Through Meetup, I found The Salem Dine Out Group. (Meetup is a web site that helps you... well, meet up with those with whom you share an interest.) While little help is needed for me to 1)get out 2)eat OR 3)meet people--much less get out, eat and meet people, I'm forever curious as to how people are getting out, exploring, and finding one another here in The Greater Salem Metro Area. For some time I'd silently watched their monthly outings, with intentions to attend, but a schedule that just wouldn't co-operate.
In September I was able to join them at Caruso's Italian Cafe in Keizer. About a dozen people RSVP'd through Meetup, and 9 showed. (Much speculation occurred over the new group member who had signed up with a +1, but then didn't show and for some reason during the actual event left the group altogether. How rude! The other was a known member who had a last minute conflict, and was kind enough to share that with organizers.)
The group is welcoming and lively, with an amusing cast of characters, many of whom also participate in the Salem Beer and Wine Adventures group. The meetings are without pomp and circumstance and are simply social. Members are welcoming but won't press you for details. Wallflowers won't get called out on the carpet, but those who are outgoing can jump right into the fray. Once the wine starts flowing you know who runs the show, but it's all in good fun!
While there's talk about the food, the group is more about the socializing than it is about the food or the critique of it. The group's origins, if I have pieced this together correctly, were friends wanting to get some inspiration to try different places; the more the merrier when exploring.
So if you like people, and you like getting out, and need more of either or both of those things, then head on over to Meetup and connect with The Salem Dine Out Group. You can create an account on the Meetup site for free, and then search for meetups in your area (Salem, Corvallis, Portland, Timbuktu, etc.). You'll find all sorts of things; scuba divers, knitters, digital photographers, book clubs, spiritual groups, you name it. You can join meetups free of charge, see other members, participate in discussions, and see the events they organize and sign up all through Meetup's web site. (Disclosure: I have no stake in Meetup, but have found it a great site for finding groups of interest.)