How to Save Money at Restaurants with No Coupons

I love a good restaurant coupon. And many of the restaurants I enjoy offer coupons. But sometimes, there are restaurants that don't offer coupons, or happy hours, or well, anything off the cost of their regular menu. 

Of course, these are usually quality restaurants. The ones you really want to try. If only the cost wasn't so high.

Last Saturday, we had a Foodie Day in Cleveland, Ohio. We (hubby, me, daughter and her hubby) went to those kinds of restaurants. The really good ones. The ones we have been wanting to try. And we wanted to try, well, everything!

So how did we do that without totally emptying the wallet?? I am going to tell you, straight up, that you are going to spend money. Think of it like a special day on the town.

We don't live in Cleveland so we wanted to hit up a bunch of restaurants. If you live there, even better, do one or two in a day and save more then we did. :) We ate to our fill and more and then took a bunch of leftovers home. (Yep, we hauled a huge doggie bag around. (Well, my son-in-law did!) 

We stuck to the East 4th Street area. Trendy, several movies shot there and yummy places everywhere!

We arrived early to East 4th St. As the evening got later, it was packed.

We arrived early to East 4th St. As the evening got later, it was packed.

Where did we go? Chef Michael Symon's new restaurant Mabel's BBQ, The Butcher and The Brewer, The Greenhouse Tavern and The Chocolate Bar. Incidentally, we were very excited about Michael Symon's restaurant as my hubby was part of the electrical crew that worked on his kitchen when he won Iron Chef! 

                                   If you don't want to hear about our restaurant experiences,
                                   then head to the bottom for savings tips. (I won't feel bad.
                                   In fact, I won't even know.)

Mabel's BBQ offers no specials that I saw on the website or the day we were there. BUT they have good prices. Sooo not a problem. Also, and here is where you can really save, they expect you to share - family style. So we each got what interested us and we got to taste everything! We started light here with Crispy Tails, Cracklin', Hot Greens and Banana Pudding. Everything was awesome. We are definitely going back to have a real meal there! These dishes had generous portions and ran $6-$7 each and we got to try all of them.

First stop, Mabel's BBQ

First stop, Mabel's BBQ

Alcohol was obtained. But we are not going to count that in our cost. Because if you are purchasing alcohol, then come on, you know you are going to be spending money. lol.

Our next stop was the Butcher and the Brewer, which offers local, seasonal dishes by Chef Jim Blevins.. Here we had Aged Beef Sliders, House-Smoked Corndogs, Shishito Peppers and a plate with a mixture of meats, cheeses, bread and toppings. Once again, everything was delicious! (Once again, we shared and got to try everything.) A little bit more here, we paid about $12 a person. This was also the start of our doggie bag. 

Butcher and The Brewer, first ones in.

Butcher and The Brewer, first ones in.

If we didn't live out of town, we would have stopped here and been completely satisfied. But we don't, so onward we went.

Greenhouse Tavern is what started the inspiration of the day. Chef Jonathon Sawyer offers a Roasted Pig's Head and we wanted to try it. It was delicious, of course! Now it doesn't have a lot of meat but what it does have is some of the best pork you will taste. If you like pork fat, then you will really be in for a treat. You can even eat the eyeball! It comes with veggies and buns too. 

We also tried the Fried Brussel Sprouts, Crispy Chicken Wings Confit, Country-fried Watermelon and No Name Frites. We split everything. All the dishes were awesome and I am glad I tried it but what I would get again were the chicken wings (which I normally don't even like) and the brussel sprouts. I really loved the Frites too! 

We laid down more money here but also took enough home for another meal. Especially since we were filling up. We spent about $25 a person here. However, at this restaurant alone we got enough for two dinners. When I go again, if hubby and I get our two faves, it will only be about $11 a piece. Also it should be noted that this restaurant does have a Happy Hour with some lower prices!

Last but certainly not least, The Chocolate Bar. If you love chocolate, like I do, this is the place for you. The Chocolate Bar does have a full menu, but we went for dessert. I have been there before on at least two other occasions when I ordered a full meal and enjoyed it. Tonight though it was the Triple Chocolate Fusion! At this restaurant, we spent about $7 a person. This restaurant does have a Special Offers tab on its website.

So there you go! This turned into a much longer post then I originally intended. But here are my tips for how to save money at restaurants with no coupons. 

1. Stick to Starters and Sides.
2. Share, so you can try a few different items.
3. Check out their Happy Hour or Lunch menu.
4. See if they have an e-newsletter you can sign up to. When they run any specials, you will be the first to know.
5. And I know this may be hard, but just get water to drink. Or have a separate drink budget. ;)

As always,
Have Some Fun, Save Some Money!
Alicia :)