Tips for dining in Vancouver and saving money

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We just spent two years adapting to restaurants in the pandemic era. Now, diners — and restaurants — are grappling with affordability.

We have spent much of the past two years adapting our restaurant experience through a pandemic. Now we face another constraint affecting our restaurants: affordability.

Inflation has caused many budgets to feel a new pinch, and for many the first notch to tighten is funding going out, including dining out.

However, there are still a few great ways to dine out without it costing too much. Here are a few tips.

Try a service like First Table that lowers your costs when you dine out earlier

You know the saying “the early bird catches the worm?” Well, that’s pretty much the guiding principle of First Table. Launched in 2019, the restaurant reservation service will cut your food bill by 50% when you reserve the “first table” available, as if you go there when it opens – usually at 5 or 5.30 p.m. The offer applies to tables of two to four guests and must be reserved through their platform in advance. Participating restaurants in Vancouver include Water St Cafe, Nuba (3) and Cibo Trattoria.

Make it a lunch date

If you’re craving a meal out but cringe at the dinner menu prices, see if you can rock lunch instead. Why? Well, you often get the same or similar dishes for a lower price, and you might be less tempted to linger over dessert or a second drink. Some restaurants in Vancouver also have great lunch deals, and I’m not just talking about sushi combinations or sandwich-chip-drink situations. My favorite posh lunch deal is Hawksworth, where you get three courses for $27. French bistros are also a great bet for this type of dining experience; Jules has a “table d’hôte” lunch menu for $33, for example.

Score great take-out deals and minimize waste

Download the Too Good To Go app and you’ll be instantly a few clicks away from getting your hands on discounted restaurants, bakeries and cafes and keeping trash out of the green bin. Several Vancouver businesses are signed up and putting items, from pizzas and sandwiches to bags of pastries, on sale at a heavily discounted price on a first-come, first-served basis – through the app, i.e. . Some whip up ‘goodie bags’ of whatever’s on hand, but you’ll find some fantastic local eateries here, like Maxine’s Cafe & Bar, Larry’s Market, Flourist, Chickpea, Bel Café and Marche Mon Pitou – just to name a few. name a few.

Another vote for leaving early (or late): Happy hour

The most obvious hack to save money on going out is Happy Hour. And you might immediately think, “But I’m at work at 3 p.m. on weekdays!” But the lovely thing is that several establishments in Vancouver also run HH on the weekends, which means if you can pack a really late lunch or a really early dinner, you can access some decent drink discounts. and bites. Places like H Tasting Lounge, Nightingale, and Homer St. Cafe feature HH action daily.

Now, if you can’t swing at the restaurant in the afternoon, period, you might want to seek out what’s often referred to as the “reverse” happy hour. No, it’s not when things are more expensive and make you unhappy – it’s just a funny way of saying “late night” happy hour. Which could also be what is called certain places. To be blunt, Reverse Happy Hours are usually after bedtime, but I know you’ll find them at most major chains and some more lively indie spots in Vancouver. Your fate isn’t sealed with a place that rhymes with “Schmearls” – for example, Gastown’s top drink and burger spot, Pourhouse, has HH from 3-6pm and again from 10pm-“late” ( as I said, after I go to bed).

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