Seattle is a city full of terrific restaurants with amazing food. And after living there for four years, I'm pretty happy that I probably ate at ~80% of them. But that means that there's still probably over a dozen places that are really tasty which I didn't try out. Even in my last few weeks living there, I was finding little gems, in the form of lunch trucks around the city or small places in Pike's Place. Given that SF has at least an order of magnitude more restaurants, and the average quality is higher due to the inherent competition, a new strategy was needed.

The paradox

The reality is that, in cities like San Francisco or Seattle, most restaurants serve good food. A high number of them have exceptional food. And a few special have something you can't find anywhere else (like Paseo and Salumi). And this is where the paradox comes in: once you have a set of good restaurants, you're guaranteed to have a tasty meal. But by going to the same places, you're missing out on discovering another delicious restaurant, at the risk of being slightly disappointed occasionally.

The plot

Since I suffer from the "once you find something good, stick to it" syndrome, I needed to create something which breaks the usual pattern. So, over the course of the summer I've been planning a little adventure for San Francisco:over the course of a year, I will not go to the same restaurant twice. This will act as a forcing function to try out a new place of similar (or completely new) cuisine.

The exceptions

Like anything with rules, there are exceptions. The list below exists not to allow me to game the game I set up for myself, but to set expectations for scenarios I know could result in a check-in to the same place.

  • Work lunch places -- there's only a few around one's work place, and when I go it's typically in a group.
  • Takeout/Delivery places -- similarly, there's only a few around one's home, and it's convenient to be able to get some dinner late at night.
  • Brunch vs. Dinner -- the same restaurant can be repeated if one of the meals is a brunch and another is dinner. The menus are typically entirely different, so it's really like trying out two different restaurants.
  • Out of town visitors -- hopefully friends from Seattle or other parts of the world will come to SF. When they do, I want to be able to take them to the best places.
  • Group events -- if someone wants to have their birthday at a restaurant I already ate at, it would be pretty awkward to try to convince them to go somewhere else because of my silly rules; and it would be a shame to not be able to join them.

The details

So, between October 1st, 2014 - October 1st, 2015:

  • you should not see two check-ins at the same restaurant.
  • when checking in, each restaurant will get one of the following ratings: Sucks I can't try it out for another year; Meh, probably not coming back for a year anyways or It's going to be much longer than a year until I come back here.
  • Exceptional places may end up with a blog entry along with some pictures (and if you're curious about some place, just ping for more details).

There's quite a few people I mentioned this to, who don't think I can pull it through. And given my habits in Seattle, I do agree it's going to require lots of discipline. At the very least, it should make for some fun stories and hopefully great food.

(obligatory #firstworldproblems reference)