Recession Pricing: Dine Out Bargains Can Be Found

I”m not sure if other cities do it, but from time to time (couldn’t find the general details online, just the ’09 specifics) LA restaurants join together and participate in DineLA’s Restaurant Week – which is actually typically two weeks.  Orange County also participates, but I don’t know the specifics.

During this time, many of the fancier or pricier restaurant, that you might otherwise be saving for a special occasion, offer up special three-course, fixed price menus. It’s a great deal and lots of fun.  Everyone that I know that has participated all loved that they got to try some place new, that they might not have otherwise tried, at a discounted rate.  The prices break down as follows for lunch and dinner:

Deluxe Dining:     $16    $26
Premier Dining:   $22   $34
Fine Dining:          $28   $44

This year is the first year that I’ve participated.  Interestingly enough, it’s also the first year that it was extended beyond just the allotted two weeks, so in fact, it’s also the first year that many of my friends have attended as well.  I went to Madeleine’s (Yelp) in Pasadena for a pre-movie, girls night out dinner and then I did a business lunch with a girlfriend at Pinot Bistro (Yelp) in Studio City (or is that Sherman Oaks over there?).

In both cases, I was eating at “premier dining” restaurants that I probably would not have otherwise visited.  In both cases, the meal was incredible and the service was great (I was afraid the waitstaff would look down on the lowly bargain diner, but so not the case).  They are both someplace I’d love to return to at some point with my husband.

Earlier this week, the LA Times put out an article on recession priced dine out deals.  While they weren’t quite focused on cheap dining (like the Stand’s Dollar Dog Specials or Mo’s Monday half-off the entire menu or Edison’s Soup Kitchen’s 35 cent special cocktails with free grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup)…they were indeed focused on some great bargains.

So while we’re all tightening out purse strings, it’s nice to know that there still are some good dining deals out there to be had.  When I first moved in with my now husband, we would almost exclusively dine out using the Entertainment Book coupons.  I have a friend that tends to frequent restaurants that allow for BYOB to save some money.  What works in your part of town – or the country?

But more importantly…What’s your secret to saving money when dining out?

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