Discovering new eats in the midst of a pandemic? Absolutely!

If you can and have the means, I highly recommend donating to Family Meal, a Portland-based nonprofit designed to help food service and agricultural workers during a medical debt crisis. Your help right now is needed more than ever. Thank you.

Featured Photo by Greta Punch on Unsplash

Happy Tuesday! In a couple days, my blog will be two years old! I originally thought last Thursday was the two year anniversary buuut I, a senior in college, have forgotten how to read calendars. Thank you, college!/s

Anyway, I was thinking about all the things I could talk about and this one was something that had occurred to me the other day. So, how do you discover and go about finding new eats – especially in a pandemic?

Well, if you’re simply saying just to look up places on Google maps or ask for recommendations from friends, yes, those are good ways, but if you’re really hunting for some new places, underrated or otherwise further away from the area you live in, you probably find yourself stumped. In trying to try more places myself, I’ve gone through quite a bit of trial and error to getting this process right, but with some tips up my sleeve, here are my tips:

Scroll to the end of your Google Maps restaurant list – seriously.

Going to highly rated places is great, but some of the best places have little to no digital footprint. So open your Maps app and just see what you may have missed because it isn’t as well known to be positioned higher on the list.

Instagram: Follow restaurants!

Even if you don’t follow a particular restaurant, clicking the dropdown button that shows similar accounts will often show accounts that are similar to the restaurants’ that you do know. Or, because most restaurant owners are friends with each other, you can check out who the account follows – you’re sure to find some great selections, because restaurant owners that support each other show they have the same or at least similar values and quality of food.

Also, restaurants sometimes will post specials or updates. Especially in this pandemic, the fastest way many restaurants update their customer base is through their socials. Yes, you can use Facebook… but who uses Facebook as their primary platform, nowadays?

Instagram: find the foodies – people AND places

HAHAH this is where I plug myself (@sikfanmei.ah), but there are also other great people. From restaurant owners, other employees, or even just scrolling through #eat(insert city name), it’s easy to find the food influencers with the prettiest food, interesting factoids and even some giveaways.

I’m hesitant to recommend following food influencers, from my own experience there’s a lot of differences between food influencers who are from the restaurant industry (chef, restaurant owner, or other substantial position), those with a food background (home cook/baker, food academic), and those who can photograph the prettiest food and navigate the social media landscape with interactions, tags and whatnot…

Not to say the latter are bad, but I would be untrue to myself if I didn’t say to be extra careful with those, since many can hide sponsorships, ads, or have particularly good experiences because of their status as a influencer.

Photo by REVOLT on Unsplash

Why not food carts?

You’d be surprised at how different the results for restaurants versus food carts is on Google maps and other search engines. No, seriously – because often times the list is so long for restaurants, the food carts don’t ever make it further up in the list for (most) people to even glance at it. Also, some food carts don’t technically even classify themselves as restaurants when writing out their info, hence they don’t show up. It’s a combination of SEO and personal classification, which is alright, but just some considerations for how you search to find places.

Just drive.

No, seriously. If you’ve got some time, drive by an area you normally don’t visit, and then once you find a place that looks interesting, go in. I did this a couple times and myyyy god there are some great gems that you can stumble on. Since sometimes a business’ online presence doesn’t do the actual establishment justice.

If you see a place, hop out and go in. In my prior experience, this is a thing that’s best done if you have an area in mind already and then take public transit since it’s sometimes the hidden places with horrid parking that are true gems. But in this time of COVID I wouldn’t blame you for not wanting to take public transit if you’ve already got a car.

So in the spirit of more restaurants opening up – though like last week, I continue to recommend you do take out – I highly recommend trying new places! Seriously, especially if you’re in Eugene, the close-to-campus classics are great, but there are a TON of awesome options further away that are well worth the drive.

As it’s spring break I’m not exactly constantly pressed from classes, but I am in the midst of some other projects that are kind of making me a bit hectic. I’m hoping y’all are able to take a breather in this crazy time, but… also be on the lookout for the things coming out soon!

Tune in for a new blog post coming out Thursday as I celebrate two years of SFMA, as I’m indebted to y’all for supporting and encouraging me in this endeavor. Let me know if you have comments, questions, or even just want to interact. As always, you can reach me on my socials.

Take care, stay safe and healthy, and I’ll see y’all Thursday!

Have you eaten yet? If you haven’t, don’t forget to!


P.S. Have you checked out my latest YouTube video? Check it out below! 🙂

Em Eats Springfield: Pump Cafe

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