Meals for Deals

In tough economic times, eating out doesn't have to be out of the question

Sure, there’s a global recession imposing on many aspects of our lives, but the savvy diner can still get good eats on a budget.

On a recent Thursday evening Stephen Pierce of Mariemont and his girlfriend sat down at Mio’s Pizzeria for a casual and filling meal. But they didn’t need to see the menu. They’ve created their own “special” of sorts. They each order the house salad and split a large order of cheesy breadsticks.

It’s a very reasonably priced place,” Pierce says, “and if you’re clever you can have a nice dinner for two for, like, $20 or less.”

Pierce also recommends the recently expanded Wild Ginger in Hyde Park for its generous lunch portions and El Rancho Grande (various locations) for great food at recession-friendly prices.

Another technique is to eat out less often but spring for something better when you do go out. Brent Rinne of Clifton says he cooks at home more often and brings food to work instead of going out for lunch.

“I find deals in the Bearcash coupon book, and some places have half price nights on sushi and wine,” he says.

Who offers half-price sushi? Dancing Wasabi, Embers and Beluga, just to name a few. For half-price wine, check out Pompilio’s (Newport), Indigo (Hyde Park and Fort Mitchell) and Vito’s (Fort Thomas). Some restaurants are taking the half-price concept to the next level on traditionally slow nights early in the week. York Street Cafe offers a “bottle of wine for a buck” deal on Tuesdays with the purchase of two entrees. Andy’s Mediterranean Grill offers almost everything half off on Mondays between 8 and 10 p.m.

Rinne also takes advantage of deals offered through social networking Web sites like Facebook and Twitter. Generally you just mention the offer you saw on the Web.

Take the Cake in Northside sends a secret word to its Twitter followers on Tuesdays that will get them $1 off lunch. You can follow 20 Brix, Oceanaire Seafood Room, Nicholson’s, Dilly Café and others on Twitter to find out what’s going down.

But some of us aren’t cutting back on dining out at all, like Anna Willoughby of West Harrison.

“We still eat out a lot,” she says, “because we just don’t have much time to cook with how much work we’ve picked up.”

Sounds to me like she could use one of CityBeat’s Best of Cincinnati dining cards. Yes, this is a shameless plug, but the card gets you 40 percent off at participating restaurants around town including Indigo, York Street Café, Dee Felice, Karma Asian Bistro, NuVo, Pit to Plate BBQ and Uno Chicago Grill. Over time this list will change and expand, so the possibilities are endless.

For a limited time, you can purchase the card for $24.95 and CityBeat will preload $25 onto the card. Then you can add as much money to it as you’d like at a 40 percent discount.

Local restaurants have responded to the recession with great deals for you. Now it’s your turn to respond to those deals. Go out to eat — it’s fun!

Andy’s Mediterranean Grill: Three lunch items for $8 Monday-Saturday and a three- course dinner for two for $25. Half-off food and drinks 8-10 p.m. Mondays.  906 Nassau St., Walnut Hills, 513-281-9791.

Beluga: Half-price sushi from 5 p.m.-12:30 a.m. on Wednesdays and from 11 p.m.-2 a.m Friday and Saturday 3520 Edwards Road, Hyde Park, 513-533-4444.

Cadillac Ranch: “You Pick Two New Lunch Menu” — pick any one sandwich and one side for only $6.95. 41 E. Sixth St., Downtown, 513-621-6200.

Chez Nora: Half off of various wines, by the glass and bottle, every Tuesday. 530 Main St., Covington, 859-581-5090.

Dancing Wasabi: Half price sushi every Wednesday and Thursday. 1018 Delta Ave., Mount Lookout, 513-533-9218.

Dee Felice Cafe: Three-course dinner for $25 on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday and $5 martinis on Friday. 529 Main St., Covington, 859-261-2365.

Embers: Half-price wine on Tuesdays and half-price sushi on Wednesdays after 5 p.m. in the bar 8170 Montgomery Road, Madeira, 513-984-8090.

Indigo: Half-price wine Mondays and Wednesdays. 2637 Erie Ave, Hyde Park, 513-321-9952; 2053 Dixie Highway, Fort Mitchell, 859-331-4339.

McCormick & Schmick’s: Three-course dinner (soup or salad, 9 oz. top sirloin, stuffed shrimp and dessert) for $29.95. 21 E. Fifth St., Downtown, 513-721-9339.

Pompilio’s: Four different lunches for $5 on Mondays and Tuesdays; half-price wine after 5 p.m. on Mondays. 600 Washington Ave., Newport, 859-581-3065.

Sully’s: Half-price appetizers Monday-Friday. $3 Draft Beer and $4 Martinis from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 5 p.m.-9 p.m. on Friday. 700 Race St., Downtown, 513-381-4302.

Vito’s: Half-price bottles of wine on Thursdays. 654 Highland Ave., Fort Thomas, 859-442-9444.

York St Café: Bottle of Wine for a Buck on Tuesdays with two entree purchases. 738 York St., Newport, 859-261-9675.

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