"We're going to insert city name here, got any recommendations?"
Being a frequent traveler, I hear that question fairly often and do my best to provide ideas of worthwhile stops. Most often it goes right, but there are instances where something goes awry.
For example, after I posed this same question to a friend in Little Rock, Arkansas, my husband and I went to a cool place called Imagine a Restaurant. They had good sandwiches and very good fresh made chips. Within a few months time, I had friends going to Little Rock that would be in that area of the city, so I suggested the place for lunch. They arrived to find it had closed. Just a few doors down was Crew, a restaurant I'd also tried and found it to be pretty mediocre at best. I wish I knew what caused the good restaurant to fail and mediocrity to live on; I can only assume it was either under-funded or poorly managed, either of which will take places with the best food down in a hurry.
Then there's that time you make a suggestion and it falls flat. I've recommended both hotels and restaurants that were in my book worth return trips that for various reasons didn't pan out. The Crowne Plaza in Little Rock, Arkansas is a prime example; I encouraged my parents to stay there and their experience was far from good. The room was noisy and didn't have proper working curtains so bright spotlights beamed in like pointed lasers all night. I've stayed there on several occasions and have yet to have a room anything like their description, but during my last visit I discovered the difference. Rooms facing into the atrium area would hear all the music and sounds of the bar drifting up, plus the high-placed spotlights would be blinding to the eyes at 3am without the curtains pulled tight. So I stand behind my recommendation for the hotel, but know that guests must ask for the right room placement.
Another issue is level of tolerance. How much of a "dive" looking place will someone take? I've had some amazing bbq at a place in Memphis, Tennessee, but I can assure you I'd never go there after dark. I don't think the bars on the windows are just ornamental. For the sake of some good eats, I'm willing to accept the rough edges that may come with the package. There is one I won't tolerate though, and that's smoking. Nothing will make me do an about face and promptly leave as quickly as a cloud of smoke hanging over the tables, waiting to irritate my desensitized nostrils.
As of late, I've gone three for three. Brave New Restaurant, Cupcakes on Kavanaugh (both in Little Rock) and The Green Tomato Cafe (in Pocahontas, AR) all are places I've mentioned on here. Recently I've had friends give a thumbs-up review to all three, so not only are they still in business, they're approved by other trusted foodies.
Now I just need to get out and find more places to recommend. Despite those occasional bumps in the road, I'll keep on making my suggestions and take the chance. It's a worthwhile risk.