If You Want To Dine At Fancy Restaurants While Traveling, Try Going At This Time Of Day

Travel is an opportunity for us to see world-renowned art, explore beautiful cities, and take in incredible historical sites. For many, it's also an opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the local food culture. While street food and your run-of-the-mill restaurant in the city center are sure to give you a taste of that destination's authentic cuisine, there's also something to be said for fine-dining experiences.

In our experience, menus at fancy restaurants in many destinations highlight the flavors and ingredients of a particular region or country but in an elevated and creative way. Take the world-renowned Pujol in Mexico City, the brainchild of superstar chef, Enrique Olvera. His restaurant showcases the incredibly diverse flavors of Mexican cuisine. His unconventional dishes have attracted mega attention and even landed the restaurant on an episode of Netflix's Chefs Table. Suffice it to say the place is popping, and getting a reservation takes months of planning. But this isn't unique to Pujol — many of the world's best fine-dining, Michelin star-earning restaurants have the same problem ... not to mention the steep price for dinner.

So what's the alternative for those who neither have the luxury of planning months in advance for a seat at a table nor the cash to burn? Go to lunch instead!

Lunch might just be an overall better experience than dinner at a fancy restaurant

It's true — lunch doesn't have quite the same luxuriant allure that dinner's evening hours evoke. However, consider the following: What might they be trying to hide under the dim lights of the dining room? Maybe lunch is a better metric by which we can measure a dining experience.

While we're mostly joking about that ... we're kinda not, too. Lunch at a fine dining establishment can be just as good, if not better, than their dinner experience. There are fewer people, so you'll get great attention from the waitstaff, and the kitchen won't be stretched thin with orders. If you consume alcohol and it disturbs your sleep, you'll have more time to sober up before bedtime. Additionally, if the restaurant has nice views, you'll actually be able to enjoy the sights and do some people-watching.

Take Pujol again. They have lunch hours, but the tasting menu is the same price ($128) regardless of the time of day. For a more inexpensive lunch experience, head over to one of Mexico City's best lunch spots, Maximo Bistrot. This restaurant is run by Eduardo García, who was mentored by Enrique Olvera, and now himself has several restaurants. This is a great alternative to Pujol that won't burn a hole in your pocket and still leave you saying, "Wow, that was incredible!"

Fancy lunch can cater to diverse travel budgets

Sharing a fancy meal with friends or family while on vacation can be a great way to spend an afternoon. However, you don't want to put anyone in a position where they don't want to look cheap and say no to spending hundreds of dollars on a meal. Some people's budgets just can't accommodate that kind of flashy spending. This is where fine-dining lunch comes in. It's a more inexpensive option that can still satisfy your bougie vacation vision but not leave your friends scrambling to pay rent when they get home.

But why is the lunch menu cheaper? Is it because the food is worse? Are they feeding you leftovers from the night before? No, absolutely not. The reason why lunch is cheaper — not just at fancy restaurants but restaurants in general — is because the portions are typically smaller, lunch patrons spend less time at the restaurant, and, as we mentioned previously, there are fewer people. As a result, restaurants don't have to spend as much on food, storage, staff hours, and overhead, so ... restaurants can have a cheaper lunch menu.

Getting a fancy lunch instead of a fancy dinner might also mean you'll have more wiggle room to try another fine-dining lunch spot, too. So, instead of just one over-the-top dinner, you get to experience two great meals that may just blow your mind.