Why Does Restaurant Food Taste Better? [Seven Reasons Why & More!]

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Do you ever find yourself craving food from your favorite restaurant? .

Sometimes you can't stop dreaming about and drooling over the cheesy carbonara you had at the small Italian restaurant down the road. This when your zoom meeting is in progress!

You love it so much that you even attempt the exact same recipe in your home kitchen. When you finally finish and proudly present your masterpiece, you realize it isn’t quite the same. The experience and taste are both starkly different. 

If this resonates with you, you aren’t alone! Me, your neighbor, and probably every other person across the globe has felt this way. 

Truth be told: restaurant food does taste so much better.

There are many reasons why. We did some digging and have come with seven detailed reasons why restaurant food seems tastier than the same meal cooked at home.

For those of you who want to continue making copycat recipes, we have some sage advice on spicing up your cooking routine. You’ll learn to cook delicious and creamy carbonara at home. 

Without further ado, let’s find out:

What Makes Restaurant Dining Exciting?

Coupled with new and exciting surroundings, Restaurants offer dining elements that you can’t quite recreate at home. The new and exciting surroundings and the ambience have a role to play.

Restaurant food is exceptionally flavorsome, and some else does all the cleaning up after the heavy duty meal! 

Jokes aside, here are a few reasons why restaurant food always seems to taste better. 

Reason One: Special Ingredients 

One of the reasons why people perceive restaurant food to taste so much better than home cooked food is because 

Your delicious restaurant meal is cooked by chefs who have specialized training in the art of cooking. 

And for most of these chefs,  it is not about calories and nutrition. It is about a story around the food and the experience one has while eating it. 

Did you know there is a tradition and culture surrounding food? 

It is called foodways. 

As far as ingredients go, chefs have special access to a huge variety of ingredients. Some of these are imported or difficult to source for regular households. 

A great example of this are truffles. You’ll find this seasonal ingredient in certain dishes in Italian restaurants only when black truffles can be sourced.

Related Reading: Why Does Food Taste Better When Someone Else Makes It? 

Reason Two: Butter and Salt

This is an extension of reason one, but chef’s know exactly the right amount of salt and seasoning that make a meal go from good to great.

Now, don’t confuse this with being healthy. Restaurant food, especially from fast food chains, gets a bad rap (well deserved I would say) when it comes to nutrition, but is nevertheless delicious. 

According to the late chef, Anthony Bourdain, a key ingredient that restaurants use a lot is butter. He considered butter as a key pillar in all of the amazing sauces that you eat in restaurants. 

Yes! Butter is the secret ingredient in restaurant food that makes everything taste good. And it has something to do with our genetics.

People love butter because of the body’s need for fat. While our brain seeks out foods with a higher fat count, you will be shocked to know how much butter restaurants actually put in foods!

If you find yourself falling head over heels over a meal, then it is probably the butter! 

Reason Three: Umami or “The Mouthfeel” Effect 

Chef’s are trained to make food enjoyable across all five physical senses. And umami is similar to one of the five senses – taste. Umami is described as a savory flavor indicative of broth and meat cooked for long periods of time (making them juicy and tender). 

“Mouthfeel” , on the other hand, refers to how texture and taste come together, which adds to the overall experience of eating food. 

When you mix in umami with other tangible elements of food like texture, you get that creamy “mouthfeel” effect. Umami is also the reason everyone loves Chinese food, especially the high heat variety.

Most home chefs don’t know the chemistry behind cooking and often don’t have the time to create the feeling and ambiance around eating food.  This is another reason why restaurant food is sometimes more enjoyable than your home cooked meal.


Reason Four: Dining Experience

Sometimes cooking can be stressful. When you’re stressed  the body creates hormones and fires out adrenaline. Adrenaline,sadly, makes you lose your appetite.. 

Have you ever finished cooking for a large group of people only to eat very little yourself?

This happens to me all the time. When eating food at a restaurant, all the stress is taken away and you can sit down and really enjoy a meal. 

*There is less stress involved for the diner, but I am sure the fast moving kitchen must be a very stressful place to be! 

Reason Five: Chef Secrets 

Restaurant chefs have innumerable secrets tucked away in their pockets. One being heat. We are talking in the traditional sense of adding chilies or pepper to a meal. 

Heat includes any strong flavor like wasabi, mustard, and sauerkraut. Chefs know exactly what to add to a dish to make it memorable. 

Some of my favorite restaurants happen to be Japanese mainly because of the wasabi and other sauces that are added to sushi. For this reason, sushi is extremely difficult to replicate at home! 

Reason Six: Presentation 

Chefs are artists in many ways, and part of what makes going to restaurants so enjoyable is the food presentation. Even the dish descriptions and menu design impacts your opinions on the food. 

Creativity is an important part of the dining experience and sometimes it is hard to come up with different recipes that are exciting. 

Read our article on how to make 21 Easy Chicken Recipes that will keep you and your guests entertained. 

Reason Seven: Family Time 

This last reason is similar to Reason Four, but slightly different. When you eat at a restaurant there is more time to enjoy the food. As I pointed out earlier,  you’re not spending time cooking the dish nor cleaning up after people. 

Eating in restaurants results in diners feeling more present with family and friends.


So, What Does It Boil Down To? 

When it comes to cooking, practice makes perfect. However, the common denominator here is that the chef knows exactly what they are doing!

Chefs in restaurants understand the food and ingredients they are working with, and the process of preparing something that diners can enjoy. 

Additionally, chef’s have set menus that they cook every single day. In other words, they have ample opportunities to play around with the dish and perfect it too.

Person cutting vegetables

Does that mean home cooking can never match your restaurant meal?

I am playing the devil’s advocate here and offering both perspectives.

Upsides of Cooking at Home 

Frequent dining at restaurants is a fun experience,  but is it really good for your health and for your wallet? 

Cooking at home has many positives. It is budget friendly and healthier. 

Are there benefits to cooking at home?

Cheaper to Make 

When you cook at home, you buy the groceries. You can calculate the cost of every meal you make and on an individual basis.

you can really pin down and track the unit of economics per meal person in the household. 

If you’re trying to save more money this is handy. 

There are many recipe delivery services, such as HelloFresh, who will deliver all the ingredients for a recipe to your door. They also help you  track how much is spent on the meal portions. 

Cooking at home often involves meal prep and  batch cooking. This means you can make a big portion of food and preserve it in the freezer. You cook once and  have more meals to go around. 

Healthier to Eat 

Home cooked meals are vastly healthier, because you control exactly what goes into your body. Don't want to use oil? No problem! Simply use a replacement.

It’s easier, faster and cheaper than sending food back to the kitchen at a restaurant. 

If health is a top priority for you, read about the difference between natural and organic food in our article, What’s the Difference Between Natural and Organic Food? 

Bigger Portions

When you cook at home you are able to cook a lot more. You can save quote bit of time and money by buying ingredients in bulk and by practicing batch cooking

Enjoy batch cooking a casserole? Check out our guide on how to make those leftovers taste even better the day after

More Sustainable 

 Did you know that a whopping 22 to 33 billion pounds of food is wasted yearly in the US

Perfectly edible and good food is often thrown away at restaurants. 

Cooking at home is more sustainable and better for the environment. Try more at-home cooking to live more sustainability and minimize your “carbon cookprint.” 

Greater Control 

If you are a busy person, then cooking at home offers greater control over your day’s schedule.

Sometimes when one goes to restaurants, a meal can extend to three hours or more. Depending on culture and occasion, sometimes even longer than that! 

Cooking at home means you’re more in control of your surroundings and a lot less is left up to chance. 

How To Make Home Cooking More Fun and Delicious 

Love restaurant food but not the ceremony and costs associated with it? Try these tips to make cooking at home much tastier. You won’t even notice the difference. 

Try to Relax 

This may be controversial, but your home cooking may be too strategic and organized. Timers are definitely an important part when it comes to cooking, but sometimes following the rules can be a disadvantage. 

Try relying on your five senses (seeing, touching, smelling, feeling), to determine when food is ready.  Try to have more fun and stop using a timer from time to time. 

Reader tip: Did you know that eating when you’re hungry can also affect how you perceive your meal?


Take Your Time

Take your time when cooking. This eases stress and will hopefully prevent you from making mistakes in the kitchen. 

This also applies to how to handle food after cooking. 

Allowing the meat to “rest” before cutting it straight away allows the meat to finish cooking and to also soak up flavor. 

Take Turns 

Distribute the responsibility of cooking to reduce stress in the kitchen and make cooking easier to enjoy. Try creating a cooking rota so that all members of your household can get a chance to cook a tasty meal for everyone at home. 

Cook on High Heat

Cooking on high heat is a great way to add dimension to home cooked meals. Remember that meat won’t sear if it is cooked on low heat and the same thing goes for vegetables. 

Make Own Stock 

Making stock at home will add deep flavors to your dishes that regular stock cubes won’t do.

Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day. However, any time you make a roast chicken or roast beef ensure to save the scraps! 

Throw it all in a dutch oven with some water, herbs and garlic and three hours later you will have your own delicious stock.  My favorite meal to make is a mushroom risotto using a good helping of home made vegetable stock. 

Final Thoughts

I love to eat at restaurants. The experience is usually a lot of fun and sometimes the food is unbeatable. 

There are a few reasons why restaurant food seems to taste much better. It boils down to the fact that restaurant staff and chefs have an abundance of experience and make food that is exceptionally good. 

There are many benefits of cooking at home, but every once in a while, I find myself really craving restaurant food. 

Cooking at home saves money and is healthier but if you find yourself still wanting that carbonara from down the road, your best bet is to go and get you some!

Jennifer Ulloa

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