eat with

Restaurants are so 2013. The latest dining trend? Fine dining in the homes of complete strangers.

Sounds sketchy at first, sure. But it’s not like accepting candy from a stranger. NPR’s “The Salt” notes several websites that specialize in linking curious diners with unconventional dinner hosts. “With website names like EatWith, SideTour, VoulezVousDiner and Feastly, a new food trend that is sweeping New York and other cities allows diners to enjoy fine meals inside someone else’s home. Think of it as Airbnb for hungry people.”

Whether it’s fine dining you’re after, or a “taco party” like the one NPR’s Arun Venugopal attended, there’s a  growing market for that in major cities like Los Angeles and New York.

In New York City, you may find yourself on a subway ride to a small, cramped apartment for a meal. In LA, it could be an oceanfront Malibu mansion. Dinners can range in price from $40 to more than $100. And for some, it’s not just the meal and ambiance, but the party itself. “The food is often just an excuse for what can essentially be a really great party with a bunch of people you’ve never met,” writes Venugopal.

In the economy 2.0, hosting dinner parties is also a way for people to augment their incomes, Venugopal reports. The website Side Tour says some of its hosts “make anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 a year, and in the fall the company was bought by Groupon.” There are worse ways to make a living.

So, the next time your local restaurants seem a little less than appetizing, remember that your neighbors may just be serving the best meal in town that night.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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Image: EatWith