Speaking of dining secrets, NYC hasn’t cornered the market on great places to dine at inexpensive prices. Austin, Texas has some secrets up its sleeve as well. I’ve been working on a system for getting great food CHEAP using Restaurant.com. There are fantastic discounts on meals here, but here’s the tricky bit:

Only one (1) Restaurant-Specific Gift Certificate may be redeemed per party, per month, per restaurant, even if the party is seated at separate tables and/or receives more than one check. Restaurant-Specific Gift Certificates and Merchant Certificates are redeemable in their entirety only and may not be redeemed incrementally.

Most restaurants require a 15%-20% gratuity when you pay, and there is usually a required minimum food purchase for more than the amount on the certificate. The site tells you the restrictions up front – you just have to read carefully. Still, with planning, you can eat very well for very little money.

I know these certificates work because my friend uses them a lot when we go out. We went to Max’s Wine Dive last weekend, and the total meal tab for 3, after the $25 certificate, came to $30 including tax and tip. Of course, we tend to order pretty conservatively anyway. That’s not bad, considering the certificate was only $2.50!

Using a bit of patience and searching “restaurant.com 80% sale” can turn up some great certificate deals! Here are a few places I plan to try my system on next:

Bistro 88 2712 Bee Caves Rd 78746 – 1/2 mile west of MoPac Expy    (512) 328-8888

Menu has an Asian accent, with extensive Sushi & Roll choices. There is also plenty of Euro fare.

Bistro 88

Yelp.com gave it four stars with 49 reviews. The big unknown is the amount of food on the entrees, but it looks well worth trying!

Restaurant.com offers a $25 certificate, with minimum purchase $35.

Lunch Entrées ~$11, Dinner ~$21 (small plates = less $).

1886 Cafe & Bakery 604 Brazos 78701    (512) 391-7224

This is in the beautiful, historic Driskill Hotel downtown. Remember, a lot of the food at 1886 comes from the same, or trainees, of the same, chefs as the

1886 Cafe in the Driskill Hotel

Driskill Grill at the upscale end of the hotel. The Driskill Grill is “repeatedly ranked the number one restaurant in Austin,” and deservedly so. And this is a restaurant-crazy town!

Also, 1886 is featuring $10 Tuesday’s Lunch, so you can really go nuts, for peanuts (couldn’t help myself).

The $25 certificate requires minimum purchase of $35 (dinner entrées ~ $15).

Satay Restaurant

Satay logo

3202 W. Anderson Ln 78757    (512) 462-6731

Speaking of peanuts … an Austin tradition for over 18 years. Thai and South Asian cuisine from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, & the Philippines. MSG-free.

Ever since reading the “Joy of Cooking” descriptions of exotic South Asian cuisine, the words “satay” and “rijsttafel” make me think of palm-fringed beaches.

Certificates range from $10 to $100, with minimums $20-$200, correspondingly.

Valid for Dinner, Dine In ONLY. (What, you think I want to take Pad Thai on a picnic?)

Happy eating!!