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How To Save Money At Expensive Restaurants

By Chris Bibey

eat at expensive expensive restaurants for lessDo you often avoid the nicest restaurants in your area because the amount of money it costs for a family of four or a dinner for two is just out of your price range? Although these restaurants may cost more, there are many ways that you can frequent them without breaking your budget. There’s nothing like a great dining experience to celebrate an event or to relax with your significant other. Here are several tips for saving money while dining at a more expensive restaurant:

1. Go for lunch instead of dinner. Many restaurants, regardless of how much they charge, offer lower priced meals earlier in the day. In most cases, if you eat before 3 or 4pm, you are going to save a lot of money. This may not be the ideal time frame for you, but in the long run, it will save you a lot of money.

2. Order the special. Is there a special on the menu that allows you to get everything you want at a lower price? Just because prices are high doesn’t mean that specials don’t exist. You may be surprised to find that many expensive restaurants offer a variety of specials. If you don’t see them on the menu, feel free to ask the waiter, you may be surprised at your options.

3. Search for coupons. Believe it or not, restaurants of all types offer coupons. You can find these online, in your local newspaper, or on the restaurant’s website. Sometimes you will find what you are looking for; other times you won’t. But at the very least, you should snoop around. Any coupon is better than none at all. Always check Restaurant.com, because they often have gift cards for some of the nicer restaurants, and you can get $25 gift cards for $2 when they are running an 80% off sale. These gift cards come with limitations, but they are often reasonable enough to follow if you’re there to eat full meals.

4. Skip the extras such as appetizers, dessert, and alcoholic beverages. Again, this may not be exactly what you want to do, but it can shave quite a bit of money off your bill. Take, for instance, a dinner for two. If you and your partner order one appetizer, one dessert, and two glasses of wine, your bill is sure to be an extra $40 to $60 or more depending on your choices and the corresponding price.

5. Ask for discounts. For many, this is a difficult thing to do. After all, it takes a lot of guts to ask your waiter for money off your bill. But, it can pay off quite a bit. For example, some restaurants offer a senior citizen discount. But guess what? You may never know about this unless you ask.

Don’t avoid particular restaurants just because you think they are too expensive. Instead, implement the five tips above to save money.

Do you have any other good tips?

(photo credit: jetalone)

Chris Bibey
Chris Bibey is a freelance writer who over the years has honed his personal finance experience by writing more than 100 feature articles on the subject. In his spare time, Chris enjoys sports - West Virginia football in particular!

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  • Em D.

    I love going to fancy restaurants every now and then. I usually look for prix fixe specials (but compare prices, sometimes they don’t save much), especially prix fixe lunch specials. Restaurant weeks can be another great deal, especially in big cities.

  • http://madsaver.com Mac

    We’re all about coupons, so if there’s a deal for a really nice restaurant, and we have a babysitter lined up (not often), we’ll try ’em out. Restaurant.com is good, Groupon sometimes has excellent deals, and halfoffdeals.com also has coupons for fine dining.

  • Elizabeth I

    If the restaurant has a bar, sometimes the food at the bar is much cheaper than sitting down.

  • Gina

    Also, depending on your field of business, there can be conferences or meetings at fine dining establishments. You may eat well (and likely for free) and learn something at the same time!

  • Elizabeth I

    Also, many nice restaurants also have carryout. You will save on the tip and the bottle of wine you have at home will be a fraction of the price.

  • http://www.jgwentworth.com/Structured-Settlement/Sell-Structured-Settlement.aspx James

    i like the lunch angle personally. unless you are trying to impress relatives or a special someone, go for lunch. there will probably be less people and the food is just as good.

    or you can find out if and what the corkage fee is and take a bottle of wine to enjoy with your dinner that’s a personal trick that can impress even people who like to throw cash around.

  • Winston

    For the last tip, pretty much the only times most people ask for discounts are when there are elders and kids present. I guess, if you have the guts, you can ask if there is discount for paying with cash. Some family-owned restaurants will offer that discount if you ask for it and if the boss is present.

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  • http://www.usadvantageplans.com Brady

    A great way that I’ve found to save on restaurants, even expensive ones, is using usadvantageplans.com! They offer $25 dining certificates for only $7.50 and there’s lots of other great deals and discounts too! All you need is the promo code 0207 to get started!

  • http://www.coralseamercantile.com.au Coral Mercintile

    Nice tips. I save a lot of money with food and drink specials!

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