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Are you a Chowpioneer or a Chowfollower?

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I have noticed a number of posts from people who pass by a restaurant day in and day out but come to Chowhound to see if others have actually gone in.

So my question is, do you try out a place in the hopes of discovering a buried treasure or do you wait until others have ventured in first?

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  1. I am both, I think. I love discovering new, great (and even not so great, sometimes) places on my own, but I also get excited about trying chow I've seen discussed here. I'm not sure I've ever asked the boards myself about a restaurant I was curious about--I figure I might as well just walk in and eat something.

    1. I'm also a little of both. If I find a great new gem, I'll gladly share it. But I also like to know what i'm getting into at some places.

      1. I'm a bit of both too..but seem to be a chowfollower more. It's ok to try new places for me if it's not too expensive ($5-$10pp) but when it gets up in price I like to know others had good food there and what they ordered.

        Sometimes I forget my notes of places I want to go and order poorly or just skip the restaurant until I have my notes.

        1. I love finding new places , traveling to an unknown city and ignoring conventional advice and following my nose to find and understand local joints is possibly one of my greatest pleasures in life . Zagats got nothing on me , as far as I'm concerned . And really , my opinion is the only one one ( with the exception of my wife ) that I really care about . Curiously , the exception is my home town , where I think we all need to listen to others .We all have our favorite this and that , but new places open up all the time . Example - I have always felt that a close by place made the best pizza in metro Detroit ( Como's ) until I followed up on a post on a different board and tried Tomato Apizza . Best pizza I've ever had . Anywhere . So , it pays to listen , but I still trust my instincts , and my nose .

          1. For the latest trendy restaurant of the monement, I'm a follower. I usually wait two months after reading posts. If there is a love fest for the place when it opens, in is almost two months to the day when the first 'it isn't all that' report comes in.

            If people hate the place when it opens, same thing, someone finally pipes up and says they like it.

            In the meantime I'll pay attention to the good and bad dishes and any hints. I will usually order a dish that I have't read about. When I'm spending major bucks for food, I'd rather do some lurking for a while.

            For everything else, I'm likslier to step in the door, get a menu, and look for what is unusual on the menu.

            It gets me crazy when I hear people who pass places by for years and then ask on the board. I can't urge people enough to at least step in the door and take a look.

            And yet I don't take my own advice. I've lived in this area for almost two years now and never stepped in any of the local Mexican markets. I started doing that recently and learned most places make their own chorizo. There are hidden gems in the most unlikely places.

            1. I am definitely a Chowpioneer. Whenever a new place comes to town, or ownership of a place changes, etc. friends look to us to try it out before a group of us goes there or they will go on their own. Our peers don't go out as often as we do for various reasons and if they make plans to go out they tend not to want to go into unchartered territory. Dh and I see it as an adventure.

              1. For me it's more geographical. In my 'hood, I'll try the new places. If it's cross town or cross country or elsewhere in the world, then I happily tap the wisdom of local chowhounds for some direction first before venturing.

                1. more chowpioneer in my hometown (Los Angeles)... chowfollower when I'm exploring other cities ~ and mix when dealing with general food products/chains/etc.

                  1. I have a friend who eats at every new place. She probably eats 10 or 20 so-so meals for every gem. And more often than not she never goes back to the gems because she's too busy trying new places.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      That's sad because there will always be a new place that she will have to try. Wasn't that one of the 12 labors of Hercules?

                      1. re: chocolatetartguy

                        I don't find it sad.

                        Someone in the topic "You know you're a chowhound when" wrote:

                        "...you'd prefer to search for undiscovered great chow, rather than settle for great chow you already know."

                        Exactly.

                        I infrequently return to a few favorite places ... like Lola's ... but part of the fun is in the hunt ... I'd rather have 10 so so meals for the reward of having that one gem high.

                        Even total dreck can be interesting, like my recent meal at Little Ange's. The next day, even the cat would have nothing to do with the leftover steak (but she is rather a Chowhound of her species).

                        Of course, my thing isn't just new places, it is places that are new to me and I never tried. For a long time I stuck to my own personal gems ... Bizou, Chez Panisse, TowsnEnd, Cheeseboard ... that sort of thing. I enjoyed all those great places, but kind of look back in regret with all the places I missed out on during that time.

                        Undiscovered deliciousness could be behind that unopened door ... and after a while you get a feel for what doors to open ... but some of the most amazing food has been at places where every instinct I had was screaming no, don't go there ... like Mr. Pizza Man which was my all-time bad food memory ... the local restaurant serves wonderful Brazilian food ... I have to get back there ... sometime.

                        I'll never eat at every restaurant in the world either ... you could view that as sad or as just having a a huge treasure chest to choose the shiny objects that are the most interesting to me.

                        1. re: rworange

                          I loved that particular response because that is how I do it. In a city like L.A., there is SO much chow and so many places always opening it up... SO teases me that I never eat at the same place twice, and I'm actually proud that it is somewhat true... :)

                          --Dommy!

                          1. re: rworange

                            You always gotta be lookin' cuz ya never know when your favorite place(s) might disappear. I had a tough time in 2004 when the chefs turned over in my three favorite and most-visited Chinese restaurants, followed by the fourth the following year. Still haven't found any to replace them in my heart (and tummy), but if I'd been more diligent all along seeking out the next star, maybe it wouldn't have been quite so traumatic at the time.

                      2. Definately a pioneer. I'm the one who'll go in first (frequently before the place is even finished and open) and get the scoop. Sometimes it's good, and sometimes it's bad. But I'm there first!

                        TT

                        1. I like to wander around an area and try new things. However, if I remember that someone has recommended a place and I'm in that area, then I'll very likely drop by too.

                          1. I have to go with both.

                            If I'm somewhere and I have the time, I'll check out a new place without looking for a review. I will use observational skills and gut instinct to sniff out any possible disapointment. If I'm not sure and it's local, I'll observe it for a couple of weeks to get a sense.

                            OTOH, in the area I live and work (SF Bay Area) there's just too much to check out on your own and looking for a review is helpful, in particular if there's specific need or occasion. Add in a relatively busy schedule and the certainty of a good non-chain meal, sometimes you go with reduced risk and a review.

                            Add in high media saturation (internet included) and it's almost impossible to find something new or undiscovered. Word of mouth travels fast in these parts.