"Never eat a place called Mom's, never play poker with anyone called Doc, and never sleep with anyone crazier than you are," said Nelson Algren or someone similarly hardboiled. This prompts a thought for a quiet Sunday morning (well, quiet apart from fighter jets overhead): what rules do you have that keep you out of restaurants, because you just know that they won't be any good as a result?
Here are some of mine:
1) Hospital workers are the reverse of truckers when it comes to indicating good food, so stay away from restaurants across the street from (let alone inside) hospitals. I proved this one this morning at the Hightop Restaurant across from Swedish Covenant, when it turned out that Tre Kronor doesn't open until 9 (what's with these Swedes, sleeping in as late as Wicker Parkers and the Bongo Room)?
2) Lots of Chicago places for some reason have three kinds of food listed on their sign ("Chicken Ribs Pizza"). Stay away from places where the choices are too diverse-- burritos and pizza on the same sign, or shrimp and anything else non-aquatic. There's only so much places can do well.
3) Don't eat anywhere that the clientele is more than 50% old people. (The Hightop proved this too.) The finest foods mushed to your satisfaction!
4) Don't go to bars that have plural names (Winners, Legends, Occasions, Libations)-- they're usually bad hotel bars or deeply mediocre sports bars.
5) Don't eat anywhere that has tuxedo imagery in its logo. It's aiming for class with no idea what it actually is, sort of like strip clubs that put an extra e in "The."