Dine Out Boston provides the opportunity to sample the city's finest restaurants at bargain prices - or to spend about what you'd normally pay at a good but not necessarily great dining choice.
How do you get the biggest value for your dining dollar during Dine Out Boston?
Participating restaurants run the spectrum from small to large, chef-owned to national chains. And the chefs get to offer just one price point per meal.
With a wide range of Boston's restaurants offering a prix fixe lunch for $15, $20, or $25, and a prix fixe dinner for $28, $33, or $38 (drinks, tax, and tip additional for all meals), how do you make the best choice?Find list of participating Boston restaurants
Here are my 5 favorite well-honed strategies:
Define your goals. Want to score a spot at the table of one of Boston's hottest big-name chefs? Or try a new-to-you place, or even an old favorite?
The list of participants gets published a month or so before the event begins, so check this list of the participating Boston restaurants to find your choices. Pick your top 4 - 6 targets.
About one month before each event, participants begin to post their Dine Out menus. Check them out to see what's actually on offer, and for how much - or give them a call and ask.
Some top Boston restaurants use this event to showcase their culinary skills and fine cuisine by offering selections from their regular menu or equally impressive special creations. Other similarly stellar spots offer a watered-down menu with simple dishes you could easily prepare at home. Do your homework to figure out who is offering a great value.
Also check the price chosen by the restaurant, and compare with similar restaurants.
At the same time, check to see if optional wine pairings are offered - these usually run about $15-$25 during Dine Out Boston, and can be a good-to-great deal, depending on the price point and what is being offered.
Finally, compare prices on the regular menu to make sure the prix-fixe menu is really a bargain.
At the hottest spots, tables go fast - so reserve early to avoid disappointment. Plan a couple of back-up choices. If your "A List" places fill up, move fast to your "B List" - unless you want to work your way down the alphabet!
You'll find the most competition at "big name" restaurants such as L'Espalier, No 9 Park, and Top of the Hub. Equally competitive are restaurants headed by star chefs such as Barbara Lynch, Ming Tsai, and Jody Adams.
If you don't want to have to scramble to score reservations at these hot spots, try other fine dining Boston options such as Beacon Hill Bistro, Lala Rohk, the Hungry I, and others.
Your dining experience during Dine Out Boston may differ from normal times. Menu items and preparation complexity may be scaled back due to the price point, despite what the menus suggest, and service may not be as attentive as normal due to the crowds.
Prepare to enjoy your meal because it's one of the best Boston dining deals of the year, and you'll have a great time. If possible service lapses will spoil your evening, eat at home during the two weeks of Dine Out Boston - or choose a non-participating restaurant.
Be nice to the waitstaff. Tip generously. Start looking forward to the next Dine Out Boston.
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