Using discount certificates from Restaurant.com can save money when eating out in Los Angeles. These are DISCOUNT certificates for a dollar amount of a greater amount. They are NOT the same as Groupon, Living Social, or other social buying programs. Their reliability is less consistent in other parts of the country and we have downgraded their rating to reflect bad experiences others have had, although we've never had any trouble using them in LA. You might want to call to make sure the restaurant is still accepting the certificates before you purchase.
- Easy to buy and use
- Discount on nice restaurants
- Good selection of restaurants in various price ranges
- It doesn't matter how many people are dining together
- Gift Certificates are available
- Mobile app
- Some neighborhoods are not well represented
- Fewer options for weekend nights
- Gift certificates are not useful in some parts of the country with limited restaurant selection
- Outside of the LA area, people have had issues with certificates not being accepted. Call first.
- Discount Dining Certificates
- Print at home
- Various denominations available
Restaurant.com is a marketing website that offers discounted dining certificates (more like a coupon for dollars off a higher amount) for popular and lesser-known restaurants around the country. You buy a restaurant certificate for less than its face value and redeem it at your chosen restaurant for the full face value. The standard rate for a $25 dining certificate is $10, a savings of $15 off your meal, but even greater discounts are regularly offered with special discount codes, so you may get a $25 dining certificate for as little as $2. On the mobile app, they give you the discount code.
None of what you pay goes to the restaurant, so the amount of the certificate/coupon you buy ($10, $25, $50, $100) is the marketing fee they are paying to get you in the door. For this reason, each restaurant sets a minimum purchase requirement, so you usually have to order $35-$50 worth of food (not including alcohol) to redeem a $25 certificate, and your tax and tip will be calculated on the full amount. There may also be other conditions such as the days or time of day that a certificate can be used. Many restaurants don't allow you to use dining certificates on Friday or Saturday nights. $10 certificates are usually only good for lunch.
We use Restaurant.com certificates often because it's really easy to go to the website, type in the zip code where we need a restaurant, check the menus and prices and buy and print a certificate. Now you can do it on the mobile app.
Before the mobile app, as an experiment, we bought a certificate for Kavikas (closed) in Long Beach when we were nowhere near a printer. We emailed the certificate too so we could access it on an iPhone to see if the restaurant could get the code off of there. At the time, they couldn't. The certificate was 80% off, so we were only paying $4 for a $50 certificate, so we figured it wouldn't be a big loss if it didn't work, and we could print it and use it later. As it turned out, they couldn't just take the code from the iPhone, but the owner let us log on to our email from his computer and print it in his office. Dinner was awesome and getting the discount made it even better. Now, if you have the mobile app, you don't have to worry about printing the certificates.
You are expected to tip on the full amount of the bill before the discount, and often the small print specifies that 18% will be added automatically. Although we have never had any problem redeeming restaurant certificates in the Los Angeles area, people in other parts of the country have not always been so fortunate.
Note: Be sure to check menu prices before deciding on a certificate. Sometimes you can get dinner for 2 for far less than the minimum order required.