I like dining out just as much as the next person, and I love a good deal, however, when it comes to dining out on a dime, there are a few deals that restaurants give you that are too good to be true. Many of them, in fact, can leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. Take a moment to learn from my dining out mistakes.
Deal #1: The Daily Deal, the Groupon and the Special Offer
They always sound great, and as an avid user of Groupon and Amazon Local, I found myself buying into several restaurant specials that weren’t so special after all. It’s important to take the time to read the fine print on these so that you don’t wind up with an empty tummy and an empty wallet. Many of these daily deals come with a full plate of restrictions. They can only be used on certain days, specific times and the majority come with a fast-approaching time limit. If you want to make the most of these, read the fine print before you buy.
Deal #2: There Is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch
Many restaurants know they can get you in the door if they offer you a free meal. Trouble is, that meal is usually less than free. Free entrée offers or buy one get one offers, don’t account for tips, drinks or even how much you have to spend on the first entrée (yes, many eateries add in this stipulation as well). Oftentimes, you end up spending just as much on one entrée as you would have spent if you dined out on your normal budget.
Deal #3: Holiday Meal Deals
There have been times I didn’t want to put forth the effort into making a full-scale New Year’s Eve dinner or Easter feast. On these occasions, my family opted to eat out. Many restaurants will publish holiday dining deals, but most leave off one very important item from their menus: the price. Increased vendor prices are passed on to the consumer for holiday fare. I learned this one the hard way.
Deal #4: The Daily Special
Just like holiday meals, daily specials are usually advertised without the price. This is because they are typically the highest ticket price item on the menu for the day. However, the restaurant hopes that if the server makes it sound appetizing enough, price won’t be an object. If you are on a budget, make sure to ask the cost of any special being served up before you place your order.
Deal #5: The Happy Hour Myth
It’s no secret that restaurants offer happy hours to patrons in the hopes that they will stay longer and sip on an up to 600 percent markup on beer, wine and liquor. To avoid this, find places that allow you bring your own bottle, or take note of happy hour pricing before you go, and don’t fall into the staying later trap. Spending $10 on a great bottle of wine is often a lot more palatable than spending the $40 that the restaurant will charge you.
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