Cutting Costs When Dining Out (and It Includes Wine!)

14 Aug

I do believe that one of the easiest ways to save money is to not dine out, but as I said before, I also try not to deprive myself.  Everyone has to enjoy life sometimes.  I try to limit myself to eating out once a week.  And it is difficult, because more often than not, socializing seems to revolve around food.  But when I do, I do my best not to pay full price.  This is how my friends and I cut corners when we went out for dinner last week.

There is a free service called Blackboard Eats that has 30% off deals in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and San Francisco.  Subscribing is free, and if they list a deal for a restaurant that you want to frequent, you sign up for a unique passcode that you give to your server and usually have about 2 months to use.  Couldn’t be simpler.  I’m sure they get some kind of commission from the restaurant.  Last year, they tried charging $1 per passcode, many frugal people like me just stopped signing up for them, and they quickly went back to their free system.

I had a BBE 30% passcode for a Mexican place I’d been wanting to try called Tinga.  This was the damage for 3 people:

Bill before discount (includes tax):  $42.68
Bill after 30% discount:  $29.87

Additionally, Tinga does not serve alcohol, so they are perfectly fine with letting you bring your own bottle of wine and don’t charge a corkage fee.  I brought a bottle of red blend (sale price $7.52) that I had from the BevMo 5-cent wine sale.  I’ve never really kept track, but they seriously seem to have this sale for 6 months out of the year.  Even if corkage is $10-15, it’s still worth it to bring your own wine instead of buying the restaurant’s.

Tip was a gray area since it was a restaurant where you ordered at the counter and then the staff ran the food out to you.  They let us use their corkscrew, brought us extra sauces, and were very friendly in general.  We tipped $7, which was 16.5% of the pre-discounted bill.

So it came out to $14.80 per person.  I’m fine with the cost since 1) we each got 2 glasses of wine for essentially $1.25 per glass, and 2) none of us had to deal with grocery shopping, cooking or clean-up. (Incidentally, I don’t have a dishwasher and I HATE clean-up.)

Last thing:  parking was free.  Tinga is on a street where parking meters are not regulated after 7pm.  Some may laugh, but this is a factor in La-La Land.  I know I’m not the only person who has avoided a congested place like West Hollywood or downtown because they didn’t want to pay $10-20 for parking.

And that’s how my friends and I roll when we want to eat out.

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2 Responses to “Cutting Costs When Dining Out (and It Includes Wine!)”

  1. addvodka August 16, 2012 at 7:59 AM #

    I’m jealous. In Canada, our alcohol is much more expensive in general than that of the states and we don’t really have much opportunity to save on it.

    • Frugal Flip August 16, 2012 at 2:14 PM #

      Really? Does that apply to both restaurants and liquor stores? We definitely have our share of restaurants with over-priced drinks ($12-15), but I’ll either do what I did above, or go during happy hours or frequent more inexpensive places.

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