Travel News March 11, 2018
9 Ways To Get The Best And Tastiest Meals When Dining Out On A Budget
You’ve undoubtedly heard the adage, “The best choice at a restaurant is what they want you to have.” In terms of specialties of the house, that may be true, but not so much when price is important. If you’re splurging on a special night out, it’s true that signature dishes are often consistently the best prepared and sought-after by regulars. However, there are smart ways to keep more dollars in your pocket. Here are 9 dining strategies you need to understand to get the best and tastiest meals when dining out while staying on budget:
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1. Be mindful of marketing madness.
You know the drill. You have reservations, but are directed to the bar area first while your table is being readied. Or so they say. It's a common tactic that is used to get diners to purchase a drink, and perhaps even an appetizer, while waiting., Cocktails are high-profit margins and an easy way for restaurants to earn some extra dough. While it's easier than it sounds, avoid ordering a cocktail before you are seated. You may also find you are seated more quickly if you don't order pricey bar snacks or alcohol first.
2. Understand menu design tactics.
Restaurateurs are clever when it comes to menu design. More profitable items, which aren't necessarily the tastiest choices by the way, are often prominently featured. Some clever marketeers add borders, shading, and large print with descriptive words about how tantalizing the item is. You can save money by carefully perusing the menu at looking at ALL the choices, even ones featured in smaller type. Many delicious, but less profitable entrees are less costly and may involve more food prep time. As a result, they may sometimes hard to spot on the menu.
3. Be wary of suggestive selling and server recommendations.
While servers are all-to-happy to make dining suggestions, most are none-to-willing to recommend the less expensive entrees. Staff may also suggestively sell appetizers and even samples of items that look tantalizing, and as a result, are often snatched up by hungry diners. While portions may be smaller, the prices add up, and you may end up spending more than you planned. Some restaurants even offer incentives to wait staff for selling these promo items.
4. Specialties of the house usually come with higher prices ... and higher profits.
Specials of the day or a chef's secret recipe can be the culinary creation you simply feel you must try. Just know it usually comes with a specialty price tag as well. Often, a comparable entree is available for less money. It may not have the same sides or something isn't quite as elaborate, but it could be equally as tasty. And, if chef's special is offered, be sure to ask about the price. At pricier restaurants, the cost isn't always mentioned directly, and often diners feel awkward about asking and choose to order it anyway.
5. There's a reason restaurants don't use the dollar sign on menus.
Studies have shown that leaving off the "$" sign in front of the cost makes it more agreeable to diners when deciding on how much to spend. Apparently, seeing the dollar sign is a flag to those on a budget, but numbers only makes the cost seem more palatable. Be aware and think about cost, whether or not the menu has that visual cue.
6. Table talkers (flip cards and stands) promote higher-profit items.
Many restaurants now have a secondary menu, often called "table talkers" on the table to encourage sales. They are highlighted items that are branded to make the purchase of something on it more special. But don't be fooled. These special promos are definitely not the least expensive items on the menu.
7. Extras or add-ons quickly rack-up the bill.
Special sauces, an alternate preparation, or even a special side of sautéed mushrooms can quickly turn an affordable choice into one that has topped your planned expense. Some entrees may come with a boring side with the promise you can easily switch to a premium one for a few dollars more. Another tactic is suggesting a "shared side" to go with the sides you already will have. Once the food comes and you see that it is more than your party can possibly eat, it's too late. Just practice saying no.
8. Pairings may be easy to order, but aren't easy on the wallet.
Pairings are suggested to make diners feel they will have the ultimate foodie experience if they pair their wine with their choice entrée. In reality, however, it's more money and insignificant in terms of taste and fulfillment if you had just stuck with the wine you typically choose. Carefully consider the pairing offer before you accept.
9. Tempting desserts may not even be made by the restaurant.
Desserts are a huge money-maker for most restaurants, especially since many of the items aren't even created there. Many of the sweet temptations arrive frozen or are ordered elsewhere, with personal touches then added. That's not to say the desserts aren't delicious, but at the hefty price tag, you might consider picking up the same or similar selection from a local bakery or your grocery store and treat yourself at a fraction of the cost.
What other strategies have you used to talk yourself out of unneeded food or drink purchases when dining out? Do calories come into play when making an ordering decision? We’d love to hear comments about ways you’ve resisted the temptation to order seemingly everything on the menu and avoid morning-after spending regret.
If you’re up for an adventure and seeking large food portions where nothing on the menu is over $13, head over to this
best new restaurant in America!