Five-course dinners at top restaurants around the country no longer have to be such a costly part of your trip, thanks to an influx of restaurant deals found both online and via mobile apps. The BlackboardEats site offers discounts—such as 30 percent off dinner at Los Angeles’s Mo-Chica or New York’s Matsuri—to anyone who signs up. All you have to do is present the discount code at the restaurant at any time. Every venue is handpicked by a staff of professional restaurant reviewers (many from the now-defunct print version of Gourmet). Sometimes the deals involve mystery dishes that are only available to members, making it more of a food enthusiasts’ club than a coupon service.
If it’s pure discounts you’re after, daily-deal sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial provide even bigger values with offers such as 62 percent off dinner at Edinburgh’s Al Dente. Savings are significant at these popular sales services, but the venues they choose can be random.
The three sites also have mobile apps for iPhone and Android, but the app that makes the best use of your smart phone’s GPS is the location-based check-in service Foursquare, which offers pop-up deals such as a free glass of Prosecco to anyone who checks in to Mario Batali’s Carnevino, at the Palazzo Las Vegas. Granted while it may not make a huge dent in your overall bill, it can save you money at the bar while you wait—because one thing none of these sites does is actually score you a table. But hey, there are apps for that, too.