Food is always an important part of any vacation, simply because you are almost forced to eat out every day. How can you improve the odds of finding good restaurants when you are traveling? I will describe the process I use, which has been fairly successful.
Because I trust Fodor’s more than most other guidebooks, I always begin with its website (Fodors.com). I browse through his (often numerous) entries for each location, jotting down (actually cutting and pasting) into a file of the ones that appeal to me or seem likely to satisfy our needs (I always make sure there are several restaurants which feature "local" foods, since I enjoy sampling the traditional specialty foods of an area). My intial list, depending on the popularity of the location, may include 15 or 20 possibilities (I usually leave out extremely expensive places or those with dress codes). I print these and then go on to step 2.
Next, I head for a large bookstore, usually Borders or Barnes & Noble. I take into the cafe with me any other guidebooks for one of the destinations on my trip. Over a cup of coffee, I cross-reference the restaurants, often jotting down relevant comments if I think they are pertinent. I am just checking the list from Fodor’s against these other guides, making the basic assumption that, if a restaurant is recommended in several different guides, then it may be a better choice for me.
I do this over and over, for each destination on my itinerary, and then I create a spreadsheet with the information cross-referenced. This provides us with an easy to see comparison of restaurants, which includes their phone numbers (in case reservations are necessary) and addresses (I also throw out restaurants that might be difficult to get to or are far from our hotel or the major attractions).
Lastly, I let Lee go through the list, crossing out those which she prefers not to consider. This process has been extremely worthwhile for us, and we have seldom gone to a restaurant that we truly hated. It does require a considerable investment of time, since a two-week trip might demand 4 or 5 sessions at the bookstore, at 2 hours or more per session, but, to us, it is a much better alternative than taking an uninformed chance on a restaurant during a trip. Hope the method works for you, too.