neighbors, friends, coworkers, baristas, yoga instructors — anyone who looks like they have good taste in food! 

Try one or try all of these tips, and I hope they will lead you to your new favorite spot to eat, the great restaurants that make a place feel like home. One more pro tip — never be afraid of the way a restaurant looks on the outside. Appearances can be deceiving. Some of the best food I have ever had came from the most unassuming places. So go forth, put your exploring shoes on, and eat like the local you now are! 

Hildy Maxwell is a Food Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at life@cavalierdaily.com

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