Every once in a while, it’s fun to dine out on the town, but if you don’t watch your budget, things can get expensive. Restaurants are amazing for their food, ambiance and for their overall experience. For when you don’t feel like cooking or cleaning, we have put together a list of our top 13 restaurant hacks that will save you time, money and get you the biggest bang for your buck.
1. Look for discounts and rebates
Obviously, this tops our list! There are many websites out there to discover cheap deals. Sign up for their email list and you’ll receive coupons, birthday discounts, and promo offers. It’s a little inconvenient, but it works! Tip: Funnel the emails into one category so you don’t have to sort them every day. You might want to checkout Groupon, which has many discounts for restaurant meals.
John, a server from Los Angeles said, “Many clients will come in with $100 gift cards that they got from Gilt, Living Social, Pulsd or even Yelp. Sometimes they got the gift cards at a 50% discount. Now that is quite the savings.”
2. Use the Fetch App.
Scan your receipts or Fetch your ereceipts when you buy items at the grocery store, online, or dine at any restaurants with the Fetch app. You will be easily rewarded points to earn free gift cards which can be used at your favorite restaurants, stores and travel destinations.
3. SAY NO to Major Holidays!
Eating out on a holiday is like a death sentence. First of all, the prices are sky high, the restaurants can be loud and crowded, and it’s even tough to get a reservation. For any holiday, it’s much easier to stay home and cuddle with someone special. There’s nothing worse than a loud restaurant.
4. Sit at the bar.
Did you know that most restaurants will serve a full menu at the bar? Anthony Bourdain said that if you sit at the bar, you will get the best service and most likely you don’t even need to make a reservation (hence, No Reservations). The reason why you get the best service is because the bartender is literally right in front of you most of the time. If you’re on a date, you are much closer to the person you are sitting next to. If you are by yourself, you can chat to the people next to you.
One of my favorite “sit at the bar” experiences was a meal at Le’ Atelier in New York. The manager told me that he sat me there because it was literally the best seat in the house (the corner of the bar). I feasted on a 24-course tasting with wine pairings and the service was absolutely impeccable.
5. How to order a Mimosa:
A mimosa is orange juice mixed with Champagne or Prosecco. If you are brunching, you will probably want the most champagne for your buck, so what I do is request to have the orange juice on the side. They will bring you a glass of Champagne and a glass of orange juice, and you can do the mixing. Cheers!
6. Share a meal, share the bill.
It’s ideal to dine with friends or family so that you may share the bill while still enjoying generous portions. Restaurants always have these package meals available, so take advantage of the opportunity and you will undoubtedly love the smorgasbord. When you share everything, you’ll get to taste a little of this and a little of that. If you go to your favorite restaurant with a large group of people, you can probably have everything on the menu.
7. Check for BYOB Restaurants.
If you arrive with a group of pals, everyone will order a couple of drinks, which can result in an outrageous bill. There are restaurants that have a “Bring Your Own Beverage” offer. Less markup, more yum! Who likes paying $15 for a cocktail? Nobody, of course.
8. Be that “Loyal Guest.”
It’s obvious that if you go to the same restaurant all the time, they’ll notice. You’ll eventually be on their guest list, with great perks every time you dine in! On rare occasions, you may also be eligible for a complimentary meal. Pro tip: Be kind to the staff, especially the manager. Talk and engage with them…they will definitely hook you up with the best service and dining options.
9. Skip the appetizer or dessert.
Either way, it’s a big save. Request free bread or chips, then proceed to the main course. You may satisfy your sweet cravings elsewhere. You could save that $25 and spend it on other scrumptious dishes on the menu.
10. Don’t overspend. Always make a budget.
Even if you want to order the entire menu, you must constantly keep your budget in mind. It’s still better to be secure for the rest of the year than to go broke because of a fancy lunch that will just be shared on Instagram to catch everyone’s attention. Just keep it real.
11. Order only dessert.
It’s fun going to a fancy restaurant to experience the ambiance, but you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars. Well, there’s a hack for that. Many of the best Michelin Star restaurants in New York will let you dine there and only order dessert. So if you have a sweet tooth, this is ideal because you can have a taste of Michelin Star cuisine and only spend about $15 to $20 a person.
12. Eat a Snack.
A manager at a New York restaurant told me “A lot of times people will come in for dinner with an empty stomach and fill up on a lot of bread, or order a bunch of things on the menu. If you’re trying to save money, it makes sense to eat a little snack before you come in to eat.”
By eating a little before you arrive, your hangry monster in your stomach will not control you and you can order just enough while still staying satiated. You can use your money for an entree and skip the appetizer. That’s $15 to $20 saved right there.
Lunch is great, especially if you’re not a big eater. Now, if we match it with our dinner, it’s definitely a great bargain! Dine in the mid-afternoon around 3 – 4 p.m, and you’ll be half full till the evening. A small snack late at night might quell your appetite. After all, you wouldn’t want to sleep with an upset belly. If you are doing intermittent fasting, this can help with weight loss and cleaning out your system.
Ordering a lunch dish for dinner will surely save you some bucks.
The next time you are dining out, please take these restaurant hacks into consideration. We want to make sure you get the best experience possible and save the most amount of money. Don’t forget to snap your receipts with the Fetch App and you will rack up those points to redeem for more rewards. Do you have any restaurant hacks you’d like to share? Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Christopher Lee is an award winning photographer and journalist based in Los Angeles and New York. David’s work has been published in major magazines such as GQ, Vogue, Instyle, People, Teen, Men’s Health, Departures & many more.
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