Q – We are planning a trip through portions of Portugal with a touch of Spain. We are planning our self-drive route using Michelin reviews so we can dine at two and three-star Michelin restaurants. (We are in our forties – from LA – and fairly well traveled) Our question really concerns Michelin. Are their ratings till dependable? Also wondering if you have any driving recommendations as in “precautions”. 

A – Yes, try not to ever pick up a hitchhiker with an M-15 strapped to his back. We would also  urge you to be extra cautious about leaving anything of value on the seats of the car when you stop somewhere. Break-ins of rental car are fairly common in Spain and Portugal while crimes against persons are quite rare. Always scan the car when parking to make sure nothing at all is in plain sight.

As to Michelin:  Yes, still the gold standard in terms of honesty and the requirement of several visits. Some industry insiders might argue that two-stars is actually a wiser choice than strictly three-star as the standards of perfection associated with a three-star rating may be both uncomfortable and overbearing. But these days, there are some notable newspapers that do excellent reviews of restaurants in their travel sections. You have to look at publications that don’t accept free anything – and they are few and far between. You might want to Google the New York Times, The Guardian, and the Times of London for a start. Any review published in a book is likely to be out-of-date.