My Fellow Gauchos,

You might find this suggestion a little odd, but I guarantee you it has much more value as time goes on. When I was your age, I began to gain an appreciation for eating. Not necessarily eating well, but eating nonetheless. Back then, the Food Network was nonexistent and finding great places to eat was really all about word of mouth. Most of my friends lived in Northern or Southern California, and when they came back from visiting their folks they would often go off about amazing food they had eaten back home.

[media-credit id=20122 align=”alignleft” width=”166″][/media-credit]Most of the times, my friends would describe the best meal they had ever had in their lives… and fail to remember where they had gotten it.

At that point, I also realized that there were tons of restaurants that I loved whose names had completely vanished from my mind. Of course, you’ll always remember the name of the restaurant you grew up with, but I’m talking about those little holes-in-the-wall you would pass by on a road trip or have that special dinner with your grandparents where you need to get dressed up.  You’d be surprised, especially once you leave college, how many different places you’ll be eating out.

My suggestion: Keep track of all of your great meals, whether it’s in a journal or on your computer.  When I was 20, I decided to do just that and now I have over 500 restaurants from cities all over the world. Many of those meals were in New York City, where it is very easy to eat out often, but I think the most important/memorable ones are from cities I went to while traveling. Those are the places you don’t want to forget — especially when people you know are heading to the same spot.

Eventually, people will come to you seeking advice, while also giving you their recommendations to add to your list (I have a separate “recommendations” category.)  I usually just write down the date, name, address and then two lines about what I remember most about the place. On my way out, I snag a business card, which helps me remember to log that restaurant.  Eventually, your list will grow and you can create categories like favorite brunches or best dessert places.  From there, you’ll get your own show on the Food Network.

A few of my favorite spots around the country:

New York City, NY – Cafe Habana  229 Elizabeth St. Amazing Cuban place with the best corn on the cob you will ever have.

Miami, FL  – Barton G 1427 West Ave. Great atmosphere with some of the most unique dishes I have ever tried including a cotton candy tree for dessert.

San Antonio, TX – Mi Tierra 218 Produce Row. The decorations in every room are amazing and the tacos are outstanding — go back!

I look forward to hearing about your favorite places.