Saving big when dining out

Everyone loves a great deal and loves to eat, so what could be better than finding bargain meals? ShopSmart, the shopping magazine published by Consumer Reports, recently uncovered the best websites to find restaurant deals so that you can enjoy a meal out without breaking your budget.
Got a special occasion coming up? Try Bloomspot, which offers deals for high-end eateries.
Need delivery or takeout? GrubHub will help. Just looking for recommendations or reservations? Look to OpenTable, Yelp or Zagat, or to newcomer Dinevore, which helps you find reviewers whose tastes are compatible with yours.
“These websites also have mobile apps and offer social connectivity with Facebook and Twitter, making it even easier to keep up to date with deals and save big,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. More sites to check out:
— BiteHunter.com. Best for: today’s specials. This site lists restaurants’ specials as well as daily deals from other sites, such as Citysearch and Groupon. It’s easy to search by cuisine, deal or restaurant in a particular city. Daily deals that must be purchased through other sites are accessible by a prominent link. Heads up: Sometimes it has incorrect instructions, such as “Just mention Citysearch, no purchase required,” when the deal actually requires you to go to Citysearch and print a coupon.
— EatDrinkDeals.com. Best for: chain restaurant deals. From A&W to Zaxby’s, EatDrinkDeals has national and regional chains covered.
A newsletter-type format details coupons and specials with links. Tabs lead you to specials for happy hour, kids, lunch, or dinner for two. Handy: a list of areas that celebrate Restaurant Week. Heads up: Keeping up with so many chains is hard and can sometimes lead to bad links.
— Restaurant.com. Best for: discount certificates. Just plug your ZIP code into Restaurant.com’s search engine and select the deal you want. Typical offer: a $25 certificate for $10, with a minimum purchase required.
The monthly “Behind the Menu” feature will help you focus your cuisine choice. Heads up: Particular deals labeled “Best Value” might not be. For example, a $100 certificate for $40 comes with a $200 minimum purchase. That’s not as good as paying $10 for a $25 certificate with a $35 minimum purchase.
— Savored.com. Best for: finer-dining discounts. Had enough hamburgers? Savored can steer you to steak or sashimi. Pay a $10 fee to Savored, use the site to book a reservation, and get 30 percent off your bill automatically.
Plus you get access to Zagat reviews and ratings to help you decide on a destination.
Heads up: Savored currently is in just 10 cities and availability can be limited, so check deals before you sign up.
EATING APPS
FOR YOUR AREA
— Dealfork. Assembles daily deals from other sites. Free for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad (iOS 3.0 or later).
— Foodspotting. Search by dish and see pretty pictures of food. Free for Android 1.6 or later and iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad (iOS 3.1 or later). Also available for Windows phones.
— Happycow. Vegan, vegetarian and veg-friendly joints nationwide. Free to $2.99.
Works on almost all mobile platforms; Apple products require iOS 4.1 or later.
— Local Dish. Find the buzz on eats in your neighborhood. Free for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad (iOS 4.0 or later).
— Localeats. What’s nearby and on special. Free to $2.99. Works on Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad (iOS 3.1.3 or later).

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