How to Save on Dining at a Restaurant
Get savvy about menu tricks. How you navigate the menu can affect the amount you spend. For example, if the restaurant doesn’t print dollar signs with the prices (think 15 instead of $15), imagine that they are there. Otherwise, you will tend to spend 8 percent more per person, according to a recent study by the Culinary Institute of America and the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. And think twice about selections printed on a menu’s top right-hand corner. Your eye goes there first, “so that’s where many eateries list their most expensive plates,” says Gregg Rapp, a menu consultant based in Palm Springs, California.
Doggie-bag your vino. You get the best deal when you order wine by the bottle. But what if you don’t finish the Chianti? No problem. All 50 states now have laws allowing you to take it with you. Check with the restaurant to find out how to package it and transport it home.
Buy a gift certificate. Go to Restaurant.com to purchase one that’s redeemable for $25 but costs you just $10.
Make a reservation. Even if you never wait for a table at your favorite haunt, use the no-cost booking service Opentable.com. You’ll earn points toward dining cheques—gift certificates you can redeem at any of the site’s 13,000 partners.