How to Save Money Eating Out

As the cost of eating out continues to rise, diners are looking for ways to get cheap eats at their favorite restaurants. Look no further than the happy hours at the restaurant bar. No longer the smoky bastion for beer swillin’ and drunken songs while leaning on the bar for support (think western movie saloon scenes), restaurant bars have really upped their game! HowdyCredit: Homini:): granite countertops and leather (or faux) swivel chairs, comfy booths and high top tables with seating for four. Restaurant bars are now a destination. Whether it’s cheap eats, cheap drinks or enjoying a different type of restaurant scene, think about the restaurant bar for your next meal. You can definitely have fun and save money too.

“A restaurant bar as a destination,” you ask. Yes. It might sound strange, but after discovering that I could dine well on a budget at the restaurant bar, I was soon dragging my husband there instead of the main dining area. Here are four great reasons to eat at the restaurant bar and tips for how to save money and get cheap eats by doing so.

You Never Have to Wait for a Table

Sometimes the savings is not in actual dollars, but in time saved by not waiting. When eating at the bar you can usually walk right in, seat yourself and enjoy your cheap eats. The happy hours at the bar are an especially great option if the main dining area is also busy. Simply bypass the line when others have to wait for twenty, thirty minutes or more. While they are looking grumpy, you’re already seated and placing an order. Even if the bar is just as busy, and there aren’t any seats, chances are something will open up more quickly than if you are waiting for your name to be called (or that buzzing device to go off).

You Really Can Relax and Have Fun at the Restaurant Bar

Again, with the restaurant bar layouts including comfy booths, tables and chairs, enjoying your meal during happy hours at the restaurant bar is just as comfortable as eating in the main dining area. Restaurant bars each have their own ambiance. Sometimes they feel supper clubby, or are quiet and good for an intimate dinner with friends or a romantic night out, and sometimes they are rocking and rolling with laughter and noise. I often see families with children in the restaurant bar area and it is totally appropriate because of the way it is designed. There is something for everyone.

Cheap Eats and Drinks!

This is one of my top recommendations for how to save money eating out. More and more seasons 52 goat cheese & artichoke heart flatbreadCredit: GoodiesFirst: are offering happy hour menus and drinks to lure budget minded diners. You can usually score reduced priced drinks and food such as half-price appetizers or slightly smaller versions of restaurant favorites. Many restaurant bars also have all-day bar menus with reduced priced options. Have tapas and drinks at the restaurant bar, and make a meal of it for $20! Who says dining on a budget can’t be fun?

Want something off of the regular menu? You can do that too at the bar! Many times there are bar drink specials that are cheaper than if you order in the main area. Have your discount drinks while ordering food off of the regular menu and you still save money! Make the deal even sweeter by using that restaurant coupon or loyalty reward at the bar. Now that’s a way to get cheap eats! If you prefer to eat in the main dining area but don’t want to pay the drink prices, go to the bar during happy hour, purchase your discounted drink and take it to the table with you!

Free Entertainment

2006 September - Chef de parti - ShootCredit: jenschapter3: I began patronizing restaurant bars, I never keyed in on the potential entertainment value available. From flat screen TVs tuned to the latest sports to piano players tinkling the keys with songs which bring on nostalgia and make me hum along, it is something that I have come to enjoy.

Try your restaurant bar during happy hour. Ask (if it is not brought automatically) for some of the complementary warm bread and butter or olive oil dip to make it feel like more of a main dining area experience if you want. Get in quick. Seat yourself. Enjoy some cheap eats. It’s your world. Everyone else is just waiting for a table!

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