This year seems like a good year for a great trip. On The Times’s Food desk, where I’m an editor and also write a weekly newsletter about New York City restaurants, we’re already scouting for the year’s best restaurants, and I’m guessing many of you are planning trips with food in mind, too.
Trying to figure out what reservations you need and what’s worth a line can be overwhelming, but don’t fret. I asked two of my colleagues, Priya Krishna and Brett Anderson, and we have tips for how to choose where to eat when you’re on the road — or even in your own backyard.
Ask the locals
Traveling to a new place can be nerve-racking, but don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations from the barista at that coffee shop near your hotel or your tour guide. Often, locals won’t send you to the restaurants that show up on every best-of list but instead to their beloved haunts.
“My first move is to mine my contacts for locals to hit up for advice or contacts who might be able to introduce me to locals,” Brett told me. Both he and Priya look to local newspapers and websites, though, increasingly, vigorous local food scene coverage can be hard to find. “Local news is much more helpful in larger cities,” Brett added.
Use maps features
In October, I went to Paris and felt as if I were drowning in choice. Thank goodness for Instagram’s Saved Places feature. Use it as a way to save restaurants you’re interested in visiting. Just click the address in a restaurant’s Instagram bio, and that should send you to a page with its location, tagged posts and other items, including a small bookmark. Click that bookmark to add it to your Saved Places.
To find that list, open Instagram’s sandwich bar (located in the top right corner of your profile page) and click on the bookmark icon next to Saved. A similar feature is available on Google Maps.
You can also use Instagram to see which restaurants are frequently tagged in a city. That may mean they’re trendy, but I find that a medium amount of tags (about 1,000 or so) usually denotes local adoration.
Priya uses Instagram in a slightly different way when scouting. “I like to check the Instagram pages of chefs in the area that I respect,” she told me. Then she looks at who they follow or where they go to eat regularly. For instance, it was through the Instagram of Donald Hawk, the chef at Valentine in Phoenix, that she found Kabob Grill N’ Go, one of her favorite restaurants of 2022.
When to book reservations
If you simply must go to a popular restaurant, set a reminder about one month ahead of time to start looking for a table. For instance, here in New York City, many so-called hot restaurants take reservations no more than three weeks ahead.
New reservations tend to go online around 10 a.m. on platforms like Resy. And if you plum forget to make a reservation — hey, it happens! — cancellations usually roll in around 24 hours before the scheduled dining time. (A chef told me last year that about 25 percent of reservations at his popular restaurant were canceled on the day of.) And don’t be afraid to walk down a popular restaurant stretch and pop into a place where the menu really draws you in. As Brett put it, “I am moved by menus that make me hungry.” Follow your hunger, and you (probably) can’t go wrong.
THE WEEK IN CULTURE
Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled a trip to Beijing over what the Pentagon described as a Chinese “intelligence-gathering balloon” flying above the U.S.
Lawmakers were concerned about the balloon because of a recent classified report that outlined American adversaries’ potential use of advanced spy technology.
U.S. employers added 517,000 jobs last month, an unexpected burst of hiring that dropped the unemployment rate to its lowest in more than a half-century.
The Northeast is waking up to dangerously cold temperatures, with wind chills falling below zero degrees in some places.
U.S. officials’ concerns that Russia will launch a nuclear weapon have eased up since tense moments last fall.
A jury found Elon Musk not liable for Tesla investors’ losses after he tweeted about the company in 2018.
🍿 “Magic Mike’s Last Dance” (Friday): Steven Soderbergh remains one of the most interesting American film directors around. In just the past four years, he has released a Covid-era thriller (“Kimi”), a period neo-noir crime film (“No Sudden Move”), a light Meryl Streep drama (“Let Them All Talk”), a quirky semi-comedy about the Panama Papers (“The Laundromat”) and a movie about a sports agent that he filmed on an iPhone (“High Flying Bird”). Now, he returns with the third installment in a series that kicked off with the 2012 film “Magic Mike.” Salma Hayek joins Channing Tatum in this one. There’s something for everyone.
📚 “Big Swiss” (Tuesday): A woman has a job transcribing a sex therapist’s recorded sessions. While listening to some of those conversations — among the most intimate one can imagine — she starts to fall in love with one particular patient, a tall blonde woman whom she labels with the nickname that gives the book its title. Then, she runs into her in real life. (If this summary intrigues you, read this Vulture profile of the author, Jen Beagin.)
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
When did you last pull out your waffle iron? If you can’t remember, then it’s high time for a brunch of crisp, golden waffles, slathered in butter and maple syrup. This straightforward recipe has everything you want in a waffle — the crunchy edges, that airy texture, those little square pockets just waiting to be filled with syrup. Whip up a batch this weekend, then freeze any leftovers, which are easy to reheat in the toaster. Your future self will be very grateful to find them on Monday morning, when such a deluxe breakfast is usually off the table.
A selection of New York Times recipes is available to all readers. Please consider a Cooking subscription for full access.
Elegant and understated: Dress like a designer.
Time off: Taking short breaks helps your brain refocus.
Loneliness: Retirees lose millions of dollars a year to romance scams. Here’s how to protect loved ones.
Better workout secret: Caffeine can help you lift more weight and run faster.
ADVICE FROM WIRECUTTER
The art of de-pilling sweaters
Nothing spoils a cozy outfit like fuzz balls marring a sweater, but a little effort and a couple of Wirecutter-approved tools can help revive even the worst offenders in your winter wardrobe. When de-pilling synthetic fabrics, use a motorized tool. Go slowly, and lay your garment on a flat surface to avoid snips and snags. For delicate natural fibers like wool and cashmere, Wirecutter experts recommend using a more gentle metal sweater comb. Gently glide the comb’s teeth over pilled areas while pulling the fabric taut. Lift any lingering fluff with a sticky lint roller, then confidently step out in your like-new knits. — Zoe Vanderweide
GAME OF THE WEEKEND
No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 5 Connecticut, women’s college basketball: When UConn announced that Paige Bueckers, the former national player of the year, would miss this season because of a knee injury, all eyes fell on Azzi Fudd, one of the game’s brightest young stars. Then Fudd hurt her knee, too. “So much for having two of the generational players, right?” Geno Auriemma, UConn’s longtime coach, told The Times. Injuries have so depleted UConn’s roster that the team had to postpone a game last month. And yet, the Huskies keep winning; the team is now 21-2, despite sometimes having only seven players in the lineup. Noon Eastern tomorrow on Fox.
Related: Women’s basketball has seen a rash of injuries this season.