I have found that when you dine at a restaurant, you can save money by following these simple tips:
Expensive restaurant you're dying to try? Have lunch or dessert there instead of dinner. The lunch menu is most likely the same as the dinner menu and the prices are usually much less at lunch time. Dessert is a great way to eat at a posh place, too! You get the experience and atmosphere for much less than the cost of lunch or dinner.
Even if not listed on the menu, ask your server if half-portions are available. These are usually at a reduced price and are sufficient portions of food.
Check the local freebie newspapers and visitor centers for restaurant coupons or deals. You'd be amazed at how much money this can save!
If there is a culinary arts school in your area, chances are they serve meals to the public. Here in Portland, Oregon, we have Western Culinary Institute (affiliated with France's Le Cordon Bleu) and the Institute has two restaurants. One serves baked goods only and the other serves a five-course lunch for $14.95 and a five-course dinner for $24.95. The food is prepared by advanced culinary students, and the restaurant is staffed by advanced students in their restaurant management program. It's a great opportunity to not only have gourmet meals at a fraction of what you would pay in a fancy restaurant, but also you are helping these students accomplish their career goals.
Drinking iced water with a slice of lemon or lime in it can be less expensive than ordering a beverage (unless included) with your meal. It's usually free!
If you are near a local college or university, see if they have dining facilities open to the public. Most do. The food is usually decent and in some cases fancy! The prices aren't as low as they were in days gone by, but you will probably save some money as opposed to dining at a restaurant.
Check the restaurant's daily specials. These can be real money-savers.
Don't be afraid to eat half of what is on your plate and ask your server for a "doggie bag." This way you are getting two meals for the price of one!
If you use these tips, you can save some money when dining out! I do! Happy Dining.
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