Twelve ways to save money at restaurants
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You can get a discount at just about any restaurant
simply by sharing a dish with the person you are with. This
includes very expensive restaurants. Don't be embarrassed, just
say you can't eat an entire dinner yourself. Portions are
generally too large anyway. (A few places may charge a token fee
for splitting a meal, but most don't.) A helpful waiter will bring
a separate dish for your companion and make sure that both of you
have plenty of bread. Leave a generous tip.
Before ordering ask about "specials" not on the menu.
These are often very fresh and good bargains. Many restaurants
have regular specials each day of the week. Generally Monday
through Thursday are the best deals.
Children and seniors may be entitled to discounts. Some
restaurants offer special prices on a regular basis or on certain
nights. Also a menu might have a separate section with
inexpensive meals for children and seniors.
Watch for "early bird specials." Some restaurants charge
less if you come early in the evening, generally 4PM-6PM.
Avoid buying several separate items (a la carte).
Normally combination meals are less expensive even at fast food
Look for coupons, especially "two for one" offers. For
example, always check area magazines, the kind that are passed
out to visitors. These publications often have hefty discounts for
newcomers and are frequently overlooked by locals. You may even
find coupons in the yellow pages of the phone book. Unlike other
promotions, meal coupons may be good for as many as four people.
Check your local visitor's bureau. They may have special
offers for tourists that locals can also benefit from but usually
Some places sell books of coupons that are good for a
year at numerous area restaurants. Thumb through the book before
buying. It's not a good purchase if you don't like the restaurants
or the kinds of deals they offer.
If you eat out often, consider joining a club. There are
several national services that may offer 25% off on selected
restaurants. Generally you will have to pay a yearly membership
Drink water and save a dollar or two per person. Most
waiters will put in a twist of lemon for free. Restaurants can
make a huge profit on beverages.
Lunch often costs much less than dinner. The same meal
can cost 50% or more at night. This was my father's favorite
trick. He liked to take me out for a "business man's special" at
Check out a new restaurant.
Restaurants are very competitive. In order to survive and
become established a new restaurant must have good service, good
food, great prices and specials.
Generally a new restaurant will bend over backwards to please
you. Look for introductory offers.
If you are planning a special event, a new restaurant will
often be very attentive to your needs at a good price. When my
wife and I were married, we convinced a new restaurant to let us
have a wedding dinner there. The cost was reasonable, the food and
service were excellent.