How to Start an Alphabet Dining Group

I’ve found that mindfully dining out in your city can help improve your connection to food, your friends, and your community. I’ve personally had an appreciation for the restaurant industry since before I can remember.

This grew as I was a hostess and server in high school, college, grad school, and even into my first job as an RD — ranging from a panini/sandwich shop, to sushi, and to Cajun food. Looking back, this was a big piece that helped improve my appreciation for and relationship to food. If this is an area you’re looking to improve, approaching dining out in a different way just might help you too. 

people eating dinner at restaurant

What is an alphabet dining group?

This is a more strategic way to work your way through different restaurants in your city — you simply work your way through restaurants starting with a different letter of the alphabet each month (A through Z).

Pick a group (usually four to six is best) that can consistently meet, dine out, and discuss the restaurants you try. Picking restaurants can be overwhelming, so it might be helpful to either vote or have one group member pick each month. Resources like Time Out, the New York Times restaurant list, or finding popular food Instagram accounts in your city can be helpful for picking. 

How can this help improve your relationship with food?

I would first take inventory of your perception and feelings around dining out. Do you just think of it as a fallback option when you’re too busy to cook at home? Do you experience food guilt every time you dine out, feeling like a failure? Do you think of it as an obligatory chore you don’t even enjoy between work and birthday dinners? Well, a dining group can really help you take back your love and excitement for food if done intentionally.

Getting curious about the restaurant, staff, and cuisine can help your appreciation grow. Do some research before picking your restaurants — maybe it’s a really old restaurant with a lot of history, maybe it was featured on a niche food show, maybe it’s a fusion of different ethnic cuisines, maybe it’s one of the top chefs in your city. Get adventurous with trying new types of foods if that’s your style. Get to know your server and ask for their top recommendations. Go out of your way to find something new to your group. 

All in all, this can be a food-related activity you can really look forward to each month. After all, food is meant to be celebrated and can help you learn more about your own city and the world. Happy dining! 

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About Chelsea Stegman

Chelsea is the owner and founder of Chelsea Stegman Nutrition, LLC. She is a Chicago based virtual dietitian working with active professionals through energy management, recovery, and adrenal health. She takes a well rounded approach to working with clients, including nutrition to fuel strength, cardio, and recovery based exercise; overall recovery; adrenal testing; habit development; and supplementation. You can catch her hanging with her mini husky, exploring the local restaurants, or running by the lakefront. Find her online at www.chelseastegmanrd.com.

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