CLEVELAND - Americans sure like to eat out. We spend about $1.7 billion dollars in restaurants every day. But, dining out doesn’t have to break the bank. Consumer Reports has ways to find some of the best restaurant deals.
You probably love to eat out but hate to see your bill. Good news. Consumer Reports says there are plenty of deals right at your fingertips.
“One of the first things you can do is to visit a restaurant’s website to find out about any special offers,” said Consumer Reports' Tod Marks.
Take Chili’s. It has a $20 steak dinner special for two. Bob Evans has an “Endless Farmhouse Lunch” for $6.99.
“You can also sign up for e-mail alerts and join an e-club to learn about even more deals,” said Marks.
By joining California Pizza Kitchen’s e-Club, you get $5 toward your next visit.
On Facebook, "liking" Outback Steakhouse and other restaurants can also lead to dining deals.
Consumer Reports found you do need to choose where you eat carefully. Its survey of almost 48,000 subscribers gave some popular chains low marks for value — among them Hard Rock Cafe, Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar, Joe’s Crab Shack, and Hooters.
“Now, another surefire way to save is to eat when others don’t. There’s a lot more out there than just an early-bird special,” said Marks.
At Applebee’s, late-night diners enjoy half-price appetizers. At Red Lobster you get a discount on some shrimp entrées on Mondays and Tuesdays.
“Here’s another sweet way to save. If it’s your birthday, eat at a restaurant that offers free dessert,” said Marks.
Along with value, Consumer Reports’ subscribers also rated restaurants for food, service, and atmosphere. Among the lowest-rated restaurants overall were Friendly’s and Waffle House. Both got low marks for atmosphere and cleanliness.
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