Dining out can be pretty intense these days. There are so many new and exciting places to try,  that you really want to make the most out of every dining experience you have. Dining out these days can also be costly. With the average dinner for 2 people costing upwards of $150, there is very limited room for a bad meal. In my time as a restaurant professional whether I’m working in one or dining out in one, I’ve discovered some tips and tricks along the way. There are ways to maneuver and have a great meal on a slightly lower tab so below, I share my 7 tips on how to make the most out of dining in 2019 and beyond. . 

Order One of Many - If you’re like me, you like to try a lot of dishes on a menu, especially when your dining at a new place. Through out my time as a restaurant industry employee and also an avid diner, over the years I’ve learned that the best way to enjoy more dishes on a menu for less is to order 1 of several dishes and share them across the table. Your bill is pretty much cut in half this way and you get to really experience the full menu. Make sure you do this for dessert too. 

Buy The Bottle or The Pitcher - The average cocktail is priced around $16 now and the average glass of wine starts at about $12. If you’re out dining and order 2 or more beverages per person, the costs can add up just on beverages alone. Purchasing a bottle of wine or a pitcher of cocktails and splitting the bill amongst the table, gets you a little more pour per glass without the large tab. 

Theater Menus Are A Thing - Theater menus are a little secret for a great meal at a lower price. They are smaller menus made to get you in and out of the restaurant and into your theater seat in no time. Typically in prix fixe menu format, you do not need to actually head to the theater to dine on one but just ask the server for the theater menu when you arrive. ( A theater menu will normally be brought to the table with the regular dinner menu if they have one) The portions are regular sized and it’s the exact same food from the a la carte menu.

** I like theater menus when you want to dine at 2 restaurants in the same day.

Dine Out For Restaurant Week - I’m a tried and true fan of restaurant week, as I think it’s a great dining deal to take advantage of, especially if you have a running list of restaurants you’ve been wanting to try. The average restaurant week menu is a prix fixe and has 3-6 options to choose from. A lot of the participating restaurants add in additional supplements and wine pairings to the meal as well,  so you get a little more bang for your buck. Some restaurants do a restaurant week menu for brunch as well, so if you are out for the weekend, head in and take advantage.

Try Non-Tipping Restaurants - The restaurant industry has been rolling out non-tipping policies over the last couple years. It works for some and hasn’t worked for many but the places that it does work for have been thriving. A non-tipping restaurant is just that, you don't have to add a tip at the end of your meal. The tip has been evenly distributed through out the menu in the form of slighter higher menu prices. This allows for all restaurant employees to make a living wage. I love non-tipping restaurants because you just sign your bill and go. No more no less. I have found that the bill at non-tipping restaurants is slightly lower, since you are now not adding additional money to the bill.


Eat The Whole Menu Options  - A new dining trend over the last couple of years has been restaurants offering their entire menu as an option to diners. With this option, you’re experiencing every dish on the entire menu from start to finish, which is fantastic for dining out in a group. There’s typically one set price and if it’s divided evenly, you wind up spending slightly less than ordering a la carte. 

Go To Lunch - Lunch is like the redheaded stepchild of the restaurant industry. Depending on the restaurant, the lunch scene can be a bit slower but in actuality it’s a perfect time to go and enjoy a meal in a fabulous restaurant for a lower price. Lunch menus often times have majority of the same items they serve for dinner, but for less and some places even serve the exact same menu for both meal periods. So if you can’t get in for dinner, you can dine for lunch. It’s also a plus that lunch generally tends to come with a cheaper tab.