Friday, January 21, 2011

dineLA - Ready, Set, Go!

dineLA Winter 2011 - with its mammoth list of nearly 300 participating restaurants - officially kicks off this Sunday, January 23rd!  It's like second Christmas for foodies on a budget - with some of the cities' most delectable dining spots offering up three-coursers in neatly wrapped prix fixe packages (some even stepping it up with supplements like upgrades for / additional entrees or wine pairings for a nominal price).

Everyone has their own criteria for what they consider a good deal - but use your own discretion when making your selections, as some places simply offer items already on their menu sometimes at the same total cost as if you ordered a la carte - and some places that normally offer haute cuisine may dole out  'chicken of the day' type entrees just to meet the lower price points.  (Personally, nothing bores me faster than 'beef or chicken' menus!)

Luckily the majority offer mouth-watering dishes at a great price.  Though being the budget foodie, I always look for ways to double or triple dip to get even more mileage for your money.

Below are just a few easy ways, all free to sign-up (please see each website for full details):
  • Register with OpenTable and make your reservations through their site.  Then, when you check in at the restaurant, you will earn points towards a gift certificate that you can use at any participating OpenTable restaurant (e.g. 2,000 points earns a $20 certificate!)
  • Use a credit card that offers a rewards program:
    •  American Express:  Register your card with dineLA, then dine out three or more times at participating restaurants from during dineLA (spend $21 minimum each meal) to get a $20 statement credit.  Also, register with Amex's iDine program, then use your card to pay and you will automatically get up to 15% off your bill at participating restaurants year-round (this offer STACKS on top of the $20 statement credit!).  See my deal alert page for details. 
    • Obviously, don't forget to use any credit card attached to an airline, like Southwest Rapid Rewards Visa, which will earn you miles for every dollar you spend during dineLA or any other time.
  • College students / folks repaying college loans:  Register a credit card with, and sign up for their dining program.  Cross reference their database with your selected dineLA restaurants (e.g. Enoteca Drago, Petrossian, The Olive Kitchen + Bar) then dine at those places and pay with your registered credit card to automatically get up to 8% of your bill back, that you can use to pay down your student loan debt!
  • United Mileage Plus members:  register a credit card with their dining program, to get up to 5 miles per dollar spent on your meals, dineLA or year round! 
  • Westfield Century City Dining Rewards:  Bring your receipts from restaurants and eateries at the mall including those at the dining terrace to the mall concierge, within 7 days of your meal, for registration.  Once you accumulate $500 worth in spending on food at the mall, you will get a $25 gift card to the mall.  This is a program you can participate in year round, but if you dine at  Obika Mozzarella Bar or RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen during dineLA, be sure to submit your receipts so that your dollars will further count towards a gift card!
  • Dine on the Sundays, when street parking is free in most neighborhoods,  to save on valet costs - especially areas where valet costs are typically high like Beverly Hills and West Hollywood.
      Please do share if you have any other tips!  Bon appetit!

      P.S. - So many dineLA restaurants, so little time?  Check to see if your favorites are offering dineLA menus outside of the advertised dates!  Locanda Veneta, for example, is also offering their dineLA menu on Saturday 1/29 even though that's not an official dineLA date!

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