Dining out can be very expensive. I have found that to be even truer as we have added more children to our family.
What once was a $15 meal has ballooned into $30 and will be even more once the youngest decides she likes to eat food again.
This prompted me to look for places where kids eat free and cheap, but what happens when they start getting older than the maximum allowed ages?
This is where Restaurant.com comes in. With the discounts on this website, you can not only get great discounts on restaurants, but you can also explore the local restaurants in your area and anywhere you travel.
To help you get the absolute best deals using this website, I put together this review of Restaurant.com.
How Does Restaurant.com Work?
The standard deal on Restaurant.com is $10 for a $25 gift certificate. There are both smaller and larger gift certificate amounts, but this one is the best bang for your buck.
None of the restaurants are national chains. So you are looking at listings, by zip code, for only local restaurants. These local restaurants use restaurant.com as advertising.
So instead of paying for radio or billboard advertising, these restaurant owners choose to use a discount on a major website to help draw traffic.
The restaurants all receive a rating of how much they cost from the website, marked in $ signs. So a lower cost restaurant would get one $, and a more expensive one might get $$$$.
Each restaurant also receives a restaurant review from the users of the website, so you can get an idea of whether you want to go to that restaurant. I also recommend checking other sources like Yelp that might give you a greater number of reviews.
Restaurant.com added a mobile app to its service. So now you don’t have to print off a gift certificate.
Instead, you can pull it up from your account and have them scan it in the restaurant. The Restaurant.com app has been a nice addition to the service.
Is Restaurant.com Legit?
Yes, Restaurant.com is a legitimate site that restaurant owners use for advertising their business.
That being said, there is one bit of fine print that you need to know before you start buying up gift cards. With whatever restaurant you choose, you will have to spend a minimum amount of money.
For most restaurants, if you choose to use a $25 gift certificate, you will have to spend at least $35 (before tip) and leave an 18% tip. The larger the gift card you purchase, the larger the minimum will be.
This isn’t that difficult, but some of the cheaper restaurants you may have to order an appetizer and dessert (I know you are crying about HAVING to order dessert).
We went to a small Greek restaurant near our home one time and the prices were so low we brought home enough food for several other meals, and that was after getting a nice bread with olive oil appetizer and eating ice cream for dessert.
Types of Restaurants Available
This depends on how large a metropolitan area you live in.
For instance, I live in a small town about 30 miles from the South Carolina/Georgia border. Within 15 miles of my home, there are 12 restaurants with Mexican, American, pizza, steak house, wings, and Italian cuisine.
If I go a little farther up the road to Greenville, SC, which has about 900,000 people in its greater metropolitan area, you get a much larger variety.
With a quick scan, in addition to what I see near my house, I see sushi, candy shops, Barbeque, Delis, Indian, Japanese, Mediterranean, frozen yogurt, and a Himalayan Kitchen (YUM!).
Overall you can get a pretty good variety. When I talk to the different restaurant managers and owners, they all seem to be pleased with the amount of traffic they are getting from the offers, and most plan to continue over an extended period.
The Saving Freak Strategy for Restaurant.com
Now that you know that, I wouldn’t leave you hanging with only a $15 discount on your meal.
Once you sign up for a Restaurant.com account and make your first purchase, you start to receive emails with promotional discounts on the already discounted gift certificates.
It is common to get 60% off ($4 for a $25 gift certificate), but from time to time, you can get 70% to even 90% off on rare occasions.
Once you get one of the magic 70% to 90% off deals, you will want to stock up on certificates to your favorite restaurants or to ones you want to try.
Once you select how many of these gift cards you want, you can add them to your cart and then apply the code. So ten $25 gift certificates at 80% off would be a total of $20 or at 90% off $10. That’s right; you get $25 of spending for $2 or even $1 if you catch a crazy good code.
Let’s do a little math on how much we are saving:
You get a $37 meal with a 20% tip because the server was decent. That is $44.40. You paid $2 for your $25 gift certificate. So $44.40 – $25 = $19.40 + $2 makes $21.40.
I have been able to get my wife, myself, and three children fed for $21.40. That is as good as I do at many of the kids eat free deals around, I tend to get a better meal than the chain restaurants, and I get to support my local business owners. That is a WIN-WIN-WIN.
If you throw in the savings from using a good restaurant cash rewards credit card, then you can score an extra $1 in cashback rewards.
This has been the best strategy for our family to eat out without having to find a kids eat free deal, It is also an excellent way to send an inexpensive gift to a family member or friend where they get to enjoy a more expensive gift than what we may have otherwise been able to afford.
How I use Restaurant.com
There are three main times that I use Restaurant.com. Each time I save much more than just the normal price of dining out.
Friday Night Family Dinners
My wife is a teacher, and there are many Fridays where she is just exhausted after the long week. This means Fridays are a night we eat leftovers or go out to eat.
The problem with this is that there are exactly ZERO restaurants that do kids eat free on Fridays. So instead of doing pizza every time, we opt for a Restaurant.com deal.
This not only gives us a break from cooking; it also gives our kids a greater variety in their dining experience.
My wife loves to try new foods. I hate paying for restaurants that I don’t know if I will like the food. So, from time to time, we compromise and hit a new restaurant that shows up on Restaurant.com.
This gives us a chance to hit a restaurant with more exotic tastes and maybe an interesting dining room. I do always make sure to hit a review website that has several reviews before trying one of these new places.
Vacations are expensive, and getting a meal at a reasonable price with the whole family on vacation can get pricey. We always like to hit local restaurants when we travel, so the gift cards from Restaurant.com make this much more affordable.
For example, when we go to Myrtle Beach, that is one of the prime times for my wife to get seafood. Since I am not a fan of seafood, it is a special treat for her and a good experience for my kids.
Since there are a TON of seafood restaurants in the Grand Strand area, we have used Restaurant.com to help us decide which restaurants to visit. This also allows us to enjoy lovely seafood meals for a much lower price.
Restaurant.com Review Final Thoughts
The bottom line is if you watch your restaurants and take advantage of the discount codes, you can save a ton of money by using the Restaurant com gift cards and app.