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Q: Saving money at restaurants ( No Answer,   6 Comments )
Subject: Saving money at restaurants
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Restaurants and City Guides
Asked by: ralphs-ga
List Price: $3.00
Posted: 21 Jul 2004 03:45 PDT
Expires: 20 Aug 2004 03:45 PDT
Question ID: 377060
Is there a socially acceptable way to save money at an expensive (and
even mid-level) restaurants? For example, the menu might only list
items above say $15 or even only above $6. Eating just the bread
doesn't count, and I've seen menus where the appetizers start from $8
(TGI Friday's comes to mind).

Perhaps there's some secret way. I just want to have a good time with
friends, so simply not eating is not really an option, because it
seems to out of place.

Thanks! This question is somewhat open-ended and so I encourage
creative answers...but I'll only accept something with practical

Clarification of Question by ralphs-ga on 21 Jul 2004 11:56 PDT
I should clarify my question. The situation I'm referring to has side
dishes that are expensive enough on their own (i.e. $9). In addition,
I do not drink alcohol at restaurants. Like I stated in the question,
"eating just the bread doesn't count." In addition I am looking for
individual portions because sharing a meal may not be appropriate in a
business-like setting.

I guess I am looking for some kind of unusual requests that are NOT
included on the menu, i.e. asking the chef to make you a peanut butter
and jelly sandwich. But more classy, ideally :)

I liked djweiss's list-format comment (easy to read, to the point) and
the specific recommendations by daytrader76.

Here's hoping for an answer!
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Saving money at restaurants
From: probonopublico-ga on 21 Jul 2004 04:05 PDT
Is there a back door to the restaurant?
Subject: Re: Saving money at restaurants
From: idav-ga on 21 Jul 2004 05:02 PDT
guess that the anwser will cost you more than the few cents you would
save using the answer :)

but who knows ? I live in france, and I can give you few rulls to keep
in mind in order to save a max of money in a french restaurant...

1- Never ask for mineral water, but for a "carafe d'eau" (free)
2- Ask as much bread as you can (also free)
3- Allways refuse the "apéritif" (sometimes quite expensive for what it is)
4- Prefer order by "menu" (cheaper than "à la carte")
5- Go in "Alsace" or "Bretagne" where restaurant often propose
unlimited formules (means you can eat for, let say $15, as much as you

These rulls will help you to save money if you go to France, but
remember that american's restaurant got very atractive solutions
too... For example, in most restaurants, drinks when you paid once are

good luck
Subject: Re: Saving money at restaurants
From: djweiss-ga on 21 Jul 2004 09:26 PDT
The most expensive items at any resturant are:

1.  Drinks
2.  Dessert
3.  Entree

To save money:

1.  Either stick to water and non-spirited drinks.  IF you must, buy a
bottle of wine for the table to share (the house wine never killed
anyone) and split the cost with your friends.

2.  Don't eat dessert, instead sip your water while your friends eat
theirs.  If you're on a date, suggest an after dinner walk to let your
food settle and stop someplace less expensive for ice cream or coffee.

3.  Often it is just as tasty and less expensive to order 2 sides
instead of the entree.  This way you taste more different things and
still have plenty to eat.

Aside from changing what you eat there are other ways to save money.

A) Ask if ther is a Prix Fix menu
B) Early or Late seating: some resturants will discount your meal if
you eat before their dinner rush or afterwards.  Of course you may be
rushed out the door and may find that certain items on the menu are
not available.
C) If you're in the US, over-tip.  This goes to the waiter's pocket
and they are likely to "forget" to charge you for an item or give
dessert "on the house".  Of course this only works if you also:
D) Find a resturant you like, and frequent it.  You will find the
waiter or waitress will get to know you and cut a some slack on the
bill from time to time.

Good luck
Subject: excellent comment, pro bono
From: daytrader76-ga on 21 Jul 2004 10:21 PDT
"Often it is just as tasty and less expensive to order 2 sides
instead of the entree.  This way you taste more different things and
still have plenty to eat."

You beat me to this tip!  As a vegetarian, I am always doing this, and
it is much cheaper.  I can't offer many carnivore tips, but here are
some things I eat:

Mexican Rest. - side dishes of mexican rice, tortillas, combined with
the free chips and salsa, and sometimes a cheese dip.

Chinese - lunch buffets are usually cheaper, vegetable dishes off the
menu are usually cheap as well

American Hamburger Joint - Bennigan's, tgi's, Chile's - split a burger
with someone, fries as a side item are relatively cheap

Red Lobster - side salad and baked potato, and fill up on the garlic
cheese rolls.  I have not checked current prices, but ten years ago, a
side salad was $1.35.  Salad, rolls, baked potato, and water for 2
came to about four dollars.  It was a high school date that even I
could afford.  Sometimes the cashier would walk back to the kitchen to
make sure that there was no error on our bill.
Subject: Re: Saving money at restaurants
From: pinkfreud-ga on 21 Jul 2004 10:23 PDT
Many restaurants these days serve huge portions, much more than a
person really needs. My husband and I sometimes order just a single
entree, and we split it between the two of us.
Subject: Re: Saving money at restaurants
From: omnivorous-ga on 21 Jul 2004 11:24 PDT
Ralphs --

A few suggestions:
*  attend Happy Hour, when appetizers are often at a reduced price. 
As several people have noted, appetizers can often constitute a meal. 
After all, that's the principal behind tapas!
*  check the daily specials for lower-cost 'prix fixe' meals.
*  avoid alchohol.
*  the popular carryout tactic of having a "frequent customer" card is
used by some restaurants.
*  in the U.S. it's also common to find restaurant discount coupons,
particularly in entertainment books sold by non-profit organizations.
*  lunch at most restaurants offers a much cheaper set of alternatives than dinner.
*  early bird meals are often priced to attract economy-minded diners.
*  know what's in-season and likely to be priced attractively.
*  take advantage of carryout opportunities.
*  find restaurants that allow you to bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB).
*  check out startup restaurants: they often price attractively to
draw a steady clientele.
*  go late: perhaps stopping in for dessert/coffee.
*  find ways to integrate a meal into business/work so that you or
others are expensing the meal.
*  servings too large? Take advantage of the doggy bag -- it may save
the cost of tomorrow's lunch or dinner.

Now I'm hungry!

Best regards,


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