–Just subscribe to the Richmond Bargains blog (or read my daily deals posts compiling them all every morning) to learn when there are restaurant bargains to be had.
–Referring others who sign up and purchase earns you credits you can use to purchase deals ($10 for Groupon, $5 for Living Social) Living Social will also give you your deal for free if you refer three friends who also buy
–If you like Groupon and Living Social, other local daily deal sites to check out include Virginia Living Deals and Go Richmond Deals.
RADIO “HALF OFF” SITES – Before Groupon came on the scene, local media outlets were partnering with businesses to offer certificates at 50% off. Usually there is a new deal or two added every week on a certain day. The biggest downside to these offers is that most charge a shipping fee of a couple of bucks.
RESTAURANT.COM – Restaurant.com sells $10 and $25 dining certificates to local restaurants at a discount.
–With these, make sure you read the fine print because all have minimum purchase restrictions and some can’t be applied on weekends, etc.
–Also, always ask at the start of the meal if the restaurant is accepting Restaurant.com certificates. They should be, because you were able to buy one, right? But I’ve heard of places that stop taking them and don’t or can’t get de-listed from Restaurant.com. Better to find out before you order.
–ALWAYS use a promo code to save even more – At the start of every month there should be codes for 50% off the “regular” discount price and towards the end of the month, look for 80% off. The handy dandy widget thingy above should list whatever the current code is.
–When the discount goes to 80% off (making most $25 dining certificates only $2!) but the restaurant you want is sold out for the month, purchase a “Restaurant.com certificate.” Then at the start of the next month when certificates are re-stocked, you can redeem that generic certificate for one from the place you want.
ENTERTAINMENT BOOK – If you have a significant other and you both enjoy meals out, chances are that you can save money with “buy one entree, get one free”Entertainment Book discounts (assuming you can remember to use them – I try to clip all the ones I know I want to use and carry them in my purse for easy review and access).
–Check out this post for a little more info about some dining coupons in the 2011 Richmond book.
–Retail price is $35, but you can get it for much less by waiting for a free shipping + sale promotion, then using a cash back site like Ebates.
–Rachel at Living Frugally has been attempting to use as many Richmond Entertainment Book coupons as possible in 2011.
UPROMISE.COM – If you don’t have kids, you’re probably not familiar with Upromise. If you do have kids, you probably just think it’s a college savings website. Either way, read my post on why everyone who eats out in Richmond should be registered with Upromise
BEST HAPPY HOURS: This intel can be tough to come by, as Virginia ABC law prohibits restaurants from advertising their happy hour offerings.
–Most establishments have some kind of weekday promotion, though, and can tell you details if you call to ask
–One place to look is Yelp (highlights Richmond reviews containing “happy hour”)
–If you use Twitter, you can search for the hashtag #HHRVA which local users share information
—Thrifty Richmond specializes in reporting on happy hours around town, both lists of the various offers each day and reviews of individual restaurants
BEST LUNCH SPECIALS RVA Lunch Special tries all the cheap midday munchies to be had in the River City. While the blog isn’t frequently updated, the @RVALunchSpecial Twitter account is full of discount ideas
DATE NIGHT DEALS: Richmond.com curates this great list of restaurants that offer “date night” specials during the week. And no, you don’t have to be on a date to use them, but most offer some variation on a prix-fixe meal for two (and maybe even throw in a bottle of wine!) For instance, at Avenue 805:
Every Monday and Tuesday it’s Cheap Date Night: a choice of a large house or Caesar salad to split, a large bowl of pasta, a dessert and a bottle of house wine all for only $35. Five bucks more and you can add chicken, shrimp or mussels to the pasta.
For your convenience, the list is organized by offers available each night of the week. There’s lots more juicy restaurant news to be found in her “Dish” column
RVANews also offers a collection of “day of the week” restaurant specials.
KIDS EAT FREE Eventually I want to compile a fabulous list of restaurants that have “kids eat free” offers, but in the meantime, here are some lists from other sites:
If you have hungry kids and dine out frequently, consider purchasing KidsDineFree.net card. It costs $19.95 for three months, and is valid for one free kids meal with an adult entree purchase at over 300 local restaurants!
GENERAL FOODIE CHATTER While it’s not deal-specific, you’ll find the food bloggers of Richmond congregated at EatingRichmond.com. They all have to live with budgets too; pick their brains for suggestions of where to go for great meals at great values.