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Do you keep a list of restaurants you've visited?

I confess to being somewhat of a dataholic. I use "HandyShopper" (great free software) on my Palm to keep a running database of both "wishlist" restaurants I want to visit as well as "checking off" the ones I've visited, with a rating of 1-5. So far it's showing 139 restaurants visited (Philly area only) with 47 on the wishlist.

Bride of the Juggler keeps a paper restaurant journal with notes and ratings.

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  1. Sadly no. I've had hundreds of wonderful meals and other than my home town and the city I work, I barely can remember the names of any place I've been unless I look them up in some kind of city-related list. No, wait except for Las Vegas. I remember every single meal I had there. However, once I remember the name, I do remember the meal and whether or not it was favorable or not. It's just I'm terrible with names - be they people or venues.

    1. I started keeping a 'paper' journal only in the last five years (as I hit my 30s) and regret not journaling sooner. Journal usually consists of quick notes, the receipt (not the credit card receipt, but the other when I'm paying), menu (when available) and the occasional torn wine label.

      With the corks I've saved from restaurants, I've made into trivets.

      1. Not lists per se, but my dad collects restaurant matchbooks, although they aren't offered at many places any more. About three years ago I started collecting restaurant business cards -- about 75% of the places I go have them. If they don't, I get a take-out menu or try and keep a receipt. I'm always surprised when I go to a back woods truck stop type place hundreds of miles from anywhere and they have a card when I ask. I'm sure I have several hundred from just the last three years plus the occasional ducking into a place I've been to in the past when I happen to be walking by. It's a great reference when I'm posting on here -- I can quickly include the address, phone and web site in my posts. I wish I had started earlier, especially growing up and during college when I ate out a lot more -- I'm sure I would have thousands.

        2 Replies
        1. re: MSPD

          How do you keep/catalogue your matchbooks? Does your dad have a way to file/display them? I'm very curious. A friend of mine made a gift for her boyfriend who also collects matchbooks--she made a display case of a shadow box and put his favorite ones in it.

          1. re: Non Cognomina

            The matchbooks are mostly framed in shadowboxes but he also has a large square coffee table that has 5 sections with removeable glass tops. The matchbooks -- about 500 of them -- are set inside about two inches under the glass. As an aside, he was in the Navy for 32 years so he had the opportunity to eat in a LOT of different places.

            I've been trying to think of a fun way to someday display the business cards, but for the next few years, they'll just accumulate in those Day Planner style business card holder notebooks.

        2. I keep a small wishlist in my day planner (I'm day planner obessive tho') and I admit, I highlight my Zagat when I've been to a place. Say what you will about the reviews, it's a decent reference guide to have... :)


          1. I just started. I add them in my calendar as I go.

            1. I have a very large bag of matchbooks. Many restaurants don't do matches anymore, so those experiences go uncollected. But when I've looked through my matchbook (box) collection in the past, wonderful memories came back of dining experiences long forgotten.

              1. I keep a record (in my journal) of every meal I eat, both at home and out. It's proven useful in recalling memorable meals and not so memorable meals. It's also useful when I revisit a restaurant, since with age my memory is increasingly porous.

                1. Nope. Unlike a lot of things that I need to write down these days I don't need to write down the names of restaurants I have enjoyed or disliked. I think it has something to do with all the senses that are involved with eating, it makes the task of eating more memorable than other tasks such as remembering someone's name, a future scheduled event that I have commeitted to or data associated with work.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                    I agree and disagree. I think the past experiences one has had offer multiple points for the person to draw their often favorable stance from... I now use my Palm Pilot to retain a names' list (and phone number) so that I do have to work as hard when I'm out-and-about.

                    I started doing this after visiting a restaurant from my young adulthood that didn't match those previous experiences...

                  2. I have kept a paper diary for about 30 years for travel and restaurants. I don't keep a record of every meal. For example, I wouldn't make a diary entry when I have toast and coffee in a hotel's casual restaurant - unless there was something particularly noteworthy - good or bad - about the place.

                    When I do this, I take notes at the table but try not to make a scene of it. I usually write up my full "review" within several hours after the meal - always within the same day. I need a few hours to think about the experience before I commit my thoughts to paper.

                      1. re: Katie Nell

                        I love that!!! :) I have my own Recipe Journal that is very similar! I'll have to track that down! :)


                        1. re: Katie Nell

                          A friend gave me this as a gift. I love it.

                          I think it's really cool, not dorky at all. But then again, I work in publishing and tend to be drawn to all things paper.

                          1. re: CornflakeGirl

                            Oh, I meant dorky in the best possible sense! I'm secure in my dorkdom! ;-)

                        2. I keep a small lined moleskine notebook w notes jotted down after the meal (and outside the restaurant), although I will sometimes ask the waiter to write down the wines (they've always happily accomodated this, no matter where I was), along with "wish list" restaurants, torn out "best of" lists, wine and beer and goodies recommendations to try. I keep the notebook in my purse, and if the opportunity presents itself at the supermarket/gourmet shop, I look for whatever wine/tea/olive oil it was that I liked so much.

                          1. When I started travelling a lot, I would take pictures of the restaurants (just the outsides) where I had great meals and make a note of it in my photo albums. Simple things like great eggplant gnocchi at Dittirambo in Rome or best tapas in Barcelona, etc. When I flip through the pics of the restaurants, it always brought back memories of the meal I had there. My friends would ask me to forward them my pics of restaurants they want to check out so they know what to look for when they got there!

                            1. I have a list of restaurants that I've visited through-out the world which I've been keeping for the past 25 years. I have them on a Excel spreadsheet. I note my experiences, and anything that interest me about each place. I also have a matchbook collection that matches the list. I am shocked everytime I look at it with the number of places that have closed or gone out of business. With some of the finer places that I've visited, I have copies of the dining receipts. My favorite is looking at the Lutece memorabilia.

                              1. No, I don't ... but I can describe to you everything memorable I've ever eaten, and where :)

                                I recently went to a restaurant that's frequently called the best in the city where I live, and my main course was a hunk of duck hacked into several chunks over risotto. I didn't need a diary to remember the best duck I've ever eaten (a decade ago) and draw an appropriate comparison ;)

                                1. I am another one of those who save matchbooks. We have jars filled with matchbooks all over the house. I have been to a good restaurant that didn't have matchbooks with its name and forgotten the name five minutes later -- never to find the place again. The journal idea sounds good but like too much work. If the restaurant doesn't care enough to be remembered, maybe it isn't worth remembering.

                                  1. Absolutely I do! I started it a few years ago in my main city and have done about 600 there, and over 100 places each in most other cities that I've spent a significant amount of time in!