A Former Restaurant Critic Shares Her 11 Best Tips for Dining Out Cheaply but Well

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Whenever I tell someone that I spent 10 years as a food editor and restaurant critic, they think I’m one of the luckiest people alive.

Maybe I was. For years, I wrote for a monthly regional magazine. I also edited the restaurant directory and reviews. I helped plan, edit and write cover stories on the best burgers, pizza or brunches in town, which meant that my husband and I made lots of restaurant visits on the company’s dime.

Next, I moved on to an online city guide, where I coordinated and assembled a restaurant directory and wrote, edited and assigned weekly reviews. I also wrote a column, Offbeat Eats, reviewing restaurants in oddball locations, such as on dinner trains or inside faux jungles.

There were not-so-great moments, as with any job. Deadlines. Typos. Angry phone calls from restaurateurs who didn’t like a review.

I haven’t had that job for decades. These days, I pay for my own meals and choose my own dining destinations. And yet, I’m often surprised by how I fall back on these lessons learned from that career stint.

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