It is possible to find cheap food in Los Angeles. It's also possible to eat at some of the best, most popular and most famous restaurants in town at a significant discount if you have the tools. Here are some of the best discount programs and restaurant coupons for dining well in Los Angeles on a budget.
Daily (and longer) Deals
Daily deals may be released every day, but they often last for weeks or months. They have in common that they offer a cash value or dining experience for a fraction of the face value. So you might pay $20 for $40 worth of food at a particular restaurant or pay $150 for a prix fix 3-course dinner for two including wine at a high-end establishment. Programs include Groupon, Living Social, Travelzoo, Amazon Daily Deals (fewer restaurants), Gilt City and others. Once you have the certificate in hand, you can spend up to the cash value of the coupon and not have to spend anything more (although you can if you want to). Be sure to check the menu prices at the restaurant you're considering. $20 for $40 worth of food may not make sense for you if the total bill is likely to be $20 or $200.
LivingSocial's Restaurants Plus Cash Back
In addition to their daily deals, LivingSocial.com has a program called Restaurants Plus, where you can register your credit card, and when you use that credit card at listed restaurants, you automatically get 10-30% back without having to do anything else. Discounts may be restricted to off-peak hours.
Subscribing to Blackboard Eats is like being part of the cool foodies club. Every week you get an email telling you which restaurant is offering a secret discount code. You have a short period of time to use the pass code at the restaurant to get the discount or special offer. Since there's only one offer at a time, the chances are less likely that it will be something convenient to where you are, but they also have some unique foodie events that are worth going out of the way for. It is free to subscribe.
Restaurant.com is a website and app that offers a certificate, that is basically a dollars-off coupon for a higher priced meal. You pay between $4-$10 for a certificate for $25 off a $35-$50 meal. It's not like Groupon, where you get $40 of food for $20. You have to pay the difference between the $25 off and the minimum $50 meal, or whatever you bill comes to over $50. It still ends up being $15 off a $50 meal. Read the Review.
The Entertainment Book is a book of coupons and a discount card or an alternate mobile version that offer 2 for 1 meals, dollars off or percentage off at a variety of restaurants and attractions. Read the Review.
If you don't mind the world knowing exactly where you are, checking in at LA restaurants on Foursquare can sometimes score you a special food or drink offer. You can also sometimes find special deals by liking a restaurant's Facebook page or following them on Twitter. Sometimes restaurants also post coupons on their Yelp page.
Valpak is the company that sends an envelope full of coupons to local residents, but you don't have to live here to take advantage of the coupon offers. You can download most of the same coupons on their website. You can also save on shopping, oil changes and diapers.
The Forks app consolidates coupons from many of the sites above including Groupon, LivingSocial, Valpak, Restaurant.com and more all in one app you can access on your phone.
DineLA and Other Restaurant Weeks
January is Restaurant Month in California, and many cities, including LA, Pasadena, Redondo Beach and Newport Beach all have Restaurant Weeks in January, where restaurants offer discounted fixed-price meals. DineLA has another 2 week Restaurant Week in October and other local cities have their own dining events at other times of the year.