Divide and conquer! Many restaurants serve huge portions that are far more than any one person could (well, or at least should!) consume in a single sitting. Consider sharing a meal with someone at your table. Simply ask your waiter to have the meal divided onto two plates, or ask for an extra plate when the order comes.
Nix the alcohol. Nothing can send your dining bill soaring like a few alcoholic drinks. Opting for a non-alcoholic beverage will ensure you don’t feel the pinch when it comes time to pay the check. Order tap water (always free!) or soda with free refills. If dinner out simply doesn’t feel right without a glass of wine, remind yourself this—a couple glasses of wine may be the difference between feeling fine about springing for dinner out, and feeling like it’s not an okay expense.
The early bird gets the worm. Some eateries offer early bird specials. And no, they’re not only for "The Golden Girls." Inquire with your favorite establishments to see if they offer lower prices for coming in early. Or, consider dining out for lunch instead of dinner. Most restaurants switch to a dinner menu after 4pm, which is often simply a higher priced version of the lunch menu.
Kids eat free. Some restaurants offer kids nights where children eat for a reduced price (and sometimes for free!). Check out your favorite haunts to see if they offer such incentives. Or check out MyKidsEatFree.com.
Clip coupons. Restaurant coupons abound online and in your Sunday newspaper.
Go with a Gift Certificate. Now this is a really great deal! Save.com offers a $25 e-gift certificates to literally thousands of great restaurants for only $10! And some restaurants offer even deeper discounts. Just be sure to read the fine print – some restaurants have restrictions, such as validity on certain nights of the week or minimum number of meals to be purchased.