Going Out to Dinner Cheaply, Without Looking Cheap


Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. Once again I’m gonna share with you some of my secrets. Firstly, you can start with the tips from last year here. Follow up with my sure fire anniversary tips here. Then hit the jump for a recent discovery my wife clued me in on that will let you save up to 1/2 off you restaurant tab and make you look better, not worse in your date’s eyes. The secret is: Corkage – more specifically finding a nice restaurant that has no corkage fee.

Let me explain. Many restaurants for one reason or another do not sell alcohol. Still others that do have a wine list allow customers to bring their own selection from home anyway. In both instances they will sometime charge you a fee for the service of opening your bottle for you, known as the corkage fee. And yes, you are getting screwed. You want to avoid those places. Find a nice place with no corkage fee and it could become your new favorite date night go to.

Wouldn’t you know it, you can use Yelp. Do a Yelp or Google search for your locale and “Corkage” and you should be able to find some good suggestions. Just to be certain, you may want to call before you go the first time. I would make extra sure they don’t have some special Valentine’s Day menu going on that changes everything.

Now you just have to find a bottle or two of your favorite, or her favorite wines. If you read my blog from last week you know you can buy wine extra cheaply at places like Big Lots and the 99 Store. I would avoid those choices though, unless you already found a good cheap choice there. But by bringing your own you avoid paying $30 for a $10 bottle of wine, and if you drink two, you just saved $40. $40 is the price of a pretty decent meal at a lot of places.

I’m not about to suggest specific wines to you, that is a whole other web site. I will suggest Cafe Carolina in Encino though, for some amazing Italian dishes from a chef that has run much more expensive restaurants, and no corkage fee.

Do you know of a good one? Share it in the comments.

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  1. Susan.Yoo-Lee

    3 years ago

    This is such a great tip. On my birthday we went to a restaurant that charged us corkage fee plus another extra charge per wine glass used, it was ridiculous. All the extra charges ended up totaling over $70.


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