Sometimes we like to enjoy an evening out without breaking the bank.  There are a few places where we have learned how to get the most bang for our buck.  Perhaps these might sound super frugal, and maybe not your cup of tea.  BUT, I’ll go ahead and share them anyway for those folks out there who are like me!  Often times a decision to go out to eat is made because you have not thought through what you will have for dinner.  I believe that meal planning will save you money, though I am not very good at it.  But planning when to eat out can save you money too.  Perhaps eat earlier to make the happy hour, or plan to go on Tuesday instead of Wednesday, when kid’s eat free, or there is a Tuesday taco night special.  You still get the night off from cooking, and your wallet won’t feel the effects as much.

Cafe Rio:  I never would have stepped into this place if it weren’t on a recommendation.  I don’t like the word cafe when I think of Mexican food.  But their homemade tortillas have sealed the deal on our relationship.  The portions are huge and the barbacoa amazing.  Also, if you dine in, they will give you a free kids quesadilla if you just ask.  We have learned that we can share a meal, as long as I get Brian a side of tortillas and the kids eat for free!  Also, you should check out their Taco Tuesdays.  So good!  You can add a side of rice and beans and a drink for $2 (only on Taco Tuesdays).  Last time, I asked for the sides in a separate container and it was enough for all of us to have some.

Ruby’s:  Piper loves Ruby’s.  I am not sure if it is for their yummy shakes or what.  What you may not have known is that they don’t mind if an adult orders a shake off of the kids menu!  So show some self control and save yourself a buck or two!  It is also worth noting that kids eat free on Tuesdays after 4:00.

Spaghettini:  I have driven by this restaurant and jazz lounge in Seal Beach a zillion times!  I grew up just down the road.  But I never ate there until recently.  They have an amazing happy hour 3-7 Tuesday-Friday and until 9 on Mondays.  The food is really great and the atmosphere is as well.  There is no live music on Mondays or Tuesdays, but if you go Wed.-Fri. you can enjoy some great food for half the price and have front row seats to show.  A very nice date that doesn’t have to be expensive!

Duke’s:  Duke’s also has a noteworthy happy hour.  We used to be regulars there.  The bar menu gets even cheaper than its already low price and the panko crusted fish is so good!  They only have drink specials on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.  Happy hour is 3:30-6:30 Tuesday-Friday and until close on Mondays.  Also, they have it on Saturdays 2:30-5:30, bonus!  If you go to their website (click on the highlighted Duke’s) you can print out a coupon for a free hula pie.  Another bonus!

Wahoo’s:  I always order off the kids menu here.  I love the taco with rice and beans.  Last week, I had a coupon for a free adult combo and ordered the kids still for the kids.  They were exactly the same despite the price difference!  Next time order off the kids menu!  Here’s another tip, ask for the Lee’s hot sauce or more salsa once you are sitting down.  They will bring it to you without adding it as an extra item to your bill.

Tommy Bahama Restaurant and Tantalum (in Long Beach) have amazing food and a happy hour 7 days a week!  I love that.  They both have live music sometimes too, not sure when though.

Nekter Juice Bar:  There are only two locations, Corona Del Mar and Costa Mesa, but definitely worth checking out if you are local.  I walked and drove by the place for months thinking there is no way this place will last.  And now I have become a regular, mostly because their are coupons in the local paper almost daily.  It is a raw and vegan juice shop and there is no guilt involved when you order a smoothie because hidden in that sweetness is probably spinach and lots of other good stuff for you.  I love the Toxic Flush.  Don’t let the green color throw you off, it is really tasty, unlike the Greenie which is definitely an acquired taste.  Here is my tip.  Ask for easy on the ice, because they will give you a bigger cup even though you are only getting a little bit of ice.  And then, the last time, I asked to have some poured into a smaller cup for Piper.  They did that and they still gave me a full cup.  Why buy a kids drink when you can get it for free?  Best of all they have a punch card where you get the 10th drink for free.

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