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Champagne Tastes on a Beer Budget – Guest post by J. Karen Parker July 26, 2008

Posted by Raul in Uncategorized.
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J. Karen Parker is a PhD student in Computer Science at UBC, a friend, a geeky blogger and academic, and a WordPress fan, same as me! She Blogs at Jkparker.ca

Since Raul is a prolific writer of local restaurant reviews (check out his collection on Urban Spoon), I thought I would make my guest post restaurant-themed.

Today you benefit from my tightwad tendencies! I thought I’d share with
you some of my favourite local haunts and tricks for getting delicious
food at ridiculously affordable prices. I am a PhD student and in my
many, many years of university I’ve honed my deal-finding skills. As a
former PhD student himself I suspect Raul can identify with this
talent. 😉 However, even when I am no longer a starving student I
suspect I’ll continue hunting down cheap eats. I just love finding a deal!

First some general suggestions…

1. Pick up an Entertainment Book.
Many local schools sell them in the fall as a charity fundraiser, or
you can order one online from the Entertainment website. The book
contains 2-for-1 coupons for oodles of local restaurants, from trendy
Robson street cafes to laid back Burnaby pubs.

2. Take advantage of weekly and time-of-day specials.
Some restaurants offer deals on certain days of the week (e.g. Pizza From Hell’s
2-for-1 Tuesday). Others offer earlybird or late-night specials. If
your schedule is flexible, bumping that dinner reservation to 5pm (or
10pm!) might save you some cash.

3. Get it to go.
If you order takeout you can enjoy yummy
restaurant food in the comfort of your own home and you won’t be
tempted by that $9 glass of wine, beer, or cocktail. Instead, you can
have a drink from your fridge (or liquor cabinet, or wine rack) at a
fraction of the price. Getting takeout will also save you a long wait
in line at some of Vancouver’s cheap eats meccas: Places like Stepho’ and Anton’s are legendary for their lineups.

4. Try the “prix fixe.”
You’re probably familiar with Dine Out Vancouver
when, for a couple weeks every winter, restaurants all over Vancouver
offer set menus for $15, $25, or $35. However, some restaurants offer
similar specials year-round. For example, I recently discovered
(through this very blog!) that between 5pm and 5:55pm every night Goldfish Pacific Kitchen offers a prix fixe for a very reasonable $25.

5. Ask the internet for help
One of my all time favourite places to look for restaurant reccommendations is the Chowhound boards.
Chowhound is filled with foodies from around the world and while many
of the restaurants they recommend are quite high-budget, there are also
lots of deals to be found. For example, searching for vancouver cheap eats turns up several excellent threads.

And now for a few of my favourite places to get cheap eats (and drinks)…

Tanpopo
The service is spotty at best, but this remains my go-to restaurant
whenever I am craving sushi. Their late-night all-you-can-eat special
beats the pants off the other places in town. Show up after 9:30pm and
you can have unlimited wild salmon sashimi, toro, tempura and many
other Japanese delights for a mere $12.

Falafel King
Denman
street is littered with falafel restaurants but this one is the best by
far. Despite the name of the place, I usually skip the falafel and go
for the chicken shwarma plate. It easily feeds two, leaving just enough
room in your bellies for a spot of gelato down the street at Mondo.

Kam’s Place
This
Singaporean restaurant has (IMHO) the best lunch deal in the west end.
Choose from one of a selection of Singaporean main dishes along with
soup, salad, and rice, all for about $6! And if you’re dining there in
the evening make sure you bring a copy of the Georgia Straight – Kam’s
publishes a 2-for-1 coupon in the Straight every week.

Cafe Crepe
When I moved to Vancouver (from
Halifax) I had some serious sticker shock when I ordered my first
pitcher of beer in a local pub. Luckily, I quickly discovered that Cafe
Crepe offers beer, cocktails, and other libations at some of the most
reasonable prices in town. They may be low on atmosphere, but they’ve
got rock bottom prices on vodka martinis and pitchers of Keith’s. Start
your night on the town here and have a cheap cocktail before heading
out to a more upscale club for the evening.

There you go! The list above skews heavily towards downtown Vancouver, since I live in the neighbourhood. What are your favourite tips and locations for cheap eats in Vancouver? Leave your suggestions in the comments!

Karen is also into synchronized swimming, and you can find her personal blog here

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