When you're travelling, the gold standard for picking a restaurant is that the locals eat there. You don't want to go to a new town and just plop down at McDonald's, both because the experience isn't unique and because the food isn't special. And sometimes (usually) finding that locals' joint does give you exactly what you want: some local flavor, some local color, and a unique experience. We lunched at q4u BBQ in Frisco, CO for lunch a couple days ago, and it was great. But it occurred to me after we ate some pathetic "Mexican" food (the plate-full-of-glop variety) yesterday for lunch at a restaurant which clearly many locals patronized, Los 2 Amigos in Price, Utah, that there are 2 huge flaws with this approach:
1) Locals like to eat at Panera <or insert other chain restaurant>. I have gotten several recommendations along this trip from locals regarding where to eat, and it's frequently a chain.
2) We have different (snootier?) food tastes than most people. In Norfolk, we stopped taking people's restaurant recommendations within the first year because we disliked all of the ones we'd tried so far.