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Restaurant recommendations

One more question from a RS tour 1st timer. Does the guide give the group restaurant recommendations for the evenings as well as the lunches that we are on our own? If so, have you found them to be reliable? Does the group still eat together or does everyone kind of do their own thing? Is it worthwhile to make restaurant reservations prior to leaving?

Posted by
2238 posts

We've only done 2 RS tours, so I can only speak to those. Both guides gave several choices at each free meal and described what kind of food we'd find at each. Sometimes groups would get together and try one and sometimes people would go off on their own. We've also discovered that it can be easier to dine in small groups in terms of dividing up the check. Our guide on our Greece tour sometimes arranged a group dinner option, announced a price and ordered for the group. But, each guide has some latitude in managing their groups. Our 2 guides both seemed to love food and their recommendations were reliable. Some people research on their own and have specific places in mind.

Posted by
14291 posts

I've done 7 tours and found that all the guides have been helpful in recommending restaurants particularly if it is a situation where you need reservations. This happened on a Friday night in a couple of different locations.

The largest group I wound up with in free time was 11 or 12 which kind of swamped the restaurant then there were problems splitting the bill. I decided I would not do that again. I'm not a big eater and I did not like doing the equal split thing when I had a bowl of soup for dinner and others had 3 courses plus wine. That's just me though!!

I have enjoyed meals with a small group of fellow tour members. I also dont mind eating on my own especially if its a free afternoon and I've been seeing something different from the others.

I would not make restaurant reservations unless it is a totally free day. Itineraries can change.

I've also had the situation Patty described where the guide arranged an optional meal and I always go for anything optional whether it is meals, activities, walks!!

Posted by
19171 posts

then there were problems splitting the bill

In Europe, that is not nearly the problem it is in the US. The price shown on the menu includes all taxes and service. Tipping is basically rounding up, giving them the small change. So if what you order is, say 12,50€, that's your share. Add a euro or two, make it 14,00€ and that's it. Even 13€ or 13,50€ would be sufficient.

Posted by
16894 posts

You said previously that you're on the Village Italy tour and I'd guess that all the guides on the tour are quite food oriented. Of course, we also encourage you to buy Rick's Italy book with your tour member coupon code and it includes more restaurant detail than the guide can rattle off.

Posted by
8664 posts

Our guides were really encouraging people to explore on their own, and might make a suggestion or two, but the point of the free time was to allow people to do their own thing. If you make some friends with others (which you will) its fun to explore. But one of the reasons that they want you to bring along the relevant RS guide book, is that there are plenty of recommendations in there, that you can go and find on your own.

Posted by
209 posts

The guides in my experience have been good at recommending restaurants, usually while walking around, or they may discuss the town specialties while on the bus.

I think the RS books could improve on their Restaurant listings. The atmosphere, clientele, and a general price range are usually described well, but I'd like to see more descriptions of the food. (I understand a good restaurant will cook whats in season so the menu may change frequently, but still, an idea of what we may find.)

Some restaurants in the book end up being very good. Others end up boldly advertising they're listed in Rick's books, thus any attempt at going local is trampled. Unless a restaurant really catches my eye by serving a specialty I'm really in the mood for (or perhaps has an amazing location), I've usually had good luck just walking around and seeing what catches my eye.

Posted by
6384 posts

Most people or couples head off on their own in their free time. It's not uncommon for a small group to go out together, but it's not expected.

I would only make reservations if there were a place you really wanted to try. And the suggestions about either using the book, or just wandering around and stumbling into places are both good. We've had better luck just wandering around, ourselves.

Posted by
6384 posts

I was interrupted last night before I finished my post:

We've also had good luck just asking at hotel reception something like, "Where do you go for lunch/dinner within walking distance?" You can even specify price range or specialties. You'll usually be directed to a tiny bar or trattoria just around the corner!

Posted by
15 posts

We've been on 6 RS tours and only some guides are comfortable giving recommendations. What we have found is that the RS tour books are excellent in their dining guidance - they are well thought out and accurate. Also, in Europe I found Travel Advisor to be a good source of finding restaurants. Unless your going to be dining at michelin star restaurants there isn't a need to book a reservation before leaving. Have fun and good luck!

Posted by
682 posts

Some guides are very into food and we always follow their suggestions. Some even offer optional dinners (you pay) and we've never been disappointed with their choices. I rely more on Trip Advisor or suggestions from people on this board (a very good resource) for restaurant choices than the RS book.

Posted by
1205 posts

I have been on 13 tours. The only time I made restaurant reservation prior to leaving for a tour was for a few nights in Paris. You don't say where you will be going but Paris restaurants tend to be very small so reservations are necessary in most cases. However, if you don't have a reservation, but your in Paris and know you want to go to a restaurant on your free night, ask the hotel desk to make a reservation and I also ask they tell them I am on a RS tour. Also I found many restaurants ( the hard way) are closed on Sunday nights in Paris. As everyone already said, people eat on their own, with the people they are traveling with and not in the large group. But if you are traveling alone, feel free to ask if you can join them. The guides will give suggestions, but always bring your guide book as it is helpful to have if the guide does not give a suggestion or you don't know where the restaurant is or if you are unclear of the name you can ask the guide to point out the name of the restaurant in your book. Also read this forum and people give suggestions to restaurants they went to. Many restaurants cannot handle a large group, so people split up and go to various restaurants for lunch and then meet back with the group. Again carry the guide book with you. Time is limited on the tours, so I like to read the guide book and get an idea of what restaurants there are and check them off as I may want to have dinner or lunch there. For example in Munich, when the free time came we were not in the hotel, we were in the main square, I knew where I wanted to go for dinner before I even got to Munich and went there with another couple. I like to try to have an idea of where I want to eat in each place. That does not always work out, that is fine, but I try to be prepared as time is limited and I don't have time to ask or read the book at that moment. I hope this helps. Have a great time, you will love it!!!