Splurge and save - Page 2

FEAST: 8 tips on eating out more cost-effectively
Guardian photo by Charles Russo

415-553-8584, www.lunaparksf.com) currently offers a rotating "blue plate special" priced from $10 to $12, with accompanying drink specials for $5.

4. Decide ahead. Most restaurants have online menus, and if you choose what you want before you get to the restaurant, you'll prevent yourself from making impulse orders at the last minute.

5. Go prix fixe. At many restaurants, you can eat a delicious three-course meal for under $25 if you order off the prix fixe menu. Baker Street Bistro (2953 Baker, SF. 415-931-1475, www.bakerstbistro.com) offers a popular three course prix fixe dinner menu that includes soup, chef's choice of an entree, and any dessert for $14.50. At Pisces (3414 Judah, SF. 415-564-2233, www.greenopia.com), start off with an organic green salad, followed by Muscovy duck leg with pear compote, and end with a crème brulée, all for $23.

6. Try lunch. According to Zagat's San Francisco Dining Deals Guide, lunch items are generally 25 percent to 30 percent less expensive than dinner items, even if both menus are exactly the same.

7. Take a class. Give a man a fish taco and he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to sauté a whitefish and make his own fish taco with mango salsa, and he'll eat well for the rest of his life, plus impress his friends. Emily Dellas (www.emilydellas.com) at First Class Cooking, teaches three-course cooking classes out of her beautiful SoMa studio for $55, which covers all the ingredients. Post-cooking, you'll sit down and eat the gourmet goodies you learned to make.

8. Go ethnic. Dining at ethnic restaurants is a great way to eat sumptuously without spending every penny in your pocket, since hole-in-the-wall places are almost always better than the expensive versions. Shalimar (532 Jones, SF. 415-776-4642, www.shalimarsf.com) is easily one of the best Indian restaurants in San Francisco, and most entrees on the menu are under $5 (BYOB). With prices like that, you can justify heading up the street afterward to The Hidden Vine (620 Post, SF. 415-674-3567, www.thehiddenvine.com) for some chocolate truffles and a glass of wine.

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