Finding the Right Restaurant for Your Dinner Party

Over the last couple of years, dining out has become an even bigger luxury than it once was. Thanks to the struggling economy, many people have decided to cut back on spending, and dining out has become casualty of such events.

While the economy is gradually rebounding, dining out is still largely reserved for special occasions among those whose memory of the recession is still fresh. However, dining out does remain a strong choice when hosting a special occasion such as a birthday party or anniversary celebration. When choosing a restaurant to have such a gathering, consider the following tips to ensure that rare restaurant night out goes off without a hitch.

* Look for versatility in a menu. When dining out, the emphasis is obviously on the food. Couples might enjoy certain restaurants they have previously patronized, but that does not necessarily make the restaurant ideal for a party. When shopping for a restaurant, look for one that boasts a versatile menu that can cater to a vast array of palates. Especially for larger parties, the versatility of the menu is very important. Restaurants that boast a large entree selection that includes meat, poultry, seafood, and even vegetarian dishes ensures each guest has options.

* Examine the elbow room. Because dining out has become such a luxury, comfort should be another key consideration. Look for a restaurant that provides ample elbow room so everyone can relax and won't feel crowded.

* Be sure there are places to park. Chances are, most guests will be driving to the party. While it seems like an afterthought, the restaurant should provide ample, and ideally free, parking. Avoid restaurants that charge for valet service or inquire if such service can be included on the tab ahead of time.

* Reserve well in advance. If it's a truly special occasion, be sure to begin the process of finding a restaurant as early as possible and make a reservation the moment a decision is made. Reservations can always be cancelled should things not work out.

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