In the days before the Internet, eating at an unknown restaurant meant relying on a clutch of quick and dirty heuristics. The presence of many truck drivers or cops at a lonely diner supposedly vouchsafed its quality (though it may simply have been the only option around). For “ethnic” food, there was the classic benchmark: “We were the only non-[insert ethnicity] people in there.” Or you could spend anxious minutes on the sidewalk, under the watchful gaze of the host, reading curling, yellowed reviews, wondering if what held in 1987 was still true today. In an information-poor environment, you sometimes simply went with your gut (and left clutching it).
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