The day I moved out of my parents house and down to Miami, I learned a few hard truths. Did you know that when you go out to eat, there aren’t always two people to pick up the check? Well if you didn’t, you do now and eating out more than once in a while can really take a bite out of a budget. Most meals out cost $20-$25 per person and that’s at chain, no alcohol during the meal type establishments. Two people eating out twice a week means an additional $400 a month spent on food.
Many people enjoy the experience of eating out and the time it can save, even though it can be expensive. Thankfully, Restaurant.com offers discounts on tens of thousands of restaurants, many of which are located in your back yard. Normally, I would just go on and write a review of how these guys operate but I decided to give you my first hand experience of how awesome these deals can be, and how to avoid some pitfalls.
Why Restaurant.com Rocks
On a regular basis, Restaurant.com provides promo codes which discount the cost of their gift certificates. Restaurant.com gift certificates run between $10 and $100 (with occasional $200 certificates) and the usual discount is 40%. So, for example, if you were looking to visit the local BBQ joint, you should be able to obtain a $25 gift certificate for $10. However, promo codes add additional discounts in the amount of 50% – 80%, bringing the cost of a gift certificate down significantly. Using the 80% off promo code “FLAG” earlier this week, I was able to pay $2 for as many $25 gift certificates as I wanted. Needless to say, I bought a lot of them.
The range of restaurants that you can find with this site is truly astounding. There were more than 200 restaurants available to me within a 10 mile radius and if I expanded to 15 miles, that number tripled. Yes, I live just north of a large city but I’m certain no matter where you live, you’ll find a good variety of restaurants available to you. Most certificates never expire and once you purchase them, you can print them out immediately.
Why Restaurant.com Doesn’t Rock
Even though I love the service and offers that Restaurant.com provides, I’m not a big fan of a few things, one of which is not their fault. The three knocks I have against these guys are as follows:
- Closed Restaurants – As I stated earlier, I bought a lot of $25 gift certificates from Restaurant.com and sadly, two of the restaurants I planned to visit are closed for business. This could have been avoided had I done a little of research before buying (calling the restaurant and hearing the three beep sorry message) but I bought in bulk. Too often, restaurants that have been reported as closed remain in the listings and the two that I reported on Tuesday still show today. When you buy a gift certificate, be certain the restaurant is still open.
- Spend Amounts and Restrictions – From a business standpoint, I agree with nearly all of the restrictions some of these gift certificates come with. For example, many of the ones I purchased must be used to order specific meals, or require a certain spend amount to be used (usually $35 or $45). This limits the amount of savings you can generate by using Restaurant.com but understandably, the places you visit can’t give food away for free.
- Gift Certificate Stigma – This is something I need to work through, but I always feel a little cheap when I whip out the piece of paper with the discount on it. In using these certificates so often, I’m getting better in not making jokes when I use them. I know I’m in the minority here but there are others that can relate.
You won’t find chain restaurants like Applebee’s or Chili’s in the Restaurant.com database, but that’s fine. Those types of establishments are always offering 2 for $20 or three course meals for heavy discounts and there’s no need for a gift certificate. With Restaurant.com, you’ll find all kinds of cuisines and styles and if you want a night out on the town, why not save $20 or more?
Promo codes to Restaurant.com are changing weekly, so I’ll do my best to keep the current ones available below. The promo code below is working now through December 31, 2011.
- Promo Code “SALE“ – Save 92% on all purchases. (This means a $25 gift certificate would cost $2)