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Michael and I took a hiatus from dining out from March 13th until three weeks ago. Partially because dining at restaurants wasn’t an option until May here in Houston. But we held off on venturing out even longer. Over the past three weeks, we’ve made reservations at three different restaurants and have had really great experiences. It has been beyond nice to have a little slice of normalcy back into our weekend routine. I’ve been sharing recaps of our outings and how we’re staying safe while venturing out over on Instagram Stories. I’ve received great feedback so I figured I’d share my tips for dining out during the covid-19 pandemic here too in case you’re itching to get out as well!
Tips for Dining Out During Covid-19 Pandemic
Choose a Restaurant You Trust // Choose a restaurant that you’ve been to before. Choose one that you trust is taking all recommended safety precautions. You can even call ahead to ask questions like what times the restaurant is least crowded, is the staff required to wear masks at all times etc. Google the restaurant and look at the reviews. There are likely recent reviews from people who have dined over the past month or so. Read what they have to say!
Make a Reservation Ahead of Time // Making a reservation ahead of time allows you to see the restaurants’ availability and provides insight into the least crowded times.
Make an Early Dinner Reservation // We’ve made 5PM reservations for every single one of our outings. Is it early, yes. But it’s the least crowded time too! By the time we left each restaurant around 6:30, the restaurants, especially indoors, had started to get more crowded. Dining out early also helps to avoid running into people you know and having to awkwardly avoid coming within 6 feet distance of them. Also, with an early reservation, it’s more likely that you’re the first person to sit at your table that evening.
Dine Outside // I’m only comfortable dining outside at this point. When researching restaurants to dine out at, I’ve made sure to pick one with a patio. Make a specific reservation request to be seated on the patio. It’s still very hot here in Houston, especially at 5PM, but most places have shaded patios, fans, and misters. The fact that it’s still pretty warm outside also deters that many people from choosing to sit on the patios, which has worked to our advantage of wanting to avoid being around others.
Wear a Mask // It goes without saying that you should wear your mask when entering and leaving the restaurant and if you have to get up to go to the restroom. We’ve also been putting our masks on when the server approaches our table as well. As a courtesy to them and to stay safe ourselves.
Bring Hand Sanitizer // We’ve gone to one restaurant that provided hand sanitizer at the table. I always bring my own and have it out on the table. Michael and I both try to remember to re-sanitize anytime a dish comes out that we’re eating with our hands. Also remember to sanitize if you come back from the restroom and after you leave the restaurant. All of the door handles!
Don’t Valet Park // Houston is big on valet parking. We’ve opted for street parking and avoided valet at all costs. No point in having to interact with another person and having another person in your car, touching everything.
Where We’ve Dined in Houston
So far, we’ve dined at Giacomo’s, One Fifth Mediterranean, and Hugo’s. We sat on the patio at all three restaurants. Our favorite overall experience was at Giacomo’s and Hugo’s. We had a great time at One Fifth too, it just happened to be REALLY hot when we were there and the food is hearty. It made us think about the type of cuisine we’re choosing from now on – at least until it cools down a bit outside. Hugo’s patio is great as it’s super shady and has lots of fans!
When we dined at Giacomo’s there was only one other couple dining outside when we were there. At One Fifth, we were alone for most of our dinner. Two other couples arrived as we were wrapping up. At Hugo’s, we had the entire patio to ourselves for our whole dinner!
There’s a way to dine out safely. Everyone has different risk tolerances at this point, but I’ve felt totally safe dining out with the parameters we’ve set for ourselves. It’s been nice to have somewhere to dress up to go and nice to be out and about – a little sense of normalcy and a lot of joy!