Dine Out Savings

Americans sure like to eat out! We spend about 1.7 billion dollars in restaurants everyday! But dining out doesn't have to break the bank.

Consumer Reports has ways to find some of the best restaurant details.

You probably love to eat out but HATE to see your bill. Good news! Consumer Reports says there are plenty of deals right at your fingertips!

Tod Marks of Consumer Reports says, "One of the first things you can do is to visit a restaurant's website to find out about any special offers."

Take Chili's. It has a $20 steak dinner special for two. And Bob Evans has an "Endless Farmhouse Lunch" for $6.99.

Marks says, "You can also sign up for e-mail alerts and join an e-club to learn about even more deals."

By joining California Pizza Kitchen's e-Club, you get five dollars toward your next visit. And on Facebook, liking Outback Steakhouse and other restaurants can also lead to dining deals.

Consumer Reports found you do need to choose carefully. Its survey of almost 48,000 subscribers gave some popular chains low marks for value-among them Hard Rock Cafe, Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar, Joe's Crab Shack, and Hooters.

Marks says, "Now, another surefire way to save is to eat when other don't. There's a lot more out there than just an early-bird special."

At Applebee's, late-night diners enjoy half-price appetizers. And at Red Lobster you get a discount on some shrimp entrees on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Marks says, "Here's another sweet way to save. If it's your birthday, eat at a restaurant that offers free dessert."

Along with value, Consumer Reports' subscribers also rated restaurants for food, service, and atmosphere. Among the lowest-rated restaurants overall were Friendly's and Waffle House.

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