This has been a long time coming, but I finally finished my Denver Food Guide - a page that is jam-packed with a list of my favorite restaurants in town. On a related note, I thought it would be fun to talk tips for eating out while on a budget today. Chime in with your own suggestions in the comments!
I love eating out. Like really, really love it. But in all honesty I don't actually do it all that much. I'm one of those people who would rather go out once in a great while and make it a really fun night on the town (versus getting takeout/coffee/fast food daily or even weekly). In general I prefer cooking and having dinner with friends at home where it's relaxed and I'm in my element.
Jacob and I do tend to celebrate special occasions by trying a new restaurant and will occasionally get invited to birthdays or other fun events out on the town so we use that as an excuse to try a new place. There are so many new places opening up in Denver every day that it would be nearly impossible to keep up with them all but I really enjoy staying on top of them as best I can!
I'm always looking for ways to balance having fun with staying on track with our budget, so here are a few of my favorite ways to do that while trying new restaurants.
Take Advantage of Happy Hour
Happy hour is one of my favorite ways to connect with friends while also trying someplace new. It's the perfect time of day (i.e. I can go out AND still get home and get to bed at a normal hour - yes, I feel like an old lady sometimes). Prices are also more reasonable and you have the choice to save money by skipping the food and eating dinner at home, which is what I tend to do. My favorite happy hour spots are the ones with one or more of the following: great specials, an outdoor patio, and a solid beer list.
Included | Los Chingones, Homegrown Tap & Dough, Bar Dough, Illegal Pete's, and Ester's Neighborhood Pub
Brunch it Up
Brunch isn't just for the millennial crowd, although yes we do tend to love it a little bit too much at times. Going for breakfast or brunch is a nice way to experience a restaurant without paying dinner prices. I even listed a few fast-casual breakfast options in my guide that are less expensive (and have a much shorter wait time) with a menu that is just as fun and interesting. While at brunch, I also like that you have the option to order a cocktail, but if you aren't feeling it, an iced coffee or latte is a perfectly acceptable alternative and still feels fun. We all know the alcohol can quickly become the most expensive part of any tab.
Included | Devil's Food, Sassafras, Lucile's, City O' City, Denver Biscuit Company, Waffle Brothers
Have that "one more" cocktail at home
Can anyone else relate to that moment when you are caught up in the evening, having fun and at the crossroads of whether or not you want to have one more cocktail before calling it a night? You might say, "just one more" or "let's not be lame".
In my own experience, it always sounds like a great idea. Then I get about halfway in and change my mind. A good compromise is to head home for the night cap. Getting in your comfy clothes and being able to pour just a splash of wine is pretty much the best of both worlds.
Share with a Friend
And of course, the tried and true "sharing method" is always a win if you are with the right crowd. I like splitting an entree, then adding an extra side salad to bulk it up and add something green but either way, portion sizes are generally substantial enough to satisfy two people. If not, see my ice cream recommendations because you'll have an excuse to stop for some on your way home!