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Dining Out Tricks

Nancy Trejos

One of my favorite things to do after a long day at work is to go out to dinner with friends.

I haven’t done it as much lately because it was just getting too expensive. Each time I’d go out, I’d drop at least $40 on food and wine. Often, I’d spend even more than that.

But it’s tough to stay away from restaurants in this city. We have some of the best. Thankfully, the restaurant industry has realized that there are people like me out there who enjoy fine dining but can’t necessarily afford it all the time.

Increasingly, restaurants are offering more deals to draw customers in, said Lynne Breaux, president of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. She has noticed more wine specials, prix fixe menus, and happy hours. Many restaurants are also adding appetizers to their menus to cater to people’s desire to spend less on food--and watch their weight.

“One thing about restaurants is they are very adaptable,” she said. “It seems like every day someone comes up with wonderfully creative ideas on ways to dine on a budget and still deliciously.”

You can find out about many of these deals on the restaurants’ Web sites, said Amanda McClements, a food writer and author of, which covers the Washington area restaurant industry.

“If there’s a place you want to check out go to their Web site and oftentimes there will be a link to deals and events,” she said. “You’d be surprised.”

If you can eat early, pre-theater menus are a great deal. There are many more out there even at places far away from any theaters, she said. Also consider dining at the bar. Often you can get the same food for less. “If you dine at the bar you can get a fabulous meal,” she said.

Some of the deals McClements has recently come across:

Taberna del Alabardero, a Spanish restaurant downtown, is offering bottles of wine, regularly priced at $55 or above at retail cost until the end of the month.

Oyamel, a Mexican restaurant downtown, recently started an Hora Feliz (Spanish for Happy Hour) from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Sunday through Friday. You can get $4 classic margaritas, ponche and selected draft beer. If you get hungry, try the $4 taco specials . Glasses of wine are half off.

Vegetate, a vegetarian restaurant near the Convention Center, has a happy hour from Wednesday to Friday, 6 to 8 p.m. with drink and food specials. But on Tuesday, there is an extended happy hour until 9:30 p.m.

2941 Restaurant in Falls Church will have a Mother’s Day special on May 10: a three-course prix fixe menu for $68 or a six-course tasting menu for $95.

There are also plenty of Web sites that list great deals, including,, and

Happy eating!

By Nancy Trejos  |  April 27, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Bargains , Nancy Trejos  
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I highly recommend the Beacon Bar and Grill on Sunday nights for half-priced burgers: Grass-fed beef, seemingly homemade fries. Just 6 bucks!

Posted by: LisOsc | April 27, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

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