There are the usual tips
- Look for early bird specials
- Use promotions, coupon books (but only if they have decent restaurants)
- Plan dining out on off nights when restaurants often have promotions instead of prime time on Friday and Saturday
- Take advantage of restaurant week promotions. Currently SF there is Dine About Town where there are three-course prix-fix lunches and dinners at special prices. You have to watch to make sure it is a deall, but I just had a $47 meal for $22 that was by a top area chef.
There was a good tip, I thought on some talk show. If you have children, instead of hiring a babysitter, get together with other parents and child-pool. Parents take turns of watching the kiddies instead of hiring a babysitter. It saves one cost on an evening out.
Every little bit helps, IMO. It doesn't cost anything to book on opentable and eventually you get back some dining dollars.
If you must eat out on Friday-Saturday, eat at lunch where many times the same dishes are a few bucks less.
I'm a little distressed by this discussion on the chain board where it seems people would rather eat at chains like the Olive Garden because they know what to expect and don't want to take a chance on a bad meal at an independent restaurant
This astounds me, especially since they are saying this on Chowhound and only have to ask on their home boards about what is good and bad. Why settle for mediocre, though it is reliable mediocre. IMO, it is better to eat out less frequently than squander the little money there is on a blah corporate meal.
Anyway that link is there to discuss the charms of chain dining. I hope this thread will be about strategies for eating out at restaurants that are not chains.
This seems like a good opportunity to explore those mom and pops and expand food horizons.
Also, IMO, don't stiff a good server to save a few bucks. If you have to cut the tip, don't eat out or eat out less frequently.
Anyway, any other tips for keeping costs down?